Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Izzy's Dilemma...and Shopping...

About 4:00 a.m. in the morning as predicted the thunderstorms rolled in.  I was glad I had pulled in the awning as there was a pretty good wind blowing outside. Poor Bear...he is terrified of storms, but as long as he could squeeze himself into a corner he was okay.  

We didn't roll out of bed until later as we decided that we needed to get the coach looked at. The day before I had contacted a service station that said they would look at the coach and to bring it it. So around 10:00 a.m. we secured everything, raised the jacks and very carefully drove through the park. Along the way we spotted some wildlife. Christie
A young female deer walking amongst the trees.
drove behind me so if I had to signal and get over she could get over first creating a space for me, then I could go and be safe in doing so. Thankfully the service station was not far way.  

The station owner tried to help me.  He spent over an hour trying to hook up his computer to reset my ABS warning light (little did I know that a wire for my cigarette lighter plug in was loose and there was no way anything was going to work). At the moment my brakes were working, thank goodness.  The poor man was getting drenched as he was having to work in the rain.  After no success he sent me to another Shell station down the street who couldn't be bothered with me and my dilemma and on top of that, bad mouthed the poor man who was black and foriegn and had just spent all this time trying to help me and had recommended this other station. Then they sent me to a place that didn't even exist. I wanted to scream.  

I told Christie I needed to get gas as I was running low and she suggested we head the opposite direction from the park.  We did and found a gas station with pumps facing the correct way (yea!). I got out and started to fill up when I noticed a big rig gas tanker.  I told Christie to finish filling Izzy and Libby as I wanted to talk to the driver of the tanker. I told the man my dilemma and he immediately recommended R & S Spring Shop.  I thanked him, told him he was an angel and wished him a Blessed Easter to which he beamed. We hightailed it back to the Park and got Izzy re-parked and made our call to R & S Spring Shop. We were told to bring it in on Tuesday as it was too late on Friday plus it was Easter Weekend.

We decided to stick close to home so to speak and did some grocery shopping, ate lunch at the Silver Diner which prepares all their food fresh from local farmers, it was very, very good! Went to Dick's Sporting Goods and bought a rain jacket and some neat hiking pants and a new sleeping bag for me, then went to DSW Shoes and bought some rain boots and a new wallet, again for me.
Rain Boots
Wallet to match

Friday turned out to be a fun shopping day.  We finished the day off by going to Chevy's Fresh Mex Food Restaurant, which was not far from the campground.  It was awesome.  Our waitress was Ida, a beautiful woman who lost her young grandson

I had to get a picture of this most lovely and gracious lady
who brought joy to our meal amidst her own sorrow.
six months earlier, was trying to help her daughter get through her loss, we could empathize with her, having to get through our own loss.   We ended our meal in prayer with Ida. We brought home some fabulous jalapeno jelly, cheese queso, chips and part of our dinner to snack on later.  
My dinner at Chevy's Fresh Mex

It was a great day...which ended with taking the dogs out one more time and heading to the shower house in the next loop over as the hot water heater in our shower house was on the fritz. If there is one thing I hate, it's a cold shower. We watched the weather to see how the cherry blossoms were doing and if they were near blooming, they weren't,  then we called it a night. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Washington or Bust...Tears Upon My Cheeks...And Tapas...

We were up early Thursday morning as we wanted to go into DC to do some sightseeing.  After hitting the campground restroom next to the motorhome I went and introduced myself to our new neighbors that had set up the night before while we were at Gettysburg. 

lovely couple from Mobile, Alabama, John and Leslie Gafford were in Washington for Spring break with their three children Marylyn, Michael, Mathew and their foreign exchange student Johanna
Leslie and John
Gustavsson from Sweden.  What a great family! Leslie helps to find families to host exchange students for their senior year of high school in the Mobile area.  I'm not sure what John does but I do know he plays a mean guitar. We have become Facebook friends, I know if I am in the area I can give them a call and I will be welcomed and they likewise. 

After having some breakfast, feeding and walking the dogs, taking my meds and securing the coach. We got in Libby and headed over to the Metro about 2 miles away. It cost about $9.00 plus $5.00 to park and ride the subway into Washington.  We got off at the L'Enfant Plaza exit
A Civil War Memorial built in the
late 1800's

and walked over to the National Gallery of Art located just off the National Mall. I'm glad I had my back brace on and my walking cane as it was a pretty good hike. 

Once inside we proceeded to mosey through the rooms. The problem I had was, there wasn't very many places to sit down. With my back problem I need to sit and rest ever so often, but I
Mercury and Easter Lilies in the
Great Rotunda
managed. We came to the great rotunda. As you can see the space is huge.  It was decorated with Lilies as it was Easter time. 

We were trying to find a particular gallery in the Americana section and as luck would have it, it was in the very farthest corner of the museum from
You could almost see the fuzz of the
where we entered...
of course it was.  We wandered from room to room gazing upon the beauty of each work of art asking ourselves...how did they ever do that? It was pure genius...It looked so real and in some cases you felt you could actually feel the crispness of the paper between your fingers and the strings of the violin as you plucked them...the strokes of the brush were so fine. 
The paper lept from the painting it
looked so real. 

Another room to take a respite in...a huge atrium filled with seating and lush plantings. Christie wandered about taking pictures and got this beauty. 
Miniature Oranges and Cherubs

We finally came to the gallery we were seeking. Upon finding it we went in and sat down at the back of the room. There was another couple in the room wandering about, then left. We had the room to ourselves. In silence we sat looking at the sculpture upon the wall...so filled with emotion was I, I discovered that I had tears running down my cheeks. After having been at Gettysburg the day before and then seeing this, I needed a release...tears were the answer and they flowed.   It is the final shot from the movie Glory.  If you have never seen the movie, I suggest you do. We sat there for a good 15 minutes looking at this magnificent piece of art.

Robert Gould Shaw leading the 54th Massachusetts Colored Troops

Reluctantly we left, I then decided I wanted to go see
the Dutch Masters and off we went to find the painter of the "Girl with the Pearl Earring"  Johannes Vermeer. If you have not seen that movie it is a must. Every frame is a vision of art from the
Master. We saw his "Woman holding a Balance" as well. 

Christie has a friend who works for the FBI. They had made arrangements for us to meet up for happy hour at a Spanish Tapas Bar not far from the museum. It's amazing how time flies. It was going on 4:30 p.m. and I knew it would take us a bit to get there at my walking pace.  It was 9 blocks North of us, uphill no less in Chinatown, a place called La Tasca. Ever so slowly we made it. Along the way we saw street musicians and dancers entertaining those trying to get to the Metro. The Metro Police were busy trying to keep things moving. Boy was I ever glad to sit down. After making our way to the basement, we were seated. Happy hour I must say is LOUD! We were seated next to a party of 15, everyone talking at once. I don't know how anyone understood each other and then laughing was sheer screeching. After awhile they left and finally we could hear ourselves think...well almost. The food was very good and cheap! Our whole meal was $24.00. Everything we ordered was $4.00 a plate and we got 4 items on a plate. Our drinks were $4.00 each as well. 

All I can say is YUM!  This is an absolute must go to destination if
you go to Washington DC!

I remember when Dave, Gene Enrico and Susan Caldwell came back from Spain after filming "And They Sang a New Song" for the University of Oklahoma, Dave thought a Tapas Bar on Campus Corner would be a great idea. Too bad we didn't have the money to do it as it is the "IT SPOT" in DC. I wish there was a Tapas bar in Norman or Oklahoma City with these prices as it would be an instant hit! 

After we finished we decided it was time to head back to the rig.  Thankfully the Chinatown Station Red and Green Lines were not far at all, just across the street and down half a block. It was more expensive going back to the campground than coming into DC as we had decided not to wait until after 7:00 p.m. when it would be cheaper. 

The puppies were happy to see us. Our "dogs" were tired after all the walking, so we got them up after Christie walked and fed the pups. We started the generator and fired up the TV so we could see what was going on in the world. The weatherman said it was due to rain the next day. Quiet hour started at 10:00 p.m., not our rules, National Park rules. Off went Ginny and we ran the lights on the battery for a bit then lights out.   

As predicted a gentle rain began to fall and lulled us into a deep sleep. We slept well...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Washington or Bust...We Walked Hallowed Ground...

Christie and I woke up to the dogs giving us heck for not getting up at the crack of dawn to let them out. It was a crisp 38 degrees. I just wanted to snug down some more but knew that we needed to get up and do some chores around the campsite.  

First order of the day COFFEE!  I started Izzy up to turn on the Genny (generator) so we could get the coffeemaker and the electric heaters going, to get it warm inside the coach and a cuppa Joe in hand.  I made some scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast. All of a sudden the propane detector started going off! What the....!

We reset the button, off it went again. I popped my head out the door and noticed not a breeze was felt anywhere.  No movement of leaves, Nada! Off went the generator. Darn!  You have to have some kind of a breeze to move the exhaust fumes away from the coach so they don't build up underneath and get you. Had I been thinking I would have set my box fan under the coach to blow the fumes away from the area. It's always the afterthought that gets you thinking...wish I had thought of that earlier.  

Christie and I looked at each other and shook our heads still in disbelief that we had made it here to Washington D.C. all in one piece.  Me: "So what are we going to do today?" C: "How about Gettysburg?" Me: "How far is it from here?" C: "About 60 miles." Me: Is that all?" C: Yep!"  We gave the dogs food and water and secured them in their area. Locked up Izzy and away we went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

One of the sites we saw on our way out of town was the Latter Day Saints Temple in Washington D.C., you come up over the rise and it smacks you in the face so to speak.
Washington DC Latter Day Saints Temple
Once again we saw beautiful farmland and farms on our way to Gettysburg. On our left as we traveled north was the Blue Ridge Mountain range. 
Gettysburg Visitor's Center

We finally arrived at the visitor's center and went inside to buy the boys gifts for Christmas. One of the items we bought was a driving tour of Gettysburg, a 5 CD set telling the story of the battle. Christie and I decided to do that instead of
going through the museum. We will have to make a trip back to take in the museum and do the driving tour again due to the fact it is so darn fascinating.
While on the way to the car we met President Abraham Lincoln, sitting in pensive thought.  Was he thinking of the words he was about to say at such a terrible time in our history to try and heal a broken nation? We will never know.  

We put the first CD into the player and started off. Part of the way through it quit working so we had to take it back to the Visitor's center. While Christie ran it in, I started looking at the map and discovered that we had started in the wrong spot and had left out half of the tour. 

We started again, this time we started at the beginning of the tour instead of the middle.  There are over 1500 statues and monuments. The 3 hour driving tour takes longer than 3 hours if you really want to absorb what you are seeing and feeling. 

Listening to the stories tears at your heart. It's hard to think that over 7,000 men and women lost their lives fighting at Gettysburg.
This small structure was a field hospital.
Over 5,000 horses and mules had been killed. Over 33,000 men and women had been wounded in the 4 day battle. It was discovered that women were disguising themselves as men in order to fight. 

There's a story of a little dog named Sallie who faithfully stood by her troops during battle until she was killed. We finally found her small memorial.
This young soldier keeps a steady
watch to the west over
 the shadows of fallen soldiers
and little Sallie's monument.
It's all so heartbreaking, yet so solemn.  We continued on with our journey to Big Round Top and Little Round Top. At one
The Battle for Little Round Top
point you could almost hear the soldiers off in the distance softly singing songs of home in the empty stillness of the moonlit night. Yes, we were traveling in the dark under the light of a full moon. 

This Photo was shot is complete darkness.
The silence of Gettysburg is eerie...You
could almost hear the clip clop of the
horse's hooves as the General wandered
among his troops to encourage them for
the next days battle.

You have to go to Gettysburg to understand the enormity of it all. It is so overwhelming and weighs so heavy on the soul. It changes you when you travel the roads and walk upon the battlefields, knowing it is hallowed ground. You listen to the stories, see the monuments and only then, just begin to get a sense of what truly happened here. 

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife Mamie lived at Gettysburg. Their farm is located on the battlefield.  He gave it to the National Park Service upon his and Mamie's deaths with the understanding that the public could not drive up to it, but had to be driven to it by other means of transportation. This was to keep the beauty and serenity of the surrounding area and the National Historic Site preserved. 
Eisenhower National Historic Site

Finally the tour ended 5 hours later and we decided that we needed to eat. We found a wonderful pizza parlor by the name of Tommy's Pizza.  Once again the crust was wonderful, very much like the one we had in Charleston West Virginia, tender and buttery. Not heavy at all. We had a Greek Pizza with Chicken. 

We made the drive back home to the campground, fed the dogs, let them out, walked them and discovered we had neighbors. 

One final thought for today and I will let President Lincoln give it. 
Lest we forget, pray we do not.

Stay safe...Until we meet again...