Monday, March 30, 2015

Working Dog

Harley Dog wrote the blog today. 

This leash is in my way, but campground rules say I have to wear it... even while packing up the rolling dog house. I know some of you two-legged folks call my rolling dog house a motorhome or camper or caravan or RV or Tioga or Class C. Dogs like to keep things simple, we have one name for everything, not a pawful.

OK, let's see... plenty of room left in here, let me see what else I can do to hop right in and finish this packing.

I am going to pack my rug and quilt last cause that is where I lay when I need a break.

Let's see, shove this chair here, put that folding table there, my bicycle basket goes near the door, gotta keep the important stuff handy.

Oh yes, there is still a little more room back in here. I will put your folding rocker way in back.

Who put this dirty rag here? I said the important things have to go up front near the door, like my dog food and bicycle basket and teddy bear.

Come on, I don't have all day here, Fold up that chair and hand it to me. If you don't hurry up, we'll be late for my Frisbee game.

Let me hoist up my teddy bear. Come on teddy bear, we're almost done.

OK, now let me make room for my dog bed and we're about done here.

Well, folks, I am paw-sitively delighted you stopped by my blog today. Sorry, I can't type much longer, I have to finish my work and then go play Frisbee and water a few bushes that need it.

See you round the campfire!

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Day of Thanks

No matter what chaos or grief is in my life, I have to sometimes thwack myself over the head to remember remember remember (did I saw remember?) to be oh so thankful and grateful for each and every day.

I woke up alive, a roof over my head and food in the cabinet. Angels  on earth (YOU!) and those from parts unknown, the heavens above and far flung ports that somehow conspire to keep this fool alive.

Thank you, thank you thank you!

It's so easy for me to complain when I should shut up and be grateful. It's a tough row to hoe. I should just smile and be humble with profound gratitude.


Sail on in
and camp awhile...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

70 Mph Winds

Thank you for stopping by my rambling blog. We're shuffling along here to parts unknown.

Harley dog and I are on the loose, careening around in our little old motorhome.

Yesterday we had a storm march by with 70 mile per hour winds and harsh rains. One day it's 90F degrees then the next night it plummets to 55F degrees. Today it's balmy and cloudy. I feel like I've traveled into the twilight zone.

I woke up alive, life is an astounding miracle to behold.  I am humbly grateful, feeling just positively blessed to enjoy planet earth another day.

View from the driver's seat...
Lonely country roads with beautiful scenery is right up my alley,
in this case a small canal with large irrigation equipment


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Strings and Tin Cans

Doorbell broken.

Yell DING DONG cause we can't hear ya knocking.


Loading up heading out, sailing the byways and highways to parts unknown. In all the chaos and grief, I forgot to make reservations. Spring break is in full force and Florida is busy. An explosion of vacationers seem to be everywhere, so where I camp next is up in the air.

Typically I make sure I have prepaid reservations during all the peak times when others are vacationing.


I've got some ideas (shhh... it's a secret) of where I might take refuge.

My cell phone died again. I can't tell if it's the company or the phone or the tower or what. This has been an ongoing problem that the phone company randomly solves, then a few hours, or days later, it happens all over again. Maddeningly, they cut off the voice mail at the same time, so anyone that calls me thinks I've changed my number or discontinued service.

I spoke to a close friend recently who was frantic thinking something dreadful had happened to me because they got this same message over and over, that I had changed my number or discontinued service, when I have not done any such thing.

The year 2015, all this fancy technology and I can't make  or receive phone calls, on 3 different phones (2 cell and 1 computer).

What is America coming to?  When did making a simple phone call become such a huge massive ordeal that takes weeks to complete?

I thought that Alexander Bell guy figured out how we could make a call in just a few seconds, about a hundred something years ago...

I had a second backup "pay as you go" cell phone but a few months ago, it stopped working. Numerous phone calls to that company and they claim it was reported stolen, so they cancelled the account. Well, I certainly didn't report it stolen, it's right here with me. They promised to turn it back on, but guess what. They didn't. More hour long phone calls to them, talking to computers, listening to awful music-hold, eventually speaking to folks that sometimes can't understand my American accent or I can't understand what the last technician meant when she said "You need gloops! You have gloops this not happen!"

Hours... days... later.... another techie said it would be resolved in 3 hours. That was weeks ago. Phone dead and "no gloops."

So I will be rolling down the highway with possibly no phone service at all. I am so shocked and surprised my internet is working, I do have a computer phone, but it only works IF I have internet service and have the laptop turned on and running. I have to use the speaker built-into the laptop, it's not something I can just hold up to my ear and use. My internet company has been giving me chaos off and on for about a year. Not going into that now either...

I am writing this on park wifi that is surprisingly working at the moment, usually it's so overloaded I have to wait until 3 am to get on it.

Well, never mind. I woke up alive and for that I am super thankful.

If you want to reach me, tie a string to a tin can and yell "ring ring ring!"

Time to pack it all up and roll away.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Admitting Defeat

I will call them HardFart rather than use their real name for now. 

HardFart should not be in the mail order business.

Fart Radar
Free Ap that detects a fart and provides a chemical breakdown analysis too.

Recently I replied to a nonsensical customer service email. I had done business online with this well known company and there was a huge problem with the simple order. No it was not Amazon, it was another huge company that most of America seems to love to pieces and shops at in person, because of their perception that the prices are cheap (mostly they aren't, I've done tons of comparisons in my online and in-person store research.)

The more I tried to explain, the more canned nonsensical replies I received from HardFart. Numerous phone calls and ridiculous computer prompts, loud blaring music on hold threatening to break my speaker and eventually after days, weeks, months, I forget exactly how long (but my hair turned gray while working on this.) Finally I get a LIVE person who can understand my English and I was able to more or less understand theirs. FINALLY this problem was resolved. (They weren't the first live person I spoke to, but this one eventually fixed it.)

I was buying a phone card that worked with my internet company which stopped taking my credit card after all these years of accepting it just fine. Internet company says it's a bank problem. Bank says it's the internet company's problem. We been going back and forth now for over a year. My credit card works for every where else but for some reason no one is willing to delve into, why it no longer works with my internet provider. They won't accept my debit card or a credit card and they can't tell me why none of this is going through. The banks tell me it's not their problem either, it's the internet company and the internet company says it's the bank's problem. 

So I turned to HardFart to buy a top up card which allows me to use this with the internet company to pay for my account. Theoretically, I buy the topup card online and then get the info by email and I load it into my account with the internet company and binga-banga-boom, my internet magically comes back to life. It's cheap internet, if I switch companies I will have to pay more than triple. 

So this is why I am not saying which lousy internet company I am using. I travel year round more or less, and America is NOT designed for a gypsy lifestyle on an efficient budget. So finding an internet company that might work on the go for a fair price is very tricky and hard to find. Plenty of them out there if you have very deep pockets. I have shallow pockets. Actually, I have no pockets cause I wear bike shorts and leggings and they don't come with pockets. 

Harley dog carries my stuff around cause he has paw-kets. 

Next month I made same exact same purchase. (Harley made a typing error, sorry, guess I better finish typing this myself *sigh*)

This particular top-up card happened to be cheaper than anywhere else and well I am watching my pennies, so I foolishly sought the same great price. 

Had the exact same problem. 

Went through the exact same nightmares to get it fixed. Took about a week too. Many times they suggested by phone or email that I drive to their store which was over 30 miles from my current location. How did a transaction that used to take me 40 seconds from start to finish turn into a week long nightmare?

Why is HardFart in the mail order business if they want you to drive to their store to fix their problems? 

I don't have a car cause I don't like driving. I know that is FUNNY cause I live in a motorhome and obviously I drive it around. But I prefer to park it in a beautiful place and live there a week or a month and not drive around. Next time I need to move, I do my errands along the way, like snag groceries. I also get mailorder or UPS deliveries to some of the campgrounds. This saves me time, gas and hassle. More or less. 

Actually when I was shopping for a motorhome, I was driving a beatup old car to look for a motorhome. After hashing out my budget, I decided I couldn't afford to have both a car and a motorhome so I chose the motorhome and sold the old car. That is shortcut version of that story...

The way the medical world was devastating me financially, I feared I was going to  end up living in a cardboard box under a bridge if I didn't hurry up and die. 

Well, I didn't die, but I stopped all medical treatments and sought alternatives. The docs said I would die for sure if I did that too. Well, guess what, here I am still smiling and laughing! Tee hee hee...

On a funny note... 

One day someone asked me why I didn't have a car. I just said the first thing off the top of my silly head, which was "I don't like living in a car, motorhome is roomier."

Well, I certainly got a big long stare and that person never spoke to me again. C'est la vie!

America was built on the fact that everyone should have cars. From what I've seen of numerous heavy traffic jams, it seems everyone is in their car at once too! Hello? Is anyone at work or at home or is everyone in their car cause I been typing at this traffic light for the past 10 minutes.... I think I am getting within a half mile of it too!

Well, I am an idiot and believed the customer service rep or whatever they call themselves at HardFart these days that the problem was fixed. It wouldn't happen again. They said so. 

So third month (I am an idiot, a true bona fide idiot!) I make exact same purchase online from HardFart and guess what.

Problem not fixed, but they have my money and I want my goods and we go back and forth with the same ridiculous emails and phone calls and so on. 

At one point I gave up. 

I replied to their email:

"Game over. You win! I admit defeat. I promise, I will never ever spend another penny with you. The sheer torture is more than I can handle. I get it. You don't want my business. Fine. You win!"

A few days later I received another canned reply from HardFart wanting me to complete a customer satisfaction survey but there is nowhere on the survey to check off "I think of you as fondly as I think of cow poop."

So I gave up. HardFart wins. Ding ding! Round over. HardFart knocked me senseless and won. 

I took this picture.
The briefcase is a nice touch.
You know how email and phone customer service only use first names now,
well they travel to work anonymously too...

Now for my internet company... no idea what I am going to do next. Lately I've had free Wifi at the parks I have been to, but I am about to travel to campgrounds and parks that don't provide that service. The free Wifi I have had is always problematic because the system is typically overloaded. So mostly I do my internet stuff at weird hours so I can get through. 

But now I will travel in places where I might like to use my internet again. I rely on internet to manage my money, use my computer phone,  post to my blog and maintain my webpages. Well I did... most of my webpages were viciously hacked and trashed awhile back and I haven't been able to fix much of that nightmare either. The end result was my royalties from my book sales and my little commissions from Amazon and a few others plummeted to rock bottom. I guess those webpages were helping me along somewhat, but no more. Gone, poof.  One of my checks last month was 30 cents. Well, actually it was an auto-deposit. 30 cents. I kid you not. I have the email explaining the 30 cents, I have the deposit. It used to be anywhere from $25 to $100 before the webpages died. I've tried to fix them all, I had backups and such, but there are still problems and it's been hacked and attacked repeatedly.

So I've decided to ADMIT DEFEAT.

I can and will learn to live off less and less and maybe I will just forget about phones, internet, webpages and technology. 

They can't take my brain away and I am pretty crafty at doing more with less.

Well, I ldo ose my mind sometimes, but I always find it again. (Doesn't get far in the shape it's in.)

Retro Vintage Tin Sign

Monday, March 23, 2015

Deep Contemplation

Well, I guess my old technology is failing me. Not sure how much longer I will be able to continue posting here. Or communicating with the outside world. Ha! I kid you not.

I am hopelessly lost in cyber space.

My computer, phone, internet connection and web pages seem to all be cow poop! That's just the tip of the iceberg.

I am not going to bore you to tears by telling you about the endless hours I've spent trying to fix things inlcuding numerous customer service calls that mostly consisted of listening to ridiculously loud music on hold while waiting for another computer prompt or in some cases just another abrupt disconection. In a rare few cases when I finally spoke to someone I get nonsensical excuses for answers.

Some of these problems have been ongoing for over a year without resolution. Several have been quite costly with still no solution.


Maybe it's a sign from the powers to be that I need to retreat far and deep back to another world.

Perhaps undersea.

The life of a mermaid.

Mermaid by Artist Biljana Kroll
Mermaid by Artist Biljana Kroll 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Smugglers, Friends and Sailors

A blast from the past when I least expected it.

Still grieving for my brother, I have also been super sad over all my close friends who seem to have crossed the rainbow ahead of me. One of them being Bob Denniston (1919-2002). Yes, he was 40 years older than me but we were very close. I was thrilled to have known Bob the last 15 years of his life. Matter of fact, we had dinner just 2 nights before he passed away in his sleep. Throughout my entire life just about all my close friends were/are older than me. Perhaps I  have an old soul tucked inside that draws us together.

Back in the late 80's, Bob Denniston gave me this T-shirt (shown below). I left it on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands that belonged to a friend of mine. One day he needed a clean shirt, so he wore mine after enlarging the neck and removing the sleeves.

Speed forward 20 something years and my old sailing buddy comes to visit me in Florida recently. He was wearing my old T-shirt! The one Bob gave me.

Bob and his wife Nell were the owners of Smugglers Cove Hotel on Tortola in the Virgin Islands on the British side. They purchased it around 1968 and ran it along with a bar and restaurant up until around 1989 when hurricane Hugo destroyed much of the hotel. They tried to rebuild but another storm tore the roof off again. While trying to rebuild and renovate, they were plagued by thieves that stole much of the building supplies including two European style toilets. (More on that later.)

Nell became gravely ill and they abandoned plans for rebuilding while Bob nurtured the love of his life. The beach bar became a self-service honor bar with patrons making their own drinks and placing their cash under a rock for Bob to collect later. It was Nell's wish to remain by the sea in her final days despite constant pleadings from other relatives to be moved to a hospital or nursing home in Florida. The thought of that disgusted her and Bob set her up in a hospital bed in one of the old hotel rooms he had converted to a studio apartment. Thus Nell had a view of the white sandy beach known as Smugglers Cove every day until she passed around 2000. Her ashes were scattered at her beloved beach.

That same year, I acquired use of a vacation beach house  annexed to Bob's property, with an income split of 25/75. I did not own the beach house, an overseas owner did and it was doing dismally as a beach rental because it was in sad shape.

I set up a company to manage the beach house. First we did renovations, refurbishing, refurnishing and redecorating. That first year, I lived at the beach house most of the time because of lack of rentals, but I created a web page and set up the house as a full service vacation home with daily maid, chef and concierge services. There was nothing like that on Tortola and we began to do amazingly well. By the third year, I was bringing in nearly a quarter million in rental fees, split between me and the owners. You would think everyone would be wonderfully grateful and happy (I sure was!) but sadly the owners of the beach house were super rich and extremely greedy. In a fit of bragging they showed the financial records to a nasty local islander (me being the foreigner running a business on foreign shores) and she in turn convinced the owners that she could do the exact same thing I was doing for only 10% rather than 25%.

In this under handed snake-in-the-grass deal, no one realized that I owned 100% of the management company which relied on the 25% income and nobody could steal the management company out from under my feet, though they tried a dozen different ways. I sought legal help to enforce my contract but the wealthy owners had very deep pockets. They could and did "outlawyer" me. It appeared that I might end up giving away all my earnings to a lawyer and lose the case. Meanwhile I was being harassed in many underhanded ways and the stress was awful. Winning the case would mean I would be continuing to work, but now in a hostile environment. It was going to take years to get this mess to court because their lawyers had powerful strings including the ability to threaten my future in that country. I gave up the fight preferring a less stressful life.

But during those happy years, I saw Bob nearly every day of the week. I had a love for the beach and I visited it almost every day to swim during my years on Tortola. After Nell passed away, Bob was back hanging at the beach whenever he wasn't napping. I began inviting Bob over for lunch or dinner or brunch whenever I was out at the beach house. He was thrilled to attend and never once declined an invitation. Other times when I wasn't living at the beach house, I was living in my tiny apartment overlooking a harbor several miles from Smugglers Cove, I still tried to get to the beach daily by driving my beat up old heap of a jeep. Many times I brought Bob a bowl or plate of whatever I had been cooking at home. He was thrilled and never left a crumb behind.
Bob Denniston, Smugglers Cove Hotel and Beach Bar Tortola, British Virgin Islands, SMugglers Cove Beach
Bob Denniston
Smugglers Cove Hotel and Beach Bar
Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Whenever the beach house wasn't rented out, I was living in it because we were always catching up on painting, gardening, improvements and so fourth between rentals. Most of the time we worked from 6am to 2pm, By 2:05pm, you could typically find me at the beach yacking it up with Bob at Smugglers Cove. Bob regaled me with stories and history of the island. Other times we sat in contented silence, watching the crazy parade go by.

My beloved brother who died recently, managed to come visit me twice during the years I had the beach house. We would schedule his visit during a time I was staying at the beach house, doing maintenance. On one visit, he was very late getting in at night. I was up cooking us a full dinner around 11:30 at night. On a whimsy, I picked up the phone and rang up Bob who was about 300 yards away in his studio talking on the Ham radio with his cronies around the world. I said "Bob, I'm making dinner, can you come up in a few minutes and eat with us?"

My brother was astonished when 80 something year old Bob came walking through the door a few minutes later. I think he was expecting someone much younger, but he quickly made fast friends with Bob. We had a terrific evening and Bob finally went home around 3am.

On a funny note, I had this penchant to go out exploring with a machete in the bush around the island. On one such hike I came across two very stylish china toilets sitting pretty as you please, in the middle of nowhere. A very curious find to be in the bush, the closest home was over two miles away. The toilets were very unique and expensive, obviously a custom order. Why on earth were they sitting out here? Was someone whimsically building a home at some point? It was a curious find indeed.

Next time I saw Bob, we were swapping island tales and I mentioned the toilets. He jumped out of his seat right before my eyes and said "Those are my stolen toilets!" Well, Bob could be as impulsive as me, so we hopped into my old red heap of jeep, bouncing down rutted dirt roads, until we came close to the trail I had blazed with the machete. We hiked the rest of the way until we came upon the toilets. Bob was astonished. Those toilets had been custom ordered by his wife Nell over 10 years earlier and stolen a few days after arrival at his hotel that was closed for renovations.

We  had a lovely dinner together with other friends 2 nights before Bob passed away in his home by the sea on Tortola. I remember that dinner so well because Bob, who never seemed to drink a drop of alcohol in spite of owning the beach bar, asked for a glass of wine. It went down so well with his food that he asked for another glass. He astonished us all by having second helpings of everything. Bob didn't normally eat so much, but this evening he seemed ravenous. When I served dessert, he raved about it so much, that when I plopped down a 2nd serving in front of him, he ate that too. It was past midnight when he went home to fire up his old ham radio and talk with his friends around the world.

The next day I didn't see him at the beach. I just figured he was napping. That evening someone called to tell me that Bob had passed away in his sleep.

This week, a crazy old salty friend turned up at my motorhome, wearing my old T-shirt. The one that Bob gave me sometime in the early 90's.

Life is goof.


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Friday, March 20, 2015

Out Of The Mouths of Babes

Oh my...

I think my inner child is creeping out of me in a very big way. 

It started when Santa Claus brought me a shiny red bicycle 2 years ago. I just can't seem to leave it alone, I keep jazzing it up. It's my treasured toy!

In case you didn't realize it, I don't own a car, just this little old RV, my doggy and a bicycle.

So over time, I've added a front basket to my bike for my puppy dog and rear saddle baskets for his toys and treats.

I added a brass ding a ling bell to warn others, "Here I come, ready or not!"

I added streamers to my handle bars and a cup holder for my sippy water.

I bought some little slip-on Crocs for my feet and bike shorts in assorted colors to match my oversized tunics.

I put dried baby's breath flowers in my rear bike basket. I found a gold bow on the ground around Christmas time and stuck that on the rear fender.

One day recently I put my long hair in braids, put my puppy in his basket up front then rode around the campground on my shiny red bicycle for exercise.

A girl about 8 years old was standing at the edge of her campsite on the side of the road as I peddled by. 

She smiled and waved then yelled at the top of her lungs "Look! Mommy! Daddy! Look! I want a bicycle JUST LIKE HERS!"


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

That Can Eat



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Noisy Repo Crew at 6am

It just goes to show that if you don't pay the bank, they will come find you or your stuff and take it away. Even on vacation.

I was sound asleep early this morning when I heard a horrific noise outside. I jumped out of bed to go investigate. This campground has quiet hours and the front gate is locked from 10pm until 7am. I should note that many campers bring their boats here with them. The campground has a convenient boat launch ramp right inside the campground. Also noted is that because the campground is in such a remote location, it's typically quiet shortly after the sun sets.  I am parked near the campground gate and I've never seen anyone leave or enter after it is locked though one can obtain a pass code to open the lock if need be. Of course I typically sleep a few hours at night, so it's possible that I've missed some late night or early morning shenanigans.

Across from the boat launch inside the camp is a grassy overflow lot. If your boat and trailer don't fit on your camping lot, then you can park it on the grass in the overflow space. The lot sizes here vary widely from huge to tiny. The overflow lot seeks to more or less even this out. Some folks park their cars in the overflow area so as to have more camping room on their lot. Typically a fleet of boats in all shapes and sizes is parked there as well.

Banks and finance companies routinely contract out for a repossession team. I once worked on a marine repo team, we would sneak wayward boats back to the country of origin so the lender could seize it to settle an unpaid collateral note. It was very risky work and I decided it wasn't my cup of tea in spite of the generous pay offered for completion of the job. What good is all that money if you're full of bullet holes trying to earn it? Also noted, is that if we ended up in jail in a different country while trying to repossess bank collateral, we were on our own to seek local remedies. Jail nor bullet holes appealed to me, so after one job, I found other gainful employment that was less of a risk to my freedom and body fluids.

But I digress.

6am, big ruckus in the campground with a huge powerful truck with crazy flashing lights. So much for discretion! I think half the campground woke up as I could see lights coming on in numerous campers and RV's. Everyone except the boat owner seemed awake and some (like me) were out investigating the tremendous noise these folks were making. I mean if you work for a repo team and you make THAT much noise, why not just repo in the middle of the day when folks are less likely to notice the clamor?

Let me pause here while I take time to scratch my head...

Yepper. The repo team was here at dark thirty (sun wasn't up at all) to repossess a nearly new speed boat. It took them about 30 minutes of jockeying around to tow the boat and trailer out to the camp road, then position it so as to winch it up onto their angled flatbed truck, then lower the flatbed back to the perpendicular position for driving. The equipment involved was all powerful and very noisy. I expected the boat owner to show up at any minute and start screaming and shouting, as is typical in these sorts of unpleasant cases.

But um no.

While a few campers stood around in their pajamas watching the circus and others peeked out from raised shades in their campers, a team of asset recovery specialists noisily repossessed the boat. Finally by 6:27am, the huffing, puffing, grumbling truck left, with boat and trailer on their flat bed.


So much for quiet hours in the campground.

At some point today a former boat owner is going to wake up and notice his/her beloved vessel is no longer a part of his/her life.

C'est la vie.


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Getting Lost In Time at Honest John's

Home sweet home... for a few days...

Better than a poop station...

I had to change camping spots and since my poop tank had 2 weeks of poop in it (oh the joys of camping!) I headed for the long line at the poop out pump away stinky station.

Lots of bored campers patiently waiting in line for their turn to poop out their campers before journeying home after a weekend of relaxation.

I surveyed the slow moving line and thought, hmmm, why wait? The crowd would thin out by mid afternoon. So I jumped out of line, drove across the grass, cut over to another camp road then headed for A1A and a beach. The bewildered campers I left behind were more or less thrilled because they could pump their poop even sooner with my hasty departure.

Incredibly the first beach I came to had a big parking spot where my 28 foot mini home could fit nicely. What luck! Angels watching out for me when I least expect it. We walked to the beach to commune with the sea.

After the beach, I made a turn off thinking I thought would find another park (wrong turn) but while getting lost, I found something else instead.

Well, um sort of. I took a turn down a paved road that ran around a sharp blind curve then turned into a one lane dirt road with fences on either side and no room to pass, much less anywhere to turn around.

My friend was impressed with my fearlessness. Frankly, I was praying I would eventually find somewhere (paradise!) to visit or turn around or the road would magically widen at some point. You never know, could be a rainbow and a pot of gold too.

So... hang a left at the fork..

Keep a careful eye out for pedestrians.

Darn, no parking for motorhomes and the car park was *ahem* rather small.

Spanish moss dripping everywhere, gently brushing the roof of my RV as I drove under their magical canopy.

The gate keeper was very friendly, talkative and  informative.

Security gave me a once over before being allowed to pass.

Finally we arrived at Honest John's somewhere around the 19th century. Talk about time travel...

The hostess was dressed up in her Sunday best to greet us.

Sometimes if you don't know where you're going you might just end up somewhere else.

Life is goof.


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