Diane and I spent more time in Florida than we really wanted to. We were hoping to be heading back to Galax and DCMR by the first of April, but the weather up in the mountains was not looking very attractive. There was snow on the ground and very cold. We also had a family event to attend. Our trip home would have to wait for a few more weeks.
April (its really quiet around here)
Our first stop after leaving Brooksville was the Thousand Trails Orlando RV park which is actually located in Clermont. We had a large selection of sites from which to choose to stay on for the next two weeks. We decided on the very back loop. Very quiet place and after the construction truck noise at Belle Parc lots of quiet would be a welcome change. There was very little traffic from other vehicles either, no pickup trucks, no motorcycles. A golf cart with a staff member would come thru every now and then. For Teddy Bear, who was still trying to recover from his almost heart failure, the quiet was a very good thing. The quiet and lack of people and vehicles may have been why a family of sand cranes visited our loop most of the days we were there.
We made this time in Orlando a time of healing and repair. We took our time grooming Teddy Bear, we cleaned the coach, inside and out, including the bays and polished the car as well. I upgraded the software on all the laptops we have, four of them. We had no cable or decent internet so we watched OTA TV, for those of you who don’t know what OTA is, it means Over or Off The Air. I got hooked on reruns of the Match Game and I watched a lot NHK World, the Japanese Network. We may have made a trip to Disney Springs, and some other places but I didn’t bother to take my camera with me. I know, I know, a good photographer should have their tool bag with them always. It won’t happen again.
The Beach (next best thing to the mountains)
Our two quiet weeks in Orlando didn’t pass quickly, or take too long. It felt just right. On the 18th we left for our one day drive to St Mary’s Georgia KOA. One night there and then on to Myrtle Beach and the Lakewood Family Campground. Our stay there would be one week of not doing much, except for two things, walk the beach, which is the next best thing to hiking in the mountains, and fly kites. The first we did together, the second, well that was and still is a solo activity. I am not good at flying kites and taking photos at the same time, not in a strong wind anyway, and we had that while we were there. Diane did help me repair my rescued Octopus. We had to remove all the caterpillar cocoons out of it, and there were a lot, sew up some holes and repair the cell lines. The last step to my kites recovery was not easy. We spread the kite out on the living room floor, where it took up most of the space, we repaired the lines and tied them together. This meant taking it outside, trying to launch it, and if a cell didn’t open, figure if it had the wrong string attached to it or did the string need to be lengthened. It took a few hours but we were successful. Once in the air the kite received quite a bit of attention from other beach walkers.
We could have gladly stayed and listened to the Ocean for a few more days and I wanted to because three of our seven days were cold and rainy, but that is the way it goes. We had somewhere else to be, one night on the road and then two weeks in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Some call it Tidewater, some call it Hampton Roads. It was home for many, many, years and is still home for two of our children. We both have additional family who live there. Three years ago, after we went full-time in our motorhome and sold our house, in that order, I thought I would miss the area a lot, but I don’t. It’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. Diane and myself are now citizens of Galax, Virginia, the place we consider to be our number one home.
Diane’s brother William, affectionately known as Billy, is the owner of the Carefree Boat Club. Members call up, request a boat, take it out for a few hours or a day, pay for the fuel and that’s it. All for a monthly fee. He and Kathy, his wife, invited us out for a Hampton Roads, James River, cruise and Teddy Bear was also invited. The water was fine and we had a great time. We cruised by Fort Wool, the old Civil War Fort, the James River Ghost Fleet, and the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on the Portsmouth branch of the Elizabeth River. Billy, who owns a very nice drone, tried to launch it, but the wind was a bit rough so he called it back in. Teddy Bear seemed to really enjoy our time on the water. I think the salt air did him a lot of good. He stood watch on either Kathy or Diane’s lap, sat in the pilot’s chair for awhile or slept on the deck. He looked like he was smiling the whole time. It was a great day and a real change of pace for us land cruisers.
MAY (I want to be in Galax)
One of the reasons we decided to visit Williamsburg was to avoid the cold weather in the mountains. That reason was no longer necessary because it was warm enough to go back to DCMR. As a matter of fact some of our friends already there were texting us wanting to know when we were coming home. The second reason, and the most important one, was to have a visit with our kids. Christine, who was attending Thomas-Nelson Community college and pursuing a photography degree had a very important show of her work. We wanted to see it, which we did. She happens to be a very good photographer. She is better than me when it comes to capturing good pictures of people. I am quite proud of her. She does take advice from her old man about photography so I think I have contributed to her skills.
After the show we made a visit to her house for dinner. Joel was there too and we all enjoyed a good meal, conversation and a few games. While sitting in the living room nursing a good beer before dinner I found out that Evan, my youngest grandson, was more interested in his smartphone than me. What can I say about that? It was a pleasant evening.
A couple of days later, we needed to get out of the coach and stretch our legs. Instead of visiting Colonial Williamsburg, we decided to take a walking tour of York River State Park which was located very close to Thousand Trails. We left Teddy Bear in the coach. I don’t remember if it was because we were not sure it was a pet allowed park. No matter, we were also concerned he would tire easily.
We took our time walking one of the trails, the weather was pleasant, a bit cloudy, but warm. We had a nice time together, just the two of us.
A couple of days after our York River Park visit, we attended the Greek Festival at the St Demetrious Greek Orthodox Church. It seems to me that the dates for this festival keep changing and it takes place at the same time we are in Williamsburg. It is a small festival with really good food, good baked goods and short lines to buy both or either. The dancers are fun, are good, and a pleasure to watch. This time we took the opportunity to tour the church including the sanctuary. It is quite impressive. We listened to a lecture about Eastern and Greek Orthodoxy and what all the icons meant. I quite enjoyed it and found it to be spiritually moving as well.
Our stay in Tidewater, Hampton Roads, whatever you wish to call it was good. Diane and I took some time to visit the Williamsburg Outlets, and purchased a few things. We traveled to Portsmouth to see our dear friends Ronnie and John. John and I had a golf outing at The Links at City Park, a nine hole course, a pleasant place where I have lost many golf balls. I took Carson there as well for a little Papa and Grandson time..
Soon it was time to head to the mountains, they were calling us and we must go!
Sharp Top Mountain
We were back home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I remember the exact date, May 8th, or maybe the 7th, anyway it was the first week of May. I also remember we had barely made the inside of the coach look like home, set up our patio, including our new Tampa RV show purchased big umbrella , taken our patio furniture out of winter storage, and weeded all the flower beds when Christine called us with exciting news. While we were in Tidewater, she came up with the idea of shooting Joel and Ashley’s engagement photos on the top of Sharp Top. This idea was inspired by some gorgeous pictures of another couple who had done the same thing, Christine had called the photographer who took those pictures and hoped to ask some questions about how she did it, questions about time of day, lighting, lenses etc. The photographer would not help her. That is not unusual. So she turned to her Dad for help and I was glad to give it. A few days later, which just happened to be Mother’s day and Joel’s Birthday, we all met outside the Peaks of Otter Restaurant and Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Christine drove up from Newport News with her four kids, we drove up in the car from Galax. Hers was a four hour drive, ours was about two. Joel and Ashley came up the day before and spent the night in a beautiful B&B not far away in Bedford.
We all took the shuttle bus up the mountain, which made time to the summit much faster than hiking. Good thing too, because it was a very hot day, in the nineties. Most unusual for May at 4000 feet in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was hot, but it was also beautiful. This was a very nostalgic visit for us all. Sharp Top is important to my kids, to all of us. We spent many vacations there, tent camping in the Peaks campground. We have hiked all the trails around there including the Sharp Top Summit trail. As a matter of fact I carried all three kids on my back in one of those backpack things up the mountain when they were small. It was very good to visit the top again, and I didn’t mind the bus trip a bit.
My job at the top was to take pictures of the picture taker, help with gear and hold a large reflector if needed. I did all that, plus more. It turned out to be a really good day. I thought Christine’s pictures were really good. The time with our family was good, the meal at the lodge was good, and the drive home was not all the bad. It had been almost nine years since we had lasted visited this most beautiful spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains. What I didn’t know at the time was it would only be a matter of weeks before we visited it again.
We spent a lot of the next two weeks just enjoying our spot in the mountains. We went shopping for a few new plants including our traditional sweet potato vines and dragon wing begonias. We bought three beautiful large pots to put them in. Diane coundn’t resist bringing home a sad looking hibiscus topiary that had five leaves. She put it in a nice ceramic pot, nursed it for weeks and you should see it now. We spread a lot of mulch on our flowerbeds. We also did a lot of walking in DCMR which was starting to look pretty good. Spring was busting out all over. Yes indeed, life here at DCMR can be downright pleasant. I manged to get in some kite flying time too.
Next thing we knew, Memorial Day was upon us. That meant a lot more coaches would be coming in, a lot of food including a big breakfast, and a golf tournament. In other words we were going to have: great friends, great fun, and great food. Great Combination if you ask me. Diane would not be part of it until Monday Night’s big dinner, she was headed to the Crooked Road Dulcimer Festival at Ferrum College along with close to eighty other Dulcimer players. She was excited about it and it turned out to be a great weekend for her. Teddy Bear and myself watched a lot of old movies while she was gone, with the volume up more than normal.
May was now over. What would the summer bring our way? I wasn’t sure, but I had an idea that it would be great as well.
JUNE (let the music begin)
June is when things start busting out all over…the flowers start popping, like the rose bush at the back of our lot. One day it has nothing but buds, the next large, bright red blooms. June is when the music in our area starts busting out too. Jams and the Concert Series at the Blue Ridge Music Center, Jams at Fries Community Center, and the biggest thing of all Houston Fest at Felts Park in Galax. This was just what Diane and I want. She and I have fallen in love with Appalachian Old Time and Bluegrass music. We cannot get enough of it. I listen to it and she plays it!
All during the month of June our lot, number 3, put on a flower show. The number of flowers and the color would only get better as the month grew older. I could not resist attaching my macro lens to my Sony Camera and heading out the door each morning to take some very close up pictures of our Creator’s designs.
Diane and I made the decision early on that this year we would become more involved with Galax and the surrounding area. She is a member of the Galax Dulcimer Club, a small but vital group that meets downtown Galax in the Briar Patch Cafe every Monday night. I started volunteering at the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts a couple days a week and I became a photography instructor as well. Diane decided to teach basket weaving. She also played at CCSA and at CCSA events. All this served to make us appreciate where we live all that much more.
Teddy Bear held his own during the summer. He always gets excited when his Chewy.com order arrives and gets even more excited when he sees a bunny rabbit on our lot. Our flowers kept blooming, the sun kept setting, sometimes brilliantly and rising the next morning, life was good during the month of June.
The evening of June 23rd found us sitting in the middle of a good crowd at the Blue Ridge Music Center attending our first outdoor concert of the season. The opening band was Shadowgrass featuring Presley Barker, a great young guitar player, a protegee of Wayne Henderson. Shadowgrass was followed by Sierra Hull, an excellent madolin player. We had a really good evening. We both love Shadowgrass, have seen them perform many times. I think I enjoyed Sierra Hull more than Diane did.
The end of June was really hot. Sweltering days, that would take your breath away. I had a hard time dealing with it, even more so when we went down the mountain to visit my Dad and Mom. It was a special visit because Tom, Jeri, and Family had traveled up from Weston, Florida bringing their travel trailer. They parked next door at Cool Breeze RV (and yes their were still a few cool breezes over there) and they wanted to go see my pop as a 90th birthday present. We talked about things going on in his life and took a side trip to downtown Lexington to visit some antique stores and a very special candy shop. While at the Candy Shop I bought a very cold and spicy hot bottle of ginger ale. It burnt going down and I loved it. We also stopped at Conrad and Hinkle country store and food market for some fresh veggies and their famous Pimento Cheese. Tom, Jeri, and family would be visiting us for another week, but not in Galax. We all packed up for a trip to Natural Bridge and a return trip to Sharp Top. This time we would be taking our motorhome. We all headed north up Interstate 77 on July first.