Friday, April 29, 2011

Did You Watch It?

I did not intend to but I woke up at 3:00am to find Norma sitting up in bed watching "The Wedding". I watched until after 4:00 before I rolled over and went back to sleep. Norma watched until after 5:00. I think I got to see the good part(s). People spending way too much money (theirs and the taxpayers) on pomp and circumstance, silly hats and clothes that will never be worn again. Elton John and David were there along with a million Londoners in the street. They say an estimated one third of the population of the world watched at least part of the wedding.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taxes Done! Phew!

This morning we tackled the onerous task of sorting through all six months of mail and pick out all the tax related stuff but we did it by noon. Then I loaded my TurboTax and started entering data. I completed both returns and then had it calculate the income splitting Canada now offers pensioners. It recommended we split a certain amount, which I did, and it saved us $500! I Netfiled the returns and then electronically paid what we owed. It cost us a couple of thousand (plus the few thousand already deducted from my pension) but it is done for another year!

Remember the old days when we had to go to the post office, pick up a return and then painstakingly fill in all the boxes and mail everything with a cheque? It is so much easier now!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Home Safe and Sound!

We left Brooks and Linda's this morning, stopped at our favorite breakfast place and drove home. We arrived at about three o'clock and flopped in front of our respective TV's, mine in the bottom room and Norma's in the bedroom. The house was left spotless by our house sitter. 

We drove home through the hardest rainstorm of the whole trip. It just teemed down for about half the way. A tough drive but it is nice to be home!

The TV broadcast is being interrupted to warn of tornadoes in the South USA where we just left. We got away in time! I will be doing taxes for a couple of days but then I will have something to add about the trip, I will try to do a budget and Chris has asked how many miles we put on the motorhome. I will dig up all that soon. Thanks for riding with us!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Made It Across!

We left the casino at about 10 and headed to Sequim ("Skwim") for breakfast. We found a great all day breakfast place there last year that had Crab Eggs Benedict but I passed this year because the price had gone up to $17, a little expensive for breakfast!

One quick stop at Walmart for a couple of things we forgot and then on to the ferry. Check-in time for reservations was 1:00 and we were there by ten to. It turned out we did not need reservations but there is no loss because they deducted the $17 fee from the fare.

On the Victoria side we showed our pile of receipts and tally list. We were only $50 over our $1500 allowance so it was no problem. He then asked about booze and I was again honest. I told him we were way over but all the bottles are partly empty and that we had two full  bottles of wine. He asked a couple of questions about it and was satisfied that we were not booze smugglers so after telling us about the disastrous gas spill into the salmon creek on the Malahat he waived us through and told us to have a good day! No search, no rubber hoses, no threats, just "have a good day".

We are at Brooks' and I installed the new TV in the front of the RV and Brooks helped me remove the outside stereo that ate CD's. It is a beautiful day here in Shawnigan Lake and we spent all day out in the sun. It is great to be back with our family and Linda's mom and dad are coming for the day tomorrow. Life is good!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seven Cedars Casino

We are parked for the night less than an hour from the ferry dock at the Seven Cedars Casino (aka 7 Cedars Casino) on the Hood Canal. Norma is adding up all our receipts for the last six months, hoping we will be under the $1,500 limit for the two of us. It is going to be close which is usually good enough for the border inspectors. We are WAY over on booze but all but a couple of bottles are open and half empty. Technically they could measure everything and charge us $1 per ounce on everything over 40 oz each. They have never done that before but there is always a first time. They are mainly looking for sealed bottles that we could be intending to sell.

We took our left over USA cash to the casino. I only had about $10 which the slot machine relieved me of in about five minutes. Like last year, it never even gave me a taste of a win. It just took it as fast as I could push the button. Norma had more and she is still over there feeding the monster. She will stick with it until it is all gone. This casino is a great place to boondock but a very poor place to gamble. I never expect to walk away with any of their money but I do expect to get a little entertainment for my money. I figure $10 should buy me maybe a half or even an hour of entertainment by whetting my appetite with the odd small win. Here, this has never happened. I play 40 pennies at a time (some machines take 500 pennies per play) and it just takes it, giving me the very odd "win" of 15 cents. I usually have fun playing within my $20 self imposed limit, but not here. Still, it is a great place to park.

The fifth game of the Vancouver - Chicago hockey series is on at 7:00 so I set up the Starchoice. The Canucks are ahead 3 games to 1 and they only have to win one more to take the series. It would be nice if they did it tonight in front of the home crowd.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chehalis Walmart

We are at the very RV friendly Walmart in Chehalis, WA. It is about two hours from our next stopover, the 7 Cedars Casino on the Hood Canal which in turn is an hour from the ferry to Victoria where we have reservations on the Friday afternoon ferry.

We got all our buying done today. First stop was Camping World where we picked up an RV toilet for Brooks' motorhome. While we were there we bought a hard wired CO detector for our motorhome. They are supposed to be replaced every four years and ours was over due.

Then we went to the last Walmart Supercenter in Oregon where we bought a new 26' TV for the front of the motorhome. I hoped it would just be a simple swap with the 22' one there now but it is not going to be that easy. I will have to drill a couple of holes in my homemade mount to make the larger screen fit without rubbing the ceiling. Not a big job but also not one I can easily do here.

I thought I would install the new CO detector but when I opened the box I noticed the manufacture date was 2009 and it was clearly marked, "Replace by June, 2013"! These things are $79 and I was only going to get two years out of it instead of four! We are too far away to return it but I will phone them in the morning to tell them I will be returning it in November. I walked over to Home Depot and bought a battery operated CO detector as well as a new "kitchen" smoke detector for $32 total. The "kitchen" smoke detector is supposed to ignore normal kitchen emissions to reduce annoying false alarms.

I was once exposed to CO poisoning when I worked. My workmate Pal Horvath and I were driving the Sno Cat up a mountain one evening when Pal suddenly asked me if his face was red. I glanced over and his face was beet red! I told him so and he said, "So is yours"! I stopped the machine and we walked around in the cold snow for a half hour until our colour had returned. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas and if Pal had not noticed my red face we both could have died that night. I had no sensation that I was being poisoned, we just would have "gone to sleep"! If you do not have a CO detector, buy one! If yours is over four years old, replace it!

All That Glitters

Gold has broken the $1,500 barrier. I am "in" gold stocks! When I bought in October of '08 gold was $718 per ounce and shares were $17. I should have bought much more. But then it could have gone the other way and then I should have bought less. Much less. Now gold is $1500 per ounce and shares are $70. It is mysterious to me that gold stocks have gone up much more than the price of gold. I do not understand everything but Life is good!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hood River, Oregon

We finally dragged ourselves away from the hot springs and got away at 11:00. Last night the RV park manager came by to tell us to disconnect the water line as it was going to freeze. It was a good thing she told us or I would have had to deal with a frozen hose this morning.

With one stop for breakfast we had a long drive and are now in the Walmart in Hood River, OR. The parking lot is posted "No Overnight Parking" but there were two other RVs here and they said they were told to go ahead and park. The signs are there just in case they need the space and have to tell us to leave. No problem tonight though as long as we are gone in the morning. Life is still good but it would be better if it was warmer!

We have a little shopping to do in “no sales tax” Oregon. With our Canadian dollar now worth $1.05 things are really cheap! We will buy a new 26” LED TV for the front of the motorhome and a 22” for the kitchen at home. Brooks called to ask us to pick up a new RV toilet for him as they are much cheaper in the USA. The Walmart here just might get well compensated for their “free” parking!

We hope to make a reservation on the Friday afternoon ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria. We will spend the long weekend with Brooks and Linda before heading home to do our taxes.

 

Map picture

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Crystal Crane Hot Springs

Twenty five miles east of Burns, Oregon on Highway 78 is the Crystal Crane Hot Springs. We decided to spend the night here for a soak in the springs. The campground is Passport America, charging members only $9 per night. This price includes all the soaking you want in the natural hot springs! The posted temperature is 96 but I don’t know where they measured that at. At the pipe flowing in, I am sure it is well over 100!

Hot water enters the pool from three sources. You can move from one spot to the other until you find your favorite spot! We were the only ones in the pool at 4:00 or so and stayed for a good half hour. They have very fast WIFI in the office and we are parked right next door so we get it in the rig. I set up the Starchoice dish and am watching the game after a long soak. Ahhhh… Life is Good!

EDIT: We decided to spend one more day here. The hot springs are just too nice to leave. It is cold here in the High Desert, 42 this morning and 50 now at noon. Better get used to it!

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Bay of Pigs, 50 Years Ago

It was fifty years ago today that 1,400 CIA trained, USA backed and financed Cuban exiles tried to sneak onto the beach at an obscure bay in the South of the Island of Cuba. Their goal was to establish a fortified post in Cuba and ask the USA to recognize the occupying force as a legitimate government. The attack relied on the Cuban people and factions of the Cuban army defecting and welcoming the invaders. This did not happen.

Three days before the “invasion” several surplus USA B-26 bombers, painted with the markings of the FAR (Cuban Air Force) to create confusion, set off from Nicaragua with the goal of bombing several Cuban air bases, disabling most or all of Cuba’s fighter aircraft. It was a disaster. Only a few Cuban aircraft were destroyed while a couple of the attackers were shot down and one ran out of fuel. The rest came under heavy anti-aircraft fire and headed back to friendlier territory.

By the 16th Castro was expecting an invasion, he just did not know where it would be. In the early hours of the 17th, CIA trained frogmen came ashore at Playa Gir├│n and set off flares to show the invading boats where to land. A fisherman who lived nearby saw the flares and knew immediately that the invasion had started. He and eleven neighbors ran to the beach with rifles and held the first of the invaders at bay while notifying the army which immediately headed for the bay.

Surprised at not being greeted with open arms by the Cuban people and defecting army, the invaders were sitting ducks. President Kennedy, angry at being deceived by the CIA, withdrew support leaving the invaders who, without sufficient arms and air support, were quickly captured. Many of them were former army personnel from the Batista days and were tried for war crimes committed during the Revolution. Many of these were executed along with a few Cuban collaborators for the invasion. The rest were jailed.

1,100 of them were eventually sent back to the USA in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine from the USA. From that day on, Castro, fearing another USA invasion, severed all ties and communications with the USA and looked to the Soviet Bloc for support, which they were pleased to give him. The Bay of Pigs invasion was the biggest failure in the history of the CIA. President Kennedy was angered with the CIA's failure and claimed he wanted "to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." Kennedy also said, "The first advice I'm going to give my successor is to watch the generals and to avoid feeling that because they were military men their opinions on military matters were worth a damn."

BayofPigs

Tonopah To Winnemucca

Our friend Les, aka The Mexico Kid, has been following us one day behind for a while. He emailed last night from Beattie, NV saying if he knew we were only 90 miles ahead of him he would have kept driving so he could watch the Canucks – Blackhawks on Starchoice with me. We agreed to stay put for a couple of hours in the morning so he could catch up with us and have coffee and a chat. He must have had a very early start (actually he set his alarm!) and pulled into the casino parking lot at about 9:30 this morning.

It is always nice to visit with Les! He spent his winter in Mexico and despite being robbed once, he had a great time! We heard all, or at least most, of each others stories and he started to leave. We were checking out his RV and he pointed out that his motor scooter mount on the back was sagging. He said he would have it looked at when he got home. We crawled underneath and to me at least, it did not look safe. The motor scooter ramp sticks out almost three feet and is secured by a heavy piece of channel inserted into the trailer receiver. This puts a lot of downward, twisting pressure on the mount and the continuous bouncing as he drives had bent the frame member the receiver is attached to. He agreed to have it looked at and modified by a frame shop or a good welding shop ASAP. He had some welding done in Mexico but it only reinforced what was there, it did not address the underlying problem. I hope it holds until you get it looked at Les, it would be a disaster to lose your beloved “Bonita”!

We left at just after 11:00 and headed north on NV 376, a great secondary highway. We drove through beautiful desert to Austin where we switched to NV 305, an equally nice secondary highway. This route has become my favorite route north. Even though we reached 7,500 feet altitude at one point, we did not go through nearly as much gas as I feared we might.

We pulled into Battle Mountain, NV and had a look at the casino parking lot. I had phoned them last night and was told there was lots of room to park and there was, but backed up right to the railway tracks! The casino was very small and not too inviting looking so we decided to drive the extra 55 miles to Winnemucca where we are parked in a Walmart Superstore. We were on the road for over five hours, a little more than we like to drive in a day but it was nice to get all those miles behind us.

We needed to shop and now Norma is in getting her nails done. It is warmer here than it has been so it will be a peaceful night. The only big problem is my Virgin Broadband has no signal and even with my Hawking dish, I cannot find a stray WIFI signal so I am mute! On the positive side, we are getting all the networks on the TV antenna. Life is good!

This is what we watched for five hours today. There were very few other vehicles on the road.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Tonopah, NV and Brothels

We had a very nice drive from Pahrump to Tonopah. Wide open desert and little wind. Two lane highway all the way with a few abandoned mines and a bunch of not so abandoned brothels. Prostitution is legal everywhere in Nevada except Las Vegas.

I think it is a good idea. It gets the workers off the streets and into a safer work environment. They get medical checkups and (biggie) pay taxes! We are not going to do away with the sex trade (even if we wanted to) so we may as well make it safer for all concerned!

Norma would not let me go any further than reading the menu. :(

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where Do You Live?

This is a common question everywhere we travel. However if you live in this Mexican Village, you might want to duck when you answer that question!

Thanks to Jonna & Mimi in Merida!

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Spam Fighter

My Shoutbox has been plagued by spam lately. A couple of times a day I have to delete five to ten spam messages. Most of them are the result of the latest Philippine craze of  "blogwalking". These people search the Internet for random Blogs and then leave a link back to their own Blog or website in the hope that I and my readers will visit their site and buy something from them or click on one of their Adsence ads. The practice is very annoying and it requires a couple of steps to delete each of them.

Considering most of them come from the Philippines and that I have few if any legitimate readers there, I have started to "ban" the Internet providers these people are using. This of course means that legitimate commenters from there are also banned. This is unfortunate.

EDIT: I banned four ISP's and only got one spam last night. I may have found the active one!

Reasons To Slow Down

This is what we would be facing if we went home today! Snow! We are a little ahead of schedule but want to spend a few days at Brooks and Linda’s before we head up to Campbell River to do our taxes and start our summer chores. The taxes have to be sent by the 30th so it is a matter of close timing!
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Canucks!

We got the StarChoice set up and I am watching the opening game of the Vancouver - Chicago series. Great game so far and the Canucks are ahead 2 - 0! I am yelling and everyone else in the park is wondering what the problem is...

OK! 2 - 0 final score and a shutout for Luongo! Great start and I hope they can keep up the momentum.

Jannik Hansen after his first period goal:

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Long Distance Voting

The BC New Democratic Party is holding a Leadership Convention this weekend to select a new leader. We are members and are entitled to a vote. This morning I called the Provincial Office to get our PIN numbers and then we voted on the Internet for our friend John Horgan. Good luck John!

This is a great way to vote and we should be able to do this for every election. It just might improve the abysmal turnouts for elections.

Hanging Around Pahrump

We are staying in Pahrump for a couple more days. We just needed a break from doing something every day and Terrible’s Lakeside RV Park fits the bill! It is a beautiful park, registering 10/10/10 on the Woodalls scale. Plus it is a Passport America park so we only pay $16 per night for full hookup. It has it’s own lake complete with tame ducks who spend most of their time at our door looking for a handout and crapping on the patio.

My fellow Blogger Don (Over The Hump!) dropped over yesterday for a coffee and a chat. It is always great to meet fellow Bloggers and once more the actual person turned out to be just as I expected him to be after reading his blog for years, a great guy. It was a pleasant visit!

Last night we had some neighbors over and then went to their spot later for a shared dinner. Life is Good!

Map picture
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Long Way To Las Vegas

We left Laughlin at about 10 this morning planning on a short drive to Las Vegas. When we got to the bridge at the north end of Laughlin the left turn to Vegas was barricaded off! There were no signs or anything, just Road Closed!

There are two other ways, one back the way we came towards Kingman but that involves a 2500 foot 6% climb which my gas tank wanted to avoid. The other way, through Needles, CA is longer but flatter. We headed for Needles. It probably added a good hour to the trip but we made it to Las Vegas. We decided not to stay here but to go to Pahrump for a couple of nights at Terrible's Casino and RV Resort. It is one of the highest rated RV parks in the USA and is also a Passport America park so we get it for $20 per night - half price!.

I am sitting in the motorhome in front of Macy's in Henderson, NV while Norma is shopping for something only available at Macy's. It is 72 degrees outside and a blue but slightly overcast sky. My solar system is charging at 13.4 volts. Life is good!

Low Batteries

Today is the first time I have had to take notice of the limits of my solar power. We have been boondocking for three nights now with only a one hour drive between the first and second day. We have been living as we normally do, charging two laptops, two phones, camera battery and watching TV for hours each night (usually both TV's). The Cradlepoint WIFI device is also never turned off. We have two inverters, one in the front and one in the bedroom, and they stay on all the time, used or not. This is quite a power drag on my two three year old six volt golf cart batteries. The single solar panel is also probably covered with pollen from Florida and South Carolina that I never cleaned off.

Last night I was up for a minute and decided to check the battery voltage. It was 11.4! This is about a 15% charge and is getting down to the point where the electronics on the propane powered fridge could stop working! I immediately turned off both inverters and checked the fridge to make sure the "Check" light was not on. We are moving to Las Vegas today so it will get a three hour run and we will probably go to a proper RV park where we will plug in.

My friend Rae just got a new solar panel installed and has been much better than I at monitoring it's performance. This is probably the first time we have boondocked for that long without a day's drive between stops and probably the first real test the system has had.

I am off to the rooftop to clean my solar panel. It is a sunny day today.

EDIT: I cleaned the panel (it was filthy), the full sun is on it and the batteries are charging at 12.5 volts. "It's Alliive!!!"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Great Show!

“The Australian Bee Gees” put on a great show at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Casino. They look so much like the originals it is rather spooky! Their sound is right on as well. For many of their songs they were playing video of the original group’s performance and the synchronization was perfect.

We may have been too close to the stage however. Our seats were about ten feet from the lead singer (“Robin”) and it seemed like much of the sound was going over our heads and it would probably have sounded a little better back a bit. The show lasted about one hour and twenty minutes which seemed a little short, probably because I remembered the words for most of the songs and was singing along! It was well worth the price of admission!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Not Bad For Free

I got up early this morning and drove the Honda over to the Walmart Lube and Oil Centre for a lube, oil and new wiper blades. It took them a half hour and the bill was $35. Good Deal! Next I took the motorhome in. They refused to put synthetic oil in it and only relented when I agreed to buy the oil separately so they could call it “customer provided oil”. They then changed the filter and added the oil I bought.  I don’t know what the problem was, all other Walmarts have used synthetic oil in the past. Anyway, they did the lube and oil, changed the air filter and charged me $69 plus $50 for the oil so it was an expensive oil change.

We then left for Laughlin where we have tickets for tonight's show. It was cold and miserable with a sleet coming down. It was going to change to snow any second but we stayed ahead of it. We had made reservations in an RV park but when we drove past the Riverside Casino where the show is we noticed several RV’s in the overflow parking lot. We drove in to check and there must be twenty signs saying “No Overnight Camping”. I called the casino and asked and they told me it was a city bylaw and since Laughlin never closes, they consider more than 24 hours to be “overnight”. So, no problem parking for less than 24 hours. That is great! We can walk to the Riverside for the show, see what else Laughlin has to offer, sleep and head for Las Vegas around noon tomorrow, well under the 24 hour limit.

Here is our parking space. Not bad for free.

EDIT: I spoke too soon. A knock on the door and we were told we were in the wrong lot. We had to move to the “South Lot” where we are crammed in with a long row of RV’s with no view. At least we found a spot where we could leave the car and dolly attached. Still not bad for free.

Riverside

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kingman, AZ

We looked at the maps last night and set Flagstaff, AZ as a destination for today. I then looked at the weather forecast and they were calling for snow tonight and tomorrow in Flagstaff! There were no really good options as everything around Flagstaff is the same altitude, 7100 feet.

The only thing to do was to make it a long day and drive to Kingman, AZ. We were on the road for about seven hours and parked in the Walmart at about 6:00 PM. There was a security guard parked near some other RV's so I asked him if it was OK to park. He said, "Walmart says go ahead but the City says no overnight parking. All I can say is walmart welcomes you but I cannot guarantee the City will not kick you out. In my four years here, no one has been kicked out". Taking that as an OK we parked beside 12 other RV's.

We are heading for Las Vegas but always like to stop in Laughlin for a night or two. I checked the Internet  and found the Australian Bee Gees are performing at the Riverside. They are a tribute band that has played all over the world for the past ten years. I ordered two tickets for tomorrow night on line for $25 each. I will report.

After that I walked over to Walmart to see if they could do an oil change in the motorhome in the morning and they can. I then looked for a pair of steel toed work shoes for LindaLee and they had her size! I was losing hope as these boots have been discontinued and each store has only had five or six pair, never in her size. Tonight I lucked out! Life is good!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sailing Into The Wind

The wind was really bad on the highway the last two days. I knew the V-10 was struggling as it had to downshift just to keep our speed at 55 - 60 mph on level ground. At times I could not even keep up that speed. Overdrive would only cut in when going downhill. I calculated my mileage on the worst day and discovered I was getting only 4 mpg! That is almost $1.00 per mile for gas alone! This better not keep up...

New Mexico

Here I am, driving on Route 66, at 6850 feet altitude doing 54 in a 55 zone and taking pictures of my GPS. It is a good thing mother only raised one dumb kid!
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We checked out late as we did not have far to go today. We had breakfast at the Route 66 Restaurant in Santa Rosa, NM. It took a while to get out of there as the owner wanted to hear all about our travels. that is his ‘57 Ford out front.
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We made it to the Dancing Eagle Casino west of Albuquerque, NM after stopping for Fry Bread. The wind picked up as soon as we checked in and it looks like it just might rain tonight. New Mexico needs the rain as there are a couple of forest fires burning right now.

The last time we were here, Norma won $80! I hope her luck repeats itself this time.
Well, no such luck! Norma went through her $20 and I went through my $20. Also, the $20 free gas is only for first time visitors and as we were in the computer we did not get that either. We had dinner in the casino and are now hunkered down in the motorhome watching TV and wondering if we should put the slide in. The topper is flapping in the wind…

Things could be worse.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Three State Day!

Today we were in three states! We started off in Oklahoma, crossed the top of the Texas Panhandle and got into New Mexico. We fought high crosswinds for much of the way, making driving a little difficult. Every time we were passed by a big rig, the wind was cut and the motorhome turned hard to the right. I tried to keep one eye on the mirror to be prepared for being passed but I missed many of the rigs coming up on me.

We came to a casino where we tried to find refuge for the night but some construction was being done and the RV parking lot was closed, We carried on and decided to get an RV park in Santa Rosa, NM.

Route 66

As we were driving along I-40 we found some remaining sections of old Route 66 to drive along. It was a great feeling for me to be able to drive this great old road! I certainly got my kicks!

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Oklahama OK!

On Sunday we left Memphis and started heading west. We stayed off I-40 because I dislike interstates in general and if an alternate route presents itself, I will take it. I hate I-40 in particular because it replaced old Route 66 and in my opinion that was a crime! In this case we found highway 64 paralleled I-40 all the way into Oklahoma. It was a nice change and took us through some very scenic country. If anyone asks if I have been to the Ozarks, I can say “yes” and I have the proof!

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We planned to make it to Oklahoma City in one day but fate prevailed. We reached a point where it looked like we should get back onto I-40. We should have stuck with 64! Not long after changing highways we came to some construction. The westbound side of I-40 was forced to merge into one side of the eastbound side of the highway. We were going along slowly but steady until we came to a dead stop. The lineup extended as far ahead as we could see but we could not see the problem. After an hour or so the woman in a car behind us decided to take the opportunity to jog ahead to see what she could find out. She was back in about an hour and reported she had been stopped by the police and told to go back. They told her a piece of a bridge had collapsed and several cars had their tires blown out. No one was hurt but they had to call some equipment operators to put in a temporary road across the median to allow use of the new bridge in the westbound lane. After another couple of hours we started moving. The old eastbound bridge had several cars and trucks parked on it and up ahead were about ten vehicles with at least two blown tires each. Any cars with magnesium wheels had their wheels broken into bits. A hole about eight feet wide and a couple of feet long had opened up in the concrete bridge and all that separated the speeding cars from the river below was a web of re-bar!

This incident put us way behind schedule and we found a Wal-Mart nearby to spend the night. I am glad I did not hit that hole! Those people had a long wait for new tires and wheels or a flatbed tow truck!

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Little Rock Central High School

Before we leave Little Rock we have to touch on the Civil Rights battle that raged here in 1957. It was then that the Federal Courts ordered that the High School start accepting Black students. Nine students enrolled but were blocked from entering the school by the Arkansas National Guard, ordered up by Governor Orval Faubus. Several days later President Eisenhower, at the request of the Little Rock Mayor, sent in Federal Troops to enforce integration and protect the nine students who had become known as the Little Rock Nine. On September 24, the President took control of the Arkansas National Guard away from the State and sent the 101st Division to Little Rock and the the next day, Wednesday, September 25, 1957, and under Federal escort, the students entered the school.

Here in her own words, one of the Black students describes her ordeal:

“They moved closer and closer ... Somebody started yelling ... I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd—someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.”

Here are photos taken during those trying days. Just look at the hatred in the faces of the white demonstrators! How can people hate so much simply on the basis of colour? Yesterday, by the way, was the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. How far have we really come?

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bill Clinton Library

The Clinton library is in Little Rock and is the main reason we came this way. In my mind, Clinton is the best President the USA has ever had. He came in with a huge deficit of $290.4 billion left by Bush I and left office after his full eight years leaving a huge surplus of $236.4 billion. He is a highly intelligent person with the charisma to be the great President he was. I Miss Bill and bought the t-shirt that says just that.

The Library is very interesting. The admission is reasonable, $5 for seniors and we spent about three hours in it. here is a display for each year of his term from 1993 until 2000. One of the most interesting displays is the gifts he received from visiting Heads of State. Everything from a priceless Faberge Egg from The Soviet Union to a bowl from Canada that looked like a Blue Light Special from KMart (I’m sure it wasn’t). Also included with the gifts were a selection of five saxophones from five countries.

By law, any gifts given to the President belong to the people of the United states. This is too bad because nothing gets to be used. the saxophones in particular, could have found a great home with the Clintons.

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The Clinton Oval Office:

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Norma getting her briefing in the Cabinet Room;

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Didn’t Bill say to meet him in The Oval Office for burgers at one o’clock sharp?

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Some of Bill Clinton’s accomplishments:

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Peabody Hotel Duck Walk

Every day at five o’clock there is a small ceremony in all the Peabody Hotels. A group of ducks in led out of the lobby fountain, along a red carpet, into the elevator and up to their own room. Really!

The story goes that way back when, the general manager of the Memphis Peabody Hotel was out duck hunting with a couple of friends. In those days duck hunters were allowed to use live decoys which is what they had. The hunt was not productive so the men imbibed a little too much while they waited by the pond. They finally headed back to the hotel to sleep it off and on their way through the lobby, either as a joke or for convenience, they tossed the live decoy ducks into the fountain. In the morning they found the ducks happily swimming around and also a large crowd which had gathered to watch them before they headed for the hotel coffee shop. They had found a way to attract a crowd and fill the coffee shop!

Now every day in all Peabody Hotels, a small group of ducks is led by the official “Duckmaster” down the elevator, along their own red carpet to the fountain and back up to their room every evening.

Today the ducks had an escort of young beauties who had gathered in the lobby to have photos taken for the Prom. Not all eyes were on the ducks…

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And up the elevator. Note the duck heads looking out the bottom of the left side window!

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Nothing to do with ducks, just one of the Prom Queens posing for photos:

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Streetcar Ride

Little Rock has a great streetcar system. They are clean, nicely maintained, air conditioned and cheap. Seniors ride for fifty cents for as long as you want to sit on it. We did the whole circuit; the street market to the Clinton Library, through the Historic District, across the Arkansas River to North Little Rock and back to the market area. The driver had a microphone and gave a running commentary on the sights as we passed them. It was the best fifty cent tour we have ever had.

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Skipped Graceland

"Ray" asks in the Shoutbox if we went to Graceland while we were in Memphis. No, we did not for a couple of reasons. The most important is that although I am an Elvis fan, I prefer to remember him as he was in the 50's and early 60's and not in the bloated condition of his later Graceland years.

The other reason is that I really object to spending $35 per person to see any attraction. We were told that we could go there and at least see the building through the fence and take photos but we did not bother. We spent the money to go to BB King's club on Beale Street instead.

The Old Railway Bridge

This is the old railway bridge over the Arkansas River near downtown Little Rock. It sat unused for years but is now being converted into a walking, biking pathway. The drawbridge will remain in the “up” position and ramps are being added for a gentle incline. It ends up right at the Clinton Library grounds. It will be a very nice addition.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Homer’s Good Eats

Homer's is a Little Rock tradition and is recommended in all the travel guides for it's food. It is only open for breakfast and lunch and the books say it gets very busy. We called but they do not take reservations and we were told that they start running out of food by 1:00 and they close at 2:00 sharp. We were there at 11:30 hoping for breakfast but the lunch menus were out. The parking lot and restaurant were packed! There was one table available that we grabbed.

The waitresses are run off their feet and today both bathrooms were full of plumbers with wet/dry vacuums and power "snakes" trying to fix a major catastrophe with the waitresses yelling at them to hurry up! It was a madhouse. We ordered (catfish for me and chicken fried steak for Norma) and also ordered free sides of corn, cabbage, mashed potatoes and turnip greens. Our food was there in minutes and was plentiful and delicious. There was a lineup to sit and another lineup to pay at the cash register. I paid our $18 bill and we were on our way. I doubt if we were in there for more than a half hour. If you ever get to Little Rock, Arkansas, you have to find Homer's!
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It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and Life Is Good in Little Rock, Arkansas! On to the Clinton Library!