Monday, March 31, 2014

A Day Off The Road

We have decided to stay here in Odessa for the day. There is a nice laundry room right outside our door and we are due. Norma is also refilling the DVR with her favorite shows. Speaking of which, does anyone watch "The Good Wife"? What a shocker!

StarChoice set up very quickly. I used the DishPointer site to get the Google Maps view of the RV park with it's highlighted pointer to the bird. The path went right over the peak of the roof of the building beside us so I pointed it there, adjusted the elevation slightly and there it was!

Just a comment on Shaw Direct (StarChoice). They are no longer supporting use of their system outside of canada. They have adopded the Bell Expressvu business mode and have limited use of their product to Canada. Well, they have not re-aimed the satellites so the signal is still there for the taking, just don't expect any help from Customer Service. They have not yet taken to cutting you off if they find you are outside of Canada but that could be coming.

Use DishPointer to get a good idea of where to point your dish but do not count on them for skew settings. They use a different calibration for their angles and they do not work on the Shaw dish. I have pdf documents for all the setup information including azimuth, elevation and skew for Canada, USA and Mexico. If you want me to email you a copy, let me know.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Odessa, TX

I slept like a log last night and did not wake up until almost 9:00 which is pretty remarkable seeing the parking lot is very close to I-20. I had a sliced tomato on toast and we hit the road. It was a long drive through scrub desert but to make up for it, the weather was perfect. We made two stops, one for gas and another for breakfast at Denny's.

There is a lot of oil exploration going on in this part of Texas and many temporary RV parks have sprung up along the side of the road, filled with workers in RV's and even tents. A lot of money is being made.

The other thing we noticed in this area was the huge number of wind generator towers producing power. Many square miles of them, all turning in the relentless Texas wind. I had read that Texas is currently in the forefront of alternative energy production which I found hard to believe given the old Texas reliance on oil and it's previous reluctance to enter into any discussion on wind and solar. It is refreshing to see this progressive change taking place.

We are in Odessa, in the Midessa Oil Patch RV Park. We are close to Midland (hence the name of the park) which is home to the George W. Bush Library. I could fall back on the old joke that it only contains comic books and a copy of "Dick and Jane" but I will refrain..... I don't know if I want to go or not, I had little respect for him as a President. I have visited only one Presidential library and that was Bill Clinton's, whom I have a great deal of respect for.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


We are parked in Hudson Oaks, Texas, in an RV friendly Walmart on I-20 just west of Fort Worth, Texas. We just maneuvered through the Dallas / Fort Worth rush hour traffic and decided we were way too tired to continue to Abilene so we pulled off. I guess the thunderstorm kept me awake last night longer than I thought it did.

The weather is nice here, high 70's and blue sky. If it holds through tomorrow we may look for an RV park to spend a couple of days to work on our tans. Maybe near Abilene or Midland where the temps are promising to hit the low 80's.

All for now, time to find something to eat and crash.

On The Road Again And A Travel Warning To Canadians

We are up bright and early and will soon hit the road towards Abilene, Texas. "The prettiest town that I've ever seen".

The weather was terrible last night, typical for our travels. There was a huge thunder and lightening storm and the rain came in torrents. If any State is having drought problems, let us know and we will make a stop there for a very reasonable charge, results guaranteed. Well, maybe not so reasonable a charge, we may as well cash in on our Joe Btfsplk (Lil' Abner character) persona.

Canadians In The USA Take Note

My Blogging friend George (Our Awesome Travels) posted a link to this article concerning new cooperation between the USA and Canada regarding monitoring Canadians length of stay in the USA. We are limited to 180 days out of every "rolling" 12 month period (the 12 months starts whenever they say it starts) and the results of breaking these rules are pretty devastating and exposes you to severe penalties on both sides of the border. Do yourselves a favor and read the article.

I once got into an argument at the USA / Canada border when I was accused of being in the US longer than I said. We entered the US late Friday afternoon and left Sunday early afternoon. When they asked how long we were in the US I answered "two days" (less than 48 hours). They said that was three days and I had lied. The way they figure the "Day Count" is that any day you spend any part of in the US is a "day". This means if you enter the US at 11:00 PM, spend a couple of hours and leave at 1:00 AM, you have spent two days in the US and this counts towards your 180 day total.

Friday, March 28, 2014


We passed through Jackson, Mississippi, the site of the June 12, 1963 murder of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers by white supremacist and KKK member Byron De La Beckwith. Evers was active in the campaign to desegregate the University of Mississippi. De La Beckwith was unsuccessfully tried twice by all white juries in the 60's and it was not until 1994, after living as a free man for more than 30 years, that a racially mixed jury found him guilty of the murder. He died in prison in 2001. The murder and trial were portrayed in the 1996 movie, Ghosts Of Mississippi.

A little further along I-20 we came to the State Highway 154 site of the 1934 ambush and killing of Bonnie and Clyde. We did not stop but there is a museum in the site of a nearby restaurant where the pair stopped for takeout sandwiches just before their death. The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum is run by the son of one of the lawmen who took part in the ambush. Bonnie was still clutching her half eaten sandwich when she was killed. It may not have been quite as glamorous a shootout as portrayed in the movies.

Shreveport. Louisiana

Yes, we are back in Louisiana! The couple of freezing nights we had convinced us to turn South for our return trip North. We have plenty of time and it would be great to find some place to stop and get a tan to show off at home.

Well, Shreveport is not the place! As soon as we arrived after a LONG day's drive and booked two nights at Diamond Jack's Casino RV Park it started pouring rain and we got news of a tornado/hailstorm watch for the area! Well, we are on the outskirts of it anyway. If we had taken the more northern route we would have been right in the midst of it!

It is a small RV park attached to the casino at $30 per night. We tried for an hour after the downpour stopped but could not find a path through the trees for the Starchoice. I then hooked up the local cable and it came in very fuzzy even after I added an amplifier to the system. I am going to have to do a serious rewiring job to the TV system this summer. It has one of those "push button boxes" that sends various signals (antenna, cable, VCR) to the three TV locations (front, rear, outside) but it has been giving us fuzzy signal problems for years. I bought a new "box" but have yet to dig into the maze of wires to install it. It has never been a big issue because the StarChoice works perfectly, except when we can't get it. Installing the new "box" involves enlarging the hole in the oak cabinetry, not something I am looking forward to as it will have to pass Norma's inspection, ie. look perfect.

Tonight we will go out to Copelands, a recommended Louisiana cooking restaurant for what passes for Cajun cooking in Northern Louisiana. Wish us luck, we need a break!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We Are Where?

Well, what are plans for if not to be changed? While Norma was getting her nails done this (yesterday) morning I scanned the weather sites for conditions in Memphis. We were looking forward to walking up and down Beale Street for a couple of nights searching out some Blues Music. However, the weather looked terrible in the immediate future. It was calling for rain and thunderstorms for the next three days and for nights below freezing. Not fun conditions to walk around town in, Blues or no Blues.

We came to the realization that we were setting our sights too far north so we decided to follow I-20 which goes west in a little more southerly direction. We set the GPS for Jackson, Mississippi and headed out. we will go to Shreveport, LA and spend a couple of days there looking for some food and entertainment before heading for Las Vegas where it should be warm.

We are just outside Jackson in a city or county park on a lake. Norma wanted to watch something on TV so we found a path through the trees that surround us and found the bird.

There is no Internet here so I will be Blog and email deprived. I am doing this Blog on Windows Live Writer and will send it in the morning after we leave.

Well, I did not post it this morning. It is 3:30 PM and we are parked for the night. I will fill you in later.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Macon, GA to Birmingham, AL, The Long Way

After the guy finished with the waxing we dumped, filled the water and headed out. We found a route on Google Maps that bypassed Atlanta and entered it into the Garmin. It was a beautiful drive through the back roads of Georgia and into Alabama (the blue line on the map below). The weather was perfect, sunny and warm. We stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch and then pushed on, not realizing we had gone through a time change until the arrival time on the Garmin stopped agreeing with our watches.

Google Maps calls it a four hour drive but as usual, we take a bit longer, in this case, we were on the road for almost six hours. A long drive for us.

We are in a WalMart on I-20, just a little short of Birmingham. Norma is over getting her nails "done" and I am about to let the barber in the attached strip mall try to rescue the terrible haircut I got almost two months ago. It is finally to the point where the sides and back need cut. LindaLee, where are you when I need you?

Birmingham is where Dr. Martin Luther King penned his famous "Letter From The Birmingham Jail" when he was arrested and jailed for organizing a non-violent demonstration for equality. The letter defends his policy of non-violent resistance to racism. The Letter itself is a must read!

Thanks to people like Dr. King, Life Is Good!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Savannah To Macon

It was a short drive of 160 miles yesterday. We were going to go as far as Atlanta but after looking at RV parks, we decided on a Passport America park in Macon. We needed an RV park as we needed to dump, refill the water and give the batteries a good soak charge.

We found a pull through and then Norma saw a sign in front of one of the parked RV's advertising cleaning and detailing. Well, there was no putting her off, she went over and asked him about hand waxing the rig. He wanted $10 per foot to wash the roof, sides and hand wax the whole thing. She said that $310 was way too much so he agreed to do it for $200. Still too much in my opinion but she agreed. He was an energetic worker and put in a full four hours with his wife helping, getting the roof and three sides done. The hot sun was on the forth side so he put that off till morning. It is 9:00 AM now and no sign of him yet. I hope he gets here in time to finish before checkout time or we will be stuck here for another night. Maybe there is something to see in downtown Macon. We are a little behind schedule compared to the last time we were through this part of The South but we will not be spending as much time in the places we have already seen.

OK, he just finished and it is only 10:15. Off to Birmingham, AL. Talk to ya'all later.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Savannah's Dirty Little Secret

You will not find this on any travel brochures or visitor websites but Savannah has a hidden little secret lurking in many of the old buildings on or near the riverfront. For decades before the Civil War, Savannah was the most active US port for the slave import business. Most slave's first closeup glimpse of "The Land Of The Free" was the Savannah seaport.

The Bay Lane buildings of what is now the City Market were the former center for slave trade. There is a movement to preserve the former trading floor of the Montmollin Building which has not been met with much enthusiasm from city officials who would rather forget this unfortunate period of history. I think the memory should be kept alive for if we forget our history we are more likely to repeat it. "Yes, we used to engage in slavery but we stopped, so we are good people now" is similar to "Yes, I used to beat my wife/girlfriend but I stopped, so I am a good person now".

On the top floor of this building on one infamous day in 1859, known as "The Weeping Time", 436 human beings were sold in the largest slave auction in the history of the United States. Young, strong, healthy males went for $600.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Walk In The Park

"Do you want to go anywhere?" Norma asked. It was about noon and she was taping the curling so we were free to leave. I said I would like to explore Forsyth Park which is a little more than a mile walk away. I grabbed the camera and off we went, finding a residential street to walk down. The street was lined with oak trees, beautiful old houses and a small park every three or four blocks. Savannah really is a beautiful, well designed city!

We soon arrived at Forsyth Park, a 30 acre park with walking paths, monuments and a fountain. There were many residents out for a Sunday stroll. I love the old oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss that fill this park and line the streets. After strolling for an hour or so, we found a DOT bus stop and got a free ride back to the RV. It was beautiful short pants and t-shirt weather.

After resting for an hour, we changed and walked back to the Crystal Beer Parlor where we ate on Thursday night. This time I ordered crab stew and a Greek salad, Norma the hamburger steak and we shared some Fried Green Tomatoes. Everything was delicious. This inaptly named restaurant prides itself in cooked to order meals using local ingredients and it really shows. We added a slice of Key Lime Pie and a piece of Peach Cobbler to go.

A perfect day! Life Is Good! Next stop, Atlanta, GA.

Quiet Day

We had a quiet day yesterday. We awoke to a fine rain and cooler weather and I was suffering from a minor stomach problem. Norma had about ten hours of curling on the DVR so we decided to stay home and take it easy. We watched curling and had soup for dinner. We had seen everything we wanted to see the day before so we are not missing anything.

Today we were supposed to leave but the curling finals are on so Norma walked over and paid for one more day. We are running the generator every few hours to keep the batteries up and we still have plenty of water and space in the holding tanks.

Tomorrow we will head towards Atlanta.

We had a bit of unfortunate excitement yesterday afternoon. About 4:00 a class C with Yukon plates pulled in and parked about twenty feet from us. It was a young couple with three kids, maybe 5, 3 and a toddler. They were here a while when a rough looking man appeared and went in, only to leave after a half hour or so. Soon we could hear yelling and a while later the door opened and the male came out with the female yelling at him and slamming the door behind him. He stood outside and soon the woman came out, yelling and swearing. Soon she was hitting him while he tried to walk away and then the two small children came out the open door, crying. The older child came out and tried to get the younger ones back inside while mom and dad continued fighting, her hitting but him not hitting back. They saw us watching, got back into the rig and soon drove away, I guess fearing we would call the police which is what we were talking about doing. It was a disconcerting experience. It was hard to figure out if the kids would be better off in State custody thousands of miles away from home or staying with two parents who did not deserve them. We really felt sorry for the oldest child who seemed to be trying to take over parenting responsibilities, probably not for the first time.

Who was the older, rough looking visitor? A relative who started an argument? A drug salesman? Who knows? But it was not a pretty scene and we were left thinking we should have done something.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Savannah Day Two

We had a great sleep in the Visitors Center. There is a guard on duty (part time anyway) but even with the great deal on overnight parking, we shared the parking lot with only two other RV's. We were anxious to try out the free "DOT" bus system that takes you all around Savannah and lets you on and off at stops all along the route. We got on right in front of the Visitors Center and rode past many of the city's squares and residential areas before getting off as close to the river as possible. It was a one block walk and an elevator ride down to River Street where we hoped to take the free streetcar up and down the historic riverfront area. This was not to be as the streetcar had not been running for over a year. No problem, we walked. It took a long time because there are hundreds of clothing and craft stores along the way and Norma had to check out most of them while I sat and waited on the very conveniently located park benches along the way.

My hard and fast rule is that whatever she buys on these excursions, she has to carry herself. I refuse to be her pack mule as I would soon be laden down, waiting for that final straw that would figuratively break my back! Carrying her own pillage requires her to keep her credit card in her pocket more and keeps my hands free for other things, like taking photos. There is no danger of me buying "stuff".

One Craft Brewery, Why Not Two?

Directly across the street from the Visitors Center is The Distillery, another craft brewery with great reviews on their food. Not feeling like heading out for another trip through town, we walked across the street only to find an extremely popular, crowded and noisy "Distillery". It was a young crowd of after work drinkers and eaters and after finding the reservation desk we learned it would be 30 - 45 minutes before we could be seated. Spotting two vacant stools at the long bar, we grabbed them, ordered a drink and waited. Norma ordered a Chardonnay (which she liked this time) and I a "Boston Lager" craft beer on draught. Her wine was $5 and my beer only $3 for a pint as it was Happy Hour. We were soon taken to our table but were told I would have to return to the bar to pay my tab as it was not transferable to the restaurant. This was annoying because I had to wait for ten minutes to find someone to pay.

I ordered fish and chips and Norma, fish tacos. The portions were huge! I managed to get through mine but Norma gave up after one of her two tacos. I ate the large piece of fish from hers and left the rest behind. We added another drink to the tab and it totaled $38 + $8 from the bar + tip. A little expensive but a fun night.

There was some kind of a draw going on and the guy at the next table won a beer company t-shirt which he gave Norma because "blue is not a man's color".  We also got into a conversation about Canada's Medical system with the table on the other side. The guy liked the idea of socialized medical but hated Obama's idea of including everyone in it. He thought it should cover only people who worked and paid taxes. Our explanation of the "One Big Pot" that you put into according to ability and draw out of according to need was lost on him. He finally admitted it was "Mexicans" he did not want covered. Yes, we have come a long way! Or not!

City Hall
 River Street
 Another shop in a neat old building.
The Waving Girl Statue. She was the sister of the lighthouse keeper and greeted every ship as it entered the port.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crystal Beer Parlor

Yesterday afternoon we walked next door to the Visitors Center and asked for recommendations for a nearby restaurant. The young man told us about the Crystal Beer Parlor, a four block walk away. It is Savannah's second oldest restaurant opened in 1933. It is on a quiet residential street and at one time was an early "neighborhood pub". It takes up the ground floor of a long, narrow building with apartments above. The place was an illegal "speakeasy" during Prohibition. The walls are covered with photos from Savannah's past.

We started off with a local craft wheat beer (me) and a glass of white wine (Norma). The beer was excellent. I have become a fan of wheat beer ever since my son bought me one in San Diego many years ago. Norma ordered Chardonnay but was served something sweeter that she did not particularly like.

The food was excellent. I had fried oysters and they were delicious. Tender and served with a mild homemade tartar sauce. If I had to say anything bad about them, it would be that there were not enough of them on the plate. Norma had a half rack of lamb which she said was very good but could not finish. We were offered the desert menu but declined, we had apple crumble pie waiting at home. The bill was $38 plus tip. Not bad.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Windows XP Phasing Out

My Blogging friend Rick just reminded me that Microsoft will stop updating XP in mid April. I did know this but Rick also dropped this shocker, even anti-virus protection via Microsoft Security Essentials will end! Wow, I didn't know that! My Asus Netbook is the last computer I own still running XP and I want to keep it going. Mid April is before we get home so I had to come up with something.

I replaced MSE with BitDefender Free Anti-Virus. I found this program by doing some research on the "best free anti-virus programs" and BitDefender ranked among the highest of those tested. It is very unobtrusive and is reported to take up few resources. It just sits there and works.

The Asus is my oldest computer and has been bullet proof. It is just as good as the day I bought it. Better in fact because I added memory to it a couple of years ago. My long term plans for it is to load a Linux distro on it that was developed just for this computer. I will tackle this task in the summer. It will be a little more difficult because the computer has no CD drive, I will have to load Linux from a thumb drive or external CD drive. My main concern is losing the ability to run the only Windows program I cannot do without - Quicken. I am sure there will be a way through a Windows Emulator program. I will worry about it in the summer. I just have to make it to summer with XP!

Georgia On My Mind

We crossed into Georgia yesterday afternoon and decided we did not want to hit Savannah during rush hour. We found a friendly Walmart in Brunswick, GA where we spent the night. This morning we had a 70 mile drive into Savannah. We called the Visitors Center and were assured they had a space for us. We arrived just before noon and parked in one of their RV slots. We are 49 feet, way longer than the slot and were told we would have to pay an additional fee for the car and dolly as we took up two spaces. We paid a total of $38 for three nights. We will have two full days to explore Savannah but first we quickly set up the StarChoice dish, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible as they did point out we were paying for parking, not camping.

It is very hot today and are looking through all the information to find a place for dinner.

Georgia On My Mind was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell and was covered by Ray Charles in 1960. Ray Charles has a tumultuous history with Georgia, the State of his birth.

On March 15, 1961, not long after releasing the hit song "Georgia on My Mind" (1960), Charles (born in Albany, Georgia) was scheduled to perform for a dance at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Georgia. However, he cancelled after learning from students of Paine College that the larger auditorium dance floor would be restricted to whites, while blacks would be obligated to sit in the Music Hall balcony; he immediately left town after letting the public know why he wouldn't be performing. The promoter sued Charles for breach of contract, Charles was fined $757 in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta on June 14, 1962. Although the 2004 film Ray portrays Charles as being banned from performing thereafter in Georgia, this was later reported to be untrue.[36] However, Charles performed again at a desegregrated Bell Auditorium concert the following year with his backup group, The Raelettes, on October 23, 1963.[37][38][39]
In 1979, Charles was one of the first of the Georgia State Music Hall of Fame to be recognized as a musician born in the state.[40] Ray's version of "Georgia On My Mind" was made the official state song for Georgia.[41]
On December 7, 2007, Ray Charles Plaza was opened in Albany, Georgia, with a revolving, lighted bronze sculpture of Charles seated at a piano.[42][not in citation given]

Here is the song. Get up and dance, all of you, Black, White, Gay, Straight... We are all welcome here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Heading North

We experienced a huge rain storm here in Flagler Beach yesterday and last night so we delayed our departure by one day because everything was soaked. Tomorrow we will head to Savannah, GA where the weather is predicted to be sunny and mid to high seventies for the next few days. I called the Visitor's Center and yes, we can park with no services in their parking lot for $7 per twenty-four period. It is first come, first serve but I was assured that there have been empty spaces in the RV section every night recently.

Google Maps shows the drive as taking three hours but we are going along the water route A1A so we are planning on five or six hours, minimum. If it gets late in the day, we may stop for a night along the way. We are in no rush, it is still winter at home!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Flagler Beach, FL

Yesterday afternoon we took a drive to nearby Flagler Beach. It is a typical Florida beach community built along a nice strip of sandy beach with many small motels, "surf shops" and restaurants. It is very laid back and not overly commercialized. We drove up and down the row of restaurants, parked and picked one out. The Funky Pelican is actually the only restaurant on the beach side of the road and has a nice deck overlooking the water. We picked an outside table where the sea breeze toned down the 80+ heat.

Norma ordered the paella while I decided to try their Florida version of cioppino (a seafood stew with saffron). Both were very good but I have to say mine took the first prize as Norma's paella went a little heavy with the rice and short on other ingredients. After dinner we took a walk down the beach a ways and then came back home for a coffee and apple crumble pie with ice cream. A great ending to the day.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hiding Out In Bulow Plantation

We spent an hour at Radio Shack this morning trying to get the Virgin Broadband sorted out. The salesman agreed there was a problem and called Virgin on my behalf. He got nowhere. They insisted I top up my account with $40 but I did not want to do that until I could at least see my account on line. It was an impasse so I paid up and they started up my account again. They said to wait ten minutes until their system updated so I went to the parking lot and had a coffee. Twenty minutes later I tried again and nothing doing. At least I could see their web page now but nothing else. I went back to the store, the guy called again and this time I was told to wait two more hours. We drove on as we had other things to do.

We stopped at an RV supply where we bought a new nylon plug for the water heater. The parts woman graciously offered to install it for free as she had done lots of them and had the correct wrench. As soon as she tried to take the old one out, it broke off flush with the hole and emptied half our holding tank on the ground. Using a combination of knife, pliers and chisel she got the remains of the old one out and the new one in. I switched on the pump and even with the added pressure, it held. We thanked her for her half hour of work and headed for the RV park.

I have to stop here and tell you about our latest incident of bad timing in Florida. You remember in 2010 when we arrived in Key West in the middle of Spring Break? With all those spoiled, obnoxious rich kids with daddy's credit cards? There were no hotel rooms under $1000 per night left in Key West so we had to find a place thirty miles away and commute? Well, this time we arrived in the Daytona Beach area in the middle of Daytona Bike Week! There are hundreds of thousands of bikers on the roads, traffic is slowed to a crawl on many roads and police have radar traps and check points set up. RV parks that are usually $40 to $60 per night are up to $80+ and almost all RV parks are full. Norma finally got a reservation at Bulow Plantation RV Park just north of Daytona Beach for $65 for Saturday and $40 for each of Sunday and Monday. It is a Thousand Trails / Encore Resort and is fairly nice but is full of bikers for the weekend. The Harley's are roaring, the music is blaring and a band is tuning up in the rec hall for a party tonight. They say it will quieten down tomorrow as participants head home.

Our spot is surrounded by trees so StarChoice is probably out of the question (I will try tomorrow) and my T-Mobile phone does not get a signal. Six hours had passed since Virgin told me to wait two hours but still no Internet. I used Norma's Canadian Telus phone (which works) and got Virgin to finally press the correct button to give me Internet. The RV park advertises WIFI but fails to mention it is an additional $6 per day for service which is only available at the pool. Sheesh!

We booked in for three nights so that gets us past the St. Patrick's Day street party in Savannah and we can park in the Visitor's Center parking lot there for $10 per night. Things are looking better!

Minor Problems

I traced my Virgin Broadband problem to the fact that my time ran out. I will renew this morning and everything should go back to normal. Thanks for the free WIFI, Home Depot.

When we walked back to the RV after doing some shopping I noticed water running out from under it. It is the nylon plug in the hot water tank leaking and when I gave it a turn with a wrench it started spraying everywhere. I guess they just age and crack like the molding. Six weeks with that wall facing the hot sun probably did it. It is fine as long as the water pump is not on so we will make it to an RV parts place.

Today will be busy so we are looking for an RV park nearby on the coast so we can hold up until St. Patrick's day is over in Savannah, GA. Life is Good!

Friday, March 14, 2014

East Bound And Down

Loaded Up And Truckin'. - Jerry Reed

We left Paul's this morning. We started working at about nine and pulled out at 10:30. Someone must have noticed because the price of gas went up about $.25 almost overnight. I should have filled up before we parked six weeks ago. Yes, it has been six weeks that we have been parked in Paul and Dodi's fully serviced RV space. We enjoyed the discussions, coffee hours in the mornings and the "happy hours" in the late afternoon. We shared countless meals and enjoyed their granddaughters who live next door. It was a relaxing time!

First stop was to refill our almost empty propane tank at a nearby RV park. Propane prices have been going up but they were still reasonable here and we got away with paying only $38 US for 8.5 US gallons. I was expecting more.

Then it was back onto I-4 towards Daytona Beach and St. Augustine. We made it as far as the traffic jams at Orlando before looking for a place to pull over for the night. We found a WalMart in Orange City but they had about 200 signs warning us trailer trash away. My friend Teresa has always told me that we should stay at Home Depot where they have always been welcomed and lo and behold, there was one right next door to WalMart and they had no signs making us feel unwelcome. We asked at Customer Service and were told the Home Depot did not mind but there was an outside chance that the police could knock on the door in the middle of the night due to a local bylaw. These bylaws should be called buy-laws as they are usually introduced by RV park owners who get elected to city councils and then try to force the police to send customers in their direction.. She said we could avoid that by parking around the back where the delivery trucks park.

My Virgin Broadband would not work this morning.  I could not even get Virgin's home page which you can always get if the card is plugged in. I was in a hurry so thought I would worry about it later. When we parked I remember Teresa saying they usually had free WIFI at Home Depot so I had a look and there it was! I am on it now. I wonder if they turn it off at night...

Here is our route. It took much longer than the one hour, twenty eight minutes estimated on the map. Try two hours longer! But then that included a lunch break at Cracker Barrel.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Who Is Leonard Peltier?

  • Leonard Peltier is an imprisoned Native American (Lakota) considered by Amnesty International, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Congress of American Indians, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Harry Belafonte and Rev. Jesse Jackson, among many others, to be a political prisoner who should be immediately released.

  • Leonard Peltier was convicted for the deaths of two FBI agents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Mr. Peltier has been in prison for over 38 years.

  • The Wounded Knee occupation of 1973 marked the beginning of a three-year period of political violence on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The tribal chairman hired vigilantes, self titled as “GOONS,” to rid the reservation of American Indian Movement (AIM) activity and sentiment. More than 60 traditional tribal members and AIM members were murdered and scores more were assaulted. Evidence indicated GOON responsibility in the majority of crimes but despite a large FBI presence, nothing was done to stop the violence. The FBI supplied the GOONS with intelligence on AIM members and looked away as GOONS committed crimes. One former GOON member reported that the FBI supplied him with armor piercing ammunition.

  • Leonard Peltier was an AIM (American Indian Movement) leader and was asked by traditional people at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, to support and protect the traditional people being targeted for violence. Mr. Peltier and a small group of young AIM members set up camp on a ranch owned by the traditional Jumping Bull family.

  • On June 26, 1975 two FBI agents in unmarked cars followed a pick-up truck onto the Jumping Bull ranch. The families immediately became alarmed and feared an attack. Shots were heard and a shoot-out erupted. More than 150 agents, GOONS, and law enforcement surrounded the ranch.

  • When the shoot-out ended the two FBI agents and one Native American lay dead. The agents were injured in the shoot-out and were then shot at close range. The Native American, Joseph Stuntz, was shot in the head by a sniper’s bullet. Mr. Stuntz’s death has never been investigated, nor has anyone ever been charged in connection with his death.

  • According to FBI documents, more than 40 Native Americans participated in the gunfight, but only AIM members Bob Robideau, Darrell Butler, and Leonard Peltier were brought to trial.

  • Mr. Robideau and Mr. Butler were arrested first and went to trial. A federal jury in Iowa acquitted them on grounds of self-defense, finding that their participation in the shoot-out was justified given the climate of fear that existed on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Further, they could not be tied to the close-range shootings.

  • Leonard Peltier was arrested in Canada on February 6, 1976, along with Frank Blackhorse, a.k.a. Frank Deluca. The United States presented the Canadian court with affidavits signed by Myrtle Poor Bear who said she was Mr. Peltier’s girlfriend and allegedly saw him shoot the agents. In fact, Ms. Poor Bear had never met Mr. Peltier and was not present during the shoot-out. Soon after, Ms. Poor Bear recanted her statements and said the FBI threatened her and coerced her into signing the affidavits.

  • Mr. Peltier was extradited to the United States where he was tried in 1977. The trial was held in North Dakota before United States District Judge Paul Benson, a conservative jurist appointed to the federal bench by Richard M. Nixon. Key witnesses like Myrtle Poor Bear were not allowed to testify and unlike the Robideau/Butler trial in Iowa, evidence regarding violence on Pine Ridge was severely restricted.

  • An FBI agent who had previously testified that the agents followed a pick-up truck onto the scene, a vehicle that could not be tied to Mr. Peltier, changed his account, stating that the agents had followed a red and white van onto the scene, a vehicle which Mr. Peltier drove occasionally.

  • Three teenaged Native witnesses testified against Mr. Peltier, they all later admitted that the FBI forced them to testify. Still, not one witness identified Mr. Peltier as the shooter.

  • The U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case claimed that the government had provided the defense with all FBI documents concerning the case. To the contrary, more than 140,000 pages had been withheld in their entirety.

  • An FBI ballistics expert testified that a casing found near the agents’ bodies matched the gun tied to Mr. Peltier. However, a ballistic test proving that the casing did not come from the gun tied to Mr. Peltier was intentionally concealed.

  • The jury, unaware of the aforementioned facts, found Mr. Peltier guilty. Judge Benson, in turn, sentenced Mr. Peltier to two consecutive life terms.

  • Following the discovery of new evidence obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Mr. Peltier sought a new trial. The Eighth Circuit ruled, “There is a possibility that the jury would have acquitted Leonard Peltier had the records and data improperly withheld from the defense been available to him in order to better exploit and reinforce the inconsistencies casting strong doubts upon the government's case." Yet, the court denied Mr. Peltier a new trial.

  • During oral argument, the government attorney conceded that the government does not know who shot the agents, stating that Mr. Peltier is equally guilty whether he shot the agents at point-blank range, or participated in the shoot-out from a distance. Mr. Peltier’s co-defendants participated in the shoot-out from a distance, but were acquitted.

  • Judge Heaney, who authored the decision denying a new trial, has since voiced firm support for Mr. Peltier’s release, stating that the FBI used improper tactics to convict Mr. Peltier, the FBI was equally responsible for the shoot-out, and that Mr. Peltier's release would promote healing with Native Americans.

  • Mr. Peltier has served over 38 years in prison and is long overdue for parole. He has received several human rights awards for his good deeds from behind bars which include annual gift drives for the children of Pine Ridge, fund raisers for battered women’s shelters, and donations of his paintings to Native American recovery programs.

  • Mr. Peltier suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and a heart condition. Time for justice is short.

  • Currently, Mr. Peltier’s attorneys have filed a new round of Freedom of Information Act requests with FBI Headquarters and all FBI field offices in an attempt to secure the release of all files relating to Mr. Peltier and the RESMURS investigation. To date, the FBI has engaged in a number of dilatory tactics in order to avoid the processing of these requests.
My support for Leonard Peltier goes back to the mid seventies when Norma and I lived in Terrace, BC and worked with Jim Fulton, NDP Member of Parliament for Skeena, BC. Jim fought hard to stop the illegal extradition of Mr. Peltier from Canada and then to have the extradition order overturned and Leonard returned to Canada. His fight went on for many years and was based on the fact that the USA used information that they knew to be false to obtain his extradition from Canada. 

The actions of the FBI during this time of violence on the Pine Ridge Reservation were reprehensible. They did nothing to investigate the murder of many of the traditional tribal members but then found reason to raid the Jumping Bull Ranch to "investigate" the alleged theft of a pair of used boots. The details of the shootout are very difficult to ascertain. Tribal members gathered on the ranch certainly came under fire (one was killed by a government sniper's round). People were scrambling to return fire, care for the wounded and to move women and children who had come to the ranch for protection out a back road to safety. Peltier has maintained his innocence in the killings of the two FBI agents, refusing to admit guilt even in order to obtain parole, and another man (protected from prosecution because of double jeopardy laws) has admitted killing the FBI agents.

For me, this fight for justice for Leonard Peltier has become a lifelong quest. There was hope that President Bill Clinton would pardon Mr. Peltier when he left office but for his own reasons, he did not. The hope for a Presidential Pardon has now transferred to President Obama. Mr. Peltier is in poor health as a result of not receiving proper care and an appropriate diet for his diabetes from the American Prison System and he deserves to spend whatever time he has remaining with his people.

“I don’t know how to save the world. I don’t have the answers or The Answer. I hold no secret knowledge as to how to fix the mistakes of generations past and present. I only know that without compassion and respect for all of Earth’s inhabitants, none of us will survive—nor will we deserve to.”

― Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Skipping Savannah

Ever since watching the great movie, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, I have wanted to explore beautiful Savannah, Georgia. The grand old houses, parks, fountains and Spanish Moss draws me. RV boondocking is available in the parking lot of the Visitors Center right in the middle of town for the nominal fee of $10 per night and the city is very walk-able. What is not to like?

Well, Savannah hosts the second largest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the US. This means that from March 14 to 17, downtown Savannah is taken over by blocked streets, green water fountains, massive crowds and green dyed beer. Prices go sky high for the week and lines form for the overpriced restaurants early in the afternoon. We got caught in this madhouse the last time we were there and the only RV park that had room was almost an hour out of town and was charging $60 per night. Downtown parking was $15 if you could find it. We stayed two nights but said, "Never again". This party is more suited for much younger people with a better tolerance for loud music, obnoxious drunken crowds, green beer, poor, overpriced food and long lineups for everything from restrooms to coffee shops. I am too old for this. Been there, done that and I have the shirt. Moonlit walks through Savannah's Spanish Moss hanging tree lined streets and parks will have to wait.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


We have not been Mr & Mrs Excitement lately and this is showing in the Blog. The weather has been mixed here in Lakeland, FL. One day it is warm and sunny and the next day, warm and raining. This has delayed the one big job we have to do and that is to wash the motorhome. I may tackle that today. What we HAVE done is:

1) Defrost and clean both fridges
2) Do a HUGE laundry
3) Clean and arrange everything else inside
4) Wash the Honda
5) Help Paul prepare his pickup truck for sale. He bought it to tow his 5th wheel but has now decided to sell the house, park the 5'er in a Tampa park to live in and buy a small class B diesel rig to travel with. The pickup was no longer needed. It sold in less than a week.

Hmmm... Doesn't seem like much. Oh yes, The Canadian Briar Curling competition has been on and that takes up a few hours a day.

Paul has been busy at his latest job of demonstrating food at grocery stores. Yes, he is the guy in the little booth handing out samples and coupons for products ranging from shampoo to cereal to soft drinks. He took up this job to keep from being bored and to provide a little pocket money and now he is being moved up into the WAY more fun job of demonstrating beer and wine. He has fun doing it as it allows him to do what he loves, meet and talk to people. His personality is perfectly suited for this work. It is one more career to add to his long list which includes RV dealer, investment banker, private pilot, sea captain and adventurer and mystery writer. He is quite the character and our nightly get togethers are always filled with laughter (and the odd libation. His Bloody Mary's are to die for!). We will miss being here!

Speaking of which, we will start preparing to leave soon. We want to pick a route home that does not retrace our old routes but with the weather still cold in the east and midwest this might be a bit difficult. Google and the weather sites will provide a solution! Life is moving slower but is still Good!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You HAVE To Read This!

You simply have to do yourself a favor and read Retired Rod's post! Fair warning - if you have an aversion to stories about unattended automatic vacuum cleaners and dog poo or have been advised by your doctor to avoid situations where you end up rolling on the floor laughing, you may want to give it a pass. Otherwise...


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Happy Honda

Well, I went ahead and had the air conditioning repaired. The repair place, unhappy to see my money go down the road, found a used compressor in good shape for $140. The compressor, a new belt, refrigerant, tax and labour came to $475, about half of what it would have cost with a new compressor. So far it is blowing cold air.

I had a bit of an adventure getting the car back however. Paul had to go out for the day but he left me the keys to his truck to use to fetch the Honda. That was fine until I backed out the driveway and discovered it had a flat tire! I have a 12 volt pump but of course it is in the trunk of the Honda. I had promised to pick up his grandchildren from school so I had to have the car by 3:00 and it was noon. Lots of time, I thought.

The repair place is only a couple of miles away and an easy walk but I decided to call a cab. The first cab company told me up front it would be a minimum two hour wait. Wow! That seemed like a long time for a Friday afternoon. The second company said "forty-five minutes" and $7 to $10 depending on traffic so I ordered a cab. An hour later I called back and was told the woman I talked to was off shift. So what? Anyway, he said he would send the first available cab. It was now after 1:00. At 1:30 I called back and was told to hang on, they were busy. At 2:00 I still had no cab and it was too late to walk to the shop, pay the bill, drive back to get the girl's mom and be at the school in time. I called the cab company in a bit of a temper and asked where my cab was. I was told it was on the way and would be here in five minutes. Ten minutes later I called back and was told it was on the way. At 2:20 my cab showed up. I jumped in, we drove to the shop, I quickly paid my bill, drove back to get the girl's mom and arrived at the school only five minutes late. I hate the helpless feeling I experience in these situations!

They have quite the process to pick up kids from school. You wait in line and when you get to the front, a person comes to the window, identifies you and asks who you are picking up. She then calls the kids and opens the back door for them. If you are unknown to the guard you need a document from the school with your name on it as well as the name(s) of the children you are picking up. If you are unknown to the guards and do not have this document or if the kids do not recognize you, you don't get them and the guard probably calls 911 from her cell phone. This is a great method and keeps the kids safe. It is sure different from when I was in elementary school (my dog walked to school to meet me and walk home with me) or even when our son was in school (he walked home by himself). Times are changing and not for the better!