Thursday, July 28, 2016

Forever A Hillbilly: A Hospital Stay in Hollywood

Forever A Hillbilly: A Hospital Stay in Hollywood: Note: Much of the next few posts have been posted recently. (Florida, 6/20/16) and The Big Trees, (6/15/16)  I skip over here to avoid repe...

A Hospital Stay in Hollywood

Note: Much of the next few posts have been posted recently. (Florida, 6/20/16) and The Big Trees, (6/15/16)  I skip over here to avoid repeating myself so quickly.

    Crossing into California, Gas jumped up 12 cents a gallon, and we needed a fill up in both vehicles. Wouldn't you just know it?
     Behind San Diego, the desert is at sea level. It rises 10,000 feet very quickly. I started noticing barrels of water on regular pull offs, and I knew we were in trouble. We had to stop, cool the motor off, and add more water, several times before we reached the top. That had never been a problem before. I knew we had a lot more Rocky Mountain crossings ahead, and I shelled out several bucks to get a raised, topographical map, so I would know what was ahead. I could then pull the car off and drive it up separately on those long pulls. Turned out, all the other high Rocky Mountain crossings were cold, and we didn't need it. San Diego was a neat place, especially the Zoo. They had four pandas, which were rare at zoos, and Barbara was in love with them. There was a long line by their cage, and the pandas were treated like royalty. Everyone had to be really quiet, enforced by four security guards. She went through that line four times. San Diego also had a very large naval presence, along with ships, and that was interesting.

     We found our friends Patty and Dwight's house at Temecula, and we parked our rig right out front. They just never fully understood why we slept in our RV instead of coming in their house, But it was our home, now. And, Barbara builds a great bed. It sometimes gets so tall, before she gets it right, that she has to have a step stool to get in it.
      They showed us around Southern California royally for a couple of days, The J. Paul Getty Museum, and lots of other wonders. The Cafe we ate in specialized in being crass and rude. A large sign, right up front, said, “Eat and get out.” The waitresses had a really big chaw of bubblegum, and, between bubbles, greeted us with, “Yeah, whatta' ya' want?”   
     I drove our 53 foot road train right through LA. After that, I knew no big city driving could scare me again. Later, Europe was a totally different story.

     We parked just north of LA near Hollywood, in Van Nuys.  Barbara was not doing well. Her abdomen hurt. It got worse. She said she felt like she was full of gas, so I tried pushing on her belly to help get it out. Not the smartest thing I've ever done. She got even worse. Finally, I walked across the park to a pay phone and called the police, asked where the nearest hospital was. He said he didn't know. It depended on where I was.. I had not the foggiest, and I had to go back and ask Barbara. I didn't even know the name of the park. Kinda illustrates yet once again, just who the brains of this outfit is. Even when she's impaired. After waiting half the night (literally) in the emergence room, the diagnosis was gall bladder problems, and it had to come out. Right now. And it's infected. I sure hated to see Barbara being wheeled down the hall, waving and looking back at me, all the way to the OR. The surgery went well, but her infected condition required several days in the hospital. The Kids were ready to load up and head west, but I told  them it was too far, and there was nothing they could do for her here. Being away from family in a crisis is just part of being a traveler, and we both accepted that. When I went to check Barbara out of the hospital, I knew our insurance was handling it. But they said they preferred to get $1000 down in cases like this, being travelers and all. Okay, that sounded reasonable. A long way and weeks down the line, they sent us another copy of the bill. The $1000 had just disappeared. We had befriended the hospital's Patient Advocate lady, who was also an RV'er, and we called her. She said she would take care of it. A few days later we got a check for that $1000. When insurance is involved, never pay up front. Let it go through the insurance process. Early payment always gets confused, and the confusion is always in favor of the hospital.

     After she recouped for a few days in our RV, she wanted out of it. So we took a few smaller trips, seeing the area. That old strategy of seeing a large city on Sunday just didn't pan out in LA. The traffic was as bad at daylight Sunday morning as any other time.
     After ten days, she felt like she could travel, so we headed for Arkansas in the car to let her regain her strength before continuing on with our travels. In moving the RV to storage, that thing about the back end sticking out far right on a left turn finally got me. I left a long deep scratch in someone's car. I never talked to the owner, but the Park Director and our Insurance fixed it while we were in Arkansas.
     I made the long drive home as easy on Barbara as possible, but it was still hard on her. Corey, the rising “Next man of the clan,” took us aside. “OK, now, you've had your trip. It's time to end it, now.” We thought otherwise. Barbara and I decided long ago, as long as one of us was capable of wiping both our bottoms, we are in charge of our life. Of course, if we live long enough, the time will come when we both are very appreciative that we have caring children.

     After two nice weeks with family, Barbara was pretty much her old self, just with different eating habits. No grease. We made the long trip back leisurely, seeing the sights. At Zion, I was amazed at the very tall cliffs. We saw a tiny figure, two thirds of the way to the top. Binoculars proved it was a climber, carrying his bed along. An overnight trip. In Death Valley, we saw a giant black cloud just rolling across the sands to us. A huge sandstorm. Back in Hollywood, we saw Paramount Studios. The emergency brake on our car just would not release upon leaving, and we had to be towed. Again. A big comedown, after just meeting Goldie Hawn, and seeing the other stars.

     Back home in our RV Park, we were awakened one morning by a young woman, knocking on our door. When I opened up, she said, “I'm Cindy.” She started to sidestep me, and come on in. I cut her off, saying, “I don't know you, Cindy.” She looked puzzled, then walked back to a man who was waiting for her across the street. They talked, he made a phone call, then she walked to the RV next door, knocked, and was let in with a smile. She stayed there about half an hour, then her and her Pimp walked off.

     We headed up the coast. We were on our way to the Hurst Castle, and being early, I stopped at Moonstone Beach. The trail down the cliff was so steep, and it was so windy, Barbara stayed in the car. The beach below was hidden from the parking area. I really got into this moonstone hunting, and stayed a good while. I found lots of pretty rocks, surely at least one was a moonstone. When I finally walked out to where I could see the top of the cliff, Barbara was waving her arms and shouting, but her words just floated off with the wind. Her face told me a lot, though, and I quickly climbed up. She was scared, thought I had just disappeared. I caught it pretty good over that. We may have been a few minutes late for our appointment at Hearst Castle, but we still caught the bus and headed up.

     Hearst Castle was built by William Randolph Hurst, the Newspaper Magnate. He went way over the top on everything. The grounds had many exotic animals roaming about, from all over the world. The swimming pool was lined with gold, and the castle itself was monstrous in size, and contained exotic furniture and paintings from all over the world. William Randolph Hurst was a man who could not be denied. In his travels, if he found something he wanted to put in his castle, the price offer just kept going up until he had his way. A big portion of the bus top blew off on the way back down. It can be windy in California.

     The Remington Mansion was huge. The Remington Arms Company financed it. Mrs. Remington, haunted by the ghosts of all the people killed by their product just kept building on it as long as she lived. Stairways to nowhere, doorways with no opening, On and on. As I was typing “Remington” the first time I wrote this story, one of those ghosts must have came after me, because I just hit a normal key, I thought, and the whole story just disappeared from the screen, never to live again. I'm not a fast writer, and that was two day's work for me. Believe, me, I am now typing this paragraph very gingerly, not wishing to anger anybody, or any thing.

     The Big Sur coastline was magnificent, and we even walked on Pebble Beach Golf Course. Years later, Corey and son-in-law Mickey paid in advance for a trip for us to Pebble Beach. A week before, Corey hit his drive a mile at a course in Florida, and as always, I felt I should swing as hard as I could to try to stay somewhat close to his. My back went out, bad, maybe my worst. But there was just no way around it. I had to play Pebble Beach. What else could I do? The course of a lifetime, the chance of a lifetime. I left a lot of pain lying about on Pebble Beach, and my scorecard overflowed. But I played it.

      Next stop, San Francisco. As with many cities on this trip, with time not being a limiting factor, we just jumped off into the city and quickly lost ourselves. Actually, one cannot truly get lost if you have no destination, as long as we eventually met back up with our RV. At lunch time, we stopped at Little Orphan Annie's. Turned out, once we were seated, we realized it was really “Little Orphan Andy's,” and we were the only straight people about. I was trying to decide whether to stay or not, and my legs were out in the aisle. The waiter walked up, looked at me, and said, “Are you STAYING?” I stammered out, “Just long enough to eat.”

     Once we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, we stopped, debating about whether to take safe highway 101, inland a ways, or tackle highway 1, in the RV, along the cliffs. An old full time RV'er  told me once on Prince Edward Island, half a world away, that driving an RV on Highway 1 north of San Francisco was the ultimate test for driving an RV in the world. “If you can drive it, you can drive anywhere.” Well, that was too much of a challenge to pass up. After we started up the winding road toward the cliffs, we stopped at a station. I asked the operator, “Have you seen many people driving RV's past this point?” “Well, I have seen a few, but they almost always come back in a few minutes.”

     When we went on up, It got bad quick. I had to sling the car off in the ditch on a hairpin curve to avoid bikers coming down. Once out overlooking the ocean, the road was just a tiny shelf along a high cliff, and if one is brave enough to look ahead, it was the same for many miles. At least, I had the inside, going north. Barbara tells me that drive was beautiful, but I didn't see it. All I ever saw was ten white knuckles over the top of my steering wheel. After 50 miles, I was done in. We went inland to 101 and eventually parked it, driving out to see the good view in the car. I began to realize Barbara was right. The scenery WAS breathtaking.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Forever A Hillbilly: Kentucky Troubles

Forever A Hillbilly: Kentucky Troubles:       The RV would not start after a stop at Hawks Nest, the first of a string of automobile troubles. It had to be towed 40 miles to hav...

Kentucky Troubles

      The RV would not start after a stop at Hawks Nest, the first of a string of automobile troubles. It had to be towed 40 miles to have a new ignition switch put in. Thanks for the tow, Good Sam!
     Arriving at Beaver Dam, Kentucky, we were having battery problems. We spent the night. A large party seemed to be scheduled for tonight, so we went downtown. We were walking down the street, surrounded by hundreds of people. The music started to kick in. Every single person there, and I mean every one, stopped and started tapping a foot. Everybody except us. Now if that's not a bit weird. Then, the music really kicked in, and again, every single person, except us, just literally danced onto the street! Not together, really, just dancing. We looked around for the movie cameras. Surely we were on a movie set.

     When we got back to the RV park, a track with small race cars roared to life. Naturally, we had to go look. These were kids driving these cars. But they were very loud and very fast! I knew these kids didn't even have a driver's license yet.

     On down the road a ways the next day, what we thought was battery problems turned bad. Alternator problems. It was Saturday, and a new one was hard to find, but we did, and I was determined to do it myself. We pulled into a truck stop, and I got my tools out. I discovered a guy in the truck stop that used to be a mechanic, but now he was just working there at odd jobs. He started supervising me, and kept coming out at intervals to keep me on the right track, for a good part of the afternoon. He would not take pay, but we left some for him anyway, when we pulled out the next day. We have stayed in touch with him over the years. A good man.

      We traveled on, crossed the mighty Mississippi, and before we knew it, we were in Arkansas! Home. But still a long way from Arkadelphia, so we camped at Newport.  A lady came through the camp, inviting all the campers to a large dinner and party their church was throwing a mile down the road. We were the only ones that actually went, we never miss an opportunity to mix with the locals. They treated us like royals, we had a large meal, and lots of fun. We finally drug back to our RV, worn out. The emergency phone rang. My sister Jan's husband, Bill, had just died. We loaded up and headed out. We normally do not drive that RV at night. The headlights are dim. But we drove through the night, and arrived at Little Rock, parked our RV at Barbara's sister Frances' house, and drove to Fort Worth. I first met Bill Workman when I was a teenager. He was a weightlifter, an Air Force man, and had just retired a few years before. His retirement was cut short. Hard to believe he was gone.

     After a couple of weeks of visiting family, we realized we had new passengers now. Hundreds of ants had invaded the RV. We loaded up at Little Rock and headed east. We stopped at Selma,  Alabama, and learned more about the Civil Rights movement. At Montgomery, we visited  Frontier days. A mountainous mountain man took a shine to Barbara, and physically, I didn't really see much I could do about it. I did have a gun in the RV, but I held that as a last resort. Fortunately, I managed to steal her away when he was not looking, and we moved on to Georgia Quickly.

      At Andersonville, we spent some time at the Civil War POW Camp. That was a nightmare place. Not enough food, bad water, little cover from the elements. Actually, It was just a big field with a palisade wall around it, teen age guards all around, trained to shoot to kill if anyone got within 10 feet of the wall. A creek running through it was the only source of water, and It was quickly contaminated with human waste. Thousands from the north died there.

     Our next stop was one of our inexpensive-type stops. My nephew Stan and Missy Arrington's  driveway. Stan had always been an outdoor, woodsy type guy. He was now a forester, and a dutch oven cooking expert. They had a fenced back yard, except at the back, which was bordering a Bayou. They had a big, pretty white rabbit that had the run of the place. One day, Missy was at the kitchen window, and a large gator came up out of the Bayou and gobbled the pretty white rabbit up. They have two children, Mandy and Thomas. Mandy was always all about horses, growing up, and she is now about to get a Masters degree in horse knowledge. I'm just not sure what that degree would be called. When we woke up the next morning, at daylight, Thomas, a small boy then, walked by our RV and disappeared from our vision. When we came out of it, later, he was just sitting up in top of a tall tree, just looking. Thomas went on to achieve, in college, membership in that group of nearly naked, painted young men that you might see at Mississippi State football games. He now seems to have matured, however, because he's about to travel to the Philippines and spend a good bit of time traveling up remote rivers, seeking unreached people for Christ. I would say he's being promoted, how about you? Missy is a big wig at Mississippi State.

     We toured Savanna, with its Forest Gump bench, where he sat with his box of chocolates on Chippewa  Square. But we forgot to bring our chocolates.

     Our next stop was at Mark Twain State Park, well out into the Okefenokee Swamp. The swamp was formed when the Swanee River spread out over a wide area, 50 miles across. It is a wild area that man was unable to successfully cross until well up into the 1900's. I had been here before, on one of my Pork and Beans Trips. Barbara had not. I wanted to give Barbara a real taste of the swamp, but before heading out in a small boat, I gave her the gator lecture. I told her it was wintertime here, the gators were cold, and would not try to come in our boat. But, we may be very close to many. If you come close to one, and jump up and run, you will swamp the boat, then we'll be right down in amongst' um'. Stay still. A ranger told of getting a report of a boat being swamped, people in the water. When they got there, they were still hanging onto the boat, surrounded by 40 gators. Just looking. I called up several foxes to a photo session with my predator call. Then it was time to head on down the road.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Forever A Hillbilly: Strange Birthdays

Forever A Hillbilly: Strange Birthdays:      We're heading south. The big news today is, Barbara's 50! - Three times now, Barbara has split her birthday between two countr...

Strange Birthdays

     We're heading south. The big news today is, Barbara's 50! - Three times now, Barbara has split her birthday between two countries. And once, she woke up on ship on her birthday, crossed the International Dateline into the next day by taking a launch to Fanning Island, then came back to her birthday when she came back to the ship. Once, we totally lost the day before her birthday while flying to Australia. It just melted and fell into the sea as we slept.

     The second biggest, we're back in the good old USA! After months of french TV, no TV, Loonies, and Kilometers, things of the USA are good to be back to. Canada was a wonderful place to be. We'll miss it. We decided paint and flower stores must do well, from the look of their houses and yards.
     We picked up our mail at Elsworth. One letter. Pulling into Bar Harbor RV Park, the welcoming sign said, “Make noise, we evict you. No second chance.” We kept quiet.
     I left the emergency brake on again, burned it out. Well, maybe, there's just enough space for one more adjustment. It's cold. In the low 40's. 

     At Acadia National Park, there's lots of good views, when the fog allows. The wind will just blow you down. A car pulled in next to us at an overlook near the summit. Two young kids jumped out, just started running pell-mell down the mountain, disappearing into the fog. The mother went ballistic.  Though she didn't know, the mountain is a dome. No cliffs, that we saw. But who knows what surprises the fog holds? In that mother’s place, I most likely would have behaved the same way.
     It's Sunday morning. Lots of fantastic looking churches, but most are deserted. We decided to go to Bangor. “Paul Bunyan Days” seemed to be over, the town was deserted. Barbara found a gift shop, just had to see it. I leaned against the car and waited. A motorcycle cop drove by. Then, two or three runners. Must be some sort of small race. To make a long story short, by the time Barbara was shopped out, more than 1000 runners, walkers, and limpers came by  me.
     We went back to Ellsburg. Barbara had a mail package from Kinley. Kinley can really do a birthday package up right!

     Passing through Freeport,  we stopped at the giant LL Bean store. I asked what time they closed. The clerk said, “Do you see any locks on these doors?” Seems they had closed three times in their history. Fire, President Kennedy's death, and for the death of LL Bean.
     The highway rose slowly, then we passed through The Notch. It was very windy there, and we could see Mt. Washington, the home of world record winds. 230 MPH. Past The Notch, headed down, the mountain bloomed. It's hard to compete with Sugar Maples in the Fall.
     We asked a man at a store in Ammonoosuc, “Where can we find a moose?” He told us where to be at daylight, we were, and the moose was there too. Barbara was no longer mooseless!

     Heading west into Vermont, we began to see covered bridges. We decided to search for a maple syrup farm Barbara had heard about. After we drove forever, it seemed, on a dirt road, a farm ahead was promising. The sign said, “We're not it. Directions, $10.” We finally found it on our own, the $10 still in our pocket.  40 gallons of juice equals one gallon of syrup. There are four different qualities of syrup, depending upon how early in the season it is taken. Maple syrup can actually be made in Arkansas, but it is difficult to time when the sap starts to rise, with all the warm weather we have in February.

     September 28 – We start our longest move, through Massachusetts and Connecticut to the KOA in Plattskill, NY.  We found out upon arrival that our scheduled tour of New York City had been canceled, the driver of the bus had quit. After a day or so, it was now on. The driver and guide were both former New York City policemen. We visited the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and were shocked when we reached the top of the Empire State Building. Skyscrapers just stretched to the edge of our vision. Coming down, we flew through ten floors in seven seconds. To me, that's free fall. Then Times Square,  Rockefeller Center, NBC – and then headed for home. They gave a prize for the oldest woman on the bus, and since most of our companions were old, Barbara asked about a prize for the youngest. That idea was unpopular. A good place to see, not one I would want to live in.

     At Starlight camp, we were on top of a mountain overlooking the Amish country. Farms seem to have 20 or 30 acres. Dozens of giant hot air balloons were taking off at daylight. They make good use of their land. We went to an Amish Farmer's Market the next day. Shoofly Pie, fresh squeezed apple juice. Barbara was about to take a picture of two Amish men, playing checkers. They waved it off, no pictures. They were making a living off the tourists, and I thought that was a little odd. We overate chocolate at Hershey. Horse and buggy rigs were just everywhere. The simple life has it's attraction, taking life directly from the land. Many of their harvesting devices were familiar, from Wing, many years ago.
     We moved to Gettysburg, and toured the battle site. So much pain and death on these fields. The last man to fall on Pickett's charge fell right here, by these bushes. We left out on a dreary morning, somehow appropriate. Past a statue of an officer on his horse at the crest of a hill, past thousands of crosses standing in straight rows. We don't want to glorify war, but we must pay tribute to these brave men. We were glad we saw it, even more glad when we left.

     We drove through Maryland. The leaves were not quite at their peak yet, but we saw it a couple of years later, backtracking I must admit, which we try to avoid. The second time around, Maryland was as glorious as New England was now. Moving into West Virginia, it was a hard trip. Even on this great interstate now through these mountains. Its hard to imagine the hardships of the pioneers, traveling here. We camped at Broken Wheel Campground, and the name seemed appropriate. West Virginia is a poor state, very rich in natural beauty – and coal.

     The old grist mill on a rushing brook at Babcock State Park, which of course we pictured, is a great photo attraction. We have seen photos of it, all over the country. The New River Gorge is actually very old, and the world's longest single arch steel bridge spans it, 867 feet above the river below. The coal seam is about three quarters of the way to the top, and it's easy to mine. Just drop the coal to the valley below, haul it off. Many sky divers gather at the New River Gorge bridge one day each year, to risk killing themselves. I just don't have that urge.

     This was a backward, isolated area for so long, before this high tech corridor we came down. Travel was hard for these friendly people, who speak so much like the Arkansas hill people of my youth. The slang is so similar, it is amazing. I know they never visited back and forth much, over these mountains. The New River is also a top white water river.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Forever A Hillbilly: Nova Scotia

Forever A Hillbilly: Nova Scotia:      Entering Nova Scotia, we traveled to Antigonish, a Scottish town. We unloaded the car and went for a drive. Along the south coast, we ...

Nova Scotia

     Entering Nova Scotia, we traveled to Antigonish, a Scottish town. We unloaded the car and went for a drive. Along the south coast, we could see out over hundreds of miles of open ocean, which allowed the wind to drive huge waves into the rocky shore, all producing a loud booming sound, with water thrown up very high. We were very impressed with this, and took photo after photo. But when the photos came back, it was just water splashing on rocks. The majesty was all gone. You've just got to see it to appreciate it.

     There were no beautiful farms along this coast. Just small, shabby fishermen's houses. We will travel a loop around the north Cape tomorrow. Leaving and returning in the darkness.
     Thursday, September 10 found  us seeing one amazing, beautiful scene after another. Traveling along the north shoreline, we saw very blue sea, rocky coastlines, pounding surf, and magnificent mountains that just dropped suddenly into the sea. One of the world's most beautiful scenic drives. Each new scene became more beautiful than the last, something we had thought impossible.''

     Cutting across the mountains near the end of the island, carnivorous Pitcher Plants were growing everywhere in mountain bogs. These plants do not get enough nourishment from the bogs they thrive in, and any insect that strays into the inside of the pitcher is held fast by a sweet, sticky substance, and absorbed.

     Returning again to sea level, we came upon a very beautiful cove, and stopped for lunch. There we ate one of our most memorable meals. Not that peanut butter sandwiches were particularly memorable to us by now, but the beach and surf contained thousands of round rocks, softball size. The surf just rolled them all in, accompanied by a loud roaring noise, and then they rolled back out again. Over and over. The setting was capped off by a magnificent waterfall. My words just can't do justice to this little place in the world. If God ever decides to add a new wing to Heaven, he could do well to travel the Cabot trail first, just to refresh his memory.

     Checking out at Antigonish, the lady at the desk recognized us, recalling our names. She had seen a segment about out daughter, Kinley, on Dateline NBC following the Arkadelphia Tornado of 1997. Small world!

     Next stop, Peggy's Cove. Swiss Air flight 111 had just crashed a few days before, off the coast. The sea and air search was still going on, and relatives were at the shore, putting flowers into the sea. All the natives nearby were standing, hats off, heads bowed.

     In Halifax, we saw the harbor where the world's largest pre-atomic explosion occurred. Two ships collided, and were burning. Thousands came to the harbor to watch. One ship was totally loaded with TNT, and exploded with a blast so big, it hurled a cannon barrel 12 miles. 2000 were killed.

     The Tidal Bore was a really neat thing. The Bay of Fundy lies between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and has a funnel shape. We were near the apex of the funnel. Partially because of the shape of the bay, and partially because of the timing of the tides, the difference between high tide and low tide is the greatest in the world. Up the two rivers that run in at the apex of the bay, the effect in magnified even more. We were on one of those rivers. When the tide came in, it was so fast a wall of water two feet high was out in front. Many people paddled canoes far down the river, and rode the tidal bore back up. That was really something special to see. At harbors along the bay, fishing boats had to go and come at high tide, or they would find themselves on the sea floor. They had to change the departure and return time each day, with the changing of the tides. It was not unusual to see a wharf, 50 feet  above a boat lying on the bare sea floor.

     Leaving Nova Scotia behind, we traveled along the bay to St. Johns, New Brunswick. We went to a Mall that had lifelike sculptures of ordinary people, clustered about in different positions. Barbara just loved to station herself in a position among them, then move and speak when somebody came by. It sometimes scared the wits out of folks. But that's just Barbara. Get her out where she will never see anybody she knows, and she can be a totally different woman. St. Johns was where many Tories moved to after the Revolutionary war. It has a reversing waterfall, where the rising tide quickly overcomes a tall waterfall when it rolls in

     I loved to walk out on the sea floor at low tide, with scattered pools around, just full of  sea life. Any rock turned over hides starfish, urchins, and numerous other sea animals I didn't recognize. One has to pay close attention to the tide, however. If one gets far out and the tide comes in, it can quickly surround you and cut off escape. Once, I walked a quarter of a mile or so out. When I started back, the tide was starting to come in. It chased me all the way back, full speed, which, I must admit, was not all that fast.

     At St. Andrews, close to the Maine border, we booked a whale watching trip on the tall sailing ship Cory. We only saw two whales. Just as it happened, son Corey was in Seattle at the time, to speak at a Photographer's Convention, and looked out to sea and saw a whale. Now, how would I say this: We saw a whale on the east coast from the Cory, while Corey saw a whale on the west coast. Did you follow me on that?

     As it turned out, the crew of the Cory was as interesting as the whales. The deck hand was a tall, slim woman. Barefooted, she climbed like a cat to the top of the mast and handled those sails and ropes like the professional she is. She climbed all the way to the top, carrying our camera, just to take our picture. Her face was very weather beaten, the effects of hundreds of voyages. She is an illustrator in the winter, and in summer, she makes three trips a day, seven days a week, May-September. The Captain built the ship himself in New Zealand, and sailed it around the world in six years. But those two don't even come close to being the most interesting of the crew. “Bear” Ledger is an Acadian folklorist, a story teller, and a musician. He tells his folklore in poem and in song. He plays the accordion, bagpipes, and fiddle on ship, and plays eight other instruments. He just starts doing his thing, on deck, whether anyone is around or not. But we are all soon there, listening. His dream is to travel to Louisiana, to visit his cousins, the Cajuns, and compare his folklore to theirs.
We went through Passamaguoddy Bay, through the Bay of Fundy. We passed Rosevelt's cottage, where he used to take his mistress, or so we were told.  A small rocky island appeared to have a snow covering. But it was bird waste, from the thousands of birds who made it home. The Bay of Fundy is a major natural reserve of life.

     Barbara was recruited as Captain, for a time, and got to sail the ship. She asked about the life jackets. The captain told her, “This is the North Sea. If you fall overboard, you'll be dead in three minutes. You don't need a life jacket.”  I was recruited to haul in the jib sails at the end of the trip. Now, where's the fairness in that? Barbara's steering the ship, I'm wadding up sails. But, the Captain seemed to enjoy her company more that mine. Can't say I blame him. Barbara's a fun girl.

     A friend of mine from McCrory was a saturation diver in the North Sea for an oil company. A french company nearby averaged losing a diver a day, for a time. A dangerous job, but it pays well. He was all about danger. He came to McCrory and began piloting a helicopter spraying crops. He clipped the tail rotor off once on a power line. Without a tail rotor, a helicopter just goes round and round in the direction the blade is turning until it crashes. He broke his leg. The upside was, I could always beat him at tennis while he wore a boot.

     The Bay of Fundy was one of the great natural wonders we experienced. If you ever go to Maine, go up just a little farther and book a trip on the tall sailing ship Cory. It's a great experience.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Forever A Hillbilly: Big Trouble

Forever A Hillbilly: Big Trouble: Big Trouble  Traveling across the mountains, I started hearing a strange noise in my RV motor. It got worse. As we got out of the mou...

Big Trouble

Big Trouble

 Traveling across the mountains, I started hearing a strange noise in my RV motor. It got worse. As we got out of the mountains, it would barely run. Finally, it shut down, but we were still rolling down an incline out of the mountains. We were out on a peninsula, and it appeared to me we were about as far from help as we could get in North America, without going polar. We entered Caroquet, a very isolated little town out on the far end of that peninsula. We rolled to a stop, literally, right in front of the only truck repair place we had seen in many days. I went in to talk, and they could barely speak a little English. Finally, they figured out I was having motor troubles. They came out. The motor access was right beside the driver's seat. They took their shoes off, spread out a cloth around the whole area so as not to make a mess, and opened it up. The diagnosis was a thrown rod, and I knew that would cost a couple of thousand at home. He suggested they could tie that rod up, and we could limp on home one cylinder short. “Can you fix it?” I asked. Yes, they could. It would take all day tomorrow, and they would have to bring in extra help. I didn't want to face all those hills ahead short one cylinder, so we went for it. They brought out an extension cord, said we could live there for the duration.

     Barbara  and I went to an Acadian Village the next day, set up like their pioneers lived, and the people dressed the part. Their pioneer life on this cold coast made our pioneers look like a cakewalk. The English had pushed the Acadians up to this lonely, cold coast many years ago.

     Back at the RV, they had finished up. The total bill, when changed into dollars, was about $700. They had been extremely nice and helpful throughout, and after paying the bill, I wrote a very nice letter of recommendation, so that other travelers would know they were really good people. We said goodbye, and headed on.

     The Confederation Bridge into Prince Edward Island was the longest marine bridge in the world at that time. It was very high, also, and you already know how that affects me.

     We camped near the middle area of the island. The full-time RV'ers there called us “babes” in full timer lingo. When I started to whine and tell one of them about our motor problems, he waved it off. “Just fix it, and move on down the road. Don't worry about it, it will mess up your trip.” I told that to myself many times, later, going on down the road.

     We unloaded the car, and set in to see the north half of the island. We soon passed something like a Forestry Festival, although I couldn't figure out how their very short gnarled trees up on that end of the island could be a big thing to them. I guess, If that's just all you've got, you learn to appreciate them.  Climbers with spikes on were running up very tall poles to the top, to try to ring their bell first. I don't know where they could have found poles that tall, amid their short, stumpy, forests of trees

     We stopped at an Irish Moss Interpretive Center. Irish Moss is used as a thickening agent in many foods. When a Nor' Wester‘ blows that moss in toward shore, they hitch their horses to a rake, and horse and man wade that freezing surf, raking  that moss ashore, carrying it off by the truckloads. Tough horses, tough men. They also trap lobsters, and grow potatoes. Their specialty, Seaweed Pie, is not real good, not real bad.

     Traveling along the very windy north coast, Elephant Rock was advertised ahead. A man and two women manned the tiny booth where they charged a small fee for the attraction. The man was taking my money, and I could tell he was very embarrassed. He told me,”I want to apologize for my appearance. I broke my dentures.” I just took mine out, handed them out the window, and told him, “Here, use mine until I get back.” The women died with laughter, and he loosened up some. He didn't take my dentures, thank goodness. Elephant rock was out in the sea, and it looked the part, somewhat. The trees were down to about head high on this coast, and it was extremely windy.

     At the far north east corner of the island, something very neat was happening. Two seas met, rolling in to meet each other along a tiny strip of land, that extended far out. That little strip was just filled with hundreds of strange little birds. Occasionally, they flew, but always returned to that narrow strip. I guess they were feeding there. Many different kinds of wind driven devices were being tested there.

     These were hardy, hard working people along this north coast. Beautiful in summer, but we could just imagine what a horrible place it must be in the winter.

     We moved down to Charlottetown, in the middle of the southern half of the island. We saw a high wire act with a man juggling running chain saws. I told you they were tough. I didn’t get a chance to see if there was really a chain on that saw.  If so, that would have really gotten my respect. I cut my leg once with one, and I’ve never felt anything quite like it, except later when a pit bull grabbed my leg.

     The southern part was more touristy, very beautiful. Taller but still short trees allowed one to see vast areas. Every view was like a post card. We saw Ann's house, of  “Ann of Green Gables.” Along the coast, lots of lobster traps, light houses. Many, many potato farms. Summertime in the south of Prince Edward Island was literally like living in a post card. As I said that day,  “If farmers have a special Farmer's Heaven, This is what it would look like. Maybe more like Farmer's Hell in a few months.”

  Goodbye, Prince Edward Island.

     Prince Edward Island didn't go quietly, or easily. We got lost on the way to the ferry, got on a bad, tiny road, meeting one large load of dirt after another in dense fog. We entered the belly of the huge ferry with minutes to spare.
     Our last glimpse of Prince Edward Island came as the ferry pulled out and the fog rolled in. Prince Edward Island, I want to see you again. But I probably won't. There's far too much world ahead yet to see to ever backtrack.

 Continued in 5-6 days. Thanks for your time and your attention. A very valuable thing to a writer.