Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Monday, 28 September 2009

A Good Run

Sarasota, Florida

We'll be here six months until March 31. In April I'd like to fly to London and then take fast trains, ferries and planes to Ireland, Paris, Rome and Istanbul. Maybe we'll do New England and Eastern Canada this next summer?

Our last six months were pretty much ok. We spent the first month of our vacation in Spain and then drove the RV around the US for five months though New Orleans, Abbeville, Las Cruces, Silver City, Mono Lake, Death Valley, Yosemite, Las Vegas, the High Sierras, the Redwoods, the Oregon Coast, Hell's Canyon, Winslow Arizon, Jackson Hole and other pretty places.
We did some whitewater rafting and I caught tasty fish in Oregon.
The Sun and Fun RV park is fairly dead right now. We find it hard to get a doubles match of tennis going in the morning or evening before it gets too hot.

Sometimes we play round robin two on one side and one on the other. In a pinch, Mrs. Phred and I can play singles.
They are refinishing the pool here. It should be ready by November 1st. Meanwhile, the hot tubs are functional but the tiki bar doesn't open before 4 PM.

Stairway to Heaven Played Backwards

Sarasota, Florida

The first time we heard it was an experience. Mrs. Phred and I had just driven 250 miles very fast to Tallahassee from Tampa on a borrowed Honda 750 and arrived at midnight.

We were visiting our dead friend, Ken. He had a completely disassembled Harley 74 on the floor of his apartment and a high-end quadraphonic stereo playing at 4 AM. He was just back from Viet Nam where he had purchased the quad system at the PX.

The quad FM station floating over the gulf from Pensacola starting playing this incredible haunting song about bustles in the hedgerow being a spring clean for the May Queen. Then the guitars kicked in and always made me turn the volume knob to the limit...

20 years later, a Tampa station opened with the promise that they would only play that one song. I listened to it for a week until they reneged and started playing Leonard Skynard and the Eagles.

Much to my surprise, "Stairway" has a satanic verse when you play it backwards. I guess that's because it never made sense of any kind forward although it's a very beautiful piece of nonsense lyrics.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Evenings with Grandchildren

Falls Lake State Park, North Carolina

We spend eight days with the grandchildren. Each night we take two or three back to camp with us in the RV. The lake water is nice. We have a lot of fun playing in the water. I like to grab them by the feet and drag them screaming to the deep water.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Bridging Generation Gaps

Banner Elk. North Carolina

We're up in the Appalachian Mountains. It's very cool here in the late summer. Verizon has a strong retail presence because cable and DSL are not widely available for broadband so lots of the locals are forced to buy air cards to get decent internet speeds.

Our old Verizon card plugged into a USB port. A few times we have dropped the laptop when I hit the brakes too hard and it finally broke in half. We panic at being cut off from the net and roll down the back roads in the Toyota looking for a leaking wireless. We spot some unsecured wi-fis, but it seems impolite to stop outside a farmhouse in the dark and log into their wireless.

We are surprised to find a big Verizon store in a little mountain town open late at night. Our sales person is a 22 year-old geek in a pinstripe suit. He sells us a wireless Verizon router the size of a credit card that will power up to five computers and creates its own hot spot.

Somehow we get onto the subject of easy questions and I ask him. "who's buried in Grant's tomb?" He looks blank and I explain it's an old Groucho Marx gameshow question. He's never heard of Groucho Marx. He tells me about "Who wants to be a millionaire" easy questions, but I've never heard of it. We settle for a common ground and discuss Quentin Tarrantino movies for 15 minutes. I proved my merit by mentioning one he hadn't seen...."From Dust Tll Dawn"...a vampire flick in a Mexican Cantina.

Last night Mrs. Phred and went to an all-you-can-eat pizza place and then took in "Inglorious Basterds". It didn't dissapoint. The German detective called "The Jew Hunter" was phenomenal. Best supporting actor Oscar for sure. I liked the alternative ending to WWII...There are many long Tarrantinoesque conversations in the movie filled with unbelievable building suspense. You will remember the Le Big Mac conversation in "Pulp Fiction". Everyone does.

Mrs. Phred goes in first and buys her ticket. I follow after her a few minutes later and, automatically, the kid at the counter gives me the senior discount. I pay $6. Mrs. Phred gives me the change from her ticket purchase. The kid charged her the full adult fare of $9. She's pleased, of course, but when I point out the disparity, she goes back to the counter for her $3 refund. Dinner and a movie for two...$24...Not bad, but we remember Groucho and when movies were a quarter and fast food was twenty years in the future.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

On the One Hand...

Lake Norfork, Arkansas

We're parked on the shore of Lake Norfork. Our campground is provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When they build a dam and create a huge recreational lake, they usually throw in a few nicely engineered campgrounds.

You probably read about the incident in California where an old man punched a health care supporter in the nose and had his little finger bitten off in return. It wasn't me. I'm strictly a nose-biter.'s true I could have put on a pair of adult diapers and driven 30 hours to the California rally. But I didn't...really.

The old guy didn't like the idea of government being involved in health care. One of the biggest worries of this type is that the wrong kind of people might get treated for illnesses or injuries. Then there is also the concern about "death panels" denying treatment to registered Republicans. The irony is that the the old guy got his finger treated with his Medicare card. The doctors couldn't reattach the pinky because of concerns about bacteria. Medicare will cover a tetanus shot.

The lake is lovely. Paul and Diane loaned us their pontoon boat. We go out every day after tennis and read, picnic and swim in a sheltered cove. We used to be boat owners. Due to a long series of expensive disasters, Mrs. Phred and I really appreciate the concept of "other peoples boats" and feel very lucky to have such generous friends.

The boat is called the "ratty bastard". We are a little disappointed that Paul has removed the tiki torches. It's a long boat, with a turning radius similar to an aircraft carrier. As we try to dock it, Mrs. Phred gives me a stream of shouted instructions. I try to turn the helm over to her, but to no avail.

The prime rib at Keller's cove was excellent, as usual. The tattooed waitress tells us that she had her baby since our last visit. They no longer have karaoke, which is an annoyance since I had seriously rehearsed "Billy the Mountain" by Frank Zappa in preparation for the visit.