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

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Happy Campers

Sarasota, Florida

The weather here is lovely...high in the mid 80s and low humidity...It's still very quiet since most of the community doesn't arrive before November...We're playing "social" tennis in the morning and after the sun goes down.

I fixed a bunch of the RV problems yesterday. The rear video camera was manufactured in China. We took it out and hooked it up to a working video jack and verified that it was burned out. We blasted out the crud on the hot water heater, both air conditioners and the refrigerator and replaced the broken hose on the drivers side windshield washer. The turn signal problem turned out to be a simple fuse...

Today I saw one of my dentists and got another root canal...He gave me a Vicodan prescription so I'm flying high on pain killers and Sauvignon Blanc.

It could be that the frequent fuse blowing on the tow lights is caused by the way I've wired the tow jacks. The I have the male side of the jacks "hot" at 12 volts DC and exposed, so that if I happen to touch them to an exposed surface they would blow a fuse inside the RV. A simple preventative measure would be to reverse the jacks on the Toyota and RV so that the hot side would be the female plug, difficult to short to ground. Meanwhile, I did rewire the Toyota completely so it and the tow circuitry no longer share any wires or bulbs...I installed separate bulbs on the Toyota for the tow circuitry and quit using diodes to separate the two....

We hit Sam's Club to stock up on wine and the library for books. The pool is mostly empty this time of year. I went in during a heavy thunderstorm and had it all to myself.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The End of Summer

Wake Forest, North Carolina

This is the last day of our week with the grandchildren. I'm cooking a blueberry pie and chicken and yellow rice for our goodbye dinner.

After six months on the road, we're heading back to Sarasota for the Fall and Winter.

Time to start planning next years travels.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Clinton Presidential Library

Little Rock, Arkansas

The Women's RV Forum Get Together at Petite Jean was a great success. I think that the ladies had an average of 2.4 dogs each. There was a skunk in a culvert next door and a number of Canadian Geese in the lake. The pot luck dinners each night were fun and the handful of males present sat outside the circle and discussed cigars, Fidel Castro, politics and was all very civil despite a wide range of viewpoints.

For the next few days we'll be running a straight line East on I-40 though Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Asheville and Raleigh to see the grandchildren again before returning to Florida for the winter.

Speaking of cigars and politicians, Mrs. Phred and I broke away one day to visit the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock...We are collecting all 16 libraries and we are about half way there.The building itself is nicely designed, but we felt that on the inside there wasn't much "there" there...

There was the usual collection of odd gifts and Christmas Trees, but the Clinton Administration offered only unprecedented job growth, prosperity, poverty reduction, no wars, balanced budgets and dramatic economic growth...all hard stuff with which to create library drama...we greatly preferred the LBJ and Truman libraries...for the interesting times...

Clinton was the youngest person ever elected as a U.S. Governor. He was also the youngest to be defeated for a 2nd term, although he did come back and win four more terms as Governor of the Razorback Hog State.

The Oval Office and desk are reproductions. The original desk in the White House is made from the timbers of the H.M.S. Resolute, which was trapped in the Arctic ice about 1810. The Americans towed it back to England when the ice melted and the English took it apart and shipped some timbers back to Washington with the suggestion that they be made into a piece of furniture...

IMHO Clinton got a bad deal with an out of control Special Prosecutor by the name of Kenneth Starr. That whole impeachment thing for a minor peccadillo was totally inappropriate constitution-wise. The library had a little section on that waste of time and money. Clinton was a bright and likable boy who often said funny things:

"It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is." –Bill Clinton, during his 1998 grand jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky affair

"What's a man got to do to get in the top fifty?" –Bill Clinton, reacting to a survey of journalists that ranked the Monica Lewinsky scandal as the 53rd most significant story of the century

"When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it. I didn't inhale and never tried it again." –Bill Clinton

"It was a real sort of Southern deal. I had AstroTurf in the back. You don't want to know why, but I did." –Bill Clinton, reminiscing about a pickup truck he once owned

"Being president is like running a cemetery: you've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening." –Bill Clinton

"I asked him to do it because he was the only person that I could trust to read all 150,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations." –Bill Clinton, on asking Vice President Al Gore to tackle federal regulatory reform

"Sometimes I feel like the fire hydrant looking at a pack of dogs. For six years I had declined to tell those kinds of jokes, because I have been told it is not presidential. But I feel kind of outdoorsy today." –Bill Clinton, at a party honoring the 150th anniversary of the Interior Department.

"Look, half the time when I see the evening news, I wouldn't be for me, either." –Bill Clinton, in 1995, on a pre-campaign swing through Montana and Colorado.

"It wasn't my finest hour. It wasn't even my finest hour and a half." –Bill Clinton, after giving an endless nominating speech for Michael Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic convention.

"You'd think he was running for First Lady." –Bill Clinton, on George H. W. Bush's criticism of Hillary Clinton

Monday, 13 September 2010

Meeting Online Friends

Petite Jean State Park, Arkansas

Mrs. Phred has been spending a lot of time online with a social networking site called "The Woman's RV Forum". We have pushed the RV down this way for a GTG (Get together) with her online friends..Wiki has the following information about the legend of Petite Jean:

According to legend Petit Jean was actually a young French woman. When she discovered that her fiancee had signed on with De Soto to explore the area, she cut her hair, disguised herself as a boy and managed to find a position as a cabin boy. She survived the voyage and the expedition began their exploration. Once they had reached the area of the mountain, the young woman became ill, on her deathbed she revealed herself to her fiancee, and was buried on the mountain, not under her own name, but under the name she had been known by on the ship "Little John". The grave of "Petit Jean" atop Petit Jean mountain.

There are many versions of the legend of Mt. Petit Jean, but the legend told on the mountain itself and featured on the plaque at Petit Jean's grave is much different from Dr. Woodard's. Dr. Lee W. Woodard has written a book entitled, "Petit Jean's Mountain: The Origin of the Legend." He provides many historical evidences that suggest that the old glamorized oral legends about "Petit Jean" (an assumed or nickname) are traceable to known historical records about the drowning of a young French Noble variously called De Marne or De Marle.

This youth drowned while bathing on Saint Jean Baptiste Day, June 24, 1687, while fleeing with six other survivors of horrendous assassinations and murders involved with Robert Cavelier De La Salle's tragic French Colonization attempt during 1684-1687. This young French noble's death and burial were described by two French companions, Father Anastase Douay (who was an officiate at the burial) and a French soldier named Henri Joutel.
We're only about 70 miles from Little Rock. One of our objectives is visiting every Presidential Library. I wonder what Bill Clinton's library will have to say about Monica Lewinski? I wonder if the dress will be on display? Probably not....

Maybe there will be some other Little Rock museums...We'll find out Wednesday...The ladies on the RV forum refer to their male companions ( if they have one) as DH (Dear Husbands). after learning what this means,  I insist on being referred on her forum to as tGM (the Great Man)...Mrs. Phred humors me in this regard...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Arkansas State Hillbilly Chili Cook-Off

Bull Shoals State Park, Arkansas

Bull Shoals lake was created to tame the White River. The lake is even bigger than Lake Norfork. We drive up on 9/11 to sample the chili in the annual Arkansas Chili Cook-Off.

The admission is $3 a head. You get a ticket for the admission price that you can use to vote for the "peoples choice" best chili. We also buy 20 tickets for 50 cents each that can be used for chili samples, funnel cakes. water, hot dogs or whatever.

The band playing is a lot better than I expected. They play some things that sound a lot like Mississippi Delta blues, some Eric Clapton and other things that are not very hillbilly..

One ticket gets you a tasting cup of the competitors chili...six tickets buy a big bowl of standard chili...four for a hot dog. There is no entry fee to compete in the cook-off, but you have to agree to produce at least four gallons of chili for the little tasting cups...

Someone mistakes me for a local celebrity named Gaston who is a big sponsor for the event. Eventually I straighten this out and promise to look for someone who looks like me and convey regards.

Bull Shoals is really small town in Arkansas, maybe 2,000 on the lake. The Bull Shoals police have also sponsored a 5K race today to honor all the New York firefighters and New York police killed nine years ago...It's a small town in mid-America...They're not burning Korans here...

First prize for the best chili is $500. You also get bragging rights for a year until the next contest. The People also pick a winner and that prize is $100.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Lake Norfork

Mountain Home, Arkansas

We're spending a couple of weeks here. Mountain home is not easy to get to, which is one reason I like it. It's in the Ozarks and there are no interstate highways within 200 miles. The signs going into town say that the population is 11,012 but those are the 2000 census numbers.

They have five tennis courts and several movie theaters. They are moving the town library to a new site. There is a meat market that sells excellent steaks. Lake Norfork winds for miles way up into Missouri. We're hoping to catch the Arkansas Chili Cookoff up at Bull Shoals before we leave.

The Wal-Mart is world class. Wal-Mart started here in Arkansas...We have friends here, Paul and Diane. Almost all my friends and all my pets are dead. Paul and Diane have made the's more about who they are than that they are not dead yet...We used to camp in their compound in the woods, but the new motor home won't negotiate the driveway so we stay on the lake in an Army Corps of Engineers campground. It's only $9 a night with our senior discount.

Paul has given us the key to his pontoon boat, the "Ratty Bastard". We take it out on the lake and swim and float and sleep and read...Someone is siphoning his gas at night...we go out a mile and back and use 8.5 gallons....he's going to put a lock on the tank tank...

This is a place we could stay for a month and watch the leaves change..I play a lot of tennis with Mrs. Phred and have three 6-4 losses....almost my best ever...They are spending stimulus dollars to upgrade the campground...It's somewhat like Roosevelt's CCC program although the workers zoom in and out with big shiny new trucks...