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Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas 2007 - OVER!

This weekend we finished up our 2007 Christmas season with, not one, but TWO family get togethers! Yes, we are a wild and crazy party couple! :)

On Saturday my family came to Lindsay's house to celebrate Christmas. Yes, I know
you're thinking, "Wait, didn't you do that on Christmas Day?" Well, kinda. My family celebrates Christmas in two phases; on Christmas Day my sister and I celebrate with our immediate families, then on the Saturday after Christmas we do a combo celebration so the cousins can get together. But, since Lindsay was going to her father's family for most of Christmas Day, Randy & I figured we'd horn in on Paula's family gathering. Are you confused yet? If not, just wait.

Anyway, my folks and Paula and Lou and their kids came out to Lindsay's for the
combo celebration. We always have such a fun time together. There's food (lots of it!), laughter and presents. We were really blessed this year because two of our out-of-town kids, Joe & LuAnn and her husband, Eric, were with us. We were missing two: Kevin, but he and his fiancee, Sara, made an appearance later in the afternoon via video; and Megan and her fiance, Matt who had coaching responsibilities that day.

A couple of years ago the adults stopped exchanging gifts because it became just an exchange of gift cards, so we figured that was silly. Now the rule is everyone buys for anyone under the age of 18 and for the great grandparents (my folks). Since Kevin turned 18 three years ago, we just have four kids under the age of 18. But they sure have a good time opening their presents!

We have a tradition during our combo celebration. A few years ago my sister, Paula, bought a set of 12 wine glasses, each one had a different picture of the "Twelve Days of Christmas." We all grab our favorite glass (some try to get the highest number so they don't have to sing as much!) and then we sing the song. My bro-in-law, Lou, always has the fifth day. Nobody sings "five golden rings" like Lou. And that's not necessarily a bad thing! :) One of these days we'll have to get us on
video. I don't think the composer of the song quite had the McNeil clan in mind when he wrote the song. But, we sure do have fun singing it!!

This year Paula introduced another game to us. I'm not sure if it's going to catch on quite as well as the "Twelve Days of Christmas" singalong, but we'll see. We all paired up and armed with a pair of pantyhose and several balloons, we had to make
reindeer antlers by shoving the balloons in the legs of the pantyhose! The first pair to do that and wear it won. Well, you can see by the pictures that this game certainly isn't for those who don't like to appear foolish!! :)

It's great to be able to enjoy family the way we do. I am very aware that many families are fractured and do not have the kind of celebrations and good feelings as my family does. And that makes me sad. I am grateful that my family comes together and enjoys one another. Don't get me wrong, we tick each other sometimes, too, but the love we have for one another always prevails. And that's a good thing.

Our last Christmas celebration was on Sunday with our eldest daughter, Ginny and her family. We spent the afternoon with them, just catching up. We hadn't seen
Ginny, Chuck and Tommy for a year. Actually, we hadn't seen Chuck for much longer than that. Last year at Christmas, he was sick, so we didn't get to see him then. Our grandson, Tommy, is growing like a weed! He will be 9 years old in March and is getting so tall. Seems like yesterday when we traveled to Colorado to see him when he was four months old. Time flies . . . It was good catching up with them and getting our hugs in. We'll be sure to see them again this summer, especially at Kev's wedding.

Wow. Another Christmas season is over. Now, on New Year's Eve, it's time to reflect on this past year and look forward to the next; making changes where necessary and affirming those things that were good. I've got say, 2007 will go down as a great year in the Guiler history. All of our kids are doing well; Randy & I are healthy; my folks are healthy; and our extended families are thriving. God is on His throne and in control.

I am one contented woman. Talk with you next year! :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Day Fun with Family

Christmas morning began with a cup of coffee and good conversation with my friend, Cheri. Randy & I stayed with Lee & Cheri over the weekend through Christmas Eve. They are such wonderful friends and have often graciously opened their home to us. Cheri and I share a fantastic friendship and I am so grateful to have her in my life. It was a nice way to start Christmas Day.

After lots of hugs and kisses (and getting a Cracker Barrel gift card!), we left Lee, Cheri and their kids, Courtney and Marty, about 8:45am to head to Lindsay's house to start the melee of Christmas presents and fun. Of course, Randy had to get the car battery jumped first because it had died!! Guess we'll be getting a new car battery for Christmas! I guess I should say KEVIN will be getting the battery because it's his car we're using! Ah, the joys of car ownership.

We got to Lindsay's after they had already had their family Christmas; Reagan was in full, gift-opening mode! :) At almost 2 1/2 years old, she has got this down pat. We brought their presents down and preceded to sit back and watch Reagan go to it. How fun!! There is something so very special about watching your child mother her child. Jason, Lindsay & Reagan are a beautiful family and we are so proud of them. Reagan seemed to be thrilled with everything Pop and Nana had gotten her. Two of the big hits were a virtual aquarium and a set of tools with a tool belt and toolbox. She was so excited!

At the risk of continuing to repeat myself - and I can, because this is MY blog after all! - I am so very grateful to be a part of my children's lives. Randy & I share in all of their joys, sorrows, accomplishments and the everyday stuff of life. I try to take
a moment every day, often right before I go to sleep, to thank God for the privilege of being their Mom and Nana. All of our children are in healthy relationships, and we have two healthy grandchildren. What more can a woman ask for??

Lindsay & Jason were going to spend the day with Lindsay's dad's family so we headed off to my sister, Paula's, house where her clan and my folks were going to be. That always means craziness and laughter - lots of laughter! And the best present is that our nephew, Joe, who lives in California, was going to be there, too! We also were going to celebrate our niece, Megan's, engagement. So much to be thankful for this year.

We ended our day back at Lindsay's with a computer call to Kevin & Sara in Korea - complete with video! It was about 10:30pm which meant it was 12:30pm on the 26th for Kev & Sara. It was so good to see them! They are having a blast together and Sara is getting inundated with the Army life. It was bittersweet talking with them because, of course, I would much rather them be home with us, but this was the next best thing. I'm glad they are together.

What a wonderful day we had. I hope that you, too, were surrounded by friends, family, and good feelings. I thank God for sending us His Son, Jesus, to offer us eternal life and that we are able to celebrate His birth. I'm grateful we serve a gracious, loving Father.

We have two more family Christmas gatherings before our season is over. This Saturday my family will all get together at Lindsay's and then we'll spend Sunday at our other daughter, Ginny's. Then, we can say good-bye to Christmas 2007.

Until the next time . . .

Monday, December 24, 2007

Our First Christmas Celebration of the Year

We had our first Christmas celebration of 2007! Randy, Reagan and I spent last evening with the Mackin family - Kelly & Kate are our first "granddaughters." Their mom, Amita and I worked together at Grace Community and became very close during that time. Kelly was born the first year I worked at the church and I have fond memories of her in her infant carrier sitting at my feet and rocking while Amita went about her duties as the church bookkeeper. Kate came along 3 years later and is a joy as well.

Amita and James had us over for dinner so we could spend some family time together. We had not seen them since early last summer at Kelly's birthday, so we were anxious to catch up. Reagan came along with us 'cause her parents had dinner plans. It was fun to have all three granddaughters together - they had a blast playing and Kelly & Kate were great with Reagan. They acted as if they had grown up together! Amita's mom, Virginia, also spent the evening with us. She's a great person and we enjoy seeing her, too.

We were treated to a puppet show by Kelly & Kate. It was fantastic! I love how creative kids can be when they are allowed to explore their imaginations. Reagan loved the Christmas themed show which was narrated by a frog!

After the show, it was presents time. Of course, this was what we were all waiting for! Kelly & Kate were pleased with the videos and Littlest Pet Shop toy Randy & I got them. We also brought Reagan a gift to open because, at 2 years old, she would never have understood why the other kids got presents and she didn't. She got a recorder and immediately put it in her mouth and made music! I'm sure her parents will just love us. :)

All too soon it was time to leave. Why is it when you're having a good time, the hours fly by; but when it's not so good, a minute feels like an hour???? After hugs all around, we headed home. Reagan had been such a good girl and it was soooo late for her. We got to her house about 9:40pm! Her mommy & daddy were ready to see her.

I hope that your Christmas celebrations will be as fun-filled and loving as our first one was. I'm looking forward to more this week! Until the next time . . .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sara's on her way to Korea!

Sara is going to Korea to spend Christmas with Kevin! Since her folks are still working, we offered to take Sara to the airport, so last night we spent the evening with our soon-to-be in-laws, Sara and her parents, Ann & Steven. We had a nice dinner and good conversation. We haven't spent a lot of time with Ann & Steven, but we are enjoying getting to know them. After all, we'll be sharing grandbabies some day!!! :) Here's a family picture of Sara, Ann, Steven, Sara's brother, Kyle and their exchange student, Mink. This was taken at Kevin's party last summer. And this is my favorite picture of Kevin & Sara.

Sara's flight was due to leave at 7am out of Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. Well, everyone knows that nowadays you have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before your scheduled departure time. That meant that this morning, at 3:30 (yes, AM!!!!) we were leaving Columbia and heading to the airport. The best thing about that time of morning is that there is no traffic to contend with! :) Randy and I kept commenting that we had never seen the Washington Beltway so deserted!!

In no time at all, we were at the airport, had Sara checked in and ready to go by 5am. With nothing left to do, we hugged good-bye and sent her through to security. And yes, I did cry. (Paula, you'd be so proud of me.) I'm not quite sure why, but I think it means so much to me that Kevin will not be alone for the holidays. And, we love Sara and are excited that the two of them will have more than two weeks together, and that makes me happy.

Not much other news to report. We are still mooching off Jason & Lindsay and playing with Reagan, but will be leaving them on Saturday to spend a few days with our wonderful friends, Lee & Cheri. They have graciously opened their home to us on many occasions and, like Dan & Debbie, are family to us. We sure are blessed with the friends God has given us!! We'll be back at Jason & Lindsay's for Christmas morning and then for the remainder of our visit.

We are looking forward to seeing our other daughter, Ginny and her family next weekend. We haven't seen them in a year and our grandson, Tommy, has probably grown so much we won't recognize him! We'll also be spending this coming Sunday afternoon with our "love" granddaughters, Kelly & Kate and their parents, James & Amita. Gosh, can any two people be more surrounded with loved ones??? We are grateful for all of the goodness God has given us. I can't wait to share pictures with you next week!

Randy & I hope that your Christmas celebrations will be everything you want them to be and that you will be blessed with good family times. Take a moment to remember that it is because of Jesus that we get to celebrate this holiday and just say thank you. Or better yet, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!! I'm sure He'd love that! :)

Until the next time . . .

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's Good to Be Home with Family

We arrived at Lindsay's late yesterday afternoon, a day earlier than originally planned because there was bad weather being forecasted for today and we didn't want to travel in it. Plus, it sure didn't bother us to get to Reagan a day early!

It was wonderful to be back with Jason, Lindsay & Reagan. Just being able to put my arms around my girls and hug them for as long as I want is a great Christmas gift for me. I couldn't stop squeezing Reagan and chasing her around the house. We had such fun! The best part of the the evening was "quiet time" when Reagan climbed up beside me and snuggled while we watched one of her TV shows. Then, I got to put her to bed and say prayers with her. What a great way to end the evening.

The weather did turn nasty today as promised. So glad we got here yesterday. We
were pretty lazy today. Just stayed in and stayed warm and dry. Playing lots of games with Reagan - "C'mon, Nana, c'mon!" We even made cookies together!

Looks like it's going to be another wonderful Christmas holiday. I hope yours is shaping up to be a good one, too. As you spend time with your family, please take a moment to remember that the true reason for celebration is that our Lord and Savior Jesus was born and came to bring us all new life. It is for this reason that I am grateful for Christmas.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Spending Time with Good Friends

One of Randy's and my favorite things to do is visit with our wonderful friends, Dan & Debbie Domer. We have been friends with Dan & Debbie for over 10 years! It all started with Debbie helping me out when I severely broke my ankle on a youth outing. It's been a great friendship ever since. We've been through ups and downs together and have always come out stronger.

Dan & Debbie moved to Birmingham, AL in August of 2004 and then, upon Dan's retirement, have recently moved to Winterville, NC. No matter where they have lived, they always welcome us with open arms and guest room. Our friendship is one of those rare ones that allow us to be completely comfortable in their home. No need to entertain us, we just fit. Isn't it great to have friends like this?

We got here late on Friday night after driving 14 hours from Summerdale. It was an uneventful trip for which we are always grateful, but we were glad to get off the road. After visiting for awhile with Dan & Debbie and their adorable granddaughter, Skylar, who they were babysitting, Randy & I were ready to hit the bed. We knew there would be more time to catch up during our weekend here.

Saturday was a beautiful day! It was forecasted to be in the 70s!! Can you believe it - December 8 and we were walking around in short sleeves. What a gift! Dan &
Debbie had been living in a campground in Washington, NC while searching for a home in the Greenville area. They took us over to show us their camper and the campground (they now live in a stick built house - we told them they needed to stay full-timers!). The campground is very nice, sits along a river. It's Tranter's Creek Campground in case anyone is interested.

Then we ventured into the quaint town of Washington. It's historic and it claims to
be the "first Washington," named for George Washington before Washington, DC. The first thing we encountered were carolers on the main street, dressed in vintage 1800s costume. Felt like we had walked into "A Christmas Carol." It has many buildings and houses dating from 1780 and the entire waterfront is on the National Historic Register. It is this waterfront that drew us on Saturday.

A boardwalk has been built along the Pamlico River and it is a nice walk from one end of town to the other. Being that this is a small town, it's not a long walk. We saw some black ducks with stark white beaks - I've never seen those kind of ducks before! While we were there, boats began lining up for the annual Christmas Boat Parade. At dusk the boats were going to sail up the river, unfortunately, we were there too early and couldn't stay long enough to watch it.

Along the streets were various crab statues. They were painted in different themes or careers. Quite good. Baltimore has done similar things at the Inner Harbor. I felt like we were home when I saw the first crab! We had a great afternoon just strolling along the streets and riverfront of Washington.

We spent the day today just lounging around. We had hoped to get over to New Bern, another historic town nearby, but were unable to do so. Oh, well. We'll just have to impose on Dan & Deb's gracious hospitality another time. We are coming back in a month on a way back to Summerdale . . .

As usual, it's been too short a visit. The four of us can always find something to talk or laugh about. We leave tomorrow morning and head for my folks' house in Ocean City, MD. Looking forward to seeing them. We'll spend a couple of days with them, do some Christmas shopping and then head home to Lindsay, Jason & Reagan. OOOOHHHHH!! Can't wait to get my hands on that Reagan!!!

Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Randy's 40th Cracker Barrel

I just realized that I didn't include a picture of Randy at his 40th Cracker Barrel! I know that I told you about how Russ & Pat were so kind to commemorate this achievement but I didn't share the moment. I apologize to Russ & Pat.

So, here we are!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Friends, Old Friends & A Beautiful Sunrise

My day started at 6:00 this morning as my body still hasn't adjusted to the Central Time Zone. But, it was a good thing because I really wanted to try to get pictures of the sunrise over the Gulf. So, I got myself up, dressed and out the door to hopefully catch the sun. And I was successful!

Oh my gosh. Standing on the beach, with only a few pelicans and a sandpiper for company, I had the privilege of watching the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico. I could hardly stand it! I starting taking pictures, figuring I would get the sun rising in stages. Then, DUH! I realized that my camera has a video feature. (Welcome to the 21st century, Terry!) So, I was able to take a 2 minute video of the sun rising. How perfectly gorgeous it was. I've tried uploading the video but am having a hard time. Here's a link to my DropShots site where you can view the video: Enjoy!

Since we had a short drive today, only 2 hours, it was nice to take our time breaking camp. We even went to breakfast at Cracker Barrel with Russ & Pat. And they surprised Randy with a "Happy 40th Cracker Barrel!" sign. It's a hoot. We had a wonderful breakfast (of course! it was Cracker Barrel!) What great folks they are. I think we've begun a really neat friendship. They are heading to Texas to celebrate Christmas with their family. Their kids are coming down join them for the holidays. Isn't that nice? After we got back to the campground, we hugged and said our good-byes, promising to keep in touch and meet somewhere down the road.

We had an uneventful trip to Summerdale. Uneventful is always good when you're driving down the road towing 15,000 pounds behind you. And no, that's NOT because we've eaten at so many Cracker Barrels!! :) As we got within 20 minutes of the park, we got a call from Ron & Ruth wondering when we'd be getting in. Then, upon arriving, Pat & Dick came out to see us. They are parked right behind us. About 30 minutes later we had more visitors - Linda and Joyce came over; then Jan, our "landlord" came home and a few minutes after that Ruth pulled up! These are
ladies with whom I play with in the dulcimer groups. And they already told me they expected me at dulcimer practice tomorrow! :) What a great welcome!! I had told Randy on the way here I felt like we were going home.

We're going to have a busy week. We've got to catch up with friends, hit Lambert's for dinner and then head north on Friday! So much fun to have, so little time.

Until the next time . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Anticipating Lazy Days in Destin, FL

We left Americus, GA around 8am under dreary skies. We even hit some rain! The weatherman lied - what a shocker!! But, we crossed into Florida and the sun came out and the temperature hit 70!! Boy, that's some good publicity for Florida! :)

We had a long day today; drove 6 hours to get to Henderson Beach State Park in Destin, Florida. I know, 6 hours doesn't sound like much and when you're not towing 15,000 pounds behind you, it wouldn't be; but after about 4.5 hours, Randy starts
getting tired. However, we wanted to get to Destin today so that we could spend a couple of days with our new friends, Russ & Pat, who we met while in Pigeon Forge.

As we drove into Destin, we were so surprised. We had no idea how busy a town this is. Let me tell you, everything you are in to, you'll find along Highway 98. There are outlet stores, restaurants, beaches, state parks, and more. If it was a little more gaudy, I would have sworn we were back in Pigeon Forge!

We pulled into Henderson Beach State Park around 1:30 or so. This is a beautiful park! Each site is very private with trees and shrubbery enclosing it. We have a great pull-through site that is very spacious. Russ & Pat drove by to greet us as they had just come back from the store. They invited us to dinner tonight which is such a gracious thing to do. Nothing like having someone cook for you after being on the road all day.

After getting set up, we took a walk along the beach with Russ & Pat. Oh my gosh, what a gorgeous beach. The address for this park is Emerald Coast Parkway. I had shared my curiosity with Randy earlier in the day as to why the road would be
named that. Well, we didn't even get onto the beach before I discovered the answer to that! The Gulf of Mexico water is actually a beautiful teal color. Yes, it is!! I could not believe it. The sight of that water lapping up onto the white sand was breathtaking. And it was sunset, so that just topped it off nicely. As we strolled down the beach, we watched the sun set and all four of us almost purred. We stood there expressing to one another our total contentment and gratitude for being able to share in the gloriousness of such a moment. What a great life we are living.

After our stroll along the beach, we headed back to Russ & Pat's for dinner. They had made a crockpot chicken dinner that melted in our
mouths. Pat kept saying she hoped we'd like it. I told her that I was sure we would, but that she could make me a bologna sandwich and I would love it. My theory is ANY food made for me is good food. If I never had to cook again, I would love that.

Fairly soon after dinner, we profusely thanked Russ & Pat for their hospitality and asked their forgiveness for leaving so soon after dinner, but Randy was fading rather quickly. We made plans to get together again tomorrow.

We're looking forward to a couple of lazy days here. No sightseeing, just relaxing and enjoying getting to know Russ & Pat better. It's so much fun meeting new people and finding common ground. This is one of the best things about this vagabond lifestyle. Hope each of you take a moment to relax and thank God for the life He's given you! Until the next time . . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Andersonville Civil War Prison Site

We visited the Andersonville Civil War Prison site on Wednesday. It is such a beautiful area, it's hard to believe such ugliness happened there.

We first found the actual town of Andersonville. It sits across from the prison/cemetery site. I never thought of there being a town, but the prison was really called Camp Sumter but since it was located in the town of Andersonville, that is how it is known.

The town is quite small, you can walk it in under 15 minutes if you wanted to. But, their whole thing is being the place where the
commanders of the prison were stationed. The oldest building in town (and it really, really doesn't look like it's the oldest) was built in 1847 and is now a restaurant. Originally, it was the home of the Dykes family. Dr. Dykes was the surgeon for the prison. Other buildings are either original to the town or have been moved here and restored to represent what the town looked like during the Civil War.

The Civil War Prison Site and Cemetery is now a National Park dedicated to the
honor and memory of all prisoners of war. There is a museum on site that tells the story of POWs throughout history. This museum is very interactive and moving. I was only able to go through about half of the museum before I had to leave it. I was taken aback at how emotional I became reading the stories and hearing them as well. You know, I've always been amazed at the willingness of our armed forces to do whatever it takes to keep this country free, but now that I have a son serving in the Army, all of this takes on a very personal meaning.

There was a group of service personnel from Fort Rucker in Alabama was touring the facility. I couldn't help but wonder what they were thinking as they explored the site and read about the POWs from the Civil War as well as the stories told in the museum. How I appreciate each and every one of them. And I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to tell them so.

Anyway, back to the prison site. Camp Sumter, its official name, was built in early 1864 and was comprised of about 16.5 acres. In June 1864 the site was enlarged to
26.5 acres and was designed to hold about 10,000 people. Before it was closed, about 45,000 people had been held there over the 14 month existence of the prison. The largest number of people in the prison at one time was 32,000 in August 1864. Can you imagine? 32,000 people in an area meant for 10,000. Because the Confederate Army was hampered by a deteriorating economy and Union blockades that kept supplies from getting to various areas, they were unable to supply adequate food, clothing and medical care to the prisoners. Conditions at the prison became deplorable very quickly.

By the time the prison closed in May 1865, more than 12,000 were dead. Because of the recordkeeping of one of the prisoners, Dorence Atwater, relatives of the dead were able to be notified. It is also the reason only 460 of the Andersonville graves needed to marked "unknown."

On the grounds of the prison site and in the cemetery, you'll find monuments erected in memory of those who died while imprisoned there. The monuments are by state and list the number lost. They are quite impressive. One of the monuments was placed by the Women's Relief Corps and is in memory of those lost in eight states which do not have individual monuments.

The cemetery is an active National Cemetery. Veterans from all wars can be found
buried here. It is a breathtaking site to stand at the edge of the cemetery and look out over thousands and thousands of white markers, each of which represent a life who was willing to make a sacrifice so that I can be sitting here writing. Again, these are truly special people who serve our country.

One note of history on the prison site; there is a spring located near the North Gate. It is called Providence Spring. The story goes that the prisoners had begun
praying for fresh water as the water supply from the creek that ran through the camp had become dirty because of the less than desirable hygiene conditions in the camp. One day, after a storm, a spring suddenly burst forth from the ground - where there had not been one before! Obviously, God had answered their prayers and provided water. To say the least, the prisoners were delirious with joy. Of course, others have a more "reasonable" explanation such as the spring had been buried and lightning from the storm split the earth open and allowed the spring to come forth. I totally believe God answered those prisoners' prayers - how He did it doesn't really matter, does it?

Walking back into history and trying to feel what these people felt is overwhelming. There were families as well as single soldiers locked in this camp. I can't imagine trying to keep my family safe in such conditions. What were they thinking? How did they survive? The human drive to live is a miracle in itself. We are survivors. I am just grateful that I have never been placed in such a position. I hope that I can be just as brave if the need arises. And I am reminded to be grateful each day for the time in which I live and the many blessings that have been given me.

We're going to Destin, FL on Thursday to meet up with a couple, Russ & Pat, who we met in Pigeon Forge. Then on Saturday we'll be in Alabama!! YAY! Until then . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Brickyard Plantation RV Park in Americus, GA

Tuesday, we had a great day to drive the 3.5 hours from Atlanta to Americus. The skies were a beautiful blue and the sun was shining. It doesn't get much better than this! About 1.5 hours down I 75 we stopped at a Flying J and fueled up - both the truck and us! :) It wasn't Cracker Barrel, but it filled the void as Randy would say.

We got to Brickyard Plantation RV Park a little after 2pm. It was a good thing I happened to be looking out the window, because all of a sudden I saw the sign for the park! The GPS said that we had another 7 miles to go! Just another reminder that the GPS is not perfect, by a long shot! Anyway, we pulled in, were met by the park host and shown to our site.

This park is family owned and has been since the Civil War. They can trace back ownership to seven generations. Isn't that cool? Originally, it was farmed with crops of peanuts, cotton and wheat. The park and golf courses consist of 800 acres; the original farm was 7000 acres. The farm had its own cotton gin, commissary, blacksmith, cane mill and housing for its labor force. The bricks used to build the houses were made on the farm. Hence, the name of the park and golf course. The pro shop for the golf course is located in a mule barn from the original farm. It was relocated to its current place and remodeled to house the shop. snack bar and office.

The golf course is on one side of US 280 with the RV park on the other side. If you stay at the park for a month, the green fees are free! Overnighters pay just $5 in green fees. Pretty good deal.

We love this park!! And there's really no big reason to - it's nothing fancy at all! There are few amenities; just a bath house, laundry room and a catch & release fishing pond. Many folks wouldn't think this was a great park, but we love it. The sites are all pull-throughs (those RVers out there will understand why that is so great) and level. There are virtually no trees which is great for satellite reception and keeping the top of the RV clean. And lastly, but certainly a huge deal, it's cheap! The Passport America discount is $15/night, unlimited. You get full hook-up and 50 amps for that price. Unbelievable!! Plus, the monthly rate is just $350 and also includes electric.

This is a park we will mark for return. There are a few historic things to do in this area; Andersonville Civil War Historic Site and Jimmy Carter's home in Plains, just to name two. We plan to visit Andersonville on Wednesday. But, we'll also come back here when we have no place specific to go and just want a nice, quiet place to settle for a few weeks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Picking Out the Christmas Tree AND Setting It Up

We had a fun morning with Missy and the kids. We went to IHOP for their delicious pancakes (pumpkin for me and carrot cake for Randy - again!) and then headed for a local nursery to pick out a Christmas tree for them.

This nursery had some beautiful trees; very full and TALL! They had a section for 9
foot trees! I don't think I've ever seen anyone have a 9 foot tree in their home. Missy & the kids picked out a great 7 foot tree. Randy got it secured in the back of the truck and we head back to the house to set it up.

Setting it up was interesting. It took Randy, Missy, Tara and MacKenzie to get it positioned exactly the way Missy wanted it. It looks great, though. And, I'm sure once it's decorated it will be just lovely.

Boy, it's been a long time since we've gone and picked out a Christmas tree! Even before we were living on the road, we hadn't bought a live tree in about 18 years.
Kev is allergic to the pine sap, so once we figured that out, it was a fake tree for us. In some ways, it was so much easier. But, I always felt a little sad that my kids didn't get that experience each year because one of my best memories from my childhood was picking out the Christmas tree. It was my daddy's and my job - we'd go to the lot and pick out the best one and bring it home. When I think back on those outings, I always smile. My daddy and me; I loved it.

Here's a pic of our beautiful nieces and nephew. From left to
right, it's MacKenzie, Tara and Patrick.

Another great day in our lives. Spending time with family and each other. Folks, it just doesn't get any better than this. Hope you've had a fantastic Thanksgiving celebration, too! Until the next time . . .

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Good Family Celebration

I hope your Thanksgiving celebration was as fun as ours! Nothing beats being with family and having fun at the same time!! Everyone pitched in; setting the table, mashing potatoes, carving the turkey, etc.

It was especially good being with Randy's sister, Melissa
and our nieces, Tara & Mackenzie and our nephew, Patrick. We don't get to see them as often as we'd like so celebrating a holiday together was very special. After dinner and clean-up, we all stumbled into the family room to watch a movie. Great family time.

Today will be a quiet day, I'm sure. You won't catch US anywhere near a shopping center!! Randy's just getting back from having the oil changed in the truck - gotta
keep it running smoothly!! While he was gone I made sure we still have money left at the end of the month! You all know how that is. :) And later today we'll go on back over to Missy's and hang out.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving afterglow . . . Until the next time . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope each of you take a moment to thank God for the many blessings in your life. I know that we will as we celebrate this holiday with family. Enjoy!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

We're in Atlanta - or Close Enough to It

We are now settled in Cumming, Georgia which is northeast of Atlanta. We are staying in Twin Lakes RV Park as it is the closest one to Randy's sister, Melissa who lives in Alpharetta. We'll be here for the next week. Really looking forward to spending time and celebrating Thanksgiving with Melissa and our nieces and nephew, Tara, MacKenzie, and Patrick.

We had an uneventful trip from Nashville. That's always a blessing - a boring trip is a good trip! :) It was one of our longer days, we left Nashville at 8am CST and arrived here a little before 4pm EST. That's a long day for us. We generally only spend 4 to 5 hours on the road. But, we did cross yet another Cracker Barrel off the list! I thought it was our 40th, but alas, it was only number 39. I'm sure we'll hit 40 before we get to Alabama in December.

This will be a very laid-back week. Just spending time with family and catching up with what's going on in their lives. But, I'm sure I'll have a posting or two, so check back.

Take care. Enjoy each day. Until the next time . . .

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Downtown Nashville

We went into downtown Nashville today. Randy & I were in Nashville in June of 2004 with Jason and Lindsay. We attended the CMA Fan Fair and really enjoyed ourselves. But, I wanted to see Nashville without all of the hubbub of the festival. This really, really isn't Randy's thing, but being the good sport that he is, he went along with it.

I had just planned to walk around downtown and get pictures of some of the famous bars and honkytonks that I've read about. But, friends of ours, Darrell & Judy, told us that we had to go to the BiCentennial Mall near the state capitol. So, that's where we started.

The Mall is a beautiful park that was originally created for two purposes; one, to preserve the last remaining view of the State Capitol; the views from the south, east and west had been obscured by the construction of the many skyscrapers built in the 1950s and 60s. The other purpose was to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Tennessee. It is similar to the mall in Washington, DC.

At the opposite end of the mall from the Capitol, a courtyard is found that is dedicated to the musicians, performers, singers and the musical heritage that is closely associated with this city. Surrounding the courtyard are carillons containing 95 bells that represent the 95 counties of Tennessee. We happened to be there at noon and were treated to the playing of "The Tennessee Waltz." So very cool.

On either side of the mall are two walkways; one is the Walkway of the Counties. Embedded in the walkway are 95 disks upon which are written the name of each county; date of establishment; the county seat; square mileage; and a short blurb about its history. Buried under the disks are time capsules which will be opened at the state's 300th birthday in 2096. The walkway is divided into three sections: East, Middle & West Tennessee and along the path you'll find descriptions of the geography of each area as well as foliage of each section planted along the way.

The other walkway is a history of the state beginning at the dawn of creation! I am not kidding you. This 1400 foot wall has inscriptions of all of the major historic events that have happened over the past 2000 years. Most of the history pertains directly to the establishing of Tennessee as a state. The history lessons begin in earnest at the 1796 mark, when Tennessee became a state. The pathway ends in 1996 as this was built for the state's bicentennial.

Also found at the mall are beautiful green areas; a World War II Memorial in which another time capsule is buried and to be opened in 2045; a river walk; a 200 foot granite state map highlighting major geographic formations and roadways; and a memorial to the Civilian Conservation Corps.

We were a little concerned about driving into downtown Nashville because our truck is sometimes not the easiest to maneuver in cities. But, we had no problems and actually found a parking lot that we could fit in!

All of the landmarks I wanted to see were in close proximity to one another, thank goodness. After walking the mall for an hour, I wasn't sure how long my knees and ankle would hold out! But, I persevered. (I know, I know. Such a trooper. And humble, too!) We first went to the Country Music Hall of Fame. This was a great tour when we were here. And it's a neat building, too.

From the Hall of Fame, we walked up to to Broadway which is home to the honkytonks in which many of the musicians we know got their starts. Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is one that many people have heard of and many country music stars played before we knew who they were. And, from what I've read, some of them still drop in from time to time to jam. How cool would that have been to see!

I got pictures of the Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry was formerly housed and still holds concerts and shows. We walked down to the Wildhorse Saloon which has been showcased on Country Music Television (CMT) and in which many stars still appear. Folks were beginning to line up for the night's entertainment.

We wanted to see Fort Nashborough, a replica of the original settlement of Nashville. It sits on the riverfront of the city, which is just one block over from the Wildhorse Saloon. As we were walking along the riverfront, I looked across the street and standing outside the back entrance to the Wildhorse Saloon was Bucky Covington! Now, many of you may not know who Bucky Covington is, but if you
watch American Idol, you will. He was standing with his back to me, but I knew it was him because of his hair! :) So, I hollered over to him, "Hey, Bucky?" He turned and smiled and I asked if I could get a picture. I had just planned to take a picture of him, but he invited me over. Well, I wasn't going to turn that down! What a nice guy he seemed to be, very polite. He was getting ready for a show at the Wildhorse. After the picture, I wished him good luck on the show and off we went. I know he's not a big star, but it was fun anyway. You never know . . .

Fort Nashborough was the site of the 1780 Cumberland Compact which established the government for this new settlement. Its founders were James Robertson and John Donelson who lead two groups of settlers for nearly 500 miles overland and about 1000 miles via the river to get to this area. This replica of the fort is just a quarter of the original size, but allows visitors to get an idea of how those pioneers lived. All I can say is that I am grateful for those people and the trailblazing they did, but I sure am glad that I live in this era. I like my amenities!!

We had a great day touring Nashville. And there is still so much more to see. We were unable to see some of the historic areas outside of town. And we never got to The Hermitage, the home of Andrew Jackson.
We'll be back, I'm sure.

Tomorrow will be packing day; getting ready to travel on Monday. We will arrive northeast of Atlanta and will be spending a week there so we can spend Thanksgiving with Randy's sister, Melissa and her kids. Really looking forward to that as we were last here in April. Gotta get that family time in.

Hope your weekend is going well. Friends and family up north, stay warm! Take care of each other. Stay in touch. Until the next time . . .