Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around us...to touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend 2010



As we begin the Memorial Day Weekend, we want to remember those who gave the most ultimate for their country and our freedom. ..a special thanks to them and to their families. We also want to say a special thanks to the soldiers and their families who are giving of themselves for their country and our freedom today. May we always remember their sacrifices for this country and our freedoms!
Freedom isn't free and never has been. Many have paid the price for our freedom and for the things we enjoy in this great country... THANK YOU!

God bless you , And the USA.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Finally

Finally!! Yes, finally…. we are going to get to move from this campground. Now don’t misunderstand there is nothing wrong with Pine Mountain RV Resort, but we have been here waaaay to long. This is not the campgrounds fault… it is ours. Being new to full-timing and planning we didn’t schedule things very well. We knew we needed to complete some doctor’s appointments but after years and years of being on a rigid schedule we forgot we were retired and could change appointments to fit our needs. Besides, whenever someone at Rainbow Plantation would ask us what we were going to do this summer we really didn’t have a clue. The concept of having a whole summer to do whatever we wanted just hadn’t sunk in yet. They must have thought we were seasoned beyond our years because many seasoned full-timers will tell you they go to the stop sign and then decide which way to turn. We know we want to return to wherever Stephen is for the spring (April and May give or take a few weeks) each year as well as November and December. Family first!

So we will begin getting things ready to finally LEAVE. We did manage to spice things up a bit by moving to different sites each month we were here. Now we know what we like and don’t like as far as sites at this campground goes. We aren’t traveling far but at least we are moving and there will be new scenery, people and things to do. What a beautiful place to camp host for a few months.

Yesterday my computer decided it had enough and completely shut itself down. We bundled it up and went back to Staples to see what might be wrong. By the way, we purchased the warranty when we purchased the laptop. We are not big on extended warranties but this time we just had that feeling and boy are we glad. I highly recommend the warranty on electronics. The folks at Staples have been very nice and helpful but this time decided it was beyond the store fix so they are sending it back to HP for the big guys to take a look. It seems we have an overheating problem with possibly a faulty fan as well as the power plug is loose and pulled away from the motherboard. We also found out this particular HP model has had these same problems from the get go. They will fix it or write it off and give us a refund to purchase a new computer. I suspect they will fix it. If it happens again then they will probably replace it. So now we are a one computer family and I don’t share well.

We plan to head over to Callaway Gardens for the Master’s Water Ski Tournament held there each year during the Memorial Day weekend. Mike will be working a few hours here and there and he is excited about that. We hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend and you enjoy it in whatever way that makes you happy. DSC_2844 DSC_2846 DSC_2854 I have included some pics of the countryside around the Pine Mountain RV Resort. It is very peaceful and beautiful here.DSC_2856

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your time with us.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Purchase from Pier1

We beat the rain and made it to Columbus and Pier 1 this afternoon. The purpose for this trip was to purchase a six drawer storage chest to be placed underneath the window where the sofa once lived. I saw the chest online and found out the store in Columbus had one in stock. When we got there they only had one chest and it was on display. They offered to order one for us but I am not patient…I wanted it today. They called the Auburn store for us and found out they had several in stock so when we said we would drive to Auburn they offered to reduce that one $40.00. Sold!!DSC03294 DSC03295 DSC03297 DSC03296 So now we have replaced the day/night shades and installed MCD sunshades throughout the coach. We replaced the upholstered lambrequins with nice green leather. The sofa has been removed and replaced with a comfortable Lazy Boy recliner (Mike already had a leather Lazy Boy) and now we have this nice six drawer chest from Pier 1. We still have a few projects inside to complete but we are getting there. The RV furniture that manufacturers put in their units are many times just not comfortable or durable. Our sofa has lasted very well through the years but was beginning to show its age. I don’t think it was ever comfortable. When I would sit on the sofa to watch TV I always felt like I had to twist my head and then I would get a crick in my neck. Now I have this comfortable recliner, Mike has a comfortable recliner and we still have plenty of seating for friends when they visit. Now if I can just talk Mike into getting rid of our horrible carpet!! DSC03298 DSC03302 Now I can’t say our Shih Tzu’s are happy. When Nick was little he would always take his toys to the sofa so his brother would not get them. His brother (Josh) was too small to jump and to this day can’t jump on the sofas. The sofa was Nick’s security. Now he just looks at me as if to say….”where am I supposed to go?” Bless his heart…he doesn’t know he is a dog. Casey loved to sleep on the sofa but she is happy on the recliner or in Nick’s basket. She is adaptable. Only time will tell with Nick.

We have finally been having visitors at our hummingbird feeders. We have two feeders that are hanging in the front near the patio and one is attached to the window. I love sitting in my recliner and watching the hummers at the small window on the side of the motorhome. Today I counted as many as four. I think they are my favorite birds. DSC_2827 DSC_2824

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your time with us and I hope you have a great day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Sofa’s Got to Go

I don’t know if it is the weather ( I suspect it is) but it seems the past couple of days have been spent doing just about nothing. Even the dogs seem a bit on the “leave me alone, I just want to sleep” side. It isn’t necessarily the temperature but the humidity that zaps your energy.

We did venture to Columbus yesterday to pick up my new glasses. I have been so excited anticipating their arrival. It has been a little over three years since I changed them and needed that fix. To give you the short version….the lens were not correct. They didn’t use the lens I had been used to and it appears the difference is HUGE. My vision was terrible….all fuzzy and blurry. Not good. So we didn’t accept them and will start over again next week.

We have several good RV friends that have taken their rigs and made them a little less RV looking. The first that comes to mind is Doug and JoAnn Dubrouillet who painted the inside of their fifth wheel. They used the southwestern colors and d├ęcor…very nice! JoAnn then linked me to The Bayfield Bunch who have not only painted their motorhome but removed all the RV furniture and added items from places like IKEA NOT an RV manufacturer. Again, very nice! Then there is Fred and Jo Wishnie who removed all of their RV furniture and replaced it with very nice high end furniture, Howard and Linda Payne who removed their RV sofa and now have two very comfortable recliners. Randy and Pam Warner removed one of their nice leather sofas and replaced it with an even more comfortable recliner and a handmade computer desk. And I am very sure there are tons of others. Now if those guys have the courage to personalize the rubber stamp look of an RV so do I. We had already added two Lazy Boy recliners but with the sofa it was a little crowded. The RV sofa is not too comfortable and through the years was getting a little on the worn side. So last night Mike and I took it apart and removed it from the living area. We now have the two very comfortable Lazy Boy recliners, the two leather pilot and co-pilot chairs turned to make a nice “conversation” area. We plan to purchase a piece of furniture from Pier 1 to place under the window. We have the desk/credenza and table with two upholstered chairs. There is so much more room and it looks very nice. Our dogs have not made the transition yet; they are still looking for the sofa to jump up on.

That about wraps up another beautiful weekend. Next weekend will be busy in the campground with Memorial Day weekend. Mike will also be busy helping out a few hours here and there during the 51st Masters Water Ski Tournament held annually at Callaway Gardens. He’s not sure what he will be doing but he sure is excited about being back at Callaway even for a short time. One thing for sure….it won’t be food service.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Plans in the Making

We have made a few plans. After we finish our volunteer camp host position at FDR State Park we will be making our way toward Goshen, Indiana for the 50th Anniversary Escapade to be held there September 12th-17th. We also found out several of our newly formed friends from Rainbow Plantation will be having an early arrival pot luck dinner on Friday Sept. 10th. Since Escapees are such wonderful people we felt it would be ok to contact Norm and Linda Payne and ask if we could join in the fun on that Friday. We received a very nice e-mail from both Norm and Linda assuring us we were welcome to join the gang. So Mike and I will be arriving at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds Friday, September 10th. We hope to learn several things by attending many of the outstanding seminars offered. We also will meet many new friends and meet up with many we have only talked with via facebook or blogs. For us this should be a great time to really get our feet wet in the full-time arena. We are excited about attending and look forward to seeing new territory.

Since we will be in Indiana at the conclusion of the rally we plan to do a little exploring in that area. Norm recommended Cummins Coach Care in Elkhart as a place for us to visit for our annual service on the Dutch Star. He also recommended several area highlights to see such as Notre Dame, Amish sights, Studebaker Museum, Shipshewana to experience the World’s Largest Flea market, the Newmar plant for a possible factory tour…..all that before we actually leave the area.

If any of you have any suggestions of things to see or places to visit please let us know. After leaving Indiana we will be slowly making our way toward Nashville, Tennessee to visit with Mike’s family.

Yesterday Mike and I spent an hour just relaxing at the pool and hot tub here at our campground. It was nice to just sit and enjoy this nice feature of Pine Mountain RV Resort. Later, we took a 2 mile walk and enjoyed that special time of the evening when the sun has just gone down and you can begin to feel the breezes of the evening. I love the sounds of the night….frogs, crickets, and birds. To me these are peaceful, quiet noises.

Here are a few of our feathered friends we saw today.DSC_2803 DSC_2808 DSC_2800DSC_2757

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birds of Prey

Three times each day, Tuesday through Sunday, Callaway Gardens hosts a Birds of Prey show at the Discovery Pavilion. We decided that if the rains held off we would head that direction this afternoon and check out this show. We decided to aim for the 3:30 show. There are two other shows; 10:30 and 12:30

 DSC_2734 We arrived at the Discovery Center around 2:30 so with extra time on our hands we wanted to take in the current exhibit on display in the Exhibit Hall. Up Close With Nature: Photography Exhibit by Gail Stewart and George Bradfield. I will say these two photographers had a wonderful exhibit showing some spectacular shots of nature up close. Of course, photography was not allowed in the exhibit but we really enjoyed spending time there just looking at these incredible pictures.

We then wandered over to the Discovery Pavilion but with a little more time on our hands we began to walk one of the many trails at Callaway. Meadowlark Gardens Trail This trail was called Meadowlark Gardens Trail and was just beautiful. Being early in the week there weren’t very many people present so we had this trail to ourselves. So peaceful!! Meadowlark Gardens Trail (2) We only had time to hike about a fourth of the trail so that leaves us with something to explore on another day. While we were hiking it began to rain a bit so we made our way back to the pavilion.

At 3:30 the Birds of Prey Show began. Our Ranger’s name was Stacy and she was great. She informed us that this show was a “free flight” show meaning that the birds were not tethered. They were free to fly as they would in their natural habitat. Of course, they were not in their natural habitat. Many of their birds could never be released into nature and survive. Some were rescued from abuse or injury and some raised from birth.

The first bird we saw today was the Harris Hawk. Harris Hawk This bird is native to the Southwest. The Harris Hawk shows a dual personality. One is sitting quietly with a casual indifference and the other, when hunting, a relentless predator. Claw of the Harris Hawk The next bird to be released was the Great Horned Owl. He was magnificent!!  The Great Horned’s ears are not in the same position on either side of their head. Their right ear is typically higher in the skull and at a different angle. Great Horned Owl (3) Great Horned Owl (2) When he tilts his head, he can pinpoint both horizontal and vertical direction of a sound. The last bird of the day was the Barred Owl. Barred Owls sometimes go fishing. They will wade knee-deep in water and catch fish or crayfish with their feet.Barred Owl (2) Barred Owl in Flight

There are other birds in their show but for this showing we saw these three. We did find out that they have a Bald Eagle but are unable to release him at this time (for a show) because there is a pair of Bald Eagles nesting in the area. We found out where this nest is located and so we will try to return early one morning to see these birds as well as the Osprey.

As we were heading to the Rhododendron Trail it began to rain really hard so we will have to make that another time. We really enjoy our trips to Callaway Gardens Resort. It is a wonderful place to walk, sit, view nature and just BE. Today was especially nice because with so few people in the Gardens it was like we were there alone. A quiet day, a peaceful day, a GREAT day.

We hope your day has been a good one! Thanks for dropping by and allowing us to share our latest outing with you.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Simple Weekend

This weekend we decided to just keep it simple. Saturday we found peanuts for the bird feeder, and also swapped out a bird feeder that the birds didn’t like for a tray feeder. The birds like the tray feeder because they can stand up on the tray and eat without having to perch anywhere. Kinda like us, we don’t want to have to work hard for our food. The tray was a good choice and many are going there instead of the traditional feeders. We have woodpeckers in the area and that’s why we wanted the peanuts. Today we added a White-breasted Nuthatch to our birds here; and he ate from the peanut collection. Now to get those woodpeckers to dine with us.

This morning, Gerri’s laptop died on us and would not power back up. We tried several different things and finally we restored its power. We went back to Staples where we purchased it a year ago and talked with the assistant manager. Found out he was a computer tech in his earlier days and he told us what the problem probably was. Seems like there was a build-up of static combined with interrupted updates at the same time which gave the computer more than it could handle, so it just cut itself off. Anyway, he checked the laptop out for us, made some other adjustments and gave it back to us and its working great. Whew….. we don’t have to purchase a new laptop at this time….Great!!

As an update I forgot to mention, we got the airbag problem resolved. Kenny, from Coachcraft by MacDonald, a company in Columbus that works on a lot of Bluebird motorhomes, suggested that I do a manual AIR dump. If there is a clog in the valve that this would probably clear it out. Kind of like a colonoscopy for the air bags. I did and it did, so we were able to get more level and the airbags to equally dump the air.

Friday, May 14, 2010

National Infantry Museum

 Front Entrance to the National Infantry Museum (2)  DSC_2683 DSC_2682

Yesterday Gerri & I went to the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Georgia. It is located where Columbus and Fort Benning meet. www.nationalinfantrymuseum.com This is the first world class museum to pay tribute to the US Army Infantryman; it opened June 19, 2009. It is a massive building with an incredible amount of exhibits and displays to see.  DSC_2684 DSC_2685

The museum follows the history of the infantry from colonial times to the present through a series of era related galleries and exhibits. There are era rooms that you walk through looking at life-size displays and artifacts of that war-time.  DSC_2689 DSC_2695 DSC_2696

It is a museum of people and not of things. It opens you to a real understanding of the American Infantry Soldier.

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I cannot express how incredible this museum is. We both were in awe from the minute we went in and still are as I write this blog entry about it. The infantry soldier is an incredible soldier, and we learned a lot of the training that goes on for and with them. After we saw most of the displays, we walked into the IMAX Theater and saw a 40 minute showing of Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West. The screen is 5 stories tall and 70 feet wide. We were there for about 4 hours and still did not see all there was to see. I sense another trip there to complete the tour.DSC_2730

If you are in the area or passing nearby, I cannot encourage you enough to stop and spend a day here. It will be well worth it and you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Being Friends

This morning as I was reading our friends, Randy and Pam Warner’s blog, I was again touched by feelings that I had yesterday when I found out that fellow Rvers, Mike and Pat McFall, had received a phone call that their son, Mikel, had passed away in his sleep at the very young age of 55. How incredibly heartbreaking to get the call that your son has passed away and then I found out that they lost another son almost two years ago to the day. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that they are feeling at this moment. It is horrible.

What I did notice was how many people sent prayers and messages their way. The amazing way this community of people rally around each other is touching. In many cases, such as ours, we have never met these fine people but yet we feel a bond with them, a closeness. This morning I mourn with a family I never met.

As Randy said in his blog this morning…. full-timing does not excuse us from life. These kinds of things remind us that we are NOT on vacation; we are NOT immune to life. It is a great lifestyle and there is freedom and the lack of many of the stresses we once felt BUT we have to deal with fear, pain and sadness in this lifestyle. I am just so thankful and feel so blessed to be part of this wonderful community of people.

Take some time each day to tell those you love how much they mean to you and how much you love them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Camp Host

This is a wonderful lifestyle but Mike and I have discovered that everybody has their own rhythm for making it work for them. There are indeed many different ways to full-time and we are still learning what works best for us. We want to travel and explore and enjoy this great country but family is also equally important. So we want to have a balance. That is the way a lot of our full-time friends do their travels. We also decided that we wanted to volunteer or workamp some along the way. We enjoy the learning that is usually involved with volunteering somewhere. Last September and October we volunteered at Hagerman NWR in Texas and that was an incredible learning experience. Doing the volunteer thing for a few months also helps the budget and enables us to pump that diesel fuel into the Dutch Star. It is a win-win situation.

Where am I going with this you might ask?? Well, we have accepted a camp host position at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain. DSC_2672 DSC_2674 This is not a new volunteer position for us. We have hosted at FDR twice before. FDR State Park is like home for Mike and I, a beautiful place of peace and serenity. It all happened quite by accident. Because we have this fondness for FDR we drive through the campground and walk around the lake quite often. On one of our visits we ran into one of the Park Rangers that we knew. We talked for awhile and found out that they had a need for a camp host for a few months this summer. They would love to have us return. We applied and accepted the position. So beginning June 1st we will get to return to our oasis and camp host. We are so excited. The only thing we would have done differently is we would have extended our time at Rainbow Plantation into March and rescheduled our doctor’s visits for April. Live and learn and that is just what we are doing.DSC_2676 DSC_2677 So what is our rhythm? We really aren’t sure at this time. What is important to us is having quality time with our son, Stephen. This will probably bring us into his area for a couple months in spring which will encompass Easter, birthday and Mother’s Day. We definitely want to be in his area during the holidays - November and December.

We love spending time with our friends at Rainbow Plantation so for the next year or so we plan to spend our winters there. The rest of the time will be spent traveling/exploring and perhaps volunteering from time to time.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting our blog….we hope you have a great day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day

The celebrations continue! Saturday Stephen purchased a small Weber Charcoal Grill so he could do some cooking out at his apartment. He decided Mother’s Day would be a good day to christen his new grill and he also wanted to cook for me.DSC_2670

Well I must say our son is a great cook. He grilled hamburgers and with that we had Grillin Beans, chips, and Pistachio salad. We followed our lunch with the leftover birthday cake. Everything was delicious and I really enjoyed having my son cook for me. It was fun to watch him in his own apartment. He seems very confident and content with his life. That is always good to see happen. We are very proud of him and he has become such a fine young man.

For Mother’s Day Stephen got me a beautiful hand painted glass window art. It is about 4 inches in diameter and looks kinda like stained glass. The neat part is that it is a Hummingbird getting nectar from a flower. Just beautiful.DSC_2665 Since we are in a motorhome space is limited and this can be hung in any window. I have already located a small suction cup and hung it in the small window in the dining area. This is a great place for the light to pass through it to show all the beautiful colors. Thanks Stephen!!DSC_2669 DSC_2666

Mike and I are a little more practical in our gifts to each other. We tend to buy things that are needed. The full-time rule is whenever something comes in…something goes out. Space is limited and weight is important. We feel our best gift to each other is being able to live this lifestyle together. To experience this joy is the best gift ever. Thanks Mike!!

That pretty much sums up this Mother’s Day. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family. A great husband and a great son.

Life is good.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Birthday Celebration

Tuesday, May 11th is our son, Stephen’s birthday. Birthdays are special in our family and it doesn’t matter how old or young you are… we celebrate. Since Stephen is now in the working world sometimes the celebrations have to be worked around his schedule. Because of that we began the fun on Friday. He arrived at the motorhome with Josh (our grand-dog) and his friend Whitney around 12:30 and we went directly to San Marcos for lunch.We seem to always arrive at San Marcos for special occasions…birthdays, graduations, jobs, promotions. They serve excellent Mexican food with sizable portions and great prices. We ate, talked, laughed and had a good time together.

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From here we proceeded to Callaway Gardens Resort. We allowed Stephen the honor of deciding where he wanted to go and explore. He chose The Discovery Center for starters. We walked through the center and looked at several of the exhibits, browsed the gift shop and walked over the bridge to the area where the Birds of Prey show is held. Not today….we couldn’t even find a show time so we assumed they do these shows only during the weekends. We did stop on the bridge and watch the turtles begging for food morsels to be tossed to them. There must have been three dozen both large and small. We had never seen so many in one spot like that before. DSC_2572

We walked the path past the Bike Barn. This was Stephen’s first job- an after school and summer job renting bikes to Callaway customers. It was here he learned a great deal about customer service that he was able to take with him to his after college career. Great beginnings.

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From here we went to the John A Sibley Horticulture Center. It is here that native and exotic plants are grown and displayed among rock walls. There is a sculpture garden, a fern grotto, conservatory and an outdoor garden display. They display plants seasonally and we got to see many of the spring annuals and perennials. We also found one of the nonpoisonous snakes that they release in order to take care of the rodents that might decide to visit the center. I can’t say I was really excited about seeing him!! We saw some extremely large fish swimming in the water pond. These were probably Koi that have been permanent residents at Callaway for several years... Old, slow and well feed.

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We wanted to make a visit to Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden. When Mike worked at Callaway they allowed family members to take summer Discovery Classes. It was here Stephen fell in love with the vegetable garden. Mike and I visited this area a few weeks ago and it was interesting to see what a few weeks of warm weather can do to a garden. Things were beginning to shape up and the vegetable garden was beginning to grow. Stephen enjoyed telling us all he learned while taking classes here.DSC_2627 DSC_2644 DSC_2646
After returning to the motorhome we grilled some brats and enjoyed a light snack before enjoying Stephen’s choice for his birthday cake. It is called Chocolate Ganache Cake and it is provided compliments of Publix. Oh my goodness!!! It was delicious!! DSC03284 DSC03287
We built a fire and then walked to the pool and hot tub. Stephen and Whitney enjoyed a swim and Mike and I dangled our feet. The fire felt good when we returned to the motorhome. It felt so good Mike and I enjoyed a nice quiet fire until around 12:30 a.m. We relaxed in our lounge chairs under the stars enjoying the fire knowing it had been another really wonderful day.