Along the Natchez Trace

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lady Bug, Lady Bug, Fly Away Home...... Please!

We have been invaded!
Asian Lady Beetle

The Asian lady beetle (not to be confused with the indigenous American ladybug) is an invasive species of theCoccinellidae family introduced into the United States in 1988 for the purpose of reducing native aphid populations. Since 1988, they have spread throughout North America, in most places displacing the native ladybug populations to become the dominant Coccinellidae beetle. Because of their destruction of plant life and their aggressive tendency to bite, Asianlady beetles are commonly considered a nuisance pest.
That photo above I took of a Minnie Winnie (not ours) that is parked in our driveway....    but our Lazy Daze is equally infested.
Another outside photo of the darned things...
Inside...  on our screen door....
More than 30 years ago Bill actually bought a package of ladybugs to help control aphids and other pests on the farm.  He was certified organic and used whatever methods it took to grow crops without chemicals.
Now, as the blurb from Wikipedia states, these guys were introduced and they have decided to take over. 
They seem to like white or light colored surfaces.  Our motorhome attracts them as did the khaki pants I had on yesterday.  They love sunshine....  but tend to creep into hidden spots and emerge for months afterwards.
We didn't even open the car doors yesterday....  but today, as we were running our errands we were constantly opening the windows to let these guys out.
I suppose we infested the whole county by the time we got back home.
More of these...

They stink really bad...  someone recently was complaining about stinkbugs...  hey, stink bugs are nothing compared to these guys!  Before we "left home" and still had cats, the cats wouldn't even touch these guys...  they just aren't palatable even to cats.

The temps today started out as 50*...  got down into the 40's....  then in mid-afternoon got to 61*...  so it wasn't really very warm today.

But... the sun was shining...  and these guys really loved it!

There is a huge pile of them laying at the base of the door in the barn....  I don't know their lifespan, but these guys weren't there when we left 2 weeks ago...  now the pile numbers in the hundreds.

Do you have them where you're at?
Just wondering.....

We're thinking we'll be heading back to Texas next week...  I suppose we'll take a whole herd of them with us and invade the whole state of Texas.....


That's All For Today!

Monday, October 28, 2013

St John New Brunswick.... and... the last of the cruise

Howdy All....
The cruise was over last Friday and today is Monday, so, yes, I'm way behind in posting about our "vacation".  I "..." because since we're retired and full-time RVers folks think we're on a perpetual vacation, and, I suppose we are....  but I'll have to admit that I tend to categorize things and my "rating" system puts a genealogy cruise and the accompanying sight-seeing trips in the vacation category.  Anyway...  last I wrote we'd visited Portland and Bar Harbor Maine.

Then it was on to St John, New Brunswick....
Bill & I have been to St John a few times in the past, so we didn't go to the Reversing Falls or any of that stuff on this trip.  We did head to the Market Place....
 We love all kinds of markets and, like a compass heading north, here we are....
I'd been to this very market many years ago...  another lifetime....  and bought a bag of DULSE (seaweed) way back then.  It's kind of an acquired taste...  and darned if it didn't taste this time exactly as it did over 35 years ago ;-).  The lower left shows Bill by a sign for Poutine.  Now....  THAT'S another acquired taste...  french fries, covered in gravy and cheese curds!  Yep!  You read that right....  our friends Roche and Elise, from up in Quebec introduced us to that little "heart attack on a plate" several years ago.  ...  We passed it up this time around.

I love seeing churches....
 Doesn't matter to me what denomination they are...  but this one was a Catholic church cathedral.  It was so beautiful!  I didn't get a good photo of the rose window....  but it was truly beautiful.

An artist John Hooper...  had lots of sculpture art on the city streets...
 Bill struck up a lively conversation with that guy heading to work on the left.  The middle guy couldn't be bothered with us...  too interested in his newspaper.  And the guy on the right who was feeding that pigeon was so engrossed he hardly had time to say hello to me.

This "timepiece" was quite interesting...
 Not your ordinary clock...  also by John Hooper, had a neat way of telling time.  It was at the entrance to the Market Square....  very colorful and fun to look at.

We walked a lot (we seldom take ship excursions, preferring to meander around town on our own) and walked up to the city park and bandstand.....
We never did figure out how anyone got to the 2nd floor of the bandstand....  but the autumn flowers and especially the autumn leaves....  were so colorful and made for a grand walk.  I love to kick the leaves as I walk and listen to them underfoot and as they swirl in the air.  

We spent all our shore leave just wandering through the town.  I did find a really neat yarn shop...  didn't buy any yarn but did buy a pattern book for some items I'd like to knit.

All in all it was a great shore leave for us.

Our stop, the next day, was in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Again, a trip we've done in the past, so we did not go to Peggy's Cove, Lunenburg, or any of the other great places to visit.  We did walk up to the Citadel and along the boardwalk, but my photos aren't anything I'd want to post.

After Halifax we spent 2 days at sea heading back to Baltimore, Maryland.  We docked early Friday morning and Bill & I were among the first to disembark...  getting through customs and immigration quickly and easily this time.  We took a taxi back to the hotel in Columbia, Maryland, where our car was parked, and were on the road to the Hudson Valley of New York by 8:30 am.  

The 8 day cruise was a real vacation...  Bill did all the genealogy workshops and lectures during our days at sea...  I loved the "quiet time" to knit, read and just relax.  Our idea of a true vacation!

After that we did have a couple days visit in NY with our daughter and her family, and then on to Pennsylvania to visit another daughter and her husband...  and today, leaving there and heading  back to Ohio where our motorhome awaited us.

It is SO good to be home.  
As much as I love our family and also those vacations, it sure will be nice to sleep in our own bed tonight.
I hope to catch up on reading all my favorite blogs and get back to posting my own again soon.

That's All For Today!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

In NY but not quite caught up....

We disembarked yesterday morning...  I still have a couple of blogs to do - St John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia...  we didn't have internet access for a few days.

Got off the ship in Baltimore around 8am...  took a taxi back to our hotel to pick up our car and got on the road by 9am.  Our destination for the day (yesterday) was Marlboro, NY....  got here around 3pm. That's where our daughter and son-in-law live, as well as our granddaughter and great-granddaughter.

Of course I'll have a ton of family photos before we leave.  I did try to get caught up on blogs I read - can't miss out on what's happening with my blogging family ;-)

One blog I read was Mitch's, who lives in Spain.  I don't know how to link to that, or I'd do that, so...  if you like reading about his adventures you can always check the blogs I read that are listed alongside my own.

Anyway...  he had a link to an old Rosemary Clooney music and dancing scene... which brought back some memories from the 50's for me.  Evie, our great-granddaughter, who just turned 2 years old a couple of weeks ago, came over to see what I was doing...
Evie was just mesmerized by the performance....
I think I played it 3 times - and know she could have watched it several times more.
Mitch's comments were about it being "campy"...  yeah... maybe so, but Evie just loved it...  and so did I!

We're about to head off to the park...  maybe fly kites if it's windy enough.
Maybe back to the cruise later...

Thanks, Mitch, for the memories...  wait a minute...  that's Dinah Shore, isn't it?

That's All For Today!

(Later...  Judy reminded me that it was Bob Hope who has the memories...  now that I think about it, I believe Dinah wanted us to see the USA in our Chevy...  oh well... it's been a LONG week!  Thanks Judy for helping me out)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Day in Port.... Portland, Maine, that is....

Today, Saturday, our ship would be docking in Portland, Maine...  but not until 11:30 a.m.  So the morning started for me and Bill with breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe around 7 a.m.  We've been eating a lot more than we usually do, so thought we'd better get in a few laps around the deck to work some of that excess off. 

After breakfast we braved the winds up on the 10th floor deck...

 If Bill looks like he's leaning into the wind it's because he is!  It takes 4 laps around the deck to get in one mile and while the whole upper deck is windy this particular part of the walk just about brought me to a stand-still.

After that walk, Bill went to one of the genealogy workshops and I headed to our room.
Remember the beautiful woman from yesterday in that cage-like thing suspended from the ceiling?  Well, today there were 4 young folks (who else has the agility and nerve?) who were suspended from that same overhead apparatus, but they were doing kind of a cross between a trapeze act and a bungee jump.
Yeah, they had safety lines attached to their harnesses, but.... YIKES!!!  They put on quite a show doing acrobatic maneuvers from those rubber bands!

I finally went back to our room and could watch from our deck as we headed into port. 
We passed that lighthouse that is now my header photo.  The Pilot Boat came out to meet us.  They bring out a ship pilot from their port...  that pilot comes aboard our ship and our ship captain turns the controls over to the local pilot to bring the ship into the harbor and to dock.  Then that pilot disembarks.  It will work the same in reverse when we leave this port.
This U.S. Coast Guard boat also escorted us into the harbor.

The scenery was beautiful as we neared Portland...
I could see this lighthouse way up on a hill...
But it was the harbor area that I thought was so beautiful...

 The were sailboats in the water and moored at the shore and the houses all along the bay....  my photo just doesn't do it justice!

We have a dear friend in Portland and when we found out that we'd be stopping here for a few hours we contacted her and made arrangements to meet.
Karen, enjoying her clam cakes and fries.

She's lived in Portland about 6 months now and is learning her way around.
We walked through the downtown area window shopping and just taking in the sights...
The trees are turning autumn colors....  there are lots of fall flowers everywhere...  there is even a "locks of love" fence (lower right) where couples declare their love by locking a padlock onto a fence.  The middle photo was a funky clothing shop (but it got cool enough that those long-johns might feel good tonight)...  and... what the heck is that lower left?  Well...  that's a utility pole that's been used many, many times to post notices...  those are all staples that have been left on that pole.

You've heard of taking candy away from a baby?
Bill loves ice cream!  He didn't really steal this little alligator's cone, but isn't that a cute way to advertise that there's a nearby ice cream shop?

And...  speaking of food.... 
I forgot to take pictures of the raw oysters and other seafood we had shortly after we met up with Karen, but we walked so much, we got hungry again - that's my lobster roll on the left, Bill's fried oysters at top right, and Karen's clam cakes at the bottom.  We all had to taste each others food...  believe me, it was all good!

Too soon our time together was over...
Karen really loves Maine and says it feels like home to her already.
Bill & I are planning to volunteer next summer at Aroostook NWR, in northern Maine, so we hope to see her again next year.

She walked us back to the dock...  we said out goodbyes... and it was time to go...
Our ship would be leaving soon...  heading up to Bar Harbor, where we'll dock tomorrow and have another day in Maine.

I know most of our fellow travelers spent the day taking excursions and other sight-seeing trips, but for us, spending the day with Karen was about as special as it gets!

That's All For Today!

P.S. - It's Sunday morning... we're coming into the bay at Bar Harbor, ME.  It's raining... kind of a drizzle.  To go ashore you have to take a tender (smaller boat that takes you from the ship to shore).  Bill & I have been to Bar Harbor in the past and we may just stay on the ship today.  After today, we'll be heading to New Brunswick and to Nova Scotia, and our MiFi is set to pick up only US phone service, so this is most likely the last post until we return to the USA next Friday.  So, take care...  we hope to see you all again soon.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sailing, Sailing, Over the Ocean Blue....

I'm writing this Friday evening with the hopes of having an internet connection tomorrow when we get to Portland, Maine.

Thursday went better than we really expected it to.  Wholly Genes, the software company that is sponsoring the genealogy conference had a couple of buses come to the hotel to pick up all the folks staying there who were attending.  Once our luggage was put on the bus we didn't even see it again until it arrived at our room aboard the ship later that day.

The ride from the hotel to the port was smooth and easy...
We boarded Royal Caribbean's "Grandeur of the Seas" ...
Our room is just above one of those red lifeboats that you see about in the middle of the photo.
We saw no signs of the Longshoreman's Strike...  don't know if it was settled or what.

While waiting for our luggage to be delivered to our room, we had a quick lunch and then wandered around the ship, getting our bearings....
Since this will be our home for the next week, it's always good to sort out where everything is.  This is the smallest cruise ship we've traveled on, but it still takes a while to remember the details.  Heck, I have trouble remembering which is port and which is starboard....  righty tighty - lefty loosey?  No..  that's the answer to another big puzzle in life.

We always have to check out everything, and even though we aren't likely to spend time in the casino, the decor and general ambience is fun to see...
Here's Bill..  standing on a glass floor...  Underneath is lots of buried treasure...  including a few skeletons and other pirate swag.

Later we took a walk around the decks.  It takes 4 laps around to walk 1 mile.  There are lifeboats... which are also the "tenders"...  boats that take passengers in to shore if the  ship has to anchor out in the bay.  Then we saw these "barrels".
Bill explained to me that they are life rafts.  I just couldn't imagine crawling into one of these things and bobbing around in the water until the Coast Guard came and rescued me.  All I could think of was going over a barrel at Niagara Falls!
Then Bill told me that they hold 130 people.
I was sure he was joking...  when he saw that I just wasn't getting it, he explained that these barrels hold an inflatable life raft that when it pops out of that barrel it inflates to become a full-size boat.  Okay...  so I'm not a sailor....  give me a canoe any day!

Today we had really rough seas...  I have a real problem with motion sickness.... even on a good day.  I wear wrist bands with pressure points....  eat ginger flavored stuff... drink peppermint tea....  even bought battery-operated wrist bands that are supposed to relieve nausea.  Usually on the "big ships" I manage to do okay.  Today the sea was so bad there were people weaving around in the dining room...   lurching this way and that...  so bad that the waiters were carrying trays so soups and drinks weren't spilled.  When we came back from lunch I saw this....
Attached to every staircase post were...  yep!  Barf Bags!
I think my pressure bands did okay because while I made a joke about grabbing every one of them, so far, I've been okay.  Well...  maybe sleeping most of the day helped some too.

This cruise has two "formal" nights.  Nights that you dress up for dinner.  It's kind of fun...  just part of  a special vacation for most folks.  Some guys wear tuxedos and some ladies wear long formals, but we've been doing these cruises for nearly 10 years now and it seems to me that folks are less "FORMAL", and more "dressy".  Usually on formal nights there's a lot of glitter and glitz all over the ship.
Tonight was no exception.  Those "chandelier-like" cages were suspended from the ceiling (and I'll tell you... that ceiling is about 10 stories high!)...  and a beautiful woman was sitting on a bench in that contraption.  Her prince charming was down below.  Meanwhile a woman was singing near the grand piano way down on the main floor.
Of course the lighting, the colors, the music...  all made for a very impressive show.
After that performance, the Captain of the ship came forward and you could have your photo taken with him.   On the dance floor couples were dancing the "old fashion" way...  ballroom dancing.  Really kind of fun to watch.

Bill and I aren't dancers, but we do like a nice evening out....
I asked a young woman passing by to take our photo...
I'm guessing she doesn't do this very often  (or maybe I'm just picky) but I had to laugh when I saw what came out.  I know... we are what we are, but I didn't check the background or shadows...  Oh well...  there's another formal night before the cruise is over...  maybe I'll get a better picture then.

Tomorrow we'll be in Portland, Maine.  Hopefully I'll be able to catch up on blogging there.
"The End"

That's All For Today!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fun Visit to a Bass Pro Shop

Bill & I aren't big shoppers - Tractor Supply, Lowe's and Wal-Mart pretty much takes care of our needs.  We do like to browse through any Cabela's often just to see what's on the market these days.  Not too far from our hotel just outside of Baltimore, Maryland there is another outdoor store...  a Bass Pro Shop.  
 We've been to a couple others... I think one in Oklahoma and one in Florida, but it's been a while, so we thought we'd stop by and check it out.

The inside is a sportsman's delight!
 I'm sure visions of being dropped by float-plane into some remote area of Alaska flits through many a head when they look up to see this plane overhead.  Makes one feel "the call of the wild".

The display of wild animals is impressive.  
 This display doubles as a "climbing wall"...  on the backside there are ropes and toe-holds and all the equipment it takes to scale a wall.  The "man" you see at the center top isn't real.

  This photo is for my friend, Joanie, who lives in Ohio.
 Don't think she fishes, but thought she'd like the sign anyway.

Canoes, Fly fishing, creels...  A room of history...
 This photo is of FDR enjoying a fishing outing.
There were photos in this room of several other US Presidents trying their hand at fly fishing, as well as displays of other "old fashion" fishing equipment.

Along the walls, near the ceilings, were many diaramas - depicting an outing on a river....
 Or a Camping Trip....
 A person could almost smell the blueberry pancakes or the fresh caught trout cooking over the fire.

And...  speaking of trout... 
There was a huge aquarium with gigantic trout swimming around....

They sell kayaks, canoes, boats from 1-man size up to a whole charter.  Bass Pro Shops offer classes in all kinds of outdoor endeavors...  everything from how to tie a fly (that's a real art in itself) to outdoor survival.  (I guess that's a real art as well).  It's been a while since I've done any serious canoeing...  even longer since I've done any fishing...  but I really enjoyed wandering through the store and seeing what all they had.

This ugly guy was blocking one of the aisles...
We learned yesterday that the Longshoreman's Union is on strike and while our cruise is still set to sail this afternoon, there will be some inconveniences and some delay.  
I'm going to look a lot like my friend pictured above if it doesn't happen.

That's All For Today!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Day in Balt'more

Bill is the ideal "travel companion".  I've never ceased to be amazed at how he can get us around in cities he's never been before.  He's found routes and time-tables for trains in several foreign countries...  in languages neither of us speak...  and got us where we wanted to go.  He's always got our routes in the USA figured out.

 We had asked about taking a "city" bus into Baltimore, but apparently there are too many transfers to make that feasible.  It was suggested that we take a taxi, but we weren't keen on paying $80 each way.  Today, with the great instructions of the hotel concierge, and Bill's use of Google Maps, we drove to a light-rail station, parked the car,  and took the train into Baltimore...  total cost, round trip - $7.00.
 The train was virtually empty on our way to the city...  we caught some of the "rush hour" traffic on the way home and Bill had to stand for a few stops before there was an empty seat.  When we got on coming home, a very polite young woman actually got up and gave me her seat.  I guess there are some perks to getting old.

Our first stop this morning was the Lexington Market...
 A huge, indoor market place selling all kinds of meats, fish, seafood, fruits, veggies, pastries as well as more kinds of restaurants (take-out type) than I can remember.  Everything from chitlins to sushi to Thai to plain old home cooking.  It was still too early for us to eat so we just looked.

Just a few blocks from the Lexington Market is the Bromo Seltzer Clock Tower....
 A landmark since 1911, it was once the tallest structure in Baltimore.  It was designed to look like the Palazzo Veccchio in Florence, Italy.  At one time there was a blue "Bromo Seltzer" bottle at the top.
If you can look closely, you'll see that instead of "numbers" the words "BromoSeltzer" are the 12 hours.

We were on a walking tour and checked out the various types of architecture and buildings on our way over to the Shot Tower...
 Constructed in 1828, it was built to "manufacture" types of shot.  Molten lead was dropped through a sieve from a platform at the top into a vat of cold water at the bottom.  A couple sizes of shot were made.  At the time of it's construction it was the tallest building in the USA.

We walked from the Shot Tower on down to the Inner Harbor...  
 The old power plant now houses a Barnes & Noble as well as several other trendy shops.  I think it used to have a brewery there, but we saw no signs of it on this trip.

Walking around the Harbor area (which is now an up-scale tourist area) there are any manner of ways to be entertained.  You can take a boat trip in the harbor... or even rent paddle boats.  There are tours of old ships moored there, including a submarine, and...
The USS Constellation - Built in 1854
I can't pass by this without thinking of our friend Tom.  I wanted to visit my daughter but had never driven such a long distance by myself before.  Bill had to take care of the farm critters, so I enlisted Tom, who was a good friend of our son, to go along for the ride.  He was good company, and once we got to Baltimore, my daughter had all kinds of sight-seeing things for us to do...  including a tour of this ship.  Tom was really interested in the Civil War and everything around that time.  
About 10 years ago, Tom passed away after a valiant battle with cancer, while still in his 30's.

 A building that I don't think was here when I was here last...
 The Baltimore World Trade Center
In front of the building is a sculpture made from the NY World Trade Center, from 9-11

We wandered around the Inner Harbor for quite a while.  I had good memories of taking our granddaughters to the Aquarium... especially the Rain Forest floor, as well as watching street performers and just all kinds of things going on.  It was fun to have Bill see some of the things I saw over 20 years ago.

We did stop to have lunch...  I wanted to have crab-cakes...
Truth is, while the food was okay, I'd never go back to this place...
I thought the waitresses were rude and extremely loud and noisy.
As we were leaving, I saw a sign that said something about "We are Sarcastic and Rude Here... Get Over It" or something like that.  You know something?  If I'd seen that as we walked in I'd have turned right around.  Guess I should pay more attention to where I'm going.

After retrieving our car at the train station, we headed back to the hotel.  We did make a stop at the Bass Pro Shop, which is an outdoor outfitters store.  But that's a whole 'nother story.

It was a fun day...  we'll have to see what we can find to do tomorrow.

That's All For Today!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Our Idea of a Vacation....

After the long drive in the fog and rain from Ohio to Maryland yesterday, we were happy to get settled into our hotel and just do nothing today.  I know, I know...  Baltimore and the Washington DC area have so much to do and see... it would take weeks to do it all.  However, since our daughter lived here for 6 years... in fact did her under graduate work at UMBC (University of Maryland at Baltimore County) and her master's at University of Maryland (Donna, I hope I got this right) while our son-in-law was at Walter Reed Hospital, we had the opportunity to visit and see things several times during those years.

Anyway....  since the cruise doesn't leave until Thursday and the genealogy pre-conference events have been canceled due to the gov't shutdown, we were in no hurry to rush around and join the rat-race traffic in the area.

We're staying in a hotel in Columbia, MD....  here's a view of the lobby from the glass enclosed elevator....
 It's not one of those hotels that looks like they're filled with antiques...  no chandeliers dripping glass prisms...  but actually not bad, either.  I got around to asking Bill today what it cost to stay here....  gee, it's only $179 a night....  BUT  (you might have guessed we're kinda on the cheap frugal side) and, because Bill is registered for the conference, we're paying ONLY $100 a night.  Oh well....  this is a once-a-year event for us and you only live once ;-)

There was a wedding party here when we registered yesterday....  
 Notice the footwear on the lady on the left....
I figured the Fashion Police would arrest her mighty fast...  but... no....
When we went inside, the whole wedding party - and looked like many of the guests - were all dressed to the nines...  and wearing Converse tennis shoes.  (But NONE of those shoes looked like they'd EVER been worn before...  nothing scruffy and beat-up like I wear)

The long drive earned us a well-deserved dinner out...
 With the snap-brim hat and Killian beer, Bill looks like he's in an Irish Pub...  except for all those HUGE TVs around...  we had dinner in a sport's bar.  I took my hearing aids out almost immediately...  who in the world wants to listen to 4 different football games going on at the same time?  AND all the people talking...  AND...  whatever kind of music they were playing.  Sometimes it's kinda nice to have a hearing loss ;-)

We both felt like doing some walking today and of course, it doesn't take me too long to find out the coordinates of the nearby geocaches.....
 We never did find this one...
Just a short walk from our hotel we wandered down through the woods to a creek...  lots of fallen trees and what looked like some utility company crew doing some work.

This cache was a fun one...  Can you find it?
 That middle nut and bolt are fake...  unscrew it and you'll find a tiny, rolled-up piece of paper that is the cache log.

This was another fun one...
 Some geocache owners spend a lot of time and effort putting out very creative caches.  I love them no matter what, but will say that I do appreciate the work that goes into the "good" ones.

The Walgreen Drug store just up the street has this....
 A place to charge your electric car!
We tried to figure out how it turns on, but finally came to the conclusion that you go inside the store and pay for your time and it's turned on from there.  Pretty neat, huh?

And...  we saw this in the nearby mall...
 I'm a sucker for Merry-Go-Rounds...  maybe because they're about the only ride I can go on without getting motion sickness.  But wait... it's been a long time...  maybe I shouldn't say that so confidently.  
Still...  the color, the lights, the music...  just the fanciful idea of it all just enthralls me.

And...  just to let y'all know that the leaves ARE still turning their fall colors...  and I'm still a leaf peeper....
I'm still gawking at the maples, sweet gum, poplars...  just all of them!

Not your idea of a vacation?
Well, that's okay...  we were ready for some "down time", and today was just perfect!
Who knows what we'll do tomorrow?

That's All For Today!