31 December 2015 Cape Charles - Kilmarnock - Williamsburg, VA, - Raleigh, NC, - Florence, SC, - North Myrtle Beach - Mount Pleasant - Charleston, Stone Mountain - Atlanta - Greenville, SC, - Travelers Rest, SC, - Hendersonville, NC, - Longview, TX, - Daphne, AL, - Brunswick, GA

     Before you even begin reading, I'm asking for absolution.  I'm pretty certain there are lots of "repeats" so forgive and forget.


     As we began to head south, we spent a few days in Cape Charles, VA, for a trawler rendezvous and extra days as we waited for good weather.  Funny that insurance states that we have to have our boat out of FL during hurricane season and we did—yet Joaquin followed us to VA, skipping FL.

     We visited Kilmarnock, VA, while Bill happily assisted Bob Smith with his very last diesel engine class.  Bill never gets enough of Bob’s wisdom and knowledge and would tuck himself into Bob's back pocket if he could.


     Williamsburg, VA, our next stop, is such a beautiful city filled to the brim with history. This is truly one of our American treasures. 

     Besides expanding our horizons, we also got more than 5 miles of walking logged per day. Knowing how the famous Bill Bender Walking Tours are, we had to get an early start. Walk-out-the-door time was set for 0800—and we got home after dark. 


     The little guy in the stroller exemplified my feelings when day was done. We’ve had 2 days of “learning and walking” on the BB Walking Tour of Colonial Williamsburg, VA.   On Day 2 of 2 of the Revolutionary City Tour, we were weary from miles of walking and our brains were overloaded with history—- memory-refreshing and new information. This has been an exciting weekend of learning and remembering. The actors employed here are absolutely magnificent. They're dressed in the era of 1770's and speak as if they're still there. I spoke with a lady who was there for her 6th day. She must return home the next day and said she hasn't seen or done even half of the things that were on her list.

     Next stop, Raleigh, NC. for 2 days. Love that city.  Bill spent the first day cycling and I spent every second in the NC Science Museum. Couldn’t get enough. Didn't nearly finish and will return tomorrow. On Day 2, I dragged Bill with me to the Science Museum but the exhibit I most want him to see was "unexpectedly closed today". That was the exhibit showing the 3-D printer and some of its products as well as remote vehicles with sensors. 

     Our nephew, Ron, and his children live in Florence, SC, and we very much relished spending an evening with them. Teagan and Rigel were amazing conversationalists with adults. Every time we see them, they’re taller, smarter, and older. How does that happen when we haven’t aged???????

     For years we’ve seen South of the Border billboards but never stopped but now we can say “yes” when asked if we’ve ever been to SOB.  What a cultural experience.  Looks like a big ghost town that's hanging on for dear life. We went into a huge store with many employees and thousands of things for sale that we couldn't imagine anyone ever needing or wanting. In that huge expanse, we were the only two "potential" shoppers. This is yet another of our experiences of going to South of the Border twice in one trip--our first and last! Our curiosity has been satisfied.

South of the Border Motor Hotel

     King’s Famous Pizza called our names and by chance, we met up with dear friends, Kim and Roger, in North Myrtle Beach. Didn't expect to be able to see them so this was a real serendipity.
   Charleston/Mount Pleasant doesn't have many RV parks and the few that are there weren't terribly convenient for us.  Mt. Pleasant's KOA was the best and most favorable so that's where we tucked in for a bit and then back to the boat to resume cleaning and organizing. 

Downtown from Marion Square during Farmer's Market
         Downtown Charleston's Farmer's Market with crafts and music in Marion Square is a Saturday or Sunday "thing to do". Wonderful memory refresher from when we lived here. No weekend in Charleston would be complete without a stroll through the Marion Square Farmer's Market.

     I could not resist capturing this baby who could make fast tracks in the park on her feet and hands.  A unique way of crawling, I suppose.

     We're so happy to be back in our home church, Seacoast in Mt. Pleasant. They were short on volunteer greeters so we were drafted and got to man our old station. This was such a treat for us---we've missed this so much! One of the very few down sides of our life style.

     Late lunch Ye Old Fashioned Ice Cream and Sandwich Café. Best Reubens in the world PLUS 32 oz chocolate peanut butter milkshake! 
     Onward to Greenville and a sweet visit with our friends, Dave and Jill.  We joined them at their church, enjoyed a leisurely lunch. Yet to come, a trip to Traveler's Rest to visit with Courtney, our daughter, and a quick trip to Hendersonville, NC, for a brief and long overdue “mountain fix”.   Love these hills!!  A fun day

     In Greenville, we finally met Jeanne and Michael with whom we'd been in touch via emails, texts, and FaceBook for years.  They're just as fun and darling as I'd imagined.

Stone Mountain and Lake, GA
     Stone Mountain and Atlanta, here we come! We toured CNN and the Carter Library. My brother, Bob, has lived in ATL for 40+ years and hasn't been to either. Isn't that typical! We rarely see "tourist attractions" in our home town but when we move away, we go there on vacation to see all the things we could've seen while living there. He and his friend, Nancy, (my adopted sister) came for dinner one night in our coach on Stone Mountain. Last night we walked to a little restaurant near Bob's shop. I love his funky neighborhood where people watching is outstanding. Told them that I love the weirdness in Inman Park/4th Ward and they said they see weirdness every day so don't even notice it anymore. So since he and Nancy don't see "uniqueness", then we must be the strangeness. Stone Mountain is a magnificent park.  Camp sites were very private and the cycling was exhilarating----if you have a love for hills.

    This portrait is amazing and very impressive when you are afforded a close-up view.  Try this link.  http://encircleworldphotos.photoshelter.com/image/I0000hCJTrMvRSOg

Georgia-Atlanta-Jimmy_Carter_Ocamo_Portrait-President_Carter_ Library_Museum.jpg

     We loved the Carter Museum/Library and are leaving with much more respect and admiration for him than we already had although we held him in very high esteem. What a wonderful man with excellent values and morals is Jimmy Carter.
View of downtown Atlanta from behind the Carter Library

     In Covington, GA, we visited with Wolfgang and Pilar, friends from Greenville and Michelin.  We appreciated a fondue dinner in their home and the evening culminated with the Democratic Debate. An enlightening and enjoyable day.

     Winding down our 6 months of RV-ing and eager to get back to our boat. I love the conveniences of our coach but miss being outdoors and long for our fly- bridge and the less regimented life.

 At last we arrived in Brunswick to our Home Sweet Home. 
The Park between Brunswick's Main Street and the Marina

Brunswick Landing Marina

There she is--all covered up and tucked in just as we left her
     It’s time for a rest and green tea break from transferring our carnage from one domicile to the other. Thank goodness, each is only about 300 SF but it’s still a chore. An every 6-month purge is good. Much of my stuff (I would never be so bold as to “manage” Bill’s treasures) has gone in the trash and some to the Captains’ Lounge on the table of “free to a good home” flotsam/jetsam. I’d forgotten the horrors of moving. 

      Of course we've done extensive cycling on Jekyll and St. Simons. Both are great places for bikes or walking--the best way to see the little villages.

I love the way the wind sculpts the trees.

The Millionaire's Club
Jekyll Island, GA

     I loved this ride.  Not a sound other than popping acorns beneath my tires, the scurry of squirrels making a last run as they provision for the winter, and the hollow echo of a woodpecker on his quest for supper.

Sunset from Jekyll Island

Thank goodness Auburn finally had a win!
     Our first morning back, I was onboard our boat with doors and windows open and over-heard 3-4 couples out on the dock introducing themselves and chatting. That really rejuvenated my memories of our 7 months aboard our coach. We’d been told from the get-go that RV-ers are a different breed from boaters and that is absolutely the gospel! In all that time we didn’t connect with a single solitary soul—no, not one!!! In the 24 hours we’ve been here, we’ve met many couples and it could be a toss up as to which one of us initiated the chat. We spoke to many RV-ers and either they were mute or just chose to ignore us. Bill thought it was because we didn’t sit around in the campgrounds but we aren’t lollygagging here, either. Maybe it’s because motor homes don’t have names and boats do…or boaters are gregarious and RV-ers are loners?? Regardless, we’re loving being back among boats, boaters, and the water. Tea cup’s empty but I don’t know where to resume with the mess. I’m just so thankful again that we don’t have a REAL house. 
     At Brunswick Landing Marina, complimentary beer flows freely 24/7; wine, M-W-F; bring your instrument and join the the jam session on Tuesdays; yoga every morning; pot luck on Sunday nights.... That’s all I’ve learned about so far and stumbled upon those activities by accident. I’m sure there must be many more that I’ve yet to unwrap. But no time to play.  Gotta get back to work!

     It took us an entire week to unload the coach and it’s all tossed into the boat. We made dozens of trips back and forth hauling, tossing, and putting on the “free table”. Don’t think moving from our house on land was this much work. We we departed terra firma, we just picked and chose what we wanted then opened the doors to our church, then to the women’s shelter. Come and get it! And 7 years later we’re STILL getting rid of stuff. Our boat is so disheveled that if someone broke in, they'd turn around and leave thinking someone already beat them to it. What a mess but out of sight, out of mind.

     Off we go again to store the motor home in Lake Park, GA, at Alliance Coach, to be winterized, and from there, to Longview, TX,  to spend Thanksgiving with all my children except for one and to meet our new daughter-in-law, Whitney, Andy’s bride, and new grandson, Grayson. We have so very much for which to be thankful.

Andy, my 3rd born and Izzi, our 12 year old granddaughter
We met someone we didn't know about.  Grayson, our new grandson, was given a 6 week old 6 pound Harlequin Great Dane.  Some one was always holding her.  This explains how 200 pound dogs continue to believe themselves to still be lap dogs.
A 6 pound bundle of adorableness
     We felt as if we were watching her grow...and I think we were.  Her back legs were longer every day and that little belly looked so full.
My 4th born, Stephen, from Austin, catching some Z's while the puppy rests up so she can continue decorating the white carpets.
     After Thanksgiving in Longview, we followed our oldest son, Chad, and his son, our grandson, Zac, to their new home in Daphne. It was time to rise and shine the next morning for church and afterward, we went to the Fish River Christmas Tree Farm in search of the perfect tree. Zac found it which earned him the privilege of lying on his belly in his Sunday clothes to saw it down. Fun experience.  It is HUGE!!!

Zac, trying to fell this mammoth tree.
Dad Chad, giving Zac some "sawing instructions."
     On our way back to Brunswick, we HAD to stop in Pensacola for oysters at the Atlas with Tony and Andy; a trip to Joe Patti’s to fill a cooler to bring home; and breakfast at BagelHeads.

     We stayed in a hotel located in the old L and N Railroad Depot with a grand view of Pensacola Bay from our 11th floor corner room. 

Lobby of hotel and old depot

     As children, my brother, Bob, and I took too many trips to our 2 old maid aunt's home in Milton, FL, to spend weekends while our parents went to Auburn games. The pleasures of the weekend erased those sordid memories.

     Aren't they cute!! Lunch with my only living aunt, Annie Ruth, 91 years young, and her daughter, my cousin, Debby. Long ago when Annie Ruth lived on a farm, had little babies crawling around, was perpetually pregnant, (it seems to me although I birthed just as many as she did), and she was always smiling---just like here--and would stop in the middle of kneading dough to sit down at the piano and play Flight of the Bumble Bee, Under the Eagle--or any of my numerous requests. She's still playing for residents in her assisted living home. And not to slight Debby, she's as cute as a button and smart as a whip. Never have I seen her countenance void of a smile. Love them both to infinity!

My Aunt Ruth, 91 years young, and her daughter/my cousin, Debby.  Aren't they just the cutest little people?!
     We've seen a lot of rural GA, AL, and MS, as we’ve traipsed through the south. There are lots of Americans who are not living well and are existing far below the poverty level. Brunswick is among them.  This is such a depressed area but the marina is separate and apart from the poverty—unless you venture off the property.

        This morning on my walk, I wished a good morning to a precious, elderly man (he’s probably my junior) who was riding his bike. He made my day when he replied, “Good morning to you, too, young lady.” I skipped, danced, and sang all the way home.  

     I do love these old trees whose mossy beards dance in the light breeze. Reminds me of my growing-up days in Pensacola, FL. with a park directly in front of our house has huge oaks and still is festooned with this silvery green Spanish moss.
Never will I tire of the graceful oaks with their arms spread wide welcoming all
      The day after Christmas we went to Travelers Rest again for several days to visit with daughter Courtney, granddaughter, Alleigh, and son Geoff who was visiting from L.A. 

Geoff, Alleigh, Bill, and Courtney
     That little burg of TR was merely a wide spot in the road 10 years ago and it has taken off like a shot and reminds me of a mini-Asheville.  A delightful little village.  

     As we were leaving town, we had a short but meaningful visit with Marybeth, my long time swimming buddy and Jim, (he and Bill were colleagues at Michelin.)  They're our very special friends in Greenville who are going through a very difficult and trying time right now so we ask that you remember them in your prayers.

     Gotta conclude with a strange tale--fairly typical for me but totally has never happened to Bill. Today, Bill and I had a very unusual experience and particularly for him because this kind of thing happens to me ALL the time.  Always has!  Don’t know if I have a neon sign on my forehead that invites total strangers to come up to me and bare their souls.  They don’t even know what my background is yet they start reeling off symptoms and telling me far too much about their physical maladies.

Christmas Day, we were taking a little walk when a woman pulled up beside us in her car and yells out the window, “Merry Christmas”.  She was grinning from ear to ear.  She sprung from her car, called us ‘darling’ and ‘precious’ and held our hands.  She asked if we “live around here” so Bill always launches into that story with the same exuberance and enthusiasm in his voice as the first time he ever told it…so long ago and far way. I thought she might’ve been a little lady we’d met last night at the Christmas service but no.

     Our new best friend introduced herself as ‘Brender” and began to bend our ears about her 3 husbands.  One had a gear shift accident to the groin and she regaled us with graphic detail of his post op results of his reconstruction.  Definitely TMI.
     She told us she’s almost 65 and wants a husband so bad.  She grabbed onto Bill’s hand and she wants a man who’ll be good to her, love her, and hold her hand. Suggest she try E-Harmony but got the impression that she isn’t computer literate so I asked if she went to church and she does but there’s one 49 y/o man who is alway groping and she demo’d on me and I’m about to get the willies by now.  I advised that she probably shouldn't let him enter her home anymore…but “he’s so nice and he prays for me." Very lonely little lady.

Stone Mountain Lake

Check this out!  Bill, who claims to be anti-dog....

Whitney, our new daughter-in-law and Andy's precious bride

Son Chad and grandson Zac, trudging off to school and work after the Thanksgiving holidays.

A wood carving and pretty accurate replica of Frank Patti calling the numbers

An Old Salt standing guard in a corner of Joe Patti's

The well-known St. Simons light that Eugenia Price loved to portray in her trilogy.

Our view from the top overlooking Ashley Marina, our home for 3 years before we dropped our lines.

Sage, an Australian Shepherd and Standard Poodle mix.  He is brushed daily and groomed weekly.  A magnificent animal.

     While visiting our children in Greenville, we visited the museum and found it intriguing.  We lived there for decades and never went but of course we signed up for the tourist thing!

     This heavily ladened orange tree on St. Simons needed some relief but as hard as I tried, I couldn't knock them down by throwing sticks.  Don't imagine I'll be recruited as a pitcher.  
     New Year's Eve we took a great bike ride on Saint Simons from stem to stern.
St. Simons Island Monument
 to Charles and John Wesley,
Founders of Methodism

     We’re back on the boat, however unsure when we’ll be able to head south but will let you know where we’re outa here.

Happy New Year to all and we pray for world peace as 2016 begins.

Bill and Laura
Brunswick, GA

31 December 2015


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