Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Home at last . . .

For all of you waiting patiently to see our new digs, here ya go. This is the view out one side of our RV; the bridges cross the Mississippi River.

See the train in the distance? The trains never stop running, night and day. Good thing we like them!

Note the street sign: Cotton Gin Place. We are hosted by a lovely woman named Huguette. She speaks with a heavy French accent combined with a southern effect and it's really cute. She has an adorable Maltese named "Papillon," which is French for butterfly. Peanut loves him!

Huguette lives in the brick structure you will see in these photos of the RV park. From the outside it looks like an ordinary brick office building but inside, ooo la la, it is decorated to the hilt. What a cool place to live!

This used to be the local hotel. Huguette tells me it will be rebuilt as condos. And the RV park? It and several of the houses alongside are going away later this year to be replaced by a road. Huguette is already building a new 2300 s.f. home across the border in Arkansas near one of her four daughters. Let me tell you, this is a lady who knows how to live!

Neighborhood flavor . . .

We spent the better parts of Saturday and Sunday looking at homes and driving around checking out neighborhoods. We attended two open houses and found one we really like. Now we just have to get the Florida home sold. Tell all your friends you know of a great home available near Tampa!

While touring just south of the Tennessee/Mississippi border we ran across a large distribution center that had been damaged by the recent tornados in this area. How long do you think it will take to clean up this property and others like it?

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Friends

On Wednesday evening Jim and I were invited out by his project's plumbing contractor, Nickey Shah, and his wife Terry. We met at Spindini a local Italian restaurant. I chose Tuna Puttanesca from among the interesting menu items and was pleased with my selection. It consisted of pan-seared tuna and mushrooms on linguini with a very light, but spicy, tomato sauce. Olive bread and red wine rounded out an excellent meal.

After dinner we rode with Nickey and Terry to the FedEx Forum for the evening's performance of Cirque du Soleil - Saltimbanco. I'd been interested in seeing Cirque for some time but not so interested in going to Vegas so this proved to be yet another one of those bits of serendipity I frequently experience. Another gift from the universe! I didn't realize they had shows based on a variety of different themes until I read this:

Here's the Cirque website for this particular show:

Thanks to our new friends, the Shahs, Jim and I had a wonderful evening out. Next time you're in Memphis, be sure to make reservations at Spindini!

Thursday 2/21

We finally had to bite the bullet and go grocery shopping. Jim googled on "Kroger," printed a map, and we were off. Perhaps not the best way to go about this process as evidenced by the shock on the face of the well-armed police officer sitting inside the store's entrance as well as a few curious looks from the clientele.
Remembering shopping with Mom at Kroger's in Chicago back when the dinosaurs roamed, this store was definitely OLDER. It has been wonderfully maintained, judging by the signage, and had an especially nice produce department. I was particularly impressed by the large, fresh carrots available individually, something we're not used to seeing. Being a proponent of the momism "learn something new every day," I'm happy to report that I saw a new and different (for me) product in the beer cooler. I'm guessing it was about a 24-ounce can of Budweiser with Clamato. Anyone out there seen or tasted this? Interesting . . .

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Valentine's Day Weekend

Peanut and I had a slow trip on Valentine's day. Maybe because the sun was shining or maybe I didn't get a great night's sleep, but this day found me stopping off a couple of times for a nap. We got within 20 miles of our destination after driving a really boring stretch of Highway 78 when traffic was redirected to one lane and came to a crawl at best with many intermittent stops. Getting to the cause of the stops it became obvious that there was a crime scene alongside the road. Men who had arrived via about 10 squad cars, a couple of "road ranger" trucks and the local sheriff's helicopter (parked on the median) stood on the bank of the Coldwater River in Olive Branch staring down toward the water. I immediately noticed the lack of rescue vehicles, no ambulances or fire trucks, and thought there must have been a traffic fatality, a car run off the road. Going the wrong way? Eventually we got the story; here is a link to one of the later reports. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/feb/15/grisly-find/
I'm not sure how long this link will be good. NOTE: This is not for children!

Jim met us at the Flying J in Olive Branch and we took the RV and his car to his extended stay apartment then went out for dinner. Dinner was at Neely's BBQ. Delicious ribs, pork, beef and turkey! I recently saw an ad for a show about this family that is coming to The Food Network. Here's a link to their site:
Anyone coming to Memphis to visit us/Jim can be assured of a yummy meal at Neely's! Peanut enjoyed a bit of the turkey for her Valentine's Day dinner.

Back at the apartment we turned on the TV for the news and heard about the shootings at NIU. What a tradgedy! This is a horrible situation that parents shouldn't have to think about when they send their beautiful, bright, promising children for a higher education. All affected by this crime are in our prayers.

So it's nice for Jim and I to be reunited on Valentine's day but I can't stop thinking about what's going on in this country. The sad ways some people live and/or behave here is appalling. Is there any hope for change?

Back on the positive side, we spent our Friday afternoon (2/15) moving Jim's things to the RV and then on to the Missippi River RV Park. Here's a little breath of spring I brought with me from Florida. Very pretty and we have enjoyed the scent for a week already!
P seems to be adjusting to our new home pretty well and had begun letting us know when she needs a walk. This, I'm sure, is no easy task for her considering she is used to going out at will with her doggie door in Tampa.

We did some driving around over the past few days checking out neighborhoods and looking at houses. This is time well spent getting to know our surroundings even though the purchase of another house is largely dependent on selling the house in Tampa.

On Sunday Jim took me to Beale Street. Remember it from the song "Walkin' in Memphis?" We all probably remember the original by Marc Cohn -- you can listen to a sample of Cher's version here: http://www.amazon.com/Its-Mans-World-Cher/dp/B000002N5A/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1203538494&sr=1-17

"Walkin' in Memphis, with my feet ten feet off of Beale . . . "

We had lunch at the Rum Boogie Cafe which I am told is the primo spot to visit on Beale Street. It is one of those dingy places where you don't look to closely at the surfaces, just enjoy the ambiance. There are too many guitars to count suspended from the ceiling and labeled apparently according to their donors, from Bo Diddley to Axel Rose.

Sorry, my phone camera doesn't take the best photos!

We're hoping to get back to Beale to try B.B. King's place next weekend. Beale Street isn't a place to visit, it's a place to HANG!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Road trip, day 2 . . .

Today started out well enough if you don't mind OJ on your cereal along with soy milk and blueberries. It wasn't too bad until I got to the congealed mess on the bottom of the bowl. Have the kids mix the OJ and milk as a chemistry experiment!
We got an early enough start, around 9 a.m. When we crossed over from the panhandle into Alabama two things happened: gas dropped by 20 cents a gallon and the temperature dropped by 15 degrees.

Next a sign advised that we were entering the central time zone. Great! We got an extra hour back. We also noticed that there seemed to be more "civilization" than we had come across in Florida. There is evidence in this part of the country of a great Native American presence mainly in the names of towns and rivers like Wetumpka, Chattahoochee, Lake Seminole, and my favorite, the Apalachicola River. I was also reminded of the Civil War history of the area by the numerous Confederate flags still flying proudly.

This is a very "manly" area if it's appropriate to describe it that way. Lots of pick-up trucks with bearded men in camouflage, gun and knife shops, taxidermists, places advertising "deer processing." The nice thing is these men have places to go to stay in touch with their feminine side -- we saw a number of men's "spas." The interesting thing is they were generally in buildings without windows.

The land is becoming much more hilly now -- we can feel the RV straining on some of the hills. No doubt this will hurt our outstanding 7 miles per gallon obtained on the flats!

We're also noticing the awesome red dirt in this part of the country. I don't remember our Georgia dirt being quite this hue. It makes me think about the lovely pigment the Native Americans had for their painting and pottery.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and our destination is Memphis, TN where we will hook up (we can hope) with Jim. We're excited to get together and get him moved into the RV park that will be his home for who knows how long.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Road trip . . .

We purchased our RV, affectionately known as the home on wheels, about one year ago. It has made traveling to and from art shows so much more enjoyable! Last summer I spent nearly two months traveling through 11 states with an ever-changing variety of companions. My one constant companion for thousands of miles was Peanut.

Here I am on a another roadtrip with my faithful little friend and I promised to blog so as to keep in touch with friends and family. We are driving from Tampa to Memphis to deliver the RV to my better half. He is there building a children's hospital and needs an inexpensive place to live while we sell our home in Tampa.

We started out this morning, February 12th, leaving the house in the hands of our able realtor, Brad and our able friend (and Brad's cousin) Andrew. Here's P all set to get going:

Notice the hat and backpack; what an awesome little traveler! Once we start moving, she'll settle into her favorite spot on my lap. This is the way we spent a large part of last summer.
Can you guess where our first stop was? Yum, Choco-Cherry Love Blizzard!

Lunch and a walk and we're back on the road. This time P is bringing up the rear:
We're driving up Route 19 along "The Nature Coast." Just beyond the trees on the left side of the road is the Gulf of Mexico. This is the Florida that visitors don't see, with good reason. Could you even tell that it's FL if I didn't say so? For better or worse this is the way the largest part of Florida looks. Don't bother getting a passport if you want to tour ruins, just go to Florida and get away from the tourist areas.

You can't see this in the photo of the motel but under the "MOTEL" sign there is another sign that reads "Vacancy." Plan your spring break trip now!

More north Florida photos:

Here's our stop for tonight, a Flying J Travel Plaza in Midway, FL. We've put on about 250 miles today.

Check out the parking job! Jim will be so proud!

Time for our evening walk and a little reading before bed. Tomorrow we head out for our next stop, Birmingham, Alabama. Sleep tight!