Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Didn't Need "Sadie" this time!

A couple of days ago, I got up with pain all though my chest and shoulder areas. When I had my coffee, I could feel a burning sensation going across my chest. As the day went along, I decided that maybe I should get it checked out at the emergency room. I have had two heart attacks in the past...but this pain felt different. After a series of tests, everything was found to be normal. It was decided that I had strained some muscles in my chest. But when did I do it? Could it have been when I lifted a heavy battery out of the car? When I started taking down all the posts and wire cages in the garden and pulling up all the dead plants with deep roots and starting a burn pile? Could it have been moving dirt to fill in holes left in the yard from recent construction? Or, maybe it was the riding the tractor mower for three hours cutting the grass? Regardless, it wasn't a heart attack, which brings me to my story.

First, let my explain, I am a dog person....always have been....always will be and didn't like cats. I had never liked cats, even though my youngest daughter seem to always have them. To me, they were sneaky and not to be trusted. That was when a cat named "Sadie" came into my life.

Gay Nell and I were married in 2000, the same year that we both retired. I was a recent widower and she had been single for about seven years. She was a cat lover and when we started dating, she had three cats. When we decided to wed, we decided that one cat was enough.....that being Sadie, her favorite. I guess we were both spoiled to having our way and she was like a jealous child when it came to sharing her "mom" with me. I could not sat down without her attacking me and trying to claw me. Me, not being a cat person, didn't know that cats like to look outside.....she was always tearing up the blinds and hanging from the drapes. At this point, I declared that "this cat has got to go!" Gay Nell took her to the vets to board her until she could be adopted out. This put such a strain on our relationship, that I finally decided that I could adapt.

So, Sadie came home! The blinds were raised, the garage door was cracked, and the back door left ajar so she could come and go as she pleased. She was a hunter and one day she brought a large black bird into the house with a wing span that reached almost across the hall going into the bedroom. So we decided that we would monitor the back door and let her in and out. Since I got up early to smoke and have coffee, I would let her out in the early morning to hunt and I would smoke and have my coffee in the garage with the door up. Gay Nell was a late sleeper and never got up until around Nine O'clock.

On 9-11-2001, yes, the day of the Air attacks, I had gotten up around 5:00 a.m. to let Sadie out, have my cigarettes and coffee and set in the garage with the door open. While the coffee was brewing, I went out to have a smoke in the gargage. After the smoke, I went back to pour myself some coffee. I took one sip and started "Blacking out" and holding on to the bar. As I slid to the floor, Sadie came in the back door, ran past me down the hall to the bedroom where Gay Nell was sleeping. She jumped up into her face making a loud noise...Gay Nell was annoyed and got up to take her outside and followed her down the hall. When she got to the kitchen, she found me collapsed in the floor; 911 was called.

When the paramedics arrived, I was stablized and wheeled to the ambulance down the driveway. I remember looking to the left and seeing "Sadie" standing beside the drive looking at me with a concern look on her face. When I arrived at the emergency room I was diagnosed with major blockage and when the planes hit the "Twin Towers" in New York, I was having a heart attack. I was again stablized and later shipped to St Lukes Hospital in Houston. There, I was sent into surgery and a stent was inplanted.

That day changed a lot in my life, first and foremost, I became a cat lover and Sadie and I became best friends, Also, that was the last time I have ever smoked a cigarette.....we move to Arkansas the next year and Sadie, being a hunter, enjoyed digging up moles and trapping other small animals. She was ran over on "Mother Day" in 2003. My Friend ......."Rest in peace!"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gatlinburg, Tennessee! "Heart of the Smokey Mountains!"

The next morning we loaded up and headed to the smokies. We went through Knoxville, turned south toward Seymour and down to Maryville, then back to Pigeon Forge. There was a high mountain across to Gatlinburg and we wanted to experience the coolness of the mountain air. It was in the high Nineties when we start over and the cool air felt like walking into a "Air conditioned room." There were several pull-overs to give you a chance see the valleys below. You understand why it's called the smokies....the valley looked like it was filled with smoke.

When we got into Gatlinburg, since we had no reservations, we pulled into the first r.v. park we saw. They had a few vacancies, so the management took me on a tour in a golf cart to check them out. The whole park was in a real "hilly" area and the spots were hard to get into. We decided to try elsewhere and drove around. We saw this place that looked like an "Ole timey motor lodge", it had a drive down the side "R.V. Sites", so we turned in. In the rear of the main building was your dream sites of about 20 spots, easy in and out, shade, all hook-ups and a large swimming pool and a new bathhouse. Talk about Luck! We were about a mile from downtown and several stores and business' along the way.

We checked in, the prices were very reasonable, with plans to stay about three days. After our "Junk Food Fix" and a quick tour of downtown, the kids were really to get into the pool. That night, it was so cool and the air so fresh, that sleep was a pleasure after our trip. The next morning after breakfast, we headed into town to see the sights. The main attractions are along the main street with your usual shops. There were several craft shops, eating places, but the main attraction was the "ski lift" that provided rides up the mountain to the top. There was a lodge at the top with a restaurant and sovenir shop for the tourist. You could get to the top of the mountain by car, but the lift was an experience.

The next day, we decided to make the drive across Mt LeConte (elevation 6593 feet) through the Newfound Gap into North Carolina. We went over to the Cherokee Indian reservation and toured their village. The tours were very informative that explained their crafts and cultures. As usual, there are people in the tour that tried to be cute and asked a lot of insulting questions. Our tour guide was a young girl of college age that knew how to put them in their place. After a few more insults, the culprits were asked to leave. While we were there, it started to rain and the tour was cut short.

On the way back across the mountain to Gatlinburg, we came upon a large gathering of cars and people. We thought it was a accident of some kind and pulled over off the road and then discovered it was a Bear sighting. People were running up a hill to a cave, where a "mama bear" was with her cubs. Instead of keeping their distance, people were crowding close to get pictures. After a while, the Mama had enough of this and starting charging toward the crowd, which sent everyone running to their cars. After getting back on the road, we starting smelling something and discovered that someone had stepped in some bear poop.

We left the next morning for the drive back home, going through Knoxville and Nashville before stopping at my brother's home in Jackson for a break before making the final two hour trip home.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Road to the Smokies: 1st stop, Nashville, Tennessee!

That Monday morning, we loaded up to start for the Smokies. Our first stop was to be Nashville, Tn. We arrived in the early afternoon and found a r.v. parking area not too far from Opryland Amusement Park and not very far from the Hermitage (Andrews Jackson's Mansion and Estate). After getting everything set up, we went out to eat and look the area over. We went down to the Opry House, where the Grand Ole Opry still performed. We went down "Music Row", checking out a few shops and buying souvenirs and sight seeing. We returned to the park and made use of the swimming pool, bathhouse and showers.

We were parked beside a older couple that was retired and from Gulfport, Mississippi. They had been traveling for a while and told a lot of interesting stories of their happenings. About two years before that, Hurricane Carla had hit Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile, Alabama, leaving a lot of destruction in its path. Their daughter was a T.V. reporter and had to stay at the station for days, so they loaded up the grandchildren and headed north to Jackson, Mississippi. Her husband was in the Military and was stationed elsewhere. They were very interesting people.

The next morning, we went to Opryland Amusement Park that was open at that time. The new Opry House was being built, but not yet open. The park had carnival type rides and attractions along with musicians staged all over the park putting on shows by the hour. We ate lunch there and in mid afternoon, returned to the r.v. park. The next morning, we went to the Hermitage, and found it to be very interesting. If you are a History Buff, this is a "Do Not Miss."
But it is like anything else, once you have seen it, no reason to go back. The next morning we loaded up, said our good byes to the nice couple and headed for the Smokies.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Our First Travel Trailer!

It was in the early 70's when we purchased a travel trailer, in which, to do our camping. A friend of mine had found a little plant in Mississippi that was just starting up and was offering great bargains on small units. He had purchased one and after looking at his, We decided to go over to the plant one Sunday afternoon and see what they had. The plant was located in Bruce, Mississippi about a two hour drive from where we lived.

When we arrived at the plant, they had a large sales lot with several units that had been sold and was waiting for the owners to pick them up. We went inside the plant where they had several units being assembled in various stages, which allowed you to see the type of workmanship you were buying. After a short tour of the plant, we met in the sales office. (The name of the trailers were called "Happy Times" and there are still a few around, but they are very rare.) The trailers were six sleepers and offered a bathroom. We decided to forego the bathroom and instead have a large closet and storage room.

After the plans were decided on, we agreed to pick up the new unit the following Saturday with a cashier's check. We were so excited and thought the next week would never end, but it finally arrived. After taking delivery, we tolled it home without any was a dream to pull. In order to try it out, we took a short trip to the Narrows on Greers Ferry Lake. I didn't hook up the electric brakes, didn't think we would need them, but after a few steep hills, decided that I would hook them up before going to the Smokie Mountains.

The next week, I had a sign painter friend paint a large "Razorback Hog" across the back of the trailer with "Hog Heaven" below it. We were big fans and had just played Tennessee in the "Liberty Bowl" in Memphis and had lost by one point on a disputed play. We were going through Knoxville and wanted everyone to know where we were from. That Saturday, I got the brakes hooked up and working so we could leave on Monday Morning.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Camping on Lake Ouachita at Brady Mountain Resort!

Lake Ouachita, is located in the Ouachita National Forrest of more than 1.6 million acres near Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is one of several lakes in the area that included: Lake Hamilton, Lake Creeson, Lake Millwood and Lake Catherine. Lake Ouachita has 9 resorts and 1 state park, (Ouachita State Park) located on Pine Mountain. With more than a 1,000 miles of shore lines, of which, over 900 miles, that a private home can not be built on the lake front.

In the late 70's, we chose the "Brady Mountain" resort to camp for a week around the 4th of July. At that time, we had a travel trailer and a Jet boat for our camping trip. There was a marina to park our boat in a slip and easy access to the large open waters, in which to ski. You would think that there was plenty of room on the lake, but on the 4th, we loaded up and went to one of the many islands to picnic, swim and water ski. With all our gear and picnic supplies, we made it to the island in two trips. After several hours a thunder storm was coming up in the distance, so we decided to start back across to our campsite before the storm. Again it took two trips, but for some reason the boat felt more heavy and hard to steer. It was after the second trip that I decided to take the boat out of the water for security reasons. I started checking all the gear and found that someone had taken a liking to the "White Rocks" on the island and decided that it would look good around her flower beds........there were rocks hidden in every little nook. I figured that we had about 200 lbs of extra weight..............Bah.........Hum.........Bug!!!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cranfield on Norfork Lake!

Norfork Lake, if you haven't been there to camp out, you have really missed something. It is located about 5 miles east of Mountain Home, Arkansas. Our first visit there was in the late 60's. To get there, at that time, you had to cross a ferry to get from one side to the other. That was before the twin bridges were built and to me took away a lot of the excitement of seeing the lake for the first time. The water was so clear that you felt like you were looking into a swimming pool.
We were there one week around the 4th of July at a campground and boat dock called Cranfield. It is located on the west side of the lake and is on a little peninsula that goes out into the lake. The campground is in the center and there is a boat ramp with swimming beach along a lower road on the east side. Our campsite was across the road from the swimming beach up a small hill. There was a place at the bottom to park the boat, so you could keep an eye on it.

We were there with another family that we always skied and camped with. They had four children and we had three, so there was a lot activity, such as water sking, swimming and sight seeing. We all went over to "Dog Patch, U.S.A." at Jasper, Ar. one day to keep the young ones busy. When we first got there, I had to take the boat over to get a tune-up at a marina, so we took the short trip then. We did a lot of sking on the days before the 4th, but it was so busy on the Holiday that we planned other things. That night we played card games until around mid-night before going to bed. It was very hot, so there was a lot of good cold beer dranked that day.
A short time after going to bed, we heard a noise near the camp and after we investigated, discovered that we had a ice cooler that had been stolen. When we had located the cooler, They had taken it down to the bottom of the hill before finding out that it had no beer. After returning to camp and settling down again, we heard a loud shot-gun blast coming from the next camp down from us and a vehicle sped away. It seemed that the someone had tried to hit their camp and ran to a pick-up to escape, when the camper ran out into the road trying to stop them with the shot gun and was almost run down. He ran to the side of the road and fired a blast into the side of the truck. The pick-up stopped and the driver got out and shouted "You **B, we are going to get our friends in Mountain Home and come back out here and clean this hill off, like Grant took Richmond!" and took off with wheels spinning and leaving tire marks.
The camper went to a pay phone (Before cell phones) and called the Sheriff's Office and gave the discription of the vehicle and what had happened. A officer came by later and said that the vehicle had been stopped with several guns and individuals that were headed back out to the campground. The next morning, we loaded up and headed for home.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Heber Springs with our neighbors!

Our family went to Heber Springs one more time with our Sears 9' x 18' tent. It was a July 4th weekend and we were with our next door neighbors. We had just set up our camp with two tents and was getting settled in for the day. I had put the boat in the water and we had taken a few turns on the ski's and was back at camp relaxing when a wind storm came up. All a once we were fighting to keep the tents from being blown away. After securing everything, we discover that the boat had been swamped down on the lake. I had parked it nosed in to the shore and the waves had come over the back. All our gear was in the lake and the boat was full of water next to the bank. How were we going to get it out??? We decided to back the trailer down and hook onto it and try to pull it out, bailing the water as we tried to wench it out. After about 30 minutes, we managed get it back on the trailer and back up to the campsite. After taking everything loose and drying out the motor, we were able to get it started the next day.
It took a couple of days for the wind to settle down, but we were able to get our sking in and had a good time. Our neighbors had gone home and we had to put all the gear in the boat when we left a couple of days later. On the way, we had a blow-out on a boat tire because of the extra weight. This was our last trip with a was time for a up-grade. We located and purchased a used tent trailer.