Our Schedule

Saturday, January 26, 2019

At The Opry

Nashville,  TN

As country music fans we often talked about our wish to attend a performance at the Grand Old Opry.  Especially at the Ryman Auditorium.   Last night that wish came true.

Taken before most of the crowd arrived.   We were packed in tight in those pews, 
unlike most church pews on Sunday morning.  There is seating for about 2,100 people.

When we moved to Alabama we realized we lived 150 miles from Nashville.  Great!  We just might visit the Opry some day.   I decided  Leonard's 70th birthday would be a good reason.   When checking the schedule, I found the Friday and Saturday shows are at the Old Ryman during November, December and January.  Next week they move back to the much newer theater The Opry House.   The Opry House opened in March 1974 and seats 4,374 people.

The Ryman is considered the Mother Church of Country Music.  From the outside it sure looks like a church.  Seating is on pews.  More than 100 years of the tradition of country music lives here.  The Ryman opened in November 1925 and the weekend performances are the longest running radio broadcast in the country.

The shows are divided into four segments.  Each segment has a host performer and two additional performers.    The segment starts with a song by the host.   Then two songs by each guest with another song by the host.   There is a 15 minute break after two segments.  There are sponsors for the half hour segment.  At the end of each 30 minutes an announcer reads the "commercial".   Remember, these are live broadcasts so they need commercials that help pay the bill.

The show was opened by Jeanne Seeley.  She became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1967!

Then she introduced Michael Ray (never heard of him)  He said he just got engaged to singer Carly Pearce (never heard of her either.)   Michael is not a member of the Opry but a guest performer.

Next was Mike Snider.  Mike was on the banjo backed up by some really talented musicians. Mike said he has been an Opry member for many years.

Next a commercial.   The first segment was sponsored by a local Boot Store.  Imagine that!  People living in or visiting Nashville would be buying boots.

The second host was John Conlee  (think of the songs Rose Colored Glasses and Backside of Thirty).

After singing Backside of Thirty he introduced Dailey and Vincent.  Never heard of them either.

Then came Joe Diffee   (think  Pickup Man and Prop me up by the Junkbox when I die.)  He did sing Pickup Man.

January 25 was the 25th anniversary of Joe's first appearance on the Opry.  Given a commemorative plague by John.

After John Conlee sang another song it was commercial time where a local chicken company was highlighted.   Then a 15 minute break.

The Riders in the Sky were the hosts of the 3rd segment.   They were a hoot.  Not only fabulous music but real funny.  They were the singers on some song about Woody in the 2nd Toy Story movie. Haven't never seen it I can't tell you the name.

After their first song they introduced The Whites, also long time members.  Sharon White is the wife of Ricky Skaggs.

And then Ricky Skaggs with some golden Blue Grass.

The final half hour.   Host was Vince Gill.   We've seen Vince a few other times and I love his music (Nobody Answers, etc.)   I was a bit disappointed this time.  He sang a Willie Nelson song.  I really don't remember which one.

Commercial time.  Humana was the sponsor.

Vince introduced another guest singer.  Dom Flemons.  He brought the house down with his banjo and harmonica.  He sang a couple of old songs that slaves sang around the Civil War era.

Final act was Crystal Gayle.  Last time I saw her her hair was touching the floor.  It's still long but not as long.  She sang Don't you turn my brown eyes blue.  The song that made her famous.

I don't know what song Vince was going to end with but he decided to have Dom Flemons come back on stage to pick the banjo while Vince played guitar and they sang a song about black eye peas and cornbread. 

We so much enjoyed the show.  Only real complaint was how close we had to sit on those pews.  Would be much more comfortable if one less person was seated on each pew but realize a venue this small needs as many seats filled as possible.

Gotta have to go back again.

Until next time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

We have the WILD LIFE!

Cullman,  AL

One of my favorite things of living on this property is the expectation of seeing wildlife.  Each morning and evening I go to the windows hoping to catch sight of something new.    When the weather permits, I sit on my porch most of the day reading and waiting in expectation of what creature might come to visit.   We usually always have birds at the feeders.

Come join me as I show you some of our other visitors.

This mornings visitor

Looking for a meal

Elsie (Or Elmer) Muscovy shows up most days.  She (he?) is very friendly.  When I go out and she is on the other side of the pond, I call her and she swims over and comes up on dry ground.  She gets as close as 5 feet or so.  I miss her when she's not there.

I am thinking this is why we see a lot of these around.

Cleaning up what drops from the feeder.

What a surprise finding this hawk sitting on our front porch.

These beautiful creatures came back after the garden was plowed under looking for corn that was left.   They might as well.  They cleaned up most of our corn we planted as soon as it was ripe.  We see as many as three out back quite often.  Len says this spring he will throw corn seed out further and they can have what grows there.  We realize no use in us planting corn again for us.

This guys visits from across the road.  Along with his mate.

She was okay with building her nest in this crock even when I was 
sitting on the porch just a few feet away. 

I am okay with never seeing this again.

A frequent guest.  Tap, tap, tap

Checking out the possibly of some fish.

Another welcome guest.

A blue wing teal.   Beautiful.

And in recent days.    I looked out at dust one night and saw what looked like a HUGE cat.  I called Leonard.  We watched as it stood up and walked into the woods where we could see another creature moving around.   We suspect it was a bobcat with its young.

Last week we saw a coyote walking along the fence line across the road. 

How I wish I had gotten pictures of both of the above but in both cases by the time I got the camera they were into the woods and gone.

Until next time.....

Monday, January 7, 2019

Our RV history

Cullman, AL

For several years Leonard talked about buying an RV to see if we would enjoy it.  I told him my idea of roughing it was not-soft-enough towels at a Holiday Inn.   Finally in 2005 I agreed.  A friend was selling her 1989 Georgie Boy Motorhome.  We bought it.

One of our first trips was to Charlottesville, VA where we met a couple who were working there.  We became friendly and were amazed they lived in a Fifthwheel  trailer full-time.   We were horrified.  We never knew people actually did this. What?  No house?  No stable home?  Can't be.  Are these people crazy?

We kept the motorhome two years and took a few trips in it.  Once from NJ to Louisiana at 3 miles per gallon.   We knew by then that we would prefer a fifthwheel.  We already had a  2006 Ford F250.    In the Spring of 2007 we bought a 2002 Cedar Creek Fiver.  We were living!!

Then I got to thinking.  We planned to retire in a few years.  What about selling the house

and giving the full-time lifestyle a try.   I started doing a lot of research of full-time RVing.  I read blogs, I joined RV clubs, I talked online to other RVers.  Len wasn't too keen on it but eventually came around.  My younger daughter was getting married and was interested in buying the house.

In January 2009 she and husband-to-be moved into the house and we moved into the Cedar Creek at a small RV park about 12 miles from the house.   Winters are cold in NJ.   We could feel the winds through the slides.  We were really going through the propane and were still cold.  Since we didn't plan on traveling until our retirement in late 2009 or early 2010 we purchased a brand new 2009 Montana Fiver.

It was warm.  It was cozy.  We loved it.

We hit the road in February 2010.   We had a few problems with the Montana but none that we didn't cause.   The only things we didn't like was the refrigerator.   RV fridges are SMALL.  And the bedroom closet.  It was very narrow causing us to have to push the hangers in to easily close the sliding doors.  Had I been able to foresee the future, we would have changed out the RV fridge for a residential and lived with the narrow, but quite usable, closet.

In 2011 while in Texas we had a problem with the F250.  We had had several issues with it.  We traded up to a 2011 F350 dually.

In 2014 while in NJ we were looking for something to do.  We came up with a very bad idea.  Let's go look at newer RVs.  Our Montana is just fine. But let's just look we said.   But we are not going to buy.  Absolutely not!

Packing up the Montana.

From Montana to Cedar Creek

We loved the openness of the new Cedar Creek.  We loved the self leveling jacks.  We really loved the  large residential fridge with ice maker.

We loved the bedroom closet.   It was huge.  The unit was beautiful.

What we didn't like was we were soon tearing through tires on one side. One side ran an inch and a half lower.   We contacted the manufacturer and they told us to move things around.  Just what would that be.   They put the fridge, stove, pantry, sink, hot water heater, the shower, TV and entertainment unit, etc. on one side.  Did they not know that one can't rearrange the appliances and furniture in an RV?  Had they never been in one?

To solve the issue we changed out the axles from 7,000 pounds to 8,000 pounds and added an additional spring on one side at a cost of over $6,000.  Then we had additional issues.   We got disgusted.   Again while in Texas in 2016 we went RV shopping.

Hence, the Open Range:

Since we never had a problem with the Montana I found a nearby Montana dealer.  There was a floor plan back in 2009 we loved.  They no longer make that model but Open Range has one quite similar.  We fell for it.

As shown here the living room can be shut off from the kitchen/dining with French Doors.  Great when we had overnight guests.

The island in the middle was on wheels.  We preferred it along an empty wall in the kitchen.   There is a sofa bed in both the living room and kitchen along with TV's in both rooms. We added one in the bedroom.   Great for when the granddaughters traveled with us.

And the storage!   Loads anywhere except in the basement.  (Those who don't rv ----  the basement is the storage areas under the rig).   But we managed just fine.

We were thrilled with the Open Range.   UNTIL.   One spring hanger broke.  Under warranty, manufacturer paid but we had to stay in a motel 5 days as the work was done.  We were reimbursed.

Then we found a large crack in the side under the bedroom window.  Again, under warranty.  It lasted 25 miles.  Then another spring hanger broke.  Again the manufacturer paid to have it fixed.  Then the side cracked again.   Then the refrigerator only worked sometimes when not hooked to electric.  There was a problem with the inverter.    Then another spring hanger.   Then the floor rotted out first in dining area and quickly spread to living room.  When walking on it, it would sink at least 1/2 inch.

The unit was less than  2 years old.  It came with a two year warranty.  The manufacturer picked it up and took it to Indiana for repairs.  We had to pick it up and inspect it. It looked beautiful. We were happy.  They fixed everything that we could see.  Even items we had damaged such as the awning when a wind came up and bent an arm.

We got back on the road headed home to Alabama.   Got 200 miles and A SPRING HANGER BROKE.   These things always have a way of happening in traffic, on an Interstate, in a town.  We were in Indianapolis.   We called the manufacturer.  They sent a tow truck.  Between Len and the driver they got the wheels separated and us into a Walmart lot for the night.

The next day technicians from the frame manufacturer arrived.   They fixed the spring hanger and told us another one was about to break.  They fixed that too.    We held our breath all the way to Alabama. We went directly to Madison RV, a Open Range dealer we had dealt with and where we left the dang thing.   We returned on Monday and traded it for our 2018 Grand Design.

This is our first travel trailer and smaller than any of our Fifthwheels.  At 37 feet it is not all that small.  We figure since we are no longer full-timers we don't need a large rig.   It will do for when we still do NOMADS projects and for vacation travel.   I do miss a large kitchen, the counter space, a large residential fridge with ice maker and most of all the automatic leveling system.

 I don't miss expense of towing a heavy fifthwheel.  We see a huge difference in our MPG.

We still like to have the granddaughters with us.  They have their own room.  With a TV even. There is another bunk that folds down over the fold out sofa.

I miss the bigger living area but this is sufficient.   We do have lots of storage space and an outside kitchen to boot.  It has a fridge, cabinets, drawers and a stove.

So that's our story.    A word of advice, if you have an RV that gives you no problems and is comfortable for your needs..... KEEP IT.     Had we known we were going to settle in 2016 we would have kept the 2009 Montana.   And for sure had we known in April of 2016 when we plunked down more money for the Open Range that our full-time life on the road would end 8 months later there would never have been an Open Range.  Had we followed this advice, we'd have a heck of a lot more money left in our investments.

 As far as quality of RVs.....  They don't make them like they used to.

Until next time.