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Parrottrek Journal 2010

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Camping under a tree full of mistletoe

Waking through a meadow of clover

Searching for four leaves

Strolling by the lake at dusk

January 1, 2010 - A New Year Unfolds -
I must admit, I am greatly relieved that all the holidays are done with. I'm not sure I could handle another happy, cheery bell-ringer wishing me a great day with all that has gone on. Yes, we are slowly getting back to what might resemble normal and the emotional waves aren't as steep, but since Christmas carols remind me of my mom, I am glad to have them behind us. To ring in the New Year, we spent a couple nights with friends at Cachuma Lake. Being here in California it's hard to realize that winter is on us with the days being in the wonderful mid 70's, however the chilly nights being in the 30's and 40's make us realize summer is long gone.

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Dinner and campfire with friends

and some radio controlled 4 wheelin' fun

The downside of California is that since the sun does shine most of the year, the rain levels are a bit low and the greenery is a bit sparse. Aside from a meadow full of clover and the wild mistletoe that grew in the trees above us there wasn't much green along the shoreline of the lake. Lucky for us our friends Step and Julio brought their radio controlled Jeep which turned the rocky ground around us into a playing field for the boys and their toy. After a bit of 4-wheelin fun we headed back to camp, set up the portable camp fire and bar-b-qued hamburgers for dinner.

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The traveling sound system

wine + music + friends = good times

Sampling the Panky

Laughing with friends

January 9, 2010 - Pouring Fun - Los Olivos, California -
The gigs are rolling in and the confidence is building. It has been an amazing transformation to see. Frank, who at one time was nervous to play in front of more than three people, especially is they were watching him, is now playing amazingly well, a couple times a week, in front of packed rooms full of friends and strangers. This evening our friends Allan and Rochelle Phillips, who have just released their own wine line, had a pouring party in the town of Los Olivos, which is just around the corner from Santa Ynez, and invited Frank to be the live music during the event which lasted from 4-8pm. Both the music and the wine were a complete success.

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The scene from bed

The sprinklers come on

Which turn a beautiful sunrise into an amazing one

January 10th - Early to Bed, Early to Rise - Santa Ynez, California -
I've never been a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but the few I have made in the past have usually come to fruition. For example the one year I vowed to loose 20 pounds I actually joined a gym, got on a program, became an addict of Spinning, became an instructor and somehow let two good friends talk me into running a full marathon with them. The marathon was in Hawaii, so it didn't take too much arm twisting to get me to join them. This year I have made no resolutions, other than to photograph a sunrise and sunset in each state we visit and to perhaps get back that fabulous 30 year old body I had, just a few short years ago, or something that might resemble it. Non-resolution one began this morning, as I rose to one of the most beautiful and perfectly timed scenes I've ever seen. The sun was in just the right spot shining through the branches of the tree as the sprinklers in the front yard came on with the perfect density of fog all around. Quite a sight to see, which in turn inspired me to attempt non-resolution two and so I headed out on a jog.

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The sweet mama sleeping on her egg

Keeping her clutch warm and safe

Then there were two

And along came number 3

January 29th - SURPRISE!! -
In the bird world, they tell us that you can't tell the sex of an African Grey or most parrots any other way than through a blood test. Well, I have news for them. A sure fire way to find out that the sweet little bird you have had for 13 years isn't a boy, is to have an egg appear under her one morning at 6am. Not knowing how she might react to this, we have pretty much left her alone and she has been a wonderful mother. She sat on her egg all day long, turning it from side to side, keeping in warm and only leaving her cage long enough to go potty elsewhere, since she doesn't want to poop anywhere near her nest. Three days after the first egg was laid, another appeared and then another just this morning. She is the most precious thing to watch tend to her little clutch and our only fear is just how sad she will be the day she realizes that even though she loves Frank more than anything and feels as though he is her mate, her eggs aren't fertilized and hence, little African Greys are not in her future, which breaks my heart :-(

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Our good friend Steph snapped some photos of the action

A couple of the not so lucky boats that washed ashore

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Stormwatch 2010 -
Traveling the country has taught us many things. For example - the national average of rainfall in most state is 47 inches, in California its around 9. The hills around Santa Barbara County have had numerous and disastrous fires over the last couple years, so the up and coming storms had people in a bit of a panic. On the one hand this area greatly needs the rain since the hillsides are dry, brittle, brown and continue to be a fire hazard, but on the other hand lots of rain could take the fire damaged hills and turn them into mud slides that could possibly flood the roads and neighborhoods below them.

Snow all around the mountains

Los Padres National Forest is finally green

Over 3 days more than the annual average fell, turning the relatively calm Pacific Ocean into an angry wave making machine. On the outskirts of Santa Barbara Harbor is a place called "Fools Mooring" this is an area where people anchor their boats since there are no slips available inside the harbor. Unfortunately a few of the boat owners learned the hard lesson of how this area got its name when they came looking for their boats and found them beached on the shore all around the volleyball courts of East Beach.
Once the rains diminished and the sun came back out, the city happily realized that the pouring rain didn't have nearly the damaging effects that the public had expected, the lake is slowly getting filled and the dry, brown mountains around us are turning gorgeous shades of green.

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A walk through the vineyards

A family picnic at the newly planted Buellton Botanical Gardens

Attending the annual Christmas tree burn

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February 1st - Time Flies - A Recap -
As our time in California comes to a close, I realize, that in most cases, timing really is everything. There have been a few things that happened in the last few months that I would have loved to come at a different time in our lives, a much later time, but one thing I am glad for is the fact that within a few days we will be back on the road and embarking on a whole new set of travels, adventures and things to yet be seen. I also realized that the month of January flew past without many Parrottrek updates, and for that I apologize. My usual schedule of postings has been interrupted by good things and bad. One of the great things that took up most of my time is gaining my Massage Therapist license. It's something I have always wanted to do and had planned out in detail with a school here in Santa Barbara long before the unfortunate Mom tragedies even began. There came a point in my schooling with all the goings on that I almost stopped it, but when I took a close look at my life and all that was happening, I found that it was one of the things that kept be sane, my mind occupied and made me focus on something other than sitting at home staring at the walls crying, so I forged on and will finish up just a mere 3 days before we hop back in the motorhome and put some road behind us. The surrounding photos are a hodge-podge of the various things that took up our January. Also check out our map page, which is coming along slowly but surely.

Frank played guitar at his Grandpa's church

Breakfast with our fabulous nieces

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Bradley found fun toys while garage saling

Cody's first California concert

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February 6th - An Egg Update -
It has now been a little over two weeks since Bradley began her attempt at motherhood and the number of eggs has grown to 5. The little pile is almost too big to fit completely under her, so she spreads her wings out and uses her beak to tuck them in all around her.
In all the research we've done about this, the census says that she will most likely sit on her eggs between 21 -28 days before realizing there isn't anything inside them other the makings of an omelette, but we aren't sure if that is 21-28 days from when she laid the first one or 21-28 days after she lays the last one. Hopefully this 5th one will be the last, since laying an egg takes up quite a bit of energy and calcium from her little body and we don't want her to compromise her health by attempting to repopulate the African Grey species. The picture to the right is what fertilized eggs turn into 4 weeks after they hatch and even though it would be fun to have a bunch of little fuzz balls around us, the amount of work that our little Bradley would have to do to accomplish this is immense, not to mention we'd have to find her a date, so for now we will just bide our time until our little mama decides that she is done with sitting on her pile of eggs. Now the only issue will be how she'll sit on the eggs when the motorhome is mobile.

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February 11th - The Racing Season Begins - Pomona, California -
As our time in California comes to an end and we begin to say our goodbyes, we often get the question, "So tell us what you guys do again? I can't seem to visualize it." Most of the time we can get across some idea of what it is we do, but visualizing the hospitality area that we work in still stumps most. In order to remedy this, and since apparently Parrottrek followers don't actually think we work since the majority of our entries are about what we do on our weeks off, we have included a bit of a slide show to help those of you who haven't seen us in person on the job, get a better idea of what we do from start to finish at each of the 23 events we work at around the country. Since we have a brand spanking new sponsor this year some of you might not recognize our set up, since what used to be a small city in red is now a gorgeous shade of blue. The new look of the trucks, race car, uniforms, tables and everything else around us is amazing. What is even more amazing is the fact that the team and it's owners put all this together in about 4 months time.

We start with an empty
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"Take Two" with Kenny and Brandon

The film crew in action

An interview with the Crew Chiefs

Frank chats with the sound guy

February 13th - Lights, Camera Action!! -
If we had a dollar for each time we were asked this weekend "What's Copart?" we could afford to have Parrottrek as the main sponsor on the car. Copart.com is an on-line vehicle auction company that is taking the racing world by storm. In addition to sponsoring our Kenny Bernstein Top Fuel Dragster team this year, they are sponsoring a car in the NASCAR series for a large majority of those races. Also as a part of Copart's new presence in motorsports they are creating commercials staring the cars, the teams and the racing action, which is what took place today at Firebird International Raceway, in between qualifying rounds, which made our pit the place to be. With this new sponsor not only are we surrounded by a new group of people with fresh, new ideas but we have a world of new possibilities at our feet. Not only did the camera crews and their loads and loads of equipment bring interest from our invited guests, but it brought lots of attention from the surrounding crowd attending the event here in Phoenix, Arizona, so keep your eyes out for the men of Kenny Bernstein Racing as they may be gracing your television screen outside of ESPN and race day.

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The last thing we expected to see

The amazing ladder truck in action

The flames are finally extinguished

Luckily everyone made it out safe

February 27th - Not Our Usual Bike Ride -
Each morning we are here at home in Florida we take a nice, long bike ride up and down the streets of our resort. Today we saw something that we didn't expect. Something we never wanted to see happen to any of our friends and neighbors. As we headed out on on today's ride, we noticed smoke on the opposite side of the golf course, heard multiple sirens and observed worried neighbors all around. At first we hoped it was a controlled burn, since those are allowed here in green, lush Florida, but as the third fire truck passed us with sirens and horns blaring, we realized there was nothing controlled about the smoke we saw, so we decided to see for ourselves what was happening. We joined a group of neighbors who had gathered along the banks of the lake behind the home on the 3rd tee and watched some very brave fire fighters not only put out the flames on the house involved, but stood their ground around the neighbors homes and kept them all safe from the flames. The only damage to one neighbors home was some melted vinyl siding due to the intense temperatures that the flames reached. Once the flames were out, we discovered that the only remaining concern was finding the lost, scared dog that ran out of the house once the flames began, which we are happy to report was safely returned to his very worried parents, who also were safely kept away from the flames. Knowing first hand how devastating it is to return home and see your residence and possessions burnt beyond saving, and even though we are all thankful that no living beings were lost, my heart goes out to the Standards as they now have to piece their lives back together one possession at a time.

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The sun slowly peeks out

A beautiful view of the moon, at 10am

My favorite two headed monster

Abbey loves the beach

March 2nd - The Sun, Moon and Stars of My Life -
As I sit here looking out our picture windows at the views of our yard, lake, nature trail and trees, I realize I might just be the luckiest woman alive. Here I sit in the most beautiful state on this sunny cloud free day, admiring greenery as far as the eye can see with deer prancing around us, Bald Eagles flying above us, all while being surrounded by four of the most amazing family members ever.
Today's activities have included block playing, some toast for breakfast, six slices to be exact, yes Cody is a pig, a bit of HGTV, since that is our latest addiction and finally a shower, around 10:30. At noon, we decide to go for a bike ride, but as we open the front door to go outside to enjoy the beauty of what we see on the other side of the glass we are knocked off our, ummm feet, yeah, feet, not due to the views mind you, but because of the freezing cold wind that blew straight through the 5 layers we are wearing. Heelllloooo!! We are in Florida, it's supposed to be warm, sunny and relaxing, just like it has been the last five years we have been here at this chunk of time.

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Bradley tries to hide from the wind

We are very spoiled and used to March weather that makes lounging by the pool with a book and some tunes the perfect way to spend an afternoon. This week the only reason we would hit the pool is to sit in the jacuzzi, fully dressed in all 5 layers, in order to try to warm up, but since once we stepped out of the nice hot water we would be back in the cold air, I realize that that too is now checked off the list of what we might do today. So instead, I decide to close the door and return to the comfy confines of my little house with my comfy family and pick up my crochet needle in order to create another layer to wrap us all in. Once I start to crochet one of my babies picks a fight with the ball of yarn while another jumps in my lap and starts to unravel what I have already finished. As I find myself laughing out loud I realize that this is just another day in paradise, and even though this paradise requires sweats, a warm body to sit next to and three furnaces to be on, it's just that Parrotdise!

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All aboard the TGO express

Turtles sunning themselves

Even the cows made fun of us

Our mud hole in the daylight

March 5th - 7th - A Tour of the Nature Preserve-
This weekend four good friends of ours came down to The Great Outdoors to see first hand our little piece of heaven. To experience all there is to offer around the resort, we rented a six passenger golf cart and ended up putting about 100 miles on it. It turned out that no one had rented this particular cart for over a year and since they figured the gas was old, we got a great deal on the rental. Good thing, since each time we hit the throttle it took about 20 seconds to start up and every so often while we were driving it would come to a dead stop all on its own. A couple times this would happen in front of traffic, but lucky for us most of our neighbors have a good sense of humor, or just figured we were tourists and swore at us under their breath, either way we didn't care since we were having a good time.
Our first night out Frank, our crazy driver, decided to see how far he could drive on the nature trail with the headlights off. The theory behind this was that once our eyes adjusted to the light, the wildlife would come out since there weren't any headlights to scare them off. It worked for awhile, since most of the nature trail is covered with white sand, but once the white sand ended and the dirt roads began we could no longer see, and we ended up driving a bit off the road and getting stuck in a mud ditch. Good thing the golf cart, once vacated, only weighs about 100 pounds. This came in handy since shifting a golf cart into four wheel drive isn't an option but having three men pick it up and put it back on the road, is.

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A very brave bird fishes next to a sleeping alligator

The guys don't miss a sip or smoke while pushing the cart

We finally made it off the nature trail and waited for Tom our hero to come to the rescue with fuel

Our second day of driving adventures included showing off the lakes and docks around us and the wildlife that lives in and around these lakes. We had a late lunch at the restaurant here that overlooks the golf course and Lake Judy and watched a beautiful 5 foot alligator on the banks sunning himself. Later in the day, the guys decided to have cocktail hour on the golf cart and a cigar, so I took over the driver's seat and continued the tour which after taking a vote of the passengers ended up being an evening drive, while it was still light out, along the nature trail and golf course in order to find where our tour cart veered off the path. As we began to get further away from the main road our golf cart began to slow down and get even jumpier when I hit the throttle. I figured it might be running low on gas, but since the day we rented it the proprietor of the golf cart shop assured us it had enough fuel to last 6 weeks, the guys figured it had to be something else, silly boys you know you should never doubt me. After a bit of convincing, the guys finally got out of the back seat to check the fuel level, which was non existent. Since we were of course about as far from civilization as possible, we ladies threw out the boys and made them push us until the main road was visible and Tom, our savior for the day, could find us with his handy gas can. Once refilled with fuel the good times began to re-roll, and with fresh new gas the cart ran far better than it had before, started up as soon as the throttle was hit, never left us at a stand still in traffic and may have even broken the 15mph speed limit of the main roads. TGO may never be the same.

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A burrowing armadillo crosses our path

Wasps make a home in a palm tree

Mama Hawk sits on her eggs

A great place to relax for the day

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Fred and DeLynn's Georgian home

Our own private acre

Cody loved sitting in the sun in the middle of the flower garden

Happy Saint Patrick's Day - Savannah Georgia -
The second largest St. Patrick's Day party in the United States happens to take place right in the backyard of our old neighbors from California Fred and DeLynn, and as it so happens, their new home has 7 glorious acres, right on our way to North Carolina which is our next work location. To top things off, within their property, they have a motorhome port, on which they invited us to stay for the week. Once we got settled in, the tour of the south began with dinner on the river and a drive through the outskirts of Savannah, which has more history than can be explained in one day, so our tour guides have planned to show us the city and all its glory over the next few days.

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We had dinner overlooking the water

... and more dinner views

March 18th - Downtown Savannah -
Today's agenda included a trolley ride all around the streets and scenic drives of Savannah. After all of the festivities of yesterday's holiday the town was a bit quiet until mid afternoon since it took the night owls awhile to crawl out of bed, which was good for us since our celebrations ended early in anticipation of today's outing. The homes around this city are enormous and the architecture is amazing. Most of them are in the historic district, so fixing up the houses takes a lot of work and even more red tape to ensure that the city doesn't loose in Savaaanaah looook, that's how the locals talk here, with slow southern drawls that elongate every word which, might I add, I love to listen to.
One of the many stops on our trolley ride was Johnny Mercer's old house. Don't feel bad if you don't remember him, since we didn't either until the trolley driver busted out singing 'Moon River'. This same house was also used in filming the movie 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' which we just may have to watch again in order to see if we recognize Savannah. After the trolley ride ended we continued on our own private drive with Fred and DeLynn in order to get a closer and longer look at a few of the places that we glimpsed on the trolley and we ended our day in Savannah with dinner at The Mellow Mushroom, a place we frequent in Chattanooga and were thrilled to find one just down the street.

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The oak trees lining the roads and horse trails

At the door of the main house

We sat in Henry Ford's sitting room and had a glass of wine - - Very cool!!

March 19th - The Ford Plantation -
Behind the gates of 12511 Ford Avenue sit 1800 acres of heaven. Just like the real heaven, or so rumor has it, not just anyone can enter. In order to access the Ford's pearly gates, you have to be a member of the Plantation, or bring one with you. Anna, one of our new Georgia neighbors, invited the four of us out to the Plantation for an afternoon on the veranda and a drive through the 200+ year old oak trees. Since the weather was a little on the cool side, we spent a while on the veranda, but then headed into the sitting room where they brought us wine and cookies. I would have loved to listen to the stories that these walls could tell us about the days when Henry himself sat in this room with friends

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The horse stables

In between the oak trees were some beautiful plum trees in bloom

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Just one of the many mansions we passed

An old fireman's bell

Savannah is full of pretty parks

Johnny Mercer's house

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A day at the beach

We had lunch at Spanky's

Yikes, that would be a lot of water

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March 20th - Tybee Island and Lighthouse -
White sandy beaches and great places to eat are only a few of the perks of Tybee Island. Good thing for me, Fred and Delynn's house is surrounded by safe side roads to jog on, so I have done my darnedest to work off in the mornings what we partake of in the afternoons and evenings, which today included Spanky's famous potato spuds which are sliced whole potatoes lightly breaded and grilled in a very healthy way, yeah right, who am I kidding. While they are sliced potatoes, which at one time might be healthy, they are then heavily breaded and deep fried to perfection, YUM!

We took a long walk down the pier

So many nice beach houses

After gorging on these and patty melts, in honor of the continuing weeklong celebration of St. Patty's Day, we decided to take a long walk along the beach and pier in order to try and burn off a few spuds. The homes that frame the coastline might make you want to move in ASAP with all their charm, appeal and views of the white sand and clean water, but when you start to look at all the signs that show the various waterlines that will fill the streets, and your cute beach house, with ocean water depending on the category of the hurricane that hits, might make you rethink permanent occupancy. However renting a place here for a weekend, week or season would definitely be the way to go.

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Tybee lighthouse and quarters

Screven's Battery Garland

Frank and Fred check out the guns

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Tybee Lighthouse was built in 1736 by William Blythman, and its height of 90 feet made it the loftiest in America. After quickly being destroyed in a storm it was rebuilt in 1742 by Thomas Sumner and was thought to be indestructible by Oglethorpe, the founder of Savannah. Unfortunately it suffered damage in various storms and even once in a battle during the Civil War when the Union, who occupied the island, was attacked by the Irish Jasper Greens. After Georgia ceded the lighthouse to the Federal government it was repaired back to its original appearance and is now considered to be one of the most famous lighthouses on the Eastern seaboard.

Flags in honor of the soldiers

The openings for the guns to fire

Across from the Tybee Lighthouse stands Fort Screven's Battery Garland, which was erected in 1855 and consisted of 6 poured concrete low profile gun batteries which held twelve inch long-range guns and all the magazines of ammo necessary in order to keep the coastline safe. The Battery Garland was used in various wars from 1897 to 1947 including the Spanish-American War of 1898 and both World Wars. In 1961, since the Garland was no longer needed for protecting the coastline and Tybee had become a popular vacation stop, the city turned it into a museum where tourists can see first hand the private residences that are nestled inside the fort's walls that at one time housed the soldiers and the rooms where the ammo was stored. When I first started reading about the guns, I thought "why would they need such big rooms to hold bullets for a 12 inch gun?" Then I realized that the guns weren't 12 inches long but the projectiles that came out of the guns were 12 inches... ... in diameter! Holy cow batman! So when we read about the large rooms that they needed to store the 600 pound projectiles and the two hundred pound bags of gun powder used to launch said enormous projectiles, it all began to make sense.

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Standing on a drawbridge that lays across the moat that surround the fort

Looking into the fort from one of the cannon posts

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Fort Pulaski -
Growing up in California, as you would in any other state, you briefly learn about the Civil War and the various battles that took place during that period. What you don't get to experience inside the confines of a California classroom, is walking over the moats, across the drawbridge and on top and underneath the walls of the actual places that these battles were fought. For those of you who were lucky enough to be able to visit American history while learning about it however, probably take seeing these various battlegrounds first hand for granted, just like we Californians take our missions for granted, even though the history of those didn't affect quite as many lives as the war between the North and the South.

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The view from the post of a soldier in charge of firing off one of the 48 cannons that surrounded the top of the fort

A bunker where 12-15 soldiers lived, dined and dressed

I have to admit, if I was able to take a field trip with Mrs. Blair and the rest of the class back in fourth grade to the very place we walked today, the Civil War just might have stuck out in my mind as something other than a made for TV movie that my mother and I watched over and over in order to oogle over Patrick Swayze and the other cute soldiers.
Today's outing took us inside one of these very forts. Fort Pulaski, to be exact, which was where Lt. Robert E. Lee served for the first time after his graduation from West Point. The fort took over 18 years to construct, finally reaching completion in 1847, and stood through various battles until April 10, 1862 when Federal soldiers finally took over the Georgia troops with the first effective use of riffled cannon against a masonry fortification. Speaking of cannons, one of the things we did get to observe on today's tour aside from the bunkers and solider posts, some of which were inside hillsides and grassy areas, was a cannon from the 1800's that was fired off in front of us inside the walls of the fort.

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What might look like just a random door from the outside... ...

is actually an underground fortress with more bunkers

Ready... Aim... FIRE!!!

And look, another cute soldier

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March 31st - Chilean' at the Beach - Gulfport Mississippi -
One of the best kept secrets of beach front camping, is the fact that you can camp for free right along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in Gulfport, Mississippi. Each year we come here, we expect to find it either too busy to find a spot, or some sort of fee kiosk set up in order for the city to make money off of us. But then again, the city probably figures that since all of us who camp here shop, eat, and spend money on other touristy things, such as sailing, they're making out pretty good. Today there are only two couples camping, but once the rest of our group shows up for the weekend, watch out Mississippi, we're takin' over. The weather here has been so fantastic, which is long over due since the last race we had to wear long underwear under our dressy work clothes last week and I didn't get one single pool day the entire time we were in Florida (boo hoo hoo) These past few days we have been in shorts and t-shirts laying on the beach, splashing in the water and enjoying every bit of outdoor time that we possibly can. The mornings here are warm as well, so Shirl and I have been walking 6 miles up and down the beach each day from Gulfport to Long Beach. Since the city has done such a great job of fixing this area up after Katrina tore it up, we figured we would do our part in appreciating the miles and miles of newly installed boardwalk that goes much farther than we have the desire to walk.

Cody loves the sunshine

Bradley's private penthouse with a view

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We watched a cargo ship full of pineapple and bananas pull in

Bradley's box from the outside

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And then we watched them unload the fruit

We had some DE-licious fresh seafood at the Crawfish Hut - YUM!

Bob, Shirl and Hunter on the beach

Shirl and I

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We explored Biloxi for a day

And decided to go for a sail

Off we go into the ocean

Lots of wildlife around us

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April 1st - Sailing in the Gulf of Mexico -
Ahhhh, sailing! There's nothing quite like it. One of our goals of traveling is to sail on each of the salty bodies of water whose waves splash over US sand, and after today we are over half way there since the Pacific has long been checked off that list, and now only the Atlantic remains. Since the weather was absolutely perfect today, Frank, I, Bob and Shirl took the top down on the Jeep and set out to do some exploring around the town of Biloxi, Mississippi which is just a few miles from where we are camped on the white sandy beach of the Gulf. We stopped off at the visitors center and found a map that laid out all the fun things to do in town, including chartering a sailboat for a sunset cruise, so we headed down to the docks to see what types of boats they had, booked a trip with our fabulous captain, Roger with North Star Sailing and headed home to grab a quick bite to eat and pack our bags for the evening's event. Not only was the wind and the water in great condition for a smooth sail, but we had a wonderful bonus of seeing about a dozen or so dolphins swimming and splashing all around the 31 foot Catalina. The dolphins would jump out of the water on one side of the boat, dive back in and swim as fast as they could underneath us. Unfortunately my camera only captured one shot of them that wasn't blurry. Perhaps our next means of transportation might be the seas of the world.

We saw dozens of dolphins

Our captain Roger

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Bob? You're not nervous of Frank's steering are you?

The shore is miles behind us

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Up go the sails

Happily sailing along

Bob and Shirl

Cross traffic at sea

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The rest of the group shows up

Steve and Carol dyeing eggs

Ready for the basket

Another nice long walk

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Just off of Bourbon Street

is one of the famous restaurants in New Orleans

with an amazing amount of ambiance and character

and a fabulous drink called a Hurricane

April 3rd - A Perfect Day - New Orleans, Louisiana -
We have driven across highway 10 and 12 through Louisiana more times than I can count during the last 5 years of our travels. Each time we drove past the signs that would lead us off one of these highways and into New Orleans and the surrounding cities that were ravished by Mother Nature during one of her many temper tantrums, nothing seemed to draw us there, until today. As the old saying goes, 'timing is everything', proved to be very true this weekend since for some reason, we decided that on this pass through town, we'd take one of those off ramps and see what New Orleans has to offer, which lived up to another saying 'great minds think alike'.
After a little investigating into what lies within the confines of New Orleans, we found a darling RV park just steps away from the French Quarter, which was perfect and allowed us to both to be able to have a hurricane during lunch at the famous Pat O'Brien's, since we left the Jeep at home and toured the city on foot. After lunch we walked all around the Quarter, along the waterfront, by numerous historical places and the most amazing Farmer's Market anyone has ever seen. Also amongst our stops was a rustic old cigar shop where they hand rolled all their cigars right in front of you and then we stopped back by Pat O'Brien's to enjoy the dueling pianos.

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The architecture of New Orleans is amazing

There are amazing seafood places on every corner

We stopped off at The Cigar Factory and watched them hand roll some cigars

The history here is endless

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An afternoon of live music

Outside the Mardi Gras museum

Joan of Arc's memorial

THE most amazing farmer's market I've ever seen!

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As the tide goes out

Bob and Shirls' beach house

Our very own beach house

The wind made sand designs

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Diamond Diva and Speed Demon Suzy in our sexy head socks

Don't smile guys, look competitive

We all watch the instructional video

Crasher Cronk and Dangerous Dan

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April 17th - Go-Kart Racing - Las Vegas Nevada -
This evening after work, Frank and I were invited by some of the sponsors from Copart for a night out on the Vegas town. The plans included go-kart racing and dinner. Since we have visited a few go-kart racing places around the country, and enjoyed each of them thoroughly, we gladly accepted the invitation and the 12 of us headed to Pole Position Speedway. Since it is a Saturday night, we had a few groups in front of us which turned out to be almost as entertaining to watch as it was to drive... ... almost! The first group we watched were either a bit too competitive or a bit too inexperienced since the track had to slow them down on almost every lap since someone ended up backwards, sideways or so piled up in a corner they didn't quite know how to get out of it. At one point one of the cars had a blow out and sparks shot out from underneath the car until once again the track guide brought them all to a stop. The next group was a group of kids who weren't quite sure which side of the car the break pedal was located on, causing their race to look more like a pinball game, since they were bouncing off so many walls, than a car race.
Once our group was up, and we each had our racing names entered into the computer, we all took bets on who would hit the wall first, who would end up backwards, who would get lapped the most, and who would get the black flag. Since Cheri and I were the only girls, everyone else of course voted against us to be in the top five at the end of the race, and for us in the category of being lapped and thrown into the wall the most. The first lap around the track was to get us used to the cars and the course so they only let us go so fast, and yes the track master can control all the cars all the time just in case there is a pile up or a sideways car, they can attempt to lessen the carnage. Once the race was in full swing there were quite a few passes, a couple wrecks, two slow down times and one backwards driver. I am happy to report that neither Cheri nor I ended up in the wall, spun out or T-boned, unless you count when Cheri T-boned Rick for cutting her off but then again all is fair in love and racing. I'm even happier to report that there were 7 very shocked guys, when handed their time slips, to see that "Speed Demon Suzy" finished #4, which happens to be my lucky number [insert applause here].

Ricky Bobby kicked our butts on the track

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Isn't he cute???

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The race cars

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All lined up and ready to race.

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Fast Frank passes Caveman

Girl Power

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All aboard the Air Force bus

Out comes the car

Our Kenny Bernstein Racing family

A self portrait of the hospitality staff

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April 19th - A Photo Shoot - Nellis AFB -
One of the many perks of having the Air Force as a sponsor on the race car, is being taken out to Nellis Air Force Base. Today's trip to the base brought with it a great photo shoot of two amazing machines - an 8,000 horse power vehicle that travels on the ground at over 300mph, for a brief period of time mind you, and a 100,000 horse power vehicle that travels through the air up to 1500 mph, for much longer periods of time. The F-16, that stood to our left, is painted up in patriotic colors to inspire people to join the Air Force and to entertain families all over the country at fairs, air shows and other such festive occasions.

Between two very different wings

A girl shot with a pilot and a Colonel

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Quite a patriotic experience

And for a closer look

No words can express how fun this was

We watched some F-15s and F-16s take off

These same fun loving daredevil planes that bring smiles to the faces of young children, are able to turn back into fighting machines in less than 72 hours, if need be, in order to keep these same youngsters safe and sound in their country and in their beds. The dragster, on our right, takes a little less than 72 minutes to be back in racing form after each round of competition. The one odd similarity of these two vehicles is that the people that work intricately with one, were far more intrigued by the other today. While we would all run outside the hanger and watch the F15s and F16s that are dressed for war take off and do maneuvers overhead, the pilots and airmen didn't seem to be phased by the sound and stayed right next to the dragster checking every inch of it out.

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The bridge, just a year ago

Now it's near completion

This Fall we should be able to drive across it, YIKES!

An American flag marks where the bridge came together

April 19th - The Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge -
Each time we enter or leave Arizona, via Highway 93, I have taken a picture of the slow progression of the incredibly huge project that Arizona and Nevada have embarked on in order to give the Hoover Dam a break from all the traffic that passes over it every day. The views overlooking the dam are amazing, but on a busy summer day, with hundreds and hundreds of oogling tourists, it can be a huge pain in the tush to drive across. A big part of the delay is due to 9-11. Ever since that horrific day they stop every single motorhome, truck or other large vessel that drives over the dam that might appear to be big enough to hold something that could damage the dam's integrity. If Hoover Dam were to break in any way, hundreds of cities below could potentially be devastated, so we all willingly go along with the searches. Of course over the years, we have learned the steps to help the officers' work of searching our place a little easier. On this occasion, just as the past ones, one officer walked inside the motorhome to search and the other stayed outside and had Frank open each and every door that leads to the underneath of the coach. Today, the officer that came inside was very friendly and cheery. After he had taken about two steps inside the coach he stopped short and asked in a bit of a concerned voice "Do you have any dogs on board?" "No" I replied. "Just a couple birds, why, do dogs make you nervous?"Before he could answer Bradley, our very smart, and sometimes lippy, African Grey called out "Woof,woof woof." The officer stopped again, chuckled and asked "Are you sure that's not a dog?" Bradley then retorted with a "Hahahahahahaha." The officer chuckled as well and walked up and down the hall, looking all around. I figured he was just doing a regular search of the place, until I noticed that the only door he opened was the clear shower door. Right as I was about to ask him, are you looking for something particular? He asked me "Where is the bird?" I pointed to the counter and he leaned over Bradley and said "Well, hello." Bradley came back with a cat call whistle, the officer once again broke into laughter and said to Bradley, as he patted his rather large belly, "Thanks buddy, you made my day, no one has whistled at me in years." He was still laughing as he exited our cozy home and wished us all a great day. I tell you, there is never a dull day while travelin' with this wacky lovable bunch.

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