Monday, June 7, 2010

Minnesota - the land where pudding pops still exist

Seriously! They're made by Kemps, not Jell-O, and Bill Cosby has nothing to do with them, but boy howdy are they good. We're really liking our park here, even though the wifi is currently dodgy. I'm on a picnic table by the office trying to eke out a bit more right now. This normally wouldn't be a problem, but I used most of my monthly allowance of MB on my air card watching old episodes of Rescue Me via Netflix. This marathon did nothing good for my mostly latent Denis Leary crush, but now I'm going cold turkey off of constantly swearing and shouldn't-really-be-good-looking-but-is-for-some-reason-sexy Irish American men. It's actually a little alarming how much more I get done when I make a list of things I want to do online and then do them all once in the afternoon, rather than getting on throughout the day to do "one little thing" and spending 40 minutes clicking around. Of course, the Droid makes this easier as e-mail, FB, Twitter and basic searching are all available at surprisingly high speeds given the fact that there's wilderness to one side of me and a giant lake to the other. The park owner says he has a booster he's having installed, but right now the installation guy is fishing in Canada. We're not sure when he'll be back. I guess the demand for installation in this neck of the woods far outstrips the demand if unlimited vacations are a possibility that don't result in bankruptcy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cumberland Gap

I'm going to ask you to go on a little time travel with me. We're not going too far back, just five years. Five years ago, K and I owned a house in Concord, NH. We were in the process of selling it. It was empty of nearly everything but the essentials. Most of our stuff had gone to yard salers, friends, family and our storage unit. Picture us sitting on the floor of our empty living room with its ugly mauve carpeting, poring over maps, state guide books and copious hand written lists of places we had heard of and wanted to go. On nearly every list is the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Daniel Boone; the gateway to the West (back when the West was Kentucky); courageous pioneers braving the threat of attack, starvation and bankruptcy. I was fascinated by this low section of the Appalachians. I'm not a huge history geek, but for some reason, the Cumberland Gap held some mystique for me, and I was sure we were going to get there on this 5 month tour of the country.

Then, life interfered somehow. I don't even remember the details. We just never got there that year. Or the next. Or the next. We got close, we made tentative plans. But it never happened. Until this year. This year, we wintered in Florida (never again, never) and worked our way up to Louisville for the KY Derby Marathon and the Derby itself. We planned to stop at the Cumberland Gap on our way up, but the cold weather kept us trapped in the South longer than we expected and we had to get to Louisville more quickly. But Cumberland Gap is only 3 hours or so from Louisville. It would be a weekend trip.

It was this past weekend's trip. Finally, we got to Cumberland Gap. We planned to camp both nights at the NP campground, but thunderstorms on Friday made a hotel seem like a better option. Early Saturday, we got to the overlook - there was nothing to see but fog. Undeterred, we pressed on to the campground, picked a spot, set up our tent and then set off for a loop hike that left from and returned to the campground. We climbed to a ridge and crossed it to the Pinnacle Overlook. Below us, cleared of fog, was the Cumberland Gap saddle. It's an obvious break in the mountains, and by the time white folks discovered it, it had been a buffalo (technically Bison, but I like the word buffalo) trace and a route used by Native Americans for trade. (Buffalo, in Virginia. Seems odd now.)

In the late 18th and early 19th century, it was used by almost 300,000 people to gain access to the fertile land of the Midwest. They walked mostly in the winter, so they would be able to plant spring crops at their new farms. They walked barefoot. In the snow. At some point, the road was improved to become a wagon route. Now it's a hiking trail for those who want to walk on historic ground, which of course, we do. Cars use a tunnel that gets you from one side to the other in minutes.

After we left the overlook, we walked down the ridge and to the saddle of the Gap. I spent a lot of time being a big history geek and exclaiming about how cool it was to walk in the same spot and get the same view of a promised land that previous generations had. I did the same thing when we walked on part of the Oregon Trail. I guess I'm more of a history geek than I let on.

Of course, there's a dark side to the expansion of the US, and this was the beginning of some pretty terrible things, as well as a beginning of a larger nation. Bloody battles between Native Americans and the pioneers, the eventual marginilization of those tribes, the slaughter of the buffalo herds that once lived this far East. It's not all pretty. Most history isn't, though.

One more place crossed off my list. Off to the next!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good (yawn) morning!

Please bear with me this morning. I usually write blog posts later in the day when I'm a bit more awake but today I'm trying to be Productive. You know, when you get so much done it requires a capital letter? I need to be Productive because I have been severely unproductive all week. I made one piece of jewelry, I did not run at all, I did one weight work out and I did almost no promotion-y type stuff. I did however get taxation stuff done. Of course, this was accomplished by simply unvolunteering from the Streamlined Sales Tax system because I was sick of being harrassed by states who wanted me to report to them once a month and tell them I didn't sell anything in their state. It's possible I'm missing something about the whole thing, but it didn't seem very streamlined to me.

My allergies have been making me ridiculous this week and I fully blame them for my lack of initiative. They got so bad I made an appointment to see an allergist in Louisville. An allergist who was very confused by why I wanted to get tested for Juniper, which hasn't started pollinating there yet. But made the appointment I did. How I'm going to get a year worth of shots when I'm going to be moving every two months is beyond me, but the very nice nurse did say the serum can be mailed. Alternately, we could stay in once place for two years and get desensitized to allergens and get braces, which both of us need. I wonder how long it would take us to go bonkers. It would be nice if we liked the weather and culture in some place where we had significant quantity of family and friends, but this is not the case. I guess we'll see.

The most exciting thing that happened this week is that I got my Droid. I love it. It is so freaking cool. Now keep in mind that I went from an EnVII (a phone with a keyboard and web capabilities but not a full on smartphone) to the Motorola Droid. It was a pretty big jump to have all kinds of apps and craziness. It has GPS, it has Shazam (which I will have to resist using at pub trivia,) it has games, book reader and, and, and... and a lot. I kind of adore the touch screen, which surprised me. The camera a little touchy, but I may just be getting used to it, so we'll see. I can only assume there's a blogger app for it, since it's a Google Android phone and Blogger is a Google app. Perhaps I'll be able to send pithy updates from my phone and you'll get to see random scenery. For now you'll have to settle for this picture of Chimney Rock, NC. Pretty, huh? And good photo quality, I think. Very different than Chimney Rock, NE, where we went way back when in 2005. Back when we lived in a van and were traversing the country as young, crazy kids. Come May, we'll have been vagabonds for 5 years. Craziness. Here's Chimney Rock, NE so you can make your own comparisons. Feel free to poke around the blog and see where we've been.

Anyway, happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Help-a-Honu Jewelry Launch

For awhile now I've been wanting to create jewelry in the shape of sea turtles, or Honu as they are called in Hawai'i. I adore the creatures and am so saddened by the troubles they (and other ocean animals) face.

This new line features hand cut sea turtles in sterling and copper and eventually brass as well. Right now in my shop I have a large copper pendant and sterling silver earrings, but I plan to expand that greatly as soon as the weather cooperates and I can work outside. Then the variations will be endless - turtles with beads, turtles with patterns and designs, turtles, turtles, turtles. They can also be stamped with letters, either for initials, names, words, etc. A very versatile line of jewelry.

The best part of this whole line is that I'm donating 10% of the purchase price of each item to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL. They do wonderful things; taking care of sick sea turtles, rehabilitating and returning them to the wild when they can and giving them a home when the turtles are just too sick to live in wild. They also provide outreach and education programs and work with legislative bodies to protect sea turtles, all species of which are endangered. I visited the hospital on my way home from Key West a few weeks ago and they really provide a wonderful service to humans and turtles alike.

Monday, March 15, 2010

LaGrange, GA

Last week we were in Mexico Beach, FL. It was occasionally sunny, often windy and always beautiful at sunset. I spent a lot of time walking, running and lounging on the white sand beach and beading inside. As nice as it was to be across the street from the beach, I didn't get to spend quite as much time outside as I would have liked or run as much as my half marathon plan called for because of my horrible Juniper allergy. I was taking Zyrtec, Nasonex and Claritin and still felt awful. It was almost as bad as the Cedar fever in Austin a few years ago, actually and that nearly debilitated me.

Now we're in LaGrange, GA, home of LaGrange College and what I hope will be our triumphant return to pub trivia. The best thing about it is that there are no Junipers! My brain works again, I'm not itchy, I can run without nearly blacking out and my husband doesn't always think I'm sad because I'm sniffling all the time. Yay!

Due to my newly increased brain power, I'm working on a whole new line of jewelry. Stay tuned as I'm sure it will make an appearance here.

Have a great day!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Worst. Blogger. Ever.

I can only hope that you read the title of this post as Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, as that's how it was intended. I am, of course, the subject of that sentence. Inconsistency is my middle name, in case you couldn't tell. I will try to be better, now that I'm taking this blog in a new-ish direction. Rather than focusing on my business and "exciting things," I'm going to just make it a random blog about me, which will occasionally include things about my business and "exciting things." Confused? Good, me too. ;-)

In the exciting things category, I got to see the last scheduled night launch of a shuttle by NASA. There's a sweet video and write up by my husband on my other blog here.

We also went to the Everglades:

And went to Key West on vacation:

Since then it's been quiet-ish. Half marathon training for the Kentucky Derby Mini (my last long race - I really don't like running long distances), jewelry making (ooh, shiny), and swimming with manatees. I have no pictures of the last, because I do not have an underwater camera. But trust me, it was awesome.

So here's hoping that this new approach will make me a better blogger. I will probably also start up Wellness Wednesdays again, because I have been in a public gym lately, which means I've seen things that make me crazy. (Lat rows with 2 pound weights! Overhead tricep extensions! Augh!)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Last weekend we finally made the trek to Tampa for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. We'd been wanting to go since we heard about it a few years ago and the timing finally worked out with our location.

We drove over Friday night from Mims, FL and checked into a hotel in Ybor City, a historical strip of bars, restaurants and little shops just north of the city. We had dinner at the wonderful Acropolis Taverna and then went back to watch Burn Notice - we're so exciting!

On Saturday we woke up early to head down to the Convention Center for the Invasion Brunch. We hopped the trolley car and were there before we knew it. We took the time to grab a couple of drinks from the outdoor bar and then headed inside. The tables had been moved inside because of the rain, but we snagged a seat by the window and awaited the invasion.

The Jose Gaspar was visible around 1pm and we awaited its arrival along the barricades. It was a sight to see. Men hung off the rigging and crowded the decks. They wore brightly colored pirate clothes, had scars painted on their cheeks and carried beer in a variety of leather pouches. They all wore huge hanks of beads on hooks around their waists and started handing them out immediately. I even got a kiss on the cheek from the first pirate off the boat!

After they disembarked and handed out a bunch of beads, the Mayor of Tampa handed over the key to the city and the party began.

We made our way to our seats for the parade, but thanks to the rain, they were mostly deserted, so we hung out along the barricades again. The parade was a big blur of people dressed in bright velvet and bead lust. Everyone, myself included, just went nutty for beads, screaming and clapping to get the attention of the bead throwers. There was no flashing though, because apparently the Tampa police had begun clamping down on that sort of thing.

After the parade we walked back to the hotel. I had a very bad stomachache (beer on top of rum on top of buffet food, no doubt) and we just kind of lolled about for the rest of the night. I'm sure there was partying to be had around the city, but we weren't really up for it, since we'd gotten rather cold and wet during the parade.

All in all, a very fun thing to do! A recommended activity if you're into pirates and public drinking! ;-)