January 2004               

(We did not get a photo of the counted cross-stitch piece that Millie made for Ann for Christmas before it was wrapped and as Ann was sick right after the holiday, it didn’t make it to the December journal.  We have added pictures of it to the photo album this month.  The Michael’s store in Denton, TX did a great job of framing it.)

January 1, 2004 – Happy New Year!  We spent a quiet New Year’s Day.  We started off by watching the Rose parade.  Afterwards, Millie took a nap.  It was a short night, lots of fireworks being set off around here, well past 1:00 AM and she was tired. 

            Millie prepared our customary New Year’s Day dinner of wieners and sauerkraut, pinto beans and cornbread.  We have had this meal every year since we married.

            After dinner we watched some TV, then off to bed.  (Boy what dull people we are!)

January 2 – Dick went into Houston after breakfast to the storage unit.  He picked up our containers for our Christmas décor.  When he got back home we got started packing it all up.  It took us most of the day, even though it comes down faster than it goes up.  After we finished, Dick took the containers back to storage.

            When Dick got back we ran to the store to pick up a few things.  Millie wanted to make a dish to take with us to the covered dish dinner we were going to.  She got her dish made when we came back home, then rested for a while.

            We drove into town to meet Will and Ann at their home.  We rode to the dinner with them.  On of our old square dance clubs, Pairs N Squares has a covered dish dinner every month.  The club exists as a dance club but still gets together for fellowship.  We enjoyed the evening, visiting with the group. 

January 3 – Today we spent the afternoon getting all of Ann’s Christmas decorations down and packed up.  It went faster than ours, but still took time.  

            After we finished at Ann’s we went to Jason’s Deli and had a light dinner.  Then we came back home and watched TV until bedtime.

January 4 – We went to church this morning, then home to relax and read the paper.  Dick went to Best Buy and picked up a new computer monitor for Ann.  Her big screen had died and she is having trouble seeing the small one we dug out of storage for her.  Millie worked the Sunday crossword while he was gone.

            After dinner, we went to Ann’s and Dick got the new monitor set up for her.  She was really happy with it.

            Millie got some pictures of Ann with her beautiful crayon quilt.  The squares in the quilt are actually colored with crayons, and then embroidery embellishments are added.  It is really a beautiful piece. 

January 5 – Today we decided to get started on a project we have been putting off since last spring.  We have a large batch of old photo’s that are Ann’s and need to be preserved.   We spent the day working on getting them in the computer.  They are all now scanned in and Millie is working on getting them dated, etc.  It is quite a project and will take at least another day of work before they are finished.  Then we can store them all on DVD’s. 

            Now that we have started on this project, it is apparent what a job it is going to be to get all of our own done.  We have several large storage boxes of pictures.  It will be our big project for next year. 

            Mary and Frank invited us to dinner this evening.  Mary made a great beef roast, with potatoes and carrots.  It was wonderful and we enjoyed spending a couple of hours visiting with them. 

            On the way home, we stopped at Home Depot to pick up calking for the stained glass window that goes in our door.  Larry at Glass Happy got it repaired and will have it ready for us tomorrow.

January 6 – After breakfast we started running errands. Dick went to get a haircut, then to get propane.

            Next stop was in Katy to pick up the repaired stained glass window.  Larry and Sandy did a great job and it looks like new.  They trimmed down the sides a little so it should fit now with no stress and hopefully will last a long time. 

            Then a trip to the storage unit to take a few things back and pick up a few things we wanted.

            We brought the things back to home and made out our grocery list.  After completing the grocery shopping and getting them put away we did some of our pre-trip chores. 

            We picked up Ann and the three of us went out together for dinner at the Olive Garden.  It was a great evening.  When we got back to Ann’s, she and Millie went through the photos we had scanned and got the unlabeled ones labeled. 

            Mary had called earlier in the afternoon and asked us to stop by on our way home; she had made a cheesecake and wanted to us to have some.  We visited with her and Frank for a while, then home to bed. 

January 7 – Happy 65th Birthday to Dick!  We were up early and got started packing up.  We left the park about 9:45 and headed north on US 59 through Houston.  It was a grey, cloudy day.

            We turned east on I-10 towards Louisiana.  We have driven this stretch of highway many times before, so it nothing was really new to us.

            We stopped for lunch at the Louisiana welcome center, just across the border from Texas, then continued east. 

            Our stop for the night was in Robert, LA at a Passport America park.  Not the best park we have ever stayed in, but ok for a quick stopover. 

            Millie fixed dinner and we watched TV before going to bed.

January 8 – The sound of rain woke us up.  We packed up and left the park.  (One note:  The park had a small group of peacocks.  The cats were really curious to watch them.  Don’t know if it is correct, but we surmise that peacocks don’t like rain.  When it began to rain again, they all ran to a pavilion and got under the cover to sit.)

            We drove to Gulfport, MS and stopped at the Cracker Barrel for a very late breakfast.  Then we went to Long Beach, MS for a visit with Millie’s Aunt Libby Gillespie.  We had a small problem finding her house, but a cell phone call got us there. 

            Aunt Libby will be 90 years old in May and is living in her own home and does a lot of her own housework.  It had been over 30 years since we had seen her and we had a real good visit.  She is the oldest living sibling of Millie’s dad.

            After our visit we again went east on I-10 to Mobile, AL; where we picked up I-65 going north.  It rained all the way.  We stopped for the night at Greenville, AL at a great park.  It would be a nice place to visit again. 

January 9 – Rain again.  We dressed and pulled out of the park about 8:15.  We stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of things, and then walked across the street to Shoney’s to have breakfast.

            We continued on I-65 to Montgomery, AL where we picked up I-85 to Atlanta.  Dick had checked our Streets and Maps software and found a campground close in to downtown.  We had stayed at this park once before, as it was just across the highway from Six Flags.  Well, we got there and the park had closed.  No wonder, it really wasn’t a great park.

            Back on the interstate, we tried the second park on his list.  It was in Austell.  No one in the office when we arrived, we had to wait about 15 minutes for the park manager to get back.  No sewer sites available.  We are staying here 10 days, so we need sewer!  Back on the highway, heading south on I-75 we arrived at Atlanta South RV Resort.  We had stayed here on our very first RV vacation, about 30 years ago.  Then it was a KOA.

We registered and got set up.  It was cold but the rain had stopped. 

            We fixed soup for supper, and then spent the evening relaxing.

January 10 – There was a light dusting of snow when we woke up this morning.  The temperatures didn’t get out of the 30’s all day.

            We drove into Atlanta and found our way to the Cyclorama.  We had tried on 2 other trips here to see this exhibit and both times it was closed.  Today we finally got inside.  This impressive painting is a 360-degree view of “The Battle of Atlanta” during Sherman’s march to the sea.  It was painted about 20 years after the end of the Civil War and exhibited in the round.  It was finally donated to the city of Atlanta and has been on exhibit here since.  The painting is hung in a specially constructed building with a 3-D Diorama in front of it.  This gives the whole scene a 3-D effect.  Seating is in the center of the exhibit and the seating revolves slowly as the narration of the painting is given. 

            The painting itself weighs 1800#, about half of which is the weight of the paint.  It took 10 artists 2 years to paint.   It is painted on linen and is 400’ around by 50’ tall.

            After the narration, we toured the small museum in the building.  Of particular interest was the locomotive “Texas”, one of the locomotives used in the chase of the locomotive “The General” that was highjacked by Union Raiders. 

            The Cyclorama is in Grant Park, which also contains the Atlanta Zoo, but as it was so cold, we opted not to go to the zoo; instead we went into downtown for a tour of Coca-Cola World.

            Coca-Cola World is housed in a 3-story building and is full of exhibits on the history of Coke.  There were several films, one on the history of the drink and a great one showing many of the commercials developed over the years for the company.   The tour ends with a club room where you can sample many of the Coca-Cola company products and of course the gift shop.  We have never seen so many Coke items before!

            We stopped at Chili’s on the way home and ate.  At home, Dick watched a football game and Millie worked on a needlework project and chatted with Ann online.

January 11 – Cold this morning!  The temps were in the low 20’s.  Dick unhooked our water last night so the hose wouldn’t freeze.  The valve on the faucet was frozen when he went out to hook it back up this morning.  It took a while for it to thaw, but thankfully the sun is out.

            After breakfast and reading the paper, we drove south to Callaway Gardens.  Millie had read of a Needle arts show going on there and wanted to go.  She called yesterday and was told it would be starting today.  Well, it was a bust; we couldn’t find anything and no one there seemed to know about it.

            We drove back home by another route, enjoying the rural countryside and passing through several small, old towns.

            Later we went out for a delicious dinner.

January 12 – Nothing exciting today.  We did laundry and cleaned house.  Just the usual type chores.

January 13 – Today we drove into Atlanta and toured the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.  The museum is in a beautiful park like setting not far from downtown Atlanta. 

            We enjoyed looking at all the exhibits of major events during President Carter’s time in office.  One of the items on display was the sweater he wore when he made his fireside address to the nation on the energy crisis.  (Remember the lines for gasoline?  We do, we had a motor home then!) 

            There were also a number of exhibits of gifts given to the Carters during state visits.  Some of them were wonderful to see and we regret that we can’t share them with you.  They were not well lit for photography and no flash was permitted.

            The full-scale replica of the Oval Office was interesting.  In the recording that was played while you visited the room, President Carter said he particularly liked the office when there was a fire in the fireplace. 

            This museum also had a traveling exhibit that we enjoyed viewing.  It is a scale model replica of Mount Vernon, home of President George Washington. 

            This beautiful model took 5 years to build. It is 10 feet long, 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide.    It was done by a group of artisans and craftsmen from around the world.   It is furnished exactly as the house was in 1799, the year that President Washington died.  The attention to detail is fantastic, the doorknobs turn, windows open and drawers of the furniture open.  There is even china that has been painted using a mouse whisker!

            The wonderful part is that specially adapted motors raise and lower two of the facades and the roof so that every room is visible. 

January 14 – Today we headed into downtown Atlanta intending to take a tour of the Georgia State Capitol.  That plan did not take place.  After driving around for 30 minutes trying to find a parking place that our truck would fit in (we won’t fit in parking garages), we gave up and left.  There seems to be very few parking lots in the area.

            We then drove over to the CNN building to take a tour.  We had called and made reservations yesterday.  We found a parking lot right next-door and walked across the street to the Olympic Park.  This is a pretty park that takes up about a city block square.

            After we walked around the park we crossed the street and entered the CNN building.  We were early for our tour but Dick checked and they put us on an earlier tour. 

            We had to pass through security as we began our tour.  Dick had his little pocketknife with him and was required to check it with security, to be retrieved after the tour. 

            Our tour began with a ride up the longest freestanding escalator in the country; it takes you up 8 stories.  We were shown a mock up of a control room, also how the Anchors use a teleprompter and the blue wall used by weather folks. 

            We walked down to another floor and viewed the actual newsroom.  It is a large room with all the personnel in the same room as the broadcast area.  We watched as one of the Anchors did an interview.  Our guide explained to us how the news is gathered and prepared for the air.

            Down more stairs and we were shown the CNN Headline studio, CNN International Studio, CNN Spanish Studio and the studio for the CNN website.  Our tour ended, naturally, at the Turner Store (gift shop).  Photography was not permitted on the tour. 

            Afterward we had a late lunch in the atrium of the building, which has many fast food outlets in a central area.   We walked back to the truck and after a few wrong turns found our way back to I-75 and home.

January 15 – We drove to McDonough this morning to pick up our mail.  This is a pretty little town with a lot of old homes. 

            We then drove north on I-75 and east on I-285 to the Atlanta Exposition Center South.  The Atlanta RV Show began today and we had decided to attend.  We had a great time looking at new RV’s and getting literature on travel destinations. 

            We enjoyed seeing the new RV’s.  Millie particularly liked the floor plan of one 5th wheel that had the living room in the front and the bedroom in the back.   We didn’t see anything that cried “take me home” to us though. 

January 16 – We had not been up long this morning when there was a knock on the door. It was Debbie and Russell.  They had driven straight through from Houston overnight.  As the hotel would not let them check in early, they decided to hunt us up.  Millie made a pot of coffee and we enjoyed a nice long visit.  They left around 10:30 to go to the hotel.  (Chad and Rikki were asleep in the back seat of the car the whole time; they didn’t even know they were here!)

            We decided that today was a day for visiting.  Millie’s old company has an office in Atlanta and works through a public warehouse.  A group called Atlanta Logistics does the shipping arrangements and Millie had worked closely with them.  She had talked by phone since the mid 1990’s but had only met Mark Spain, owner of the company.  She wanted to go by and meet the ladies she had worked with there.

            We found the office of Atlanta Logistics after a couple of false starts.  Mark met us and seated us in his office.  We met Sheila and Susan.  We visited with Mark and the ladies for quite a while.  They were quite interested in our lifestyle and our Alaska trip.  Millie was disappointed that she didn’t get to meet Beverly who had taken the day off.

We enjoyed visiting with these great folks. 

            Earlier in the week Millie had contacted Don Martin, the company rep who lives in Atlanta to see if we could get together with him and Rochelle, his wife.  Millie had seen Don while we were in Houston, but we hadn’t seen Rochelle for 2 years.  Don called back and suggested that we meet at Pitty Pat’s Porch, a restaurant in downtown Atlanta for dinner, so that was our destination for tonight.

            We had a really great evening visiting with Don and Rochelle.  So great, in fact, that we closed the place down. 

January 17 – Today is the first day of the Cheersport National Cheerleading Championships.  Rikki’s team – Texas Lonestar Cheer Senior Large Elite – was not scheduled to compete until 5:30 so we just hung around the house this morning.

            We left around 1:00 and stopped at Chili’s to have lunch.  Then it was into downtown Atlanta to the World Congress Center.  Parking was not easy to find, but we did find a lot we could get into.  With over 800 teams and 19,000 athletes in this competition, there were a lot of folks there.

            Debbie had given us the room number where Rikki’s team would be warming up and we found it.  The Petee family was already there and Rikki’s team was getting ready to warm up.  We watched their practice and got a few photo’s.   After watching, we headed to the competition areas to watch one of the sister teams compete. 

            Rikki’s competition time arrived and we watched them do a great performance.  We also watched some of the other teams in her division.  We all then decided to walk downtown to get something to eat.  No way!  Saturday night with that many folks in town, plus a basketball game, Boat Show and MLK activities, there was at least an hour wait at everyplace we tried.  We decided to try going to the outskirts. 

            We found a Hooter’s and had something to eat.  It was raining pretty hard when we left the restaurant.  It had been misting earlier.

January 18 – It rained quite heavily during the night but cleared up this morning.  We shouldn’t have to carry umbrellas today. 

            As Rikki doesn’t compete until 7:30 tonight, we hung around the house and read the paper.  The team is in first place by 3 points.  After they compete this evening, the scores for the two days will be added together to determine a winner.

            We found a parking spot much easier this evening.  We arrived at the practice area and our family was already there.  We headed to the competition areas to watch the teams in Rikki’s division.  The order had been reversed from the previous evening so we saw the teams we hadn’t seen the night before.  There was a team in this division from Dick’s hometown of Hurricane, WV.  This was the group that our niece, Trina Chandler was a member of for many years. 

            It was looking pretty good for the Texas Lonestar’s when they took the stage.  Most of the other teams had mistakes, so our hopes were high.  About halfway through the routine, however, they dropped a stunt.  Major boo-boo!  We could only hope that the other teams didn’t score as high.

            Awards were made in one of the ballrooms.  What a zoo!  There was only one stairway up to the area and a river of humans streaming up it.  Trying to get everyone into and out of the room was also hectic.  At last the awards for our division were given. 

            When all but first and second were awarded, the Texas Lonestars were still there.  Alas, first was not to be, they received second place.  Rikki was upset that they had lost their winning streak, but we all told her they could always start another streak! 

            After hugs and kisses goodbye, we headed back to the park and the Petee’s started their drive back to Houston.

January 19 – Moving day.  We hitched up and headed south.  We stopped at an outlet mall to do some shopping at a kitchen store.  The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.  We are looking forward to warmer weather. 

            Millie had been corresponding with JerriLea Hopf on the Internet for a couple of years (the-emptynesters.com).  They went full-time about the same time we did.  The ladies had wanted to meet and we learned that they were at Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL.  We decided to surprise JerriLea and spend a couple of nights at the park. 

            We arrived at Suwannee around 4:30.  Dick got us registered and requested a site near the Hopf.  We were given a site right next to them.  JerriLea saw us pull in and thought it looked like our rig.  She got on our webpage and after looking at the photo, determined it was indeed us.  It was fun surprising her.

            After setting up, Millie went over to visit with Ron and JerriLea while Dick worked on getting his satellite system working.

January 20 – Ron and JerriLea came over for a while to visit.  We all decided to drive into town and have lunch at a diner there.  Jay’s had been recommended to the Hopfs by someone at the park. 

            We all enjoyed lunch and visiting.  Then the Hopfs headed to Wal-Mart and we headed north to Valdosta, GA to the outlet mall.  Dick was looking for a lighter weight jacket and Millie wanted some new tennis shoes, both of which we found.  We stopped to fill up with diesel (cheaper here), then back to the park. 

            Millie baked a streusel cake and we had the Hopfs over for an evening of visiting and cake. 

January 21 – We hitched up this morning and after saying our goodbyes to Ron and JerriLea, headed south in I-75.  The sun was out and it was getting warmer all the way.  This is what we have been looking for!

            We had originally intended to stay at the Escapees park just north of Tampa until Friday and then move to Sunburst RV Park where we had reservations.  However, it was early and we decided to continue on to Sunburst and see if they could take us early.

            We stopped north of Orlando and had lunch at the Cracker Barrel.  They had a nice parking lot for RV’s and we had no problem getting in and out of this very busy location. 

            We arrived at Sunburst and were able to check in with no problem.  After getting set up we relaxed for a while.  For dinner Millie wanted pizza and we set out in search of a Pizza Hut.  After much looking we decided our guidebook was not accurate and having seen a sign for Spaghetti Warehouse, we found Old Ybor City and the restaurant.  The food was as good as we remembered and we enjoyed our dinner.

January 22 – 23 – The sun is still shining and we have just been hanging out.  We got everything set up outside and have enjoyed being able to sit out there. 

January 24 – We decided to do some shopping today.  When will we ever learn, not on Saturday!  Now that we don’t have jobs, we can shop during the week when the stores are less crowded. 

            Our first stop was Camping World to pick up some light bulbs for our security lights.  Camping World in Tampa and Lazy Daze RV Sales are together and Lazy Daze was having a big RV Show/Sale.  The parking lot was jammed and lots of folks in the Camping World store.  To top it off, no bulbs. 

            Next was a quick stop at Cracker Barrel (right next door) for a Yankee Candle that Millie wanted.  Nope, they were out.  (Right around lunchtime, so they were packed also.)

            We then followed the directions from the park to Wal-Mart.  Along the way we passed a lot of strawberry fields.  Going to have to stop at one of the produce markets we saw and pick some up.

            Wal-Mart was also very crowded.  We picked up a few things and go out of there.  This location does sell diesel fuel so Dick filled up the tank before we went back home.

January 25 – Did laundry this morning, then spent the afternoon sitting outside reading the paper and relaxing. 

            Late in the afternoon, Dick decided to work on our entertainment center.  Since he has a large chair at his desk, it blocks the view to the TV from our recliners when he is using it.  He removed all the electronics and the shelves they were on.  Then he installed brackets for the shelves in the lower section of the cabinet and got all the electronic components installed.  He then moved the TV to the top section of the cabinet.  Now we can easily see the TV from all the seats in the living room. 

January 26 – Dick decided to pull our bikes off the back of the rig today.  We haven’t had them off since we got back from Alaska and they were really filthy.  Looked like they had half of Alaska on them.  We spent an hour or so getting them cleaned up and oiled. 

            Our next-door neighbors stopped by and we visited with them for about an hour, and then went for a ride on our bikes.  We had called for mail last week, so we stopped by the office and it was in.  We came back home and looked through the mail package.

            Dick decided to replace the solid door in the Pet Patio with one made of Plexiglas so the girls could see us when we are sitting outside.   It took him a couple of hours, but now they have a full view outside.

January 27 – We had a heavy rain overnight, but the sun was out when we got up.  It was also warm.  We opened the windows and enjoyed the nice fresh air. 

            Millie decided to get started on some new bedroom curtains.  She made the bed skirt last year and just hadn’t taken time to do the curtains.  She got them all cut and the hems measured and pressed in.  It took some time.

            Dick talked to Matt at Neeley Coble and our truck should be off the assembly line and waiting for transport to Nashville.  Looks like the target date of late next month will be correct.  Matt said it was snowing in Nashville today.  We are glad to be where it’s warm.  We really hope the weather isn’t bad when we leave to head to Nashville.

January 28 – Millie finished up the bedroom curtains today and we got them hung.  She will make the valances and tiebacks next.  Didn’t do anything else special.

January 29 – Millie decided to go this morning and get a perm and haircut.  While she was gone Dick talked to Matt and our truck has arrived in Nashville.  Our rent here is up on the 21st and that will be just about right for heading north to pick it up.  Dick is getting excited. 

            We made a Wal-Mart run in the afternoon.  Dick grilled chicken breasts for dinner.

January 30 – It is a grey day outside but we decided it was time to get out and do some sightseeing.  We headed south on I-75 to Sarasota. Our destination was the John and Mabel Ringling Art Museum.

            John Ringling was one of the famous brothers who started the Ringling Bros. Circus.  He and his wife built a waterfront home here.  They were big admirers of Venetian art and architecture and built a Venetian style mansion.  John also built an art museum to house their large collection of art.  All of this property was given to the University of Florida by John and is now open for tours.

            Our first stop on the tour was the mansion, Ca d ‘Zon where we were shown the first two floors of the house.  It is an interesting and colorful home.  The back of the house sits right on the bay and it has a beautiful view (additional photos).

            We then toured the Circus Museum.  Some of the beautiful old circus wagons used in the circus parades were on display.  Also some of the costumes used by performers.  We were somewhat disappointed in this museum; it is small and does not have a large collection as we thought it would.

            Millie then toured the Art Museum.  This museum is considered one of the top in the U. S.  One thing that makes it unique, it was built with the art collection in mind rather than the art being collected after the building was built. 

            Millie was able to take a guided tour of the galleries and enjoyed seeing the large and beautiful Baroque and Renaissence paintings.  Of particular interest to her also was a collection of lovely 17th century watches.  So tiny and ornate.

            2 of the galleries are very unique.  They are actual gilded age rooms from the Astor mansion in New York.  The mansion was being torn down and John purchased two of the rooms and installed them in the museum.  One was a reception room with beautiful gold trim and the other was a darker paneled room. 

            It was raining when we made our way back north.  We stopped at Lowe’s in Brandon and then went to dinner at Red Lobster.  The rain was really pouring when we finally got home.

January 31 – A rainy day so we just hung out inside.  Millie did some housekeeping and Dick puttered on his computer.