June 26, 2019 – Rock Climbing Gym

My Nephew Jonathan invited us to visit the climbing gym where he is working this week. (He works for the parent company and visits multiple sites.)

Check out Earth Treks Climbing Gym https://www.earthtreksclimbing.com/

I was standing at the front desk while Andrew and George changed to the issued climbing shoes. The place was so much larger than I was expecting.

We expected that they would be climbing using a harness and ropes. However, all the belaying-qualified staff was busy with a large group of young teens. So, Andrew and George were only able to use the “cave” as Jonathan called it. There were no ropes or harnesses, but there was a springy floor to break and falls.

It looked really, really hard! How is anyone supposed to be able to climb and hang on to that? Andrew and George did manage to do a bit of it.

Grandpa watched.

The group of young teens (and all the staff) were in the area adjacent to us.

Andrew took a swinging jumping attack to this section but did not get any higher.

I was happy there was a soft, bouncy floor when he landed.

June 24, 2019 – Prince Frederick, MD – Crabs

Sister Barbara signed us up for a painting party/class. I had no idea what to expect.

The event was held in a very large garage behind an even larger house that already had a three-car garage. There were about thirty women in attendance. First, we chatted and nibbled on the spread of food laid out in the garage kitchen.

The instructor had already painted a version of our artwork. I was concerned that I would never be able to draw a crab. I didn’t need to. She provided us with a line drawing on a sheet of paper and a sheet of carbon paper.

We painted the background boards first. I was pleased with how mine turned out. A little dab of two or three colors on the brush and, voila!, wood grain. I drew the lines between the boards with a fat Magic Marker and a ruler.

Next, we traced the crab onto the dried background, nibbling more snacks while the paint dried. We also walked around to check out everyone else’s work. All that was left was to paint the crab. For those who don’t know, that is part of the Maryland state flag on the crab’s shell. That crab/flag has become the defacto state logo. It is on everything these days. (I got the t-shirt.)

It was tedious work. The instructor had provided us with a Papa brush, a Mama brush, and a baby brush. The baby brush was too big for parts of the task, and our flags were messy. Most of us did not have our paintings finished at the end of the party. So, I went out the next morning and bought a set of small brushes in the toy aisle of the drug store. Barbara and I painted our masterpieces for the next two days. Brother-in-Love Tom took our pictures when we were satisfied that the paintings were done.

Since we are now artists, I suggested that we paint some rocks. Barbara went outside and found a few for us to paint, and we got to work. I didn’t take pictures of those before burying mine in the RV. Barbara’s rock was not done. Later.

June 19, 2019 – Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia

The U.S. Civil War (1861 to 1865) did not completely end at Appomattox Courthouse. It is where General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, of 1865. It was the beginning of the end, I suppose. There were several more battles in the west after that.

Appomattox Courthouse

The courthouse did not play a major role in the surrender, but that is the name of the place. I’ve also read “Appomattox Station” somewhere. It is a very small village, a collection of buildings really. I was amazed that the modern town is a mile or so away and this location has been preserved much like it was a hundred fifty-four years ago.

The visitor information center is in the courthouse. We looked at exhibits and watched a movie about the events leading up to the surrender. There was not so much of a battle as a rush to food supplies for Lee and the effort to cut him off from Grant.

It was interesting to me to learn of Abraham Lincoln’s instructions to General Grant before the anticipated surrender. He wanted the event to be “gentlemanly” (my term) and for the Union forces to be kind to the Confederates. They had even carried a printing press with them to print “paroles” for the Confederate soldiers to carry with them when they left for home. The common soldiers were allowed to keep their rifles and horses, essential for farming life in those days.

Clover Hill Tavern, Appomattox Virginia

Our next stop was Clover Hill Tavern where some young soldiers and a newspaperman were sitting on the front porch.

The Union soldier told us about the events and deferred often to the Confederate soldier who lived in the village.

Union Soldier
Confederate Soldier

We stepped inside the tavern for a look around. Another young man was printing paroles for the freed Confederate soldiers to carry with them on their way home. I forgot to keep a copy as a souvenir.

Printing Press

We arrived late in the day and did not have time to look at everything, so we headed directly to the McLean House, where the actual surrender took place.

McLean House

I guess this room is the parlor (left side). Only a few items in the house are original, but General Lee sat at a table similar to this one, according to drawings, paintings, and records of the meeting.

General Grant sat to the right of the fireplace at a simple wooden table. His boots were muddy. General Lee was dress splendidly.

The rest of the house was furnished with period pieces.

Dining Room
Summer Kitchen Behind House
Slave Quarters
Slave Quarters
Road Through the Village

June 16, 2019 – Cosby Campground – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We could not get our act together in the morning but made it to Cosby Campground in the afternoon to visit with campground hosts extraordinaire, Debbie and Clyde.

Luck for us, Spence arrived to help Linda clean in Cosby and then Boss Larry arrived at the end of his work day in Elkmont. Larry took this picture. Linda ran and hid from the cameras. It was so good to visit with some of our best park friends.

Everyone was a bit discouraged by the funding and staff cutbacks that are negatively affecting the park. Spence lamented that Big Creek is a mess since he does not spend as much time there anymore.

June 15, 2019 – On The Road Again!

We had planned to leave at the beginning of May and finally escaped the medical profession’s grasp about six weeks later. Daughter Kathy came to help out for the last round and also finished Brother Paul’s house. Then, Son Mike arrived to help Kathy move the last few things out of the house. It was sold on June 14. Kathy and Mike were on their way to collect some furniture from a storage unit and drive to Virginia. Andy and I left for our summer road trip.

We spent our first night at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Madison, Georgia (one of the prettiest little towns ever). Andy’s goal was to get pancakes for breakfast. He got them this morning, and we headed for the Smokies.

Of course, we forgot to pack a few things, so we made a Walmart stop in Commerce, Georgia. The number one item was some clippers so I could cut Andy’s hair. We left the phone’s car charger in the car. I can’t believe we didn’t pack Band-Aids. Gotta keep Johnson & Johnson in business. Then, I had intended to buy a small hand-held vacuum cleaner for the RV last year. Got it today.

We are spending a few days in the Tana-See Campground in Newport, Tennessee. I only took four photos today. Here is Scamp in our site.

Andy was lounging and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Here is the haircut. I told him I cut all the black off but there is actually a good bit left, albeit very short.

May 30, 2019 – Scoring Cement

A pile of nice white sand had been dumped in front of the neighboring house when I came out the front door this morning. I knew that meant they were getting ready to build the concrete block walls. That did not happen today.

Later, I heard some noise and went outside to investigate. This man was scoring the cement slab with a huge circular saw. He used a two-by-four board to keep his line straight.

The saw was huge!! My picture does not show just how big it is. Sorry for the pipes sticking up in front of it. The man did not place the saw for me to take its portrait.

And that brings us to the point in the house construction Andy and I discovered on July 20, 2017. Here is the great cloud photo with Andy standing on his future office in the foreground.

I was thrilled to capture the process to this point.

May 29, 2019 – Pouring Cement Slab

This is one of the most exciting days with so much activity and a large crew. The cement pumper truck added to it. The pumper truck was sitting outside at about six a.m. when we headed out for our walk. When we got back, half an hour later, things were in full swing. The long arm of the hose was poised over the house.

Two cement trucks were behind the pumper, pouring cement into a hopper.

Here is a closer, if not clearer, look at the cement sliding into the pumper hopper.

This is “Hard Hat/Sun Hat”, who also worked on our house. I marveled at the styrofoam insulation brim he had added to his hard hat and took several pictures of him. Since then, whenever we see him working on another house, I honk the car horn and we wave to him. Andy calls him my boyfriend. We have never spoken to each other except to say hello or hola.

Here, he was poised and waiting for the cement to pour out.

The cement began to come out of the hose.

The large man to the left was the pumper-truck man. He was controlling where the hose when with two joysticks strapped to his body. I suppose he was also turning the cement flow on and off during the process.

The sun was just rising.

His name is Jim and he was extremely chatty, for a person concentrating on pouring cement through a gigantic hose.

I like the way his control panel is wearable.

The first step was to pour around the perimeter of the house to form the foundation/footer. Then they poured the interior.

The young, buff, handsome man in the red hardhat was aiming the hose.

These two, ankle deep in cement, were spreading and smoothing as he poured.

My boyfriend had what looked like the back-breaking job of smoothing the cement with a long board.

The handsome dude noticed me taking a picture of him and gave me a half smile. I didn’t get that picture.

The sun popped up over the neighboring house, but this is the only picture I have of the man smoothing the cement again with a super-long-handled spreader.

When they finished the house interior, they poured the patio in back.

When the job was done, the pumper truck man folded up his boom hose.

Then he demonstrated to us how he cleans his hose. Yes, it is a child’s toy ball wrapped in a plastic shopping bag. The suction from the truck sucked the ball through the hose, cleaning out the residual cement as it went.

All poured. Two little tractors came rearranged the dirt around the outside of the house.

Two hours later, after the cement had had time to set up a bit, this man ran his machine over the surface. I looked like a big fan, with blades swirling around.

It was all very hard work on a hot day. I hope they are paid well for their labor.