Monday, April 29, 2013

Z is for Zenda, Kansas

Z was a hard one to come up with some place that we have visited that starts with a Z. We have not visited New Zealand so that wasn't an option. And I have not yet been to Zurich. But here in the state of Kansas we do have a tiny little town named Zenda.

And Zenda is tiny. In the 2010 census there were only  90 residents living inside of 44 households in Zenda.  This little town has dwindled down from the 2000 census when there were 123 people living there. That means that it is a very, very tiny town. I cannot even image what life in this little town would be like.

Zenda, Kansas is located in Kingman County. They have a grade school that educates grades kindergarten through 8th  grade.  They have a municipal building that also houses the towns tiny, but award-winning, library.

The Zenda Jail still stands on Main Street. It is a tiny concrete box with iron rings attached to the floor to shackle the prisoners. It is a safe bet to say this jail has not been used for a number of years.
The town started out being called Rochester, Kansas. But the story is told that because there were so many other towns in the country with the name of Rochester they decided to change the name. The wife of a Santa Fe Railroad conductor  had read the novel "The Prisoner of Zenda" and  thought the name Zenda was nice so  the name was changed.
If you decide that you want to visit Zenda, come look me up. I only live about 50 miles away.

Until next April, that is the end of Blogging from A to Z, the April challenge.
I will be back with a reflections post to let you know what I learned along the way.


Blog Everyday in May

I cannot believe that I am going to do this. But I am. I am going to participate in another blogging challenge. This challenge is being hosted by Jenni at Story of my Life. I don't know Jenni or any of those who follow her. But I do like challenges. And I like to find new blogs to read. And she has posed an interesting group of questions. So here I go....

Here are the rules:

1. There really aren't any rules. If you miss a day, you can make it up or skip it. The blog police will not come knocking.

2. I will be including a linkup option at the bottom of my post each day, so you are welcome to leave your links here for others to peruse, as well. 

3. You can still post other things every day, too. I plan to do normal outfit posts, life posts, around-Austin posts, and sponsor posts just like usual.

4. I'd seriously love you if you also include the "blog every day in May" button (below) either on your sidebar or at the end of your posts, but again, the blog police will not come knocking. My main goal here is to get us all back to the basics of blogging, not to gain a million new readers (though I wouldn't mind that). 

5. Here are the topics. You can be as creative and awesome or as boring and bland as you like with these. Take 'em and run with it. Use creative post titles. Interpret each "prompt" however you like. There's no wrong way to do it. Have fun.

Day 1, Wednesday: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph... no one will be counting your words... probably)
Day 2, Thursday: Educate us on something you know alot about or are good at. Take any approach you'd like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)
Day 3, Friday: Things that make you uncomfortable
Day 4, Saturday: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it
Day 5, Sunday: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don't have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member
Day 6, Monday: If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question, 'what do you do'?
Day 7, Tuesday: The thing(s) you're most afraid of
Day 8, Wednesday: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.
Day 9, Thursday: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)
Day 10, Friday: Most embarrassing moment (s). Spill. 
Day 11, Saturday: Sell yourself in 10 words or less
Day 12, Sunday: What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life...)
Day 13, Monday: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.
Day 14, Tuesday: Ten things that make you really happy
Day 15, Wednesday: A Day in the life (include photos from throughout your typical day - this could be "a photo an hour" if you'd like)
Day 16, Thursday: Something difficult about your "lot in life" and how you're working to overcome it
Day 17, Friday: A favorite photo of yourself and why
Day 18, Saturday: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.
Day 19, Sunday: Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them
Day 20, Monday: Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now.
Day 21, Tuesday: A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives
Day 22, Wednesday: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel. (a pet peeve, a current event, a controversial topic, something your husband or roommate or neighbor or boss does that really ticks you off)
Day 23, Thursday: Things you've learned that school won't teach you
Day 24, Friday: Your top 3 worst traits
Day 25, Saturday: Something someone told you about yourself that you'll never forget (good or bad)
Day 26, Sunday: Something you read online. Leave a link and discuss, if you'd like.
Day 27, Monday: A letter to your readers
Day 28, Tuesday: Only pictures
Day 29, Wednesday: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories. Use Grooveshark or YouTube to include them in the post
Day 30, Thursday: React to this term: Letting Go
Day 31, Friday: A vivid memory

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Meal Plan April 28-May 5

If you are here for the A to Z blogging challenge please scroll down for a Post about our trip to Yellowstone!

Sunday April 28

Corn Dogs
Tomato Soup

Monday April 29

Mashed potatoes/gravy
cheesy broccoli

Tuesday April 30

Wednesday, May 1

Church for kids
Take out for Papa and me

Thursday, May 2


Friday, May 3

Green Bean Soup
Sour Dough Bread

Saturday, May 4

Sunday, May 5

* recipes provided

We are still having cool, wet weather so I want to get in as much soup recipes as I can before summer is upon us. 

Y is for Yellowstone

English: The north gate of the Yellowstone Nat...
English: The north gate of the Yellowstone National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When the boys were much younger , we thought they would get a kick out of a trip to Yellowstone. I had never been to Yellowstone. But, Richard had when he was a young boy; in the 1940's. He had great memories.  And he wanted his boys to have those memories as well. Well things were much different in the 1980's. We had the beginnings of video games. And VCR's were coming out so you could watch movies over and over and over again. But we planned a trip to Yellowstone.

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park (Photo credit: chuq_ui)
Old Faithful Geyser erupts approximately every...
Old Faithful Geyser erupts approximately every 91 minutes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yellowstone National Park is mostly in the state of Wyoming. But some of it does extend into Idaho and Montana. This is the first National Park in America and was established in 1872. It is even believed to be the first national park in the whole world. Yellowstone is huge; about 3500 square miles of lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. The Continental Divide runs diagonally through the park. In my opinion what makes Yellowstone so awesome are the volcanoes that continue to erupt in the park on a regular basis. THe most famous of all of these geysers is Old Faithful. It was so amazing to stand and wait, and wait, and then watch as the geyser erupted into the air. Old Faithful erupts approximately once every 91 minutes.

The park is filled with plants and wildlife. They say there is approximately 60 different species of mammals living in the park. There are bears, bison, deer, elk, goats, sheep, lions, lynx just to name a few. We saw bear and bison and lots of deer, elk, and moose. Made for some pretty interesting drives through the park.

We stayed in a cabin in the park while we were there. If you ask my boys (even to this day) what they remember most about our trip to Yellowstone, it will be check-in day at the lodge. When we arrived at the Lodge, my husband parked the car and got out. It had been a long drive and both boys got out immediately also. But they were already running around excitedly waiting for Richard to catch up. But Richard had stopped and bent to the ground to pick something up. They were not at all interested in what he had found. They just wanted him to hurry. What had he found, you ask? A $50.00 bill lying right there on the ground next to the car. Of course he wanted to do the right thing and make this into a lesson for our kids. So when he got to the lodge he told the person checking him in that he had just found it on the ground and had anyone  had reported they had lost a fifty-dollar bill. The guy looked at my husband like he was crazy, but he agreed to hold on to it until the next day and if no one claimed it then it would be ours. Well no one claimed it! But do my boys remember the geyser, the bison, the bears, or the mountains. Nope. They remember finding that $50. And they spent the rest of the vacation looking on the ground every time we stopped the car.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Caring for the Parkinson's Patient

I have known and loved my husband for more than 35 years. When we met I had two sons ages 6 and 2. When we first moved in together the boys were 7 and 3. That was a long time ago. He is the only father these two boys ever knew. He helped me raise them. And they love him as much as I do. He has Parkinson's Disease and is in the end stage of this disease. It sucks! But life is what it is. And we deal with it the best way we can. And it is heart breaking!

As I have said in previous posts (here and here) about Parkinson's, it is a disease that occurs when your brain stops making dopamine. Dopamine is what is needed to help your body move. And it affects your mood. Parkinson's disease is progressive and there is no cure.

If you are the caregiver for a patient with Parkinson's you need to be prepared . Just like the Boy's Scouts! Be Prepared!. There is a lot of information out there that will explain to you what you are to expect as your loved one progresses through the stages. You will have to make a commitment not only to your Parkinson's patient, but to yourself that this is something you can do. And it takes a FULL commitment. Because it is a hard job.

You are going to have to assess your environment. It will be a good thing if you can do this far in advance just so that you are prepared. I did not do anything to prepare our home. Our house is a single story house on a cement slab so we have few steps to deal with. However there is one step into the garage and one step off the front porch. We also have what was called a 'sunken living room' and it has one step down into the room. Our doorways fit a standard size wheelchair. But it is a snug fit. We have a shower in one of the bathrooms and a tub in the other bathroom. The shower has a glass door entrance and a tiny door to enter into that bathroom. So far we are managing without removing the glass doors. However, I am sure that will happen in the future.

You need to be able to go to all appointments at the doctor with your loved one so that you are both hearing the same thing. If your Parkinson's patient is anything like my husband, he was in denial for the first few years and didn't always come home and tell me the 'exact' truth that the doctor was telling him. There were a lot of omissions.

Start now to assess the financial situation. In my husband's case, when he had his stroke in 2011, it was necessary for me to quit my full-time nursing job to stay home and take care of him. This was a BIG financial burden for us because we had simply not planned for this to happen when it did. Do that NOW. Also, make sure you have all your papers in order: Power of attorney, power of health care, do not resuscitate orders (if that is your choice) insurance papers. Almost all of our possessions are in both are names so that has not been a big problem for us. But if yours are not and your loved one becomes incapacitated before you are ready for that you are going to have big problems.

Take care of Yourself. This is the hardest one for me. I am a control freak. I want to be his caregiver all the time. And he wants me too. But if you are tired and run-down you cannot be the best caregiver. Take breaks if you can. Get someone to sit with your loved one while you go out to dinner, to the grocery store, to a movie. Whatever you need to do to get away. It is challenging to take care of someone 24 hours a day; 7 days a week. And that is what a Parkinson's patient needs.

Get help. I have finally done this one by signing him up with Hospice. Our doctor wrote the order for hospice and they are a big help. It is part of the Medicare benefit. It is free. And Hospice is wonderful. They will provide all of the supplies, medications, and moral support you need. You can ask them for anything.
I think the most important thing you need to do when giving full time care to a Parkinson's patient is to maintain your relationship. Whether it is your husband, your wife, father, or mother. As the disease progresses your roles may well change. I have become the strong, independent head of household. Not a postition I ever wanted. But it is what has happened. And keep laughing. You will find plenty to laugh about and maintaining a good sense of humor sometimes is all you can do in such a sad situation.

I understand there are many good support groups out there. So far I have not found it necessary to find one. That is just 'not me'. But if you are the type of person who needs that kind of support go find yourself a group. My support group comes in the form of my kids, my brothers, and my grandkids. We have some good friends that continue to offer moral support. But whatever you find, you need a lot of emotional support to care for the Parkinson's patient.

Parkinson's is a cruel and nasty disease. Be prepared!


I have seen my food planning idol at Eat at Home blog follow up her food plan and how it worked with real life. I recently had a new follower, Nina Gray, whose blog Nothing I have just started to follow ask me if I would do a follow up to let her know how well I followed the plan. So that is what I am going to try to do now on Mondays. It will be my HOW MY MEAL PLAN WORKED WITH REAL LIFE post. Please follow to see how I do.

I didn't really do a special shopping trip for this past week so my meal plan needed to use up the things I had in the freezer and the pantry. On Sunday we DID have the biscuits and gravy. We got to spend a very restful Sunday afternoon taking naps and I sure wasn't in the mood to cook a big meal. The kids like it when granny fixes breakfast for supper.

On Monday we DID do the Crispy Taco Skillet. It was only a hamburger helper doctored up with chips, salsa and sour cream. Was heartily eaten by all. The kids especially liked it.

On Tuesday, I fixed Chicken and Dumplings. Now I did change up the recipe a bit because of things I did have and things I did not have. I put the chicken along with a can of cream of onion soup and a jar to turkey gravy into the crock pot before I went to bed on Monday night. I also cut up some celery and carrots into large chucks and added that on a low cook all night long. Let me tell you the smell of that cooking made sleeping difficult. Then I realized that I did not have any canned biscuits to use since we used them on Sunday night for the biscuits and gravy. So about 30 minutes before I served the chicken and dumplings, I put chicken broth on the stove and brought it to a boil and made dumplings from Bisquick mix and cooked them and then added to the chicken mixture in the crock pot. Oh my. Tasty! This dish was a hit with everyone. I promised my younger son who comes every week to visit that I would save him a dish and I tried, I really, really did.

On Wednesday's we take the kids to their youth activities at church. They always have a meal there. So Papa and I eat out. Well actually we order take-out and eat a home. This time we chose Long John Silvers. Fish for me and shrimp for Papa. Yum! (But a tad greasy).

Thursday the hospice nurse was here late. I forgot Darian's therapy appointment I didn't get the steak into the crock-pot this morning. So instead we had Saturday's dinner tonight. Sloppy Joe's. Everyone was happy!

Friday evening our son and grand daughter were here and we followed the meal plan. And if you have never tried a roast from Schwan's then you don't know what you are missing. The best roast beef ever. It was a bit pricey but when you consider there is no bone and NO fat it was worth every penny.

Saturday we skipped the meal plan all together and went out for 'greasy' hamburgers and curly fries with shakes. Yum Good! Sometimes you just have to eat this junk.

So there you go. That is how this week went. We did pretty good with following the plan. I haven't even started to compose this weeks plans. Off to start working on it. Tell you meal plan? And how did your week go?

X is for XTRA-Special!

Because I can not think of any place that we have ever visited that starts with the letter 'X', I will talk about our visit to the Yucatan in Mexico that I found to be 'Xtra-special'.  We visited the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on a day trip away from our resort. And what a visit it was. Just very hard to imagine how things were in those times. Can you imagine how life was back then?

This is one of the most visited sites in Mexico. You cannot climb on it or even touch it any longer. But when we were there in the early 1990's you could still climb the structure and we did. It was hard. The steps are small and straight up and there are no handrails. But I am glad that we climbed even though I thought I would die before I got to the top. I was still a smoker back then.
This image was selected as a picture of the we...

We did not have a guide. I am sure this would have made this more interesting but we chose not to hire one. So we mainly just walked around gawking like tourist do and reading in our travel books about this amazing pyramid like structure. 

Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza (Photo credit: Mike_fleming)

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

W is for Wisconsin

We made a trip to Wisconsin a number of years ago and visited one of the strangest places I have ever been; The House on the Rock that is located near Iowa County, Wisconsin. It has a very unique design that is often associated with the name of Frank Lloyd Wright, but was designed by Alex Jordan Jr. It is said that the House was built to spite Frank Lloyd Wright for some infraction supposedly he said against the designer.

Almost from the moment we entered the House, we felt overwhelmed. The place was crazy. The rooms were packed with collections of different kinds. The rooms were dusty. There were broken windows. There was apparent water damage. And there was tons and tons of STUFF. We wandered from room to room and I think that in every room in that entire house I must have muttered 'this is the weirdest thing I have ever seen'.

There are rooms filled with musical instruments that are playing (or the seem like they are playing;it is really just music piped in while the instruments are rigged to appear to be playing). There are rooms filled with dolls and doll houses. There is even a room with a full sized carousel present. Walking on your self- guided tour you will see lots of different things. And it would take days to explore it the proper way, I am sure. One day was enough for me.

You can take a walk through the Infinity Room, which is the long hallway type room that juts out over the rock and hangs in the air above the tree filled valley below. There are over 3,000 windows for you to look out. I found this to be so scary  that I didn't even make it half-way before I had to turn and go back. The views however were spectacular.

I have thought back of this museum over the years since our visit, and I still find it to be overwhelming and crazy. You should go visit it some time just to see what I mean.

If you are interested in seeing more of the House on the Rock go here and view the photo gallery.

For those of you following my Parkinson's series please scroll to the post below that is about Muhammad Ali

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Muhammad Ali and Parkinson's Disease

I done wrassled with an alligator. Tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightening, threw thunder in jail. I murdered a stone, I hospitalised a brick, I'm so mean I make medicine sick.
-       Muhammad Ali
History's most famous athlete was as nimble with word play as he was fleet of foot. He dazzled opponents and global audiences alike with his athleticism in the ring and his unflappable verbosity outside of it.
Gradually these trademark characteristics began to fade. His lightening reflexes slowed. His speech became impaired. His mind was still sharp, but his rhymes failed to dance off his tongue as readily as they once had. Over the years his body co-operated with his mind less and less. Explosive footwork slowed to a deliberate shuffle. A flight of stairs or a car door became as daunting a physical challenge as 15 rounds with Joe Frazier. The famous Mississippi Mouth became barely audible. Ali had fallen victim to a merciless, cruel opponent- Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease attacks the central nervous system, reducing the brains ability to co-ordinate movement. The brain does its best to give instructions but the message gets lost in translation. This results in unimaginable frustration for the sufferer and ultimately renders the individual a prisoner in his or her own body.

This except was taken from I think it explains Parkinson's very well.

V is for Venezuela


English: Las Mercedes, Caracas. Venezuela.
English: Las Mercedes, Caracas. Venezuela. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In 1996 when our cruise ship docked in Caracas, Venezuela it was exciting to know that we were going to experience a major South American City. We docked at the port La Guiara. I recently read that they are no longer using that port due to some problems they experienced with the collapse of some of the structures supporting the port. It is also advised that tourists not even visit this town due to many assaults on tourists day or night. We did not have any problems while we were there. Of course, we did see the many machine- gun armed army men walking around the streets. That is such a unnerving sight for an American girl to see.
Two of our fellow passengers took a shore excursion into the city to see all of the sites of Caracas. The rest of us chose to take a coastal jeep tour with a very nice, non-English speaking, fellow by the name of Jorge. Jorge had plenty of American music cassettes that we all sang along with, including Jorge , but he did not speak much English otherwise. We hooked up with Jorge in Caracas and started our jeep tour along the coast . This was one of the most beautiful and exciting tours I have ever been on. We bumped along an uneven, rocky road, singing loudly to the tunes of the Beach Boys and the Beatles. It was awesome.
After about 40 minutes of bumping along the coastal edge with Jorge pointing here and there to different things for us to see, we stopped at a beach area. We spent a couple of hours on the beach and in the ocean. This was one of the best times I ever had playing in the ocean surf. Even when the under tow threatened  to pull my swimsuit bottom off and away. Thankfully I was able to hang on to it and prevent a very embarrassing run to the cabana after my swim. Those crashing waves along the Venezuela coast always bring me a loving and enjoyable memory of my trip to Venezuela. 

After we left Caracas, we sailed to the island of Curacao.This is not at all a part of Venezuela; just near-by.  It is  a Dutch island with building structures much like you would find in the Netherlands but they are painted in the most beautiful pastel colors and that is what I think of when I think of Curacao. While in Curacao we visited a liqueur distillery that made the famous Curacao Liqueur distilled from the bitter Laraha orange. I couldn't resist bringing home a bottle.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

He has left the Denial behind

In a recent post of mine (here) I talked about the stages of death and dying. I talked about how these stages affected me, not Richard. We made a big step this week towards Richard moving through the stages. And it has not been fun. Well, whoever thought death was fun. I have read my share of books and self-help crap that deals with death and dying and I am going to tell you that going through it yourself is NOT the same as reading about it.

Richard has been stuck in the first stage of the Kubler-Ross Model for some time. I think he has been there since his diagnosis with Parkinson's in 2006. I know he was in denial when he had a stroke in 2011. He has been in denial about all of this. And that is hard, when you cannot help someone to accept that this is what is going on in their life. According to Kubler-Ross it is this first stage, denial, that helps a person learn to cope with the fact that they are dying. And it helps them to survive. And it is really, really hard when everyone in the family is not on the same level. And that is where we have been.

This past week, however, I think that we hit the milestone. It was late in the evening (actually closer to midnight) when suddenly he started to cry. And cry. And cry. Finally I was able to understand what it was that he was crying about. He said, "I am not going to beat this, am I?" "I am not going to get better" and "I am dying."  It was very sad. It is always hard to watch a grown man cry. My husband, thank God, is not one of those macho men who would never dream of crying in front of people. Over the years he has unashamedly shed tears for a variety of reasons. He is very patriotic, so anything to do with the National Anthem or our American flag will bring a tear to his eye. A thoughtful, heartfelt deed by a loved one has brought a tear to his eye. The unexpected kiss and hug with an "I love you Papa" will always bring a tear to his eye. But this was deep, down in the chest sobbing. And all I could do was hold his hand and pat his leg. I felt so helpless.

After the crying was over and we were settled back into his chair for the night we talked for a long time about what was in the future. How we would take care of him here at home. I promised him he would stay with us until the end. That was one of his biggest fears. I reassured him we would keep him happy and comfortable. I tried to tell him that the kids and I will be okay. That we are strong. That we will miss him terribly but that we will be able to go one. He knows that he is loved. And that is what is most important at this time.

It is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people
living empty, purposeless lives; for when you live as if you'll live
forever, it becomes too easy to postpone the things you know that you must do.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

U is for....US Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay on St. John
Trunk Bay on St. John (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a group of islands that lie in the Caribbean and mostly consist of St. Thomas, St John, and St. Croix. These islands are owned by the U.S. therefore the reason for the name. We visited St. Thomas and St. John in 1996. This was my first visit ever to the islands and when and where I fell in love with the beach. There was one glorious afternoon spent lying on a beach towel right here on Trunk Bay, where I left my heart. Not a more beautiful place in the whole world in my opinion. The sun was shining brightly above and a soft breeze blew off the ocean. I soaked in the smells of salt and sea and I quietly began the longest lasting love affair of my life. The sand was so warm and white. I scooped up a bit in an empty cigarette package to bring home with me. Thus began my collection of sand from the beaches that I have visited. The sound of the surf gently lapping at the shore is the backdrop to every romantic dream I find myself having. Have I mentioned how much I love the beach? I have made my friend promise me that when I die she will carry my ashes to Trunk Bay, on St. John Island, and leave me behind!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Meal Plan April 21 to April 27

Sunday, April 21

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

Monday, April 22

Crispy Taco Skillet

Tuesday, April 23

Chicken and Dumplings

Wednesday April 24

Church night
kids eat at church Papa and I get take-out

Thursday, April 25

Swiss Steak
Cheesy Potatoes

Friday, April 26

Pot Roast
mashed potatoes and gravy
Cheesy broccoli

Saturday, April 26

Sloppy Joes
fruit salad

T is for Tennessee


I have been to, and through, Tennessee several times. It is one of those states that it seems like you have to drive through to get anywhere. And a drive through the Smokey Mountains can be so beautiful. When our boys were young we were on  a vacation one summer and  we were driving through the Smokey Mountains, when there along  the side of the road we found a mama black bear and two cub babies. Not a site you see very often from the car. 

One of my favorite places to visit when in Tennesse is Gatlinburg. I love to walk along the streets and visit the loop of shops, galleries, studios, and museums. I visited Gatlinburg long before Branson ever became the tourist trap that it now is. There is just no comparison. If you get tired of shopping just find a bench to sit on and watch the people or gaze into the mountains. Who could ever get tired of that?


I remember that there was a tiny, tiny church in Gatlinburg that I used to wish Richard and I would get married in. But when the time came we chose to be married at San Isabel, Colorado.
This is the wall that surrounds Graceland and is COVERED in graffitti

We also paid a visit to Graceland while in Memphis.  But once we got there and saw what kind of prices they wanted to charge just to see inside his home, I was just as happy to stroll along the fence in front of Graceland and read all of the things that people have written on the brick wall out front. Let me tell you, those Elvis fans are a bit crazy. Now, don't get me wrong; I loved Elvis. But, I don't think I was ever that crazy.
Ryman Auditorium *wikipedia*

We also visited Nashville. Who would pass up a trip to see the Grand Ole Opry? I don't know what I was expecting but I was kind of disappointed. We did not see a show. Maybe that would have made it feel more like the country music capitol that I expected to find. The auditorium at that time sat in the middle of a theme park. I understand that the park is no longer there. Maybe that would help! Just something I expected to be a bigger deal than what it was. Do you ever have expectations like that? 

Years after we had been to Gatlinburg with our kids we visited with friends. We rented a house tucked up in the moutains. There was an outdoor hot tub that we sat in during the day and enjoyed the serenity of the Smokies. But it was those cool, crisp moutain-air nights in the hot tub, star-gazing and smelling the burning wood of our fire near by that burns in my memories. Ahhhhh Gatlinburg!

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S is for Sydney

Sydney, Australia

Ah here we are are to Sydney! We had talked about going to Sydney for as long as I can remember. It was to be the start of a wonderful, long planned, 32-day  vacation to celebrate the end of my husband's working years and the beginning of his retirement. He had worked for Eaton Corporation, (what used to be Cessna Fluid Power for 38 years).We took this long planned trip with friends, so we were able to share the experience. 

After an 18 hour flight we arrived at the airport in Sydney and was taken to our hotel in the downtown area. A very nice hotel I do say.  We were going to be in the Sydney area for 3 days before we boarded our ship to sail towards our final destination of Bangkok, Thailand.

We took some land excursions while on this 3 day stay that will forever be in my memory. We went into the Outback. We took a River excursion on a dry creek bed where the guide cooked a meal for us and taught us how to throw a boomerang. We also chased  kangaroos through a field  with the jeep.

 Fun times. A trip to Ayers Rock is something that one will never forget. It was while at Ayers Rock we met the Aborigines and the flies. 

Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru, is a big
sand formation sitting in the Northern Territory. Uluru is a sacred place to the Aborigines of the area. This huge sand formation is known for changing colors throughout the day. What we saw was mostly the red color in the latter part of the day. It almost glows as the sun sets.
We did not climb the rock but there were plenty of
visitors who were climbing. It is a big tourist attraction. Besides meeting some of the Aborigine people and seeing them preform their dances and play the didgeridoo, my other memory of Ayers Rock is the flies. About a billion buzzing, annoying, always in your face, Australian Black flies. And they were everywhere. We bought hats that had the mosquito nets to cover our faces and they still drove us out of our minds. It was hot. And humid. And they wanted to suck the moisture right off of you. I think this is without a doubt the first thing that pops into my mind. Those annoying, buzzing, biting flies.

While we were in Sydney in March of 2000, the city was preparing for the Summer Olympics. We toured the facility and other areas that would be hosting the games. It was very interesting to see this side of what goes on to prepare a city for such a big event.

Sailing out of the Sydney Harbor we passed under the Sydney Harbor Bridge and sailed by the magnificent Sydney Opera House.

*wikipedia* Harbour Bridge

English: A exposure blended photo of the Sydne...
English: A exposure blended photo of the Sydney Opera House, as viewed from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.l (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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