Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge and Judy

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Saturday is moving day for many and we said good bye to NOMADS Eldon and Linda.
 We interrupted their departure long enough to talk a minute and snap a photo.
They are headed for a month in Florida before they go back home to Illinois.

Yesterday was a beautiful day and we decided to go take a look at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Natural Wildlife Refuge run by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  It is in Gautier, MS which is about 10 miles from where we are staying.

This was our first time to see a USFWS Refuge.  It is free, has a small visitor center and is on property that is very well maintained.
Inside the Visitor's Center, we looked at the displays and watched a short 14 minute video about the refuge.
The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1975 and the first refuge to be authorized in the U.S. by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  The Mississippi Sandhill crane thrives in a semi-open wet habitat that are on acidic-water logged soil known as savannas.  

By the mid-1950's this area was purchased and large savanna tracts were converted into pine tree plantation logging forests.  This created havoc with the savannas and the eco system of the sandhill cranes who were on the verge of extinction.  By the 1960's only 30-35 birds could be found.

After the creation of the refuge and restoring the environment to its previous savanna state, the area now is home to over 100 of the rare birds.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard from Judy who writes Travels with Emma.  She indicated she was going to be a volunteer here and wondered if we could get together.  We talked with Fonda at the Visitor Center and Judy had arrived a few days earlier.  She was waiting for us after we watched the short video.

It is always great to meet new blog friends.
She invited us over to her campsite which was about 100 yards away.
Both she and Pam are getting over some illnesses so we didn't stay long.  As you might suppose, she mentioned our visit on her blog just as I am doing here...

We didn't want to overdo it so after we stopped by WalMart we headed back to the Roadrunner.  Pam is feeling better but not at 100% yet and I am fighting off what ever she had.  So far so good but it was a nice afternoon chill out.  I opened the windows and doors and let the mid-60 degree breeze blow through the coach while we watched my man Phil play some good golf.

That's it for the Roadrunner Chronicles today.  Thanks for viewing!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hanging Out With the NOMADS

We have been here three weeks and are almost getting 'hitch itch'.  After a while we get the itch to move on down the road.  We pulled out the map and have made some reservations for the next couple of weeks after we leave here.

But the last three weeks here have been good ones.  We have enjoyed our time here at Caswell Springs UMC.
This is one of those big beautiful churches in the South that catches your eye.
Inside on Wednesday nights they open the kitchen and feed about 100 people including us.  (On Mondays some ladies in the church cook a lot of food and take it to the homeless in the area.  They make enough for the rest of us on Wednesday night for a donation.)
Then after church every Sunday we all go out for lunch.  Here is the group at a catfish restaurant not far from where we are staying.

We haven't done this enough but, last Saturday night Patty got us all together for a game night.  Usually we are all pretty tired for games, but we decided to give it a try and it worked out great.
Roger and Donna are setting some of the munchies on the food table.
Linda, Lil, Chic, Kyoko and Dawn are chatting.
Don is showing Bob and Eldon pictures of the train that got weighed down with too much coal which burned up the wheels and cause it to come off the tracks.
 Lil is showing Chic and Patty her afghan while Jim, Bob, Don and Larry are in the background.
 I sat down at this table and played 'Sequence' with Jean, Larry and Eldon.  Jerry was explaining the finer details of Mexican Train to Donna, Linda, Kyoko, Patty and Chic.
It was a fun couple of hours except Pam came down with the bug.  In fact she was down with it all last week and stayed in the Roadrunner to recuperate.

We also get together to say goodbye.  Each week we have someone leaving and others coming to take their place.  Here Jean, Jane, Chic, Jim and Ricci took a quick photo as we said good bye to Jane and Ricci.
And after our dinner at the Pizza Place last week it was good bye to Patty and Bob.
The night before they left, they called for some propane to be delivered so a lot of us jumped on that and took our turn getting filled up.  We waited for the delivery and another get together broke out.
 Eldon, Don, Larry, Marley, Hank, Jim, Dawn, Chic, Patty, Jean (hidden) Pam and Nancy were there.  It was the first time Pam had been outside in four days.  She is getting a little better each day.
 Patty, Nancy, Jean, Pam, Chic, Dawn, Jim, Marley, Hank, Larry, Bob, Eldon (hidden) and Don from another angle wait for the truck.

The propane truck stayed for about thirty minutes which was enough time to fill two motor homes and three bottles.  It was very convenient and worked out great.

This week we tried a different restaurant for our Thursday 'Night on the Town'.  We went to nearby Hurley and ate at El Capesino Mexican Restaurant.
Everyone is studying their menus intently.

It was a very pleasant surprise but I really enjoyed my enchilada, chalupa, tamale, beans and rice.  Who would guess you can get excellent Mexican food in Hurley, Mississippi?

As I have said we have met a lot of folks we hope will become life long friends.  We like to work with these guys and we like to get  together with them and have had quite a few opportunities to do that while we have been here.

That's a quick look at some of the ways we get together.  Hope you all have a great week end.  And thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Visit with Al

I met Al when I started running in Fairfax with Gil.

Gil was an inspiration to me because he is 10+ years older than me and in great shape.  He encouraged me to come out with him and his buddies at Burke Lake a couple of years ago and 'he would get me into my high school running shape'.  That sounded good to me since I was a runner at one time but when I hit 'middle age', I had a number of injuries every time I tried to get back into shape.

I didn't know if it was my head, my heart or 'degenerative bone disease' (that I was once diagnosed with) that caused my joints to ache and my calf muscles to give out with a pull of some type long about the two week period of my 'comebacks'.  My goal for many years has been to get back to the point where I could run five miles daily.

I figured my running days were over until I met Gil.  Gil had me take it slow and basically get into a very easy stretching mode.  The main difference in my running approach was the he had me and run a few minutes, walk a few minutes, run a few minutes.  I also bought some new running shoes and gave it a try.  I did not get to the point where I was running five miles a day but I ran many 'long runs' around Burke Lake which is 4.6 miles.

That is where I met Al.  Al is a runner and biker (road bike not motorcycle).  He is over six feet tall and lost over 100 pounds a couple of years ago by eating right and working out.  He regularly ran or biked with Gil.  A few times when Gil couldn't meet us, Al and I would bike.  We did that a couple of times on the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) bike trail in Reston to Leesburg.

So I got to know Al in Fairfax before we started full-timing.  We both talked of the day when we would sell our homes and get on with our lives.  He was running the HR department for the Exxon office in Fairfax before he retired.  He retired in July, sold his condo and moved to Mississippi to be with his aging parents.

A year ago, Pam and I were motoring through Mississippi on our way to Red Bay, AL and were not able to stop in Laurel, MS to see Al.  But a couple of weeks ago he contacted me and suggested we get together in Gulfport MS since he had an errand to run at the NIKE store there.

We met last Saturday and it was good to see him.  He continues to run regularly, while I have not kept it up since Thanksgiving.  Knee problems this time.  (Where is Gil when you need him??)  Al has adjusted well to retirement and taking care of his mom.  His 95 year old dad passed away at Thanksgiving.

Al's future plans included moving to Ecuador to live in an adobe house he had built a couple of years ago.  For now, he is near family and enjoying life.

We met for lunch at the Nike store and then went into Gulfport where we had lunch at Port City Cafe.
I had chicken gumbo, Pam had red beans and rice, and Al had gumbo and a catfish dish.  It was great to catch up and see him!  That is one thing we love about this life style:  seeing friends.

That is one of our highlights on Saturday in nearby Gulfport.  We got home later in the afternoon and Pam battled the onslaught of a nasty cold that is going around our NOMAD group.  She is presently down for the count but vows to get over it in seven days or a week, depending on if she goes to the doctor or not.

Thanks for visiting this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  We are very glad you stopped by!  And a special thanks to those readers who leave comments and/or become followers.  Hope you are having a great week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beauvoir - Last Home of Jefferson Davis

After we did the wash and had lunch on Friday, we made the 20 mile drive over to Biloxi to see
Jefferson Davis House.  The home is right on Beach Boulevard, 50 yards from the water, which took a lot of Katrina damage in 2005.
It was a surprise it didn't have more damage.  Our guide said the floor level of the home stands at 23 feet above sea level (and known as a raised cottage standing on pillars) while the water crested at 24 feet during the storm.  Quite a bit of the contents and furniture in the home survived.

The Beavoir (French for Beautiful View) house was originally constructed in 1848-1852 by wealthy businessman James Brown who built it as a summer home.  In 1873 Sarah Dorsey bought it an lived there with her brother.  Jefferson Davis had been to Biloxi and liked the area and was invited to stay on the grounds to write his memoirs.  Davis arranged to buy the property in 1879.  Dorsey died after Davis made the first of three payments toward the $5500 purchase price.  Dorsey left Davis the property in her will.

Jefferson Davis, wife Varina and their daughter Winnie moved into the house and stayed their until his death in 1889.  Varina and her daughter moved to New York in 1891.  Beavoir became the property of the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans when Varina died in 1898.  From 1903 until 1957 over 2500 veterans and their families lived on the grounds where dozens of buildings housed them.

Public tours of the main home began in 1941 and the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library was constructed in 1998.  It damaged in Katrina so badly it was torn down and is being rebuilt.

We bought our tickets in the gift shop and walked along the path past a statute and historical marker before we made it to the front porch.
Katrina left the beaches filled with debris and trash that has all been cleaned up and restored so the view off the front porch is a beautiful.
Our guide opened the front door at 1:30 PM and nine of us entered the main room of the home for the tour.  Beauvoir reminded me of the Robert E. Lee home on the grounds of Arlington cemetery.  Though the Lee home was a considerable bigger and two stories, it had the same basic layout as this home.

Beavoir has very tall ceilings and the main portion of the house is the largest room going from the front to the back porch.  It is a very wide hallway/room about 20 feet across.
This was the primary room where guests were entertained and social events were held.  For additional room to entertain, furniture could be moved around or placed on the large porch outside during the summer if the weather permitted.
Their daughter Winnie was 17 when the moved in.  This was her bedroom, immediately off to the right as you enter the home.
Opposite Winnie's bedroom on the left was the Reception room.  Notice the large painting of Jefferson Davis on the wall and the beautiful harp.

Adjacent to the reception room was the library where Jefferson Davis did a lot of reading and writing.
He had bookcases made that were modeled after those in the Library of Congress.

In the back were his and Varina's bedrooms.
Davis and his wife had separate, adjoining bedrooms ~ as was the custom of the day.
Out the back door you could see where an orange grove once stood.  This was also the area where the many buildings once stood as part of the the Soldier's Retirement home.

Off to the side house on the right about 100 yards away, you could see the construction progressing for the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum.
The tickets were well worth the $7.50 ($9 without an AARP or Military card).  I learned a lot and now am interested in learning more about the confederacy.  'The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government' by Jefferson Davis seems like a good place to start.

Thanks for joining on the Roadrunner Chronicles today.  Hope you are warm where you are.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Some Tools of the Trade

Welcome! to Joe and Nancy who just signed up to Follow the Roadrunner Chronicles.

We finished up our second week here in Moss Point, Mississippi working with NOMADS.  There are 9 couples on our team and we are divided up into groups to work on four houses in the Pascagoula area.  The house we are working on is about 17 miles from where we have our RVs parked.
 Moss Point/Pascagoula are between Pensacola and New Orleans on the Gulf Coast.

The primary task at our house is to get the sheet rock up on the ceiling and walls.  We have been at it for two weeks so far and it will probably take us another week to finish it.  Then we will have to do the mudding.
Steve and Jerry are unloading this stack that was delivered while I take the pictures...

We have been working with four types and sizes of sheet sheet rock.
The two stacks of sheet rock are 4' x 8' sheets of 1/2" regular wall boards and  'greenboard' which goes in the bathrooms and around sinks in the kitchen and the laundry room.
In the garage, we had a stack of 4' x 12' sheets of 1/2" sheet rock that we started with to put up on the walls.  After that ran out we went with the 8' sheets.

Another size,  the 5/8" sheets of 4' x 8' lengths went up on the ceiling.

And this brings me to the Tools of the Trade.

The lift for the sheet rock is one of those Tools that is a back saver.  We hoist the sheet on that guy and crank it up to the ceiling and can maneuver it into place so that all we need to do is get the 'drill guns' (drills with Philips head on the end for the screws) and we are all set.

The drills are indispensable.
Pam and I have a Ryobi and Kawasaki drill.
I think Roger's is a Craftsman.  Though none are what I would consider to be construction 'name brands'
they seem to be doing the job well.  We keep one battery charged while we use the other and have had no problems.

Another tool we use is our beloved tool belts.  In mine today I have sheet rock screws, a quik square, a tape measure, band aids, screw drivers, a putting knife, pencils, a utility/razor knife, and gloves.

My work gloves keep me from busting up my fingers.  After the second time I tried to drill my finger, I decided it was time to try the gloves.  My bloodied and bruised finger is much happier.
Knee pads ~ very useful for as much time we have been spending putting the screws in the bottom part of walls.  And we usually are on the ground cutting pieces to fit in lots of places.

And the ladders.  We couldn't do this with out lots of ladders.  I prefer the shorter one which works great.  We climb up the ladder, find the studs (most of the time) and screw in the top of the wallboards.  Good exercise.
In fact, we find ourselves getting stronger and stronger.  That is not to say that we are not tired and sore each day, but it is good exercise and we are enjoying it.

Working of the sheet rock has been good  and we estimate another week before we will start the mudding.  My goal every day is to get a little better and these tasks and learn something new.

And we love learning how to use different tools.  Next week no doubt we will expand our skill list on that.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Hope you have had a great week.