Monday, October 31, 2016

Road Runners and a New Band

We have moved on from Livingston, TX to the Temple, TX a reason that Bob and I can visit my sister, Gail, and family. The view from our campsite is lovely.

This little roadrunner stopped in to say "hi." He was pretty bold and hung around for a while.

In my last post I wrote, as you may recall, about weaving a sample band using my Sigga heddle from Stoorstalka.  I wasn't really that happy with how it was coming out, though, so I scrapped that one and started another one.  That's the joy of weaving--it's only yarn and if you don't love a project, get it off the loom and move on.

This band uses two bold colors for the blocks of floats (something I've decided is a necessity,) and is being woven with 5/2 cotton rather than 3/2. As a result, the band is a little narrower, the colors work better, and I am quite happy with it. I've also learned that the weave structure of the background threads is not like that of an inkle-woven band. The weft threads do show a bit. So choosing a weft that looks good is important. Here is my new band.
The weaving on this type of band goes fairly quickly. Here is a link to Susan Foulkes weaving a similar band, for those of you who are interested.

This afternoon we look forward to getting together with my sister and her husband as well as my niece and her family. 







Friday, October 28, 2016

Voting and Weaving

We arrived safely in Livingston, TX on Thursday, and settled right in to our campsite after stopping to get our vehicles inspected.  Doing the inspections on the way into town saves us from having to pack up the animals and the rig again an extra time to do it. And now we won't have to think about it for another year.

This campground is one of those places that has very few over-the-air tv stations. I think we get four, one of which is an all-Spanish station (our Spanish is very minimal, unfortunately,) and none of the others is a major network station. But that's ok--we have our Kindles! And people are super-friendly here so it's easy to find someone to talk with. Bob spent yesterday afternoon washing the motorhome and car, and making them shine.

This morning Bob and I went into town so hat he could vote. I was able to vote earlier via absentee ballot but Bob's went somewhere else by mistake. It's a good thing we came into town this week! The lines at the courthouse were longer than we thought they would be. I guess a lot of people are taking advantage of voting early. I'm sure just about everyone has made up their minds anyway on who they are going to vote for. Best to get it done!

We returned to the motorhome and I started to weave on my Sigga heddle band. My first thought was that I did not like these colors at all, so I stopped weaving after about 8" or so and set it aside. I was very close to just cutting it off the loom. But the band is growing on me a little and I think I'll finish it.

This project has been a challenge right from the start. When I pulled out my Stoorstalka Sigga heddle this week to use it for the first time, I saw that two of the dents were broken. So I found my Super Glue and repaired them, being careful to maintain the hole where the break occurred and the spacing of the broken dent to the ones next to it. So far the glue is holding so I'm hopeful there won't be any more problems. I'm using 3/2 cotton, with doubled pattern threads (yellow and green.) The Sigga heddle gives the capability to have blocks of long floats, quite easily. This band is about 2" wide, and I'm using my 12" Ashford Knitters Loom with the Sigga heddle.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hanging out in Texarkana

We moved to Texarkana on Tuesday, with reservations for two nights. Our plan was to see what there was to see in the area on Wednesday, before moving on Thursday. But when I Googled "things to do in Texarkana" I got things like "visit the Post office." Texarkana is split into a Texas side and an Arkansas side, and apparently the US Post office has a line going down the center of it since it straddles both states.

So we decided to skip the sightseeing and take a day to do what we wanted. Which for Bob was to do maintenance work on the RV slides, do laundry, and hang up a bracket for my coffee filters; and for me was make homemade sandwich buns, make ravioli from scratch, and warp up a loom.

It was a nice day. And to be fair to Texarkana, there are other things to do here such as the Four States Auto Museum and visit the historical Perot Theater. We just didn't feel like doing them on this pass-through.  That's ok. There will be something to do next time we visit the area.

A month ago, Bob and I requested ballots to be sent to my sister, for her to forward them to us so we could vote in the Texas elections. Mine arrived and I voted about two weeks ago, but Bob's ballot never arrived. He called our voting office in Livingston yesterday and was told the ballot went to Williamsburg, NM, where we had requested primary ballots to be sent months ago. And I'd like to point out that he never got that ballot either, as the voting office decided he was not registered (even though Bob had registered when he got his driver's license.)  So they are two-for-two. Fortunately, we will be in town and Bob can vote tomorrow.

So we are off to Livingston today (Thursday) and will be there for three nights before heading to the Temple, TX area to visit my sister, Gail, and her family. Can't wait to see them again!

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Willian J. Clinton Presidential Center & Park

On Sunday afternoon, Bob and I walked across the pedestrian bridge near us that connects North Little Rock to the Clinton Presidential Center & Park. The bridge itself is pretty interesting. It used to be an old railroad bridge but was re-purposed to provide a way for people to walk or cycle across the Arkansas River. The view from the top was amazing.

I took this photo from the pedestrian bridge, in case the weather would prevent a nice picture on Monday when we were able to visit the Clinton Presidential Center. I needn't have worried. The weather on Monday was beautiful, too.

The theme of the Presidential Center is "Bridge to the Fiture," so the Center has a bridge-like feel, and is open and airy. We started our visit with a tour by a docent who gave us a very nice overview of the Center. Bob and I then returned to the exhibits and moved at our own pace, spending over 3 hours moving through history. Many of the displays dealt with the difficulties during office as well as the accomplishments. But there were other objects to see that weren't so serious. Some of my favorite displays:
Beaded "Clinton '92" necklaces
The replica of the Oval Office as it looked from 1992-2000
The replica of the Cabinet Room

There were many items that had been given to President Clinton. I learned that, if any gift is sent to any President, it is catalogued and saved forever in that President's Library. Here are some items that were gifted to Bill Clinton.
 Nesting dolls of world leaders. From L-R: William Jefferson Clinton, George Bush, Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, John Major, Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterand, and Saddam Hussein.
A three-dimensional portrait of Bill Clinton, in the shape of a chair. 
A painting of the First Cat, Socks
Hand painted eggs of all the Presidents (only some on display here,) with their First Ladies painted on the back. 

Memorabilia from Bill and Hillary's childhoods were very interesting. William J. Clinton was born William J. Blythe. His father was killed in an automobile accident two months before his birth. As a teenager, Bill took the name of his stepfather and had his name legally changed to Clinton. Here is his baby bracelet.
Bill and Hillary met in law school, at Yale University. 

President Clinton's Presidential limousine is on display. 

Bob and I really enjoy visiting Presidential Libraries. This is our fifth, with 8 more to go (possibly 9, once President Obama's library is finished. We find them a great way to view a President's term of office through his eyes.




Sunday, October 23, 2016

Little Rock, Arkansas

It was an easy drive from West Memphis, AR to our next campground in Little Rock. Now, I have a confession to make. I was raised in New England, and I'm pretty frugal. Some might even say, cheap. I typically try and find the best deal I can when I look for campgrounds. So when I made this reservation, I could have saved quite a bit of money by using Passport America and taking a campsite in the back row. Yet, uncharacteristically I chose a site on the banks of the Arkansas River, and am I ever glad I did. Just look at our view here.
We can see the pedestrian bridge and the Clinton Library from our front window.
  
At night the lights of Little Rock are on display for us.
And in the morning the sunrise makes me happy to be up.

On the negative side, the constant traffic sounds from the bridge you see in the bottom two photos are ever-present here. If we were not on the river bank the noise might bother me; this campground is pretty much just a parking lot. But it's worth being here at the site we have.

This morning Bob and I drove to the Old Mill at T. R. Pugh Memorial Park. The Old Mill is a replica of a grist mill that was typical of ones used by Arkansas pioneers in the 1800s. This mill appeared in the opening credits of the 1939 movie, Gone With the Wind, and it was a lovely place to walk around.
 

I seem to have caught a fairy in my photo. Some children, dressed in costumes, were hanging out by the mill.
A bridge next to the mill was built to look like a natural stone arch, and features branches fashioned from concrete that appear to grow from the structure.  What a magical place.



Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mud Island

The Mississippi River has fascinated me all my life. At 2,350 miles, it is the third longest river in North America, and the fourth longest in the world. It ranges in width from 20 or 30 feet at Lake Itasca in Minnesota, to more than 11 miles wide as Lake Winnibigoshish near Bena, Minnesota. Every tale about the western expansion mentions the great Mississippi River. It has been a thrill camping by its banks in West Memphis, Arkansas, just over the bridge from Memphis, Tennessee.
We enjoy just sitting and watch the sun set as great tugboats push the barges up and down the river.

On Friday, the weather suddenly turned cooler. High temperatures dropped from 90 degrees to the low 60s, which made it very pleasant for strolling. We drove across the river and over the bridge to Memphis to visit Mud Island, and the River Walk.
We see a lot of river walks in our travels, but never one like the one in Memphis. This is an exact scale model of the lower Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, 954 miles away. It features 20 cities along the way, mapped in tile, with floodways and watershed walls. The model flows from north to south and enters into a 1-acre Gulf of Mexico. The entire model is 2,000 feet long, about five blocks, with 30" equaling one mile. Visitors can walk in, around, and across this little Mississippi River.  I would imagine that it's a popular place to bring children on a hot day!
Here, Bob is standing about where our campground is.
The great Mississippi River flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Such a great way to put this river into perspective. Along the way are signs with information about the history of the Mississippi River, which added to the experience.

After we finished walking the River Walk, Bob and I drove over to get a peek at the famous Beale Street, known as where the blues started.
The historic part of Beale Street is closed to cars, and we were not in the mood to find a place to park so we kept on going. We also wanted to drive past one more Memphis icon.
Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. 

Neither Bob nor I have ever been true Elvis fans, so we saved our $70-160 (depending on which tour we might have chosen) and just drove by. That was enough for us.

There is a lot to see in Memphis, however, and we will return one day!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid

According to Bass Pro Shops, the Pyramid in Memphis is a ..."national destination experience." Wow! A sporting goods store that is a destination experience? Let's go!
Easily visible from the highway, the Pyramid in Memphis is a 535,000 square-foot structure that includes a wilderness hotel called Big Cypress Lodge, over a half a million gallons of water features, a cypress swamp with 100 foot tall trees, an alligator habitat with live occupants, and over 1,800 fish in huge aquarium tanks. Plus a Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center, restaurants, a 13 lane bowling alley, a gun center, arcade shooting gallery, archery and pistol range, and the world's largest freestanding glass elevator with observation deck.
We entered the Pyramid and were immediately impressed by a huge stone fireplace surrounded by murals.
The Big Cypress Lodge was to the right.
The Pyramid is like a small city, with water features and bridges. Shops can be seen in the background, with tall cyprus trees.
Huge bass swim in the ponds.
 Bob and I entered a contest, with the grand prize being $25,000. We decided that if we win the grand prize we will buy this flat-bottomed party barge. At just $23,897 it's a steal!
We saw large tanks of fish, with some of the fish being three feet long.
 Like the Cabelas we have visited (and as an F.Y.I., Cabelas has just been purchased by Bass Pro Shops) there were lots of stuffed animals to see.
 
To ride on the elevator there is a $10 pp fee. We decided to skip that and look at it from the ground.

Wow! This place is really something! I'm not sure it would qualify for me as a destination vacation, but I'm glad we saw it. 






Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Pink Palace Museum

The story of the Pink Palace Museum starts with Clarence Saunders, founder of the Piggly Wiggly chain of grocery stores. Piggly Wigglys were the first grocery stores to:
Provide checkout counters.
Put a price on every item in the store.
Use high volume/low profit margin retailing to keep costs down.
Use refrigerated cases for fresh produce.
Insist on uniforms for store employees.
Design and use patented fixtures and equipment in their stores.
Franchise independent grocers.

Saunders was an excellent grocer, but although he made gobs of money, he made the mistake of creating Piggly Wiggly Corporation and then giving ownership of all PW properties to that corporation. He then managed to lose control of PW through a series of trades in the 1920s.

At which point Saunders opened a new chain of stores called "Clarence Saunders, Sole Owner of My Name Stores." I kid you not. Unfortunately, during the Depression, this new chain was forced to close.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, in the early 1920s Saunders began to build himself a mansion, which was unfinished when he lost Piggly Wiggly in 1923. The City of Memphis took ownership in 1926 for use as a conservatory, art gallery, and museum of arts and natural history.
It was therefore never lived in but has always been a museum. It's a lovely building, built from pink marble quarried in Tate County, GA. It houses some interesting exhibits.
One of the displays features clothing worn in the annual Cotton Carnival. This dress has appliqu├ęs showing cotton plants in various stages of growth.
There is an actual Tsantsa, or shrunken head from the Shuar people of Ecuador. When an enemy was killed, the head was severed and the skin removed. The heads were considered a temporary vessel of the avenging soul of the dead, so they were shrunken into tsantsas to lock in the avenging spirit. The tsantsas were brought back to the village where three feasts were held to share their power with everyone. After the ceremonies, the heads no longer had any importance to the Shuar and were not considered objects of value.
The museum has several reproductions of grocery stores from early American to early Piggly Wiggly stores. Here is an old fashioned general store.

Many people are unaware (as we were) that the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC was made in Memphis, TN. We watched a fascinating film about its creation.
A piece of the Wall is here at the Pink Palace Museum.

We found this to be a very interesting place to visit. I was glad that my back felt good enough to walk around and see the various exhibits, which also included a very well-done dinosaur display as well as rocks and gems. I was ready for a break by the end of the exhibits, though!




Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Moving to Memphis

Bob and I had a quiet day on Sunday, getting the rig ready for our Monday move and doing a bit of relaxing as well. We discovered an interesting pizza place nearby, where they assemble the pizza with whatever toppings you want, then wrap it up. You bring it home and bake it in your oven when you're ready for dinner. Papa Murphys Take 'N Bake Pizza shops are in various parts of the country (but not in NJ, so they are new to us.) We will look for them again... the pizza was good.

On Monday Bob and I said farewell to Mike and Retha as we headed off in different directions; we went west and they were moving southeast. It has been a very fun week and I know we will meet up with them again down the road.

My back started feeling a bit twingey before we left, and the jostling of the four hour trip to Memphis did not do it any good. By the time we arrived in our RV park I was in a lot of pain. Time for ice packs and ibuprofen! Now on Tuesday morning it's a touch better and I sure hope it won't slow us down. We may stay close to the campground today to rest it a little before doing some sightseeing in Memphis tomorrow.

Our campground is a nice place to hang out, though. We have a view of the Mississippi River from our site, to watch the barges go by.
Temperatures are expected to be in the high 80s today, with 0% chance of rain. I can go for that!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dukes of Hazard

Did you grow up watching the Dukes of Hazard? On Saturday Mike, Retha, Bob, and I drove to see a local icon.
 Cooter's Museum, home of the Dukes of Hazard Museum and the car, General Robert E. Lee.
Of course, because the filming studio's stunt drivers went through cars like potato chips, this is just one of the many cars used in the show, but it was neat to see anyway. Inside the museum we saw cases filled with many toys associated with the show.

They also had on display some of the other iconic vehicles. A little slice of history!

Next door is the Willie Nelson Museum which we also visited. It's really more of a gift shop but it was fun to walk around and see all the chotchkes.

In the evening we enjoyed a yummy spaghetti dinner with Mike and Retha, and we decided that Sunday will be a day of preparation for our trip on Monday. Bob and I will be heading to Memphis, while Mike and Retha go to Alabama. It has been a very fun week and we will be sad to part with our friends. But I know that we will meet up again down the road!


Saturday, October 15, 2016

General Jackson Showboat

I had never been on a showboat, so I was very excited when Retha suggested we do a luncheon cruise on one while we were here in Nashville. We arrived under threatening skies to board the boat around 11:00.

The four of us walked down the gangplank into the boat (note the upright smokestack...)
...and found our table in the dining room, with a nice view of the river as we moved along. We enjoyed a very nice buffet lunch...
...before being treated to a live country-western revue-type show. The entertainers were excellent.
After the show we all went upstairs to watch the city sights as we passed. We had some intermittent light rain, but we were under a roof so the weather didn't bother us at all.
Th smokestack folded down to allow the boat to go under bridges. Cool, eh?
The four of us were lucky to snag a front row table for the open-air entertainment portion of the show. These guys can sing!
Bob and I wandered into the gift shop afterwards and Bob tried on a Captain's cap. It looks good on him, doesn't it?

We made the mistake of driving to south Nashville after we came off the boat, to visit a local Container Store. And we hit traffic. Lots of it. It took us over an hour to get back to the campground. Ah well, it's a good thing we are retired and time is not an issue (except for our pets, who really wanted us back home!) 

Another fun day in Nashville!