After spending 2-1/2 weeks back at the barn, it was time to make a run down to Rome, Georgia, to visit Mom and Dad2. First, though, let’s back up and talk about a few things in Tennessee.

I told you about my neighbor’s cows in the last post. I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to the little fellas and having them follow me down the fence line like puppies. It just makes me smile. Just after we got back from Georgia, that bunch was on the way out west. More will arrive in a few weeks, though. I’ve also had the company of two neighborhood dogs. They sit at the corner, wait for a little rub, and then come along for the walk. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a dog, and these two sure do a good job of keeping me company. Afterwards, the female comes back to the barn, does a little pond wallowing, then gets a goodbye rub and heads back over the hill. These are your garden variety country dogs…no owner, but a bunch of neighbors taking care of them. In fact, one of the neighbors built a dog house near the end of his driveway so they can get out of the weather and keeps food and water there, too. What’s not to love about that?! Between the cows, dogs and the view, I’ve grown to love my walks. Plus, I’m up to 4 miles every other day!

I have not, however, enjoyed the company of the mouse in the house, errrr RV! It started in the middle of the night with the sound of munching on plastic in the pass-thru. After being woken up several times, we noticed that it seemed less active with lights on. We left the bathroom lit up, turned on the a/c blower to drown out the noise, and did our best to get some shut-eye. The next morning, Mr. Wonderful (MW) put some bait in the pass-through to take care of the critter. We hoped that would be that.

A day or so later, we were sitting outside enjoying the morning when a field mouse bordering on rat-size came bounding out of the tall grass, heading across the gravel and directly for Petunia (RV). MW jumped up and cut him off at the pass, which made him reverse course and head back up the grassy hill. About that time, a second one popped out several yards to the right. The little ***tards were trying to FLANK us!! That one was also cut off and turned back. Then MW noticed a very small baby trying to get up on the gravel. What the heck!!! Honestly, it felt like a flippin’ INVASION!!! I said something about target practice, and MW went for the .22. While he was gone, there was rustling in the grass and what sounded like a fight between the two large ones, but no more ventured out. MW also brought back a shovel in the event of close work, then we sat and waited. Nothing!! I guess they launched one assault to test the strength of our forces, then went on their merry way. Later that night in bed, I was picturing Petunia surrounded by an entire regiment of field mice, though!

The coolest thing we’ve had since we got back is praying mantes…LOTS of them! They aren’t little, either, at about 4-1/2 inches! MW noticed the first one near the wood pile, and it pretty much stayed in that area for our entire stay. We saw others climbing up the posts. A few days before we headed to Georgia, MW found one on top of the farm hydrant. The next day she was working on something that looked a little bit like a blob of merengue. Turns out it is called an ootheca and is how they secure their eggs. The foamy stuff turns hard and protects anywhere from 75 to 400 eggs. The eggs hatch, and the nymphs remain in their protective home until they are large enough to emerge and hunt. When we hit the road for Georgia, she was still standing guard, but was gone when we got back that weekend. MW talked about removing the nest because he didn’t want to worry about a bunch of tiny ones getting into the RV. We are waiting to see, though, because I think they will emerge next spring when we are on the road. My son finds them totally creepy, but I think they are cool-looking. Plus, they eat bugs. That’s a bonus! In fact, some gardening places sell oothecae for folks who want to use these helpful insects against other pests.

While at the barn, we caught up with our church peeps and other friends and got a few chores completed. MW spent a good bit of time taming the weeds that grew up in the gravel area, which is a big job. We also made plans to reroute the driveway along the creek, so that it connects to the road on our property and doesn’t cross our neighbor’s. (The purchase of a small piece of land from them to accomplish that was finally completed a few months back.) I cleaned up the barndominium, which was mostly just bugs and dust. Spiders really like to make themselves at home! My favorite addition while we were in town…a picnic table solution at Tractor Supply that I LOVE! It gives me an outdoor work and dining space, and becomes two separate benches when we need seating. Most of the chores on our “while at the barn” list will be completed after we return in October from the the Navy/Air Force game trip. Stay tuned for those updates.

Why I LOVE My Outdoor Desk

TOTALLY UNRELATED SQUIRREL: I read through a news feed every morning, and on September 8, I found something perplexing. To be honest, I find perplexing stuff in the news a lot. This time it was a blurb about Hurricane Earl, which at the time was a Category 1 storm and only the second hurricane of the year. What caught my eye, though, was this little quote: “Some scientists credit an excessively dry patch of the Atlantic for the unexpected lack of cyclone activity.” Okay folks, I’ll just say right now, I didn’t know there were dry patches in the Atlantic; or any ocean, for that matter. Well, that’s not totally true, but I’ve always called them islands and have never thought of them as excessive. (Although I guess O’ahu could probably be described as excessive, but that is all Honolulu’s fault.) I could understand saltier, cooler, or a number of other adjectives, but I just don’t see how we can have drier water, salt or otherwise.

ANOTHER ONE: This little snippet was in the same feed: “Kim Kardashian to launch private equity firm; fund hasn’t raised capital to date.” WHAT???!!! Who in the world would take that seriously. Does becoming famous for bad behavior in a reality show somehow qualify you to understand the intricacies of purchasing and restructuring corporations? Or is whatever she had injected into her rear end some kind of smart juice?? If so, how is it going to make it to her brain from there?? As an investor, I just couldn’t get past the overall ridiculousness. I’d have more faith in an actual Cardassian, and they are generally bad guys, although not total thieves like the Ferengi.

By the time we were ready to head to Georgia, I thought the mouse issue had been taken care of. We hadn’t seen any evidence or heard a peep inside in days. Whew! MW, however, was not convinced. The bait in the pass-through had been moved again. Dang it!

We loaded up on Monday, September 12, for the drive. I hadn’t seen my Mom and Dad2 since mid-February when we helped them with some of their moving chores. It had been too long! In addition to visiting, this trip will include some chores at their new place. Since it was not a sight-seeing trip and we’ve traveled a lot along that route, we headed over to Morristown and caught the interstate south. Just outside of Chattanooga, we hopped off and made our way over to the Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area Campground, just northwest of Rome, Georgia. The ride was uneventful except for our stop at Denny’s at the Flying J south of Knoxville. After being seated, we were told there was only one waitress working, and she had been on since 6 AM. She was doing the best she could, but it was clear that it was going to take much longer that we had. We paid for the drinks and headed on down the road. This is the third or fourth time we’ve been to a Denny’s in the last few years, and every time, there is some problem causing it to be very slow. I don’t think we’ll go again. Back on the interstate, MW saw multiple signs for Dinner Bell, so we gave that a shot. It was a home-cookin’ buffet, and was pretty darned good. Unfortunately, that was their last day in business as the owners have decided to retire. (We aren’t sure why they didn’t sell the place…it was packed!)

After setting up, we headed over to the new Winslette abode to hang with Mom and Dad2. She made taco soup, which was delicious, and we got to see the new house with their stuff in it. They’ve done a really good job getting settled in, especially since it is less than half of the space they are used to. That’s hard to do, but they are very happy to have less to clean! Over the next few days, Larry and Drew worked on fixing a drainage issue, and Mom and I hung some pictures, cleaned out and lined cabinets, and set up the guest room. We also checked out their local Italian restaurant, Roma Mia Ristorante Italiano, had some delicious pulled pork courtesy of Mom, and spent some time with Aunt Pat and Uncle Russ, first at Texas Roadhouse, then back at their place. That is always fun. We also managed a couple of good walks at the campground in the early mornings. We were there from Monday to Saturday, but the time flew. Thankfully, we’ll be heading back for Thanksgiving, so we don’t have to wait too long.

After we said our goodbyes and headed back to the park on Friday, I was ready for a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, others had little interest in peace and quiet. Two large groups were in the center of the campground circle closest to our end of the park. They set up flood lights, and the 20 or so people in one group and around a dozen in the other were seriously loud. No worries. After quiet hours began at 10 PM, there were still kids riding bikes everywhere and playing chase in the woods. Around 10:20ish, one of the adults told a boy it was fine to run around, but be careful. Wow! To be clear, the children were not to blame at all. There is nothing nicer than the sound of kids playing, except maybe babies laughing, but parents need to teach them when to pack it in. By 10:30, I had reached my limit. The campground was slap full, but those two groups were the only folks making any noise. In my pajamas, I walked between them and said “excuse me”. Everyone stopped talking. In as pleasant a voice as I could muster, I told them that quiet hours had started a half hour ago, which meant no one should be hearing them outside of their campsites. I added that, while we were happy they were enjoying themselves, they might notice that everyone else had quieted down for the night and many were trying to sleep. Both groups quieted down, and the kids were settled in at their respective campsites for the night. Finally…sleep! The next morning a couple down the hill thanked me for shutting it down, so I wasn’t the only one annoyed. I told them I just asked nicely. What I don’t understand is why the camp hosts didn’t take care of it or call someone else to do it. The loop was not that big, and they were just up the hill opposite us. I know that at some parks they aren’t supposed to confront people themselves, but they should be able to pick up a dang phone!

The Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area Campground is pretty nice. A 5,000 acre recreation area, it has two lakes that occupy about 10% of the park. The main activities are fishing, some hunting in season, picnicking, and swimming. With almost 15 miles of trails, hiking and biking are also big. The park has three boat ramps, an archery range, picnic areas, and covered pavilions. Camping options include 9 walk-in tent sites along the lake, a primitive group camping area, and the RV area. The 36 sites in the latter are gravel, mostly level, 50-amp with water. Some are on the lake, and there are a few double sites, too. Lengths will accommodate most rigs. We really liked this park, which is good since it is 9 miles from Mom’s place and close to pretty much anything in Rome. During the week it was very peaceful. As noted above, that changed a bit on Friday, but it still wasn’t terrible. We will definitely be back. (One thing I didn’t like in our site, though, was the picnic table on the back side of the RV. I don’t know why they ever do that.) Cell coverage was fine for Verizon and AT&T, and there were several over-the-air tv channels. For this stay in September 2022, we paid $150.00 for 5 nights.

On Saturday, September 17, we headed back to the barn, reversing the route from our trip down. Our only stop was for a quick lunch at Wendy’s in Loudon, Tennessee. We got everything set back up and had a relaxing afternoon.

Sunday was a rough morning for me, and a migraine was the culprit. We were supposed to get up and wash Petunia. MW knew I was up in the middle of the night and took my migraine meds, though, and didn’t wake me up. (He’s cool like that!) I stayed in bed as long as I could, then decided to take a walk to see if that would knock it out. I only made it about 2 miles, but it did dull the pain a bit. One funny thing, the cows were still in the pasture I walk by, and as I was heading up the road, Jerry Lee started the tractor. That is their signal that food is on the way, and they typically run to the feed bins. In this case, though, I was near the fence at that area. They took off running, then caught sight of me and stopped cold. One stood out front and snorted at me until I walked on down the road. Cows are just so darned cute!

Back at the barn, I waited a bit on the church decision. My head still wasn’t happy, but I thought that wouldn’t change whether I was at home or in God’s house, so we went ahead. Besides, we were leaving in a few days for several weeks, and this would be my last opportunity to see the church peeps. It was a good service with a visiting preacher. Afterwards we headed over to Michael’s (Kim, the new owner calls it The Diner, but I just can’t break the habit!) for a little lunch. The rest of the day was pretty lazy for me, still trying to get rid of the headache. Since we still needed to get Petunia clean, MW washed the nose cap and did the paste wax there.

Monday we were up early pulling Petunia out of her spot for the rest of her bath. I still had a headache, so MW did a lot more than me, but we managed to finish the wash job and the spray wax. Then MW paste waxed the lower front sides. (We didn’t do that for the first time until last year, but it really makes a HUGE difference in getting the bugs off.) We finished up some chores around the barn, and I got some work done, too.

Tuesday was mostly devoted to laundry for me and final chores for MW. We switched out our summer clothes for winter ones, anticipating cooler weather on this trip. Then it was almost time to hit the road again.

Oh, I almost forgot about the mouse update. We hadn’t been hearing any noise at night for a few days, but while at the campground in Georgia, we found mouse poop on the counters and in the kitchen sink on two or three mornings. As soon as we saw it the first time, we put out one of the glue pads with a bit of food in the middle. Twice he got to the bait, but didn’t stick to the pad! Ugh! He must be a strong little thing! Back at the barn, MW put two different kinds of poison out, one on the counter and one in the sink, but we never saw further evidence of the little critter. I think he abandoned ship after bouncing down the road, but there might be a little corpse in the undercarriage. Whatever the reason, I was happy to not see poop on my counters anymore!

Next up…Go Navy, Beat Air Force, plus other stuff along the way. See you on the path!


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