Archive for August, 2012

2012-08-21 Tuesday – Trip from Dunwoody, GA to Decatur, GA

2012-08-21 Tuesday – Trip from Dunwoody, GA to Decatur, GA (but, NOT driving “Vanna White”). Hey! A trip is still a trip – right? (Lots of PICTURES in this post.)
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I received a postcard in the mail several weeks ago that I was to report to the DeKalb County Courthouse in Decatur, GA for jury duty at 8:15. I rode MARTA, the Atlanta rapid transit train from Dunwoody to Decatur. (Note: MARTA is the acronym for Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority.) The cost was $2.50 per ride and the mileage for driving is = 16.6 miles by the internet google map website. This amounts to $.15 per mile. (If I drove the van, getting 15mpg and gas costing $3.71/gallon, the cost for driving one-way would be $3.35. This cost per mile does not include the cost of maintenance of the vehicle – so, accounting for less miles driven, in my opinion – the ride comparison lowest cost is in favor of taking MARTA.) Before I retired, in a previous job, I worked downtown and rode MARTA to/from work. I thought that I was saving the driving of many miles by not using my car. In addition, I was getting a little exercise by having to walk a block to work. When I worked, parking downtown was an additional expense – but, today, parking in Decatur for jurors was free as they have a special parking deck for the ‘pool’.
I had to pass through a metal detector at the courthouse. In the jury pool check-in area, I had to give them my postcard and driver’s license for identification. Then, in a trial holding area, the prospective jurors were greeted by a judge who gave a speech to the group about how the trial system worked and how each person is asked to do their civic duty. Then, we watched a 30 minute video with several judges giving more information about the justice system. The juror attendant then called several random names who were asked to go to a courtroom for the next step in the process. (I.E., being selected to serve on a trial.) In the jury pool room, we waited a while and another 40 people were called to serve. Then more waiting – and another 10 people were called and told that their case had settled and they could leave. About 11:30, the juror attendant started talking to the group about time approaching lunch time and that it had been decided that we could also go home. There was a sigh of relief from the group and I was among the others who left the room.
I traveled back to Dunwoody on MARTA and still had a the remainder of the day to enjoy my retirement time.  I have now served my civic commitment and know that they can’t call me again within the next 12 months.  An interesting item about jurors = We were given a blue sticker to put on our clothing. We were told to only talk with one of the juror attendants or the information desk. The people who work in the courthouse are people who work for the District Attorney or other court offices. We were instructed to not ask them anything or talk with them as they were instructed to never talk to a juror for any reason. We were told that they were not ‘rude’ people, but the fair-trial system requires employees to not talk with jurors for any reason.

Note: This is being posted because I have a friend who recently told me that they had never ridden MARTA. This post is to encourage others to think of taking mass transportation.

Additional Note: The pictures are not ordered in sequence.

2012-08-22-GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse,JuryPoolArea

2012-08-22-GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse,JuryPoolArea

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse - Entrance
2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse – Entrance

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-RightOfDoor(MARTA-Busses)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-RightOfDoor(MARTA-Busses)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-RightOfDoor(MARTA-Busses)1

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-RightOfDoor(MARTA-Busses)1

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-RightOfDoor(MARTA-Busses)2

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance-FareGate)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance-FareGate)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance-FareGuide)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance-FareGuide)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance-Maps)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance-Maps)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance-BreezeCardPurchase)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,DeKalbCountyCourthouse-(MARTA-StationEntrance-BreezeCardPurchase)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTA-StationSignToWestboundPlatform)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTA-StationSignToWestboundPlatform)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-ArtOnWall-UpstairsView)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-ArtOnWall-UpstairsView)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-StairsDownToTrainPlatform)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-StairsDownToTrainPlatform)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-SystemMap)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-SystemMap)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-Atlanta_Street_Bus-and-Train_Map)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-Atlanta_Street_Bus-and-Train_Map)

2012-08-22_GADecatur,(MARTAStation-ArtPaintingOnWall-DownstairsView)

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2012-08-22_GAAtlanta,MARTA-Train_Intermodal-Train/Truckbed-Facility(TruckEntrance)

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2012-08-22_GAAtlanta,MARTA-Train_ViewOfInterstate(Note-leftTopRed-is-OlympicsFlame@TurnerField)

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta,MARTA-Train_ViewOfInterstate(Note-leftTopRed-is-OlympicsFlame@TurnerField)

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train_ApproachingGaStateOfficeBuilding

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2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_BackOfUndergroundAtlantaSign

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_BackOfUndergroundAtlantaSign

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_FacadeOfOldTrainStation-RightOfEscalator

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_FacadeOfOldTrainStation-RightOfEscalator

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_FacadeOfOldTrainStation-TopRightOfEscalator

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_FacadeOfOldTrainStation-TopRightOfEscalator

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_FacadeOfOldTrainStation-LeftOfEscalator

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_FacadeOfOldTrainStation-LeftOfEscalator

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_ViewOfTrainPlatform

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_ViewOfTrainPlatform

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_ViewOfTrainTunnel

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_ViewOfTrainTunnel

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_Sign(OfTrainArrivalTimes)

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_Sign(OfTrainArrivalTimes)

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_Stairs

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_Stairs

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_Tracks

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_Tracks

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_TrainTracks

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_TrainTracks

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_Platform

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_Platform

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_ViewOfUpstairsPlatform

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_ViewOfUpstairsPlatform

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-Downtown,MARTA-Train(FivePoints)_TrainArrival

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2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-LindberghStation_MARTA-Train_Escalator-and-Stairs

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-LindberghStation_MARTA-Train_Escalator-and-Stairs

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-LindberghStation_MARTA-Train_Sign

2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-LindberghStation_MARTA-Train_Sign

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2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-MARTA-Train_ApproachingBuckheadStation(Crate&Barrel)

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2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-MARTA-Train_BuckheadStation(StationArt-OnWall)

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2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-MARTA-Train_LeavingBuckheadStation(ViewOfSkyscraper)

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2012-08-22_GAAtlanta-MARTA-Train_ArrivingAtDunwoodyStation(ViewOfOfficeBuildings)

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((My Dad has a nickname for me and it is “Puddin”. He started calling me that when I was very young. I named my van, “Vanna White”. When I decided to start a blog, I wanted a unique name for my travels and the names “Puddin” and “Vanna White” came to mind.))

2012-08-13 Van Radio Light Turns OFF when the ignition key is removed = SUCCESS! Yeah!

Long story – No Way of making this short. After having the isolator installed, the radio light stayed on even when the ignition key was removed AND the radio stayed on. (Also, to note another problem, I have to say that in the spring, I had no problem changing the time display on the radio when the zone changed. However, when the fall timezone change occured, I couldn’t get the buttons to work and the radio to change the time display.) When exiting the vehicle you HAD to turn the radio off manually. It wasn’t like this until sometime after the isolator installation. Maybe something happened during the installation and I didn’t notice it until a few weeks later – but, it really annoyed me and I was concerned about the vampire light causing the battery to completely discharge and the van not cranking. I considered ‘learning to live with it’, but – I wanted to solve the problem, if possible without too much expense. I went back to the isolator instlaller and the technician removed the radio and we discussed the ‘red wire’ that was installed into the harness when the isolator was installed. (The isolator needed a way to determine whether the van was on or off and the technician choose to use the radio red wire since he installed many radios and knew that wire would be ‘hot’ when the van ignition was turned on.) The installer and manager of the store vowed that the little red wire into the radio harness would not cause a problem. I was advised to return to the dealer for further diagnosis of the problem and, if the isolator installation was the culprit, they would reimburse me.
I called the Ford dealership and asked the shop about the radio light being on all the time. They said that they could diagnose all wiring problems and I requested an average fee for such a service and they replied “$300 to $500”. Well, a radio light being on all the time would buy 3 to 5 batteries for that price. I didn’t pursue any more options with the dealer.
I have to digress here. I have an old car radio in the van ‘home’ space that I call the house radio. It is wired to the house batteries and I can listen to it without impactin gthe van battery. So …. the plot thickens, the house radio has very limited reception. I had installed a WalMart antenna in the back but couldn’t get much reception. (You have to remember that I had been camping in the National Forest away from many towns and was far away from a potential radio station.) My son and I were talking about the house radio and the poor reception in the back and he suggested that I have the house radio antenna wired to the van antenna. With a dual radio – one antenna installation, I figured that I would get reasonable reception in the house area because the van radio had pretty good reception. Well, I ordered an radio antenna “Y” connector and extension cable from the internet. After analyzing the ‘radio light on’ problem, I asked the technician to install the antenna “Y” adapter and extension to the house radio. He did and didn’t indicate any problems with the request. When I drove away from the shop, I tried to tune the radio to my favorite AM station in Atlanta. There was NO reception for any AM station – and the station that I tried to listen to was WSB which is considered to be the highest powered AM station in the city (I think). Anyway, I drove for a block, turned around and returned to the audio shop. I talked with the technician and he said that whenever the van antenna is adapted, there is a noticeable loss of reception due to the change. He said that it is often noted by people who install iPods and other radio devices, but – with the new functionality, the owners are willing to have the trade-off. So – I left again and went to another audio installation shop. I asked the ‘Primary Installer Tech’ my question, if the radio light stays on all the time and the radio has to be manually turned off, could it be due to a new isolator installation, a bad relay, or possibly a bad radio? He was really busy and not inclined to discuss options much, but he said his opinion was that the radio was OK and that there was something in the wiring or another problem. So – I left there without a solution.
A few weeks later, I went to a car electrical specialist shop. I asked the counter receptionist, “If the radio light stays on and the radio has to be manually turned off, is that a wiring problem or the radio?” He replied that he couldn’t be sure without some diagnosis and that they had the wiring diagrams for all vehicles and could find out the problem for an $80 diagnosis fee that would apply toward the fix. Now, at least, I had some hope of the problem being solved without the high fee that the dealer suggested. I’ll have to think about this some more.
Well, I went to a Vandweller Meeting in the Tennessee National Forest with Dick and David. Those who know David, know that he has many solutions to many of the problems of the world. I explained the problem to him and he said that he thought the problem was the radio itself – and not the wiring. So, in the end, cudos go to David Hair and his exemplary analysis.
After returning home and having the radio light being on problem continuing, I decided to take the course of least expense. I looked on ebay and there was a Ford radio – just like mine – for auction. I bid $25 and waited. Whoa! I won – the radio and shipping charges were paid with paypal. My next problem was radio installation. I had watched the technician at the audio shop and he had a special removal tool. I watched a YouTube.com video of “How to Remove and Install a Ford Radio”. Well, it didn’t look too hard and they had the removal tool, so I looked on ebay – and – what? The tool cost $1 and it was $2.95 to ship – well, send it to me. Another paypal transaction and a few days waiting for arrival.
The day finally came. Both the radio and the removal tool had arrived and I was ready to tackle the project and find out if I had indeed found the ‘least cost’ solution. After watching the video, I knew to install the tool in the slots, push to the outside to push in the interior tabs and out it came. Easy. Almost TOO easy. Well, next the antenna and wires. I had decided to “Undo the ‘Y'” adapter and reuse the house radio WalMart antenna – and that part was easy. The technician had used electrical tape to attach the “Y” and I only needed to un-attach the tape. Next, the wiring loom. The video showed a tab to push and that worked too easily. I re-attached the wire to the new radio, I re-attached the antenna and turned on the ignition. Test Successful! Radio AM was working. I tested for a few other stations and all was working well. I pushed the radio into the cage and it snapped in. I’ll change the time display at a later date. So – there you have it. Radio light being “ON” all the time is now solved and I feel better.

2012-08-12_NewVanRadio

Ford AM/FM radio (front view)

2012-08-12_NewVanRadio-back

This is the back of the radio. The top left port under my finger is for the antenna wire. The right black port is the wiring harness location. That is all the connections.

Radio removal tools - The wires fit into the side slots, you insert them, then push outward and pull the radio out.

The background is an driveway blacktop. The white is a mailing envelope. The two “V” shaped objects are wires that are made to insert into the side radio holes for removal of the radio.

 

 
Note1: The van antenna now receives both AM and FM without any “Y” adapter and antanna extension to the house rear radio. The house rear radio now has its own antenna and reception was acceptable when I listened to it in Ellijay. (But – Ellijay was much closer to the station broadcast antenna than I was in the National Forest.)
Note: My first attempt at a solution to the radio light ON all the time was to search the internet for answers. One web site indicated that perhaps there was a problem with a fuse and recommended changing fuses. I looked in the owner’s manual and found the numbers of 3 fuses that were related to ‘audio’ areas of the fuse box. I pulled each one and checked the wire for being blown and replaced them as all were still intact.
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Another ‘small’ modication to “Vanna White” has been the addition of magnetic signs. That is because I live in a ‘neighborhood watch’ area of Atlanta – and, the neighbors are concerned whenever an unmarked, unknown vehicle is in the area. There have been some robberies and thefts in the area and the emails from the group is to dial the police at the 911 number and report any suspicious activity. One group email list that I subscribed to, indicated that a white van was in their neighborhood and they wrote down the license tag number in case any illegal activity was reported. I decided that I didn’t want my white van being a threat to any of the neighbors – so, my son is involved with the business “Biplane Rides Over Atlanta”. He had several extra magnetic signs at my house. I put the signs on the van so that everyone will know which company van is associated with. Besides, the advertising on the van may prompt someone to go to the website and look at the business – then decide to call the business for a ride. By the way, if the reader is interested in the business, my son has recently purchased the domain ‘biplane.com’.

3 Magnetic Signs for Vanna (Each side door has a sign and one of the back doors.)

Vanna White is not a “Stealth” van anymore. I added magnetic signs so that the Neighborhood Crime Watch would not call the police on an unknown van in the area.

2011-11-12 to 2012-12-05 Several Trips – Another Long Post (I think that it is a sign that I have too-much-time-on-my-hands.)

2011-11-12 Sat. to 2011-11-18 Fri. Trip from Atlanta to Copperhill,TN – National Forest (with Vandwellers)
I had packed the van some during the previous afternoon. I filled several 2-liter bottles with water. I didn’t fill all 14 of them because I had talked with Dick and he said that he had a new water filter. I carried 8 bottles in order to satisfy my personal needs. I planned to stop at Wal-Mart in Dunwoody for lunch (usually a prepared sub-sandwich) and some food for the trip. I got 2 bags of ice for Dick and some bananas. Since I passed Camping World on the route, I planned to visit there – to see if there was an item for camping that I needed. I gathered the directions, packed clothes and the first stop was close to the beginning of the trip. I got onto the road from the shopping about 10:00am and stopped at Camping World about 11:00am. I’ve been to a large store in Charleston, but – this store was smaller and had a compact inventory. I didn’t find anything that I had-to-have for this trip, and stored in my memory the specialty items that they carry for camping so that if I needed one of those items in the future, I will know where to shop.
It was a pretty day and a nice drive. I had been to Copperhill on a previous Vandweller trip, so I knew what to expect from both the drive and the camping location. The only other van camper on this trip was Dick – and he had moved from a dispersed camping spot to site number one. I found him easily and the first order of business was to transfer the ice that I got for him to his cooler. After arriving, I noticed that he has a new, 55-gallon barrel, fire pit. He and David Hair had made it when he had David and his son work on the van mechanical items. We talked some about how the campground was almost empty – except for us and a couple of others who were there just for the week-end. I only unpacked my folding chair – but, I had a lot of things in the van that took up room. One item was the empty ice chest that I used to transport the ice from Atlanta. I put it on the concrete picnic table. I asked Dick to help me set-up and start my new Mr. Heater that my brother gave me last year for Christmas. I was surprised at how easy it was to screw the propane canister into the heater and to get it started. I had found an old canister in a house closet and used it first. I had two old ones to use before opening my new 2-pack and using them.

On Sunday afternoon, the other campers went home. One group was from Chattanooga and they left both Dick and me some ‘trail magic’. Trail magic is the term used by Appalachain Trail hikers for ‘goodies’ left by others to the through-hikers. (Note: My older son, Joe, hiked the whole Appalachain Trail and told me about day-hikers bring too much food for the week-end and giving their leftovers to the through-hikers.) We were gifted a small pile of wood for the fire and some graham crackers, soup and several packs of crackers. Dick and I shared the crackers during supper and Dick didn’t like graham crackers, so in the next couple of days, I managed to devour them. During my stay, some hunters and fishermen would drive by the campsite and stop and talk with Dick. They discussed the fish biting or not-biting, the bear in the area, and, well – ‘stuff’. You know – ‘stuff’. Some hikers would park near the trailhead and hike for a few hours, return to their cars and leave. Most of the time of my visit, the weather was sweatshirt-temperature. However, on Thursday night, a real cold spell came in and I had to turn on the Mr. Heater for a while to stay warm. Also, most of the time of my visit, we had clouds, and NO rain. However, one day – Wednesday, it was rainy and I stayed inside the van most of the day reading a book.
I used my new, 12-volt heated blanket several nights. It plugged into the house batteries and I learned that it wasn’t HOT like a 120-volt home electric blanket. It didn’t have any Hi-Medium-Low. There is either on – or – off. It is a gentle, slight warmth that is enough to help get my feet from being frozen, but not so much so that I am HOT. On my first night, Saturday, I put the heated blanket on top of the bed sheet and then I spread several cotton blankets on top of it – thinking that the heat would keep me warm, but that the other blankets would keep the heat close. Well, as I turned over in the bed because of too much pressure being on one side, the blankets all slid off of the side. When I talked with David Hair on my previous trip about camping in cold weather, he told me to use a sleeping bag. I had a nice, down-filled, sleeping bag that I had used when camping with the Boy Scouts in the top of a closet at my house. So – I packed it for this trip to see if, indeed, the bag was better than blankets. On the second night, I put the 12-volt blanket on top of the sleeping bag. (Note: the 12-volt blanket instructions indicated to NOT sleep on top of the blanket.) So, in the middle of the night, I had to turn-off the 12-volt blanket because I was too hot (a rare occurrence).
Dick and I shared meals. I learned how to set-up my new one-burner propane stove and I pulled out a cooking pot. On a couple of nights, we had cream-of-celery soup with French bread on the side. We used most of the 1/2 gallon of milk that I brought that I wasn’t able to leave for a long time in my home refrigerator. We ate some canned holiday-style popcorn that Dick had bought when he passed by it in a store aisle. I particularly enjoyed the caramel coated variety.
On Wednesday, Dick and I decided to ‘go-to-town’ O-o-h W-e-e. It was a cloudy day of light-jacket weather. I put some items from my van front seat onto the top of the picnic table and Dick rode with me. The drive from tne National Forest camping area to the surburb of Copperhill is only a mile-and-a-half, but travelling on gravel roads with ruts takes time because you have to drive slowly. We decided to eat at the burger restaurant near the railroad tracks just outside of the main town area. I had seen an advertisement that they had hamburgers for $.79. When we got out of the van and went to the ‘order-window’ on the porch, the woman inside said that the hamburgers were the ‘krystal-type’. So, it was about 10:30am and I saw another sign indicating that they cooked breakfast – and, I decided to get a biscuit with gravy and eggs. Dick saw the sign also and ordered the same thing. We walked a few feet from the porch window to the restaurant inside. At first, I noticed a big map of the area tacked to the wall. We were the only ones dining and I walked over to look at it. There is a LOT of land in the area that is government owned. Also, I think that the copper that used to be mined in the area isn’t as plentiful and couldn’t find any indications that the economy was greatly helped by the neary mine. I was also amazed at the view of the river separating Georgia from Tennesee. It was really pretty looking down at it flowing past. Dick and I found a table near the road-side window and I noted that just outside of the restaurant end was an outdoor porch for dining in better weather. Our food was delivered to an inside window and we picked it up and returned to the table. It was quick, and good-and-hot. I left full and ready to conquer the world again.
From the restaurant parking lot, about 300 feet away was the Dollar store and our next stop. Dick needed paper towels and a couple of other items. I browsed around and didn’t find anything that I had to have. On the way out, Dick found some twisty-corn-munchies (for a $1, of course) and got them. After a shared can of soup for supper one night, he and I got into the bag and it was quickly eaten. They were salty, and crispy, and good. I don’t allow myself to buy things like that, but – when he offered to share them, I didn’t hesitate.
Our next stop was the grocery store, an IGA in the middle of town at the stoplight. We had eaten a can of Chicken and Dumplings and I just looked to see if they had that brand. They did not, but they did have Chicken and Dumplings – but, I decided to get another can after returning to Atlanta. Dick said that he felt deprived being in the forest without ice cream. There was a chest-type freezer full of ice cream sandwiches and things near the cash register. I was too tempted and followed Dick’s lead of getting one out of the freezer. Before I could check-out, Dick was at the register and told the cashier that he was paying for 2 of them. We didn’t bother putting them in a bag – as soon as we were outside of the door, we unwrapped them and were eating them. Besides, they wouldn’t last long out of the freezer – would they? It was a misty light rain. When we first arrived at the grocery store, the miner’s store across the road was closed. When we left the grocery store, I noticed that the miner’s store was open. Dick and I put the groceries into the van and walked across the street to browse in the miner’s store. I thought that it would have hardware like gold-panning pans, picks, etc. Instead, it had a display for gold-panning in the window, but inside was an antique store. We looked around and Dick talked with the owner about an Aderondack bed-frame that he had on display. Dick used to make wood furniture and was amazed of the sale price. He’s from New York and I guess the price was a southern, mountain-town price. Actually, most of the town of Copperhill and McCaysville is dedicated to the tourists who come on the train from Blue Ridge. I’ve taken the train ride and at the turnaround, tourists eat lunch and shop for items not commonly found in places like Atlanta. It’s interesting looking around there.
Our next stop was a thrift store. I don’t know if Dick was looking for anything in particular, but I was just browsing. I found a hardback book, by Peter Linch for $1 and was happy to have another book to read if the weather continued to be ‘indoor-type’ for longer. I stayed away from the Christmas display as I am not one to decorate much – besides, I already have decorations, but since my kids are grown, I rarely bother to get them out of their boxes.
Next, I went to the convenience store on the main road and at the turn where we drive to the campground. Previously, Wolf had bought some Mike’s hard lemonade there and I decided that I wanted something like that to help warm me up at night when the weather turned colder. At home, during the winter, I often drink a glass of red wine and get warmer because it causes my blood to circulate better. After this stop, we drove away from Copperhill toward Ducktown – just to see what was there. We spotted a Food Lion and other stores. We rode downtown to see the Christmas lights and what the one-block of main stores looked like. They were the older-type buildings with parking behind the stores. We rode back to the campground and stopped at a propane distributor. We went into the office and asked if they sold propane filters and they said ‘no’. The book for the Mr. Heater noted that if you use a 20-pound propane tank, you need to use a filter.
So, we returned to the campground about 3:00pm. The day was uneventful in some ways, but – very eventful if you were getting stir-crazy and needed to just ‘go-somewhere’. By driving my van, I had recharged the batteries and could use the 12-volt blanket a couple of more nights. I have a ‘house AM/FM radio’ and listen to it a lot at night. I’ve tried several antennas with it – and even used a straightened white-coathanger. It worked OK in that I was able to listen to one station. I had bought and installed before this trip, an antenna from Wal-Mart. The new antenna didn’t pick up any stations. I took it out and adjusted the coathanger by opening it to be completely straight and pointing up above the van in between the rubber of the middle double doors. It still picked up the one station – so it really wasn’t an improvement of the store-bought antenna. I tried doubling the coathanger and sticking two ends into the slot. Reception wasn’t much better. I concluded that Copperhill is so far away from radio’s that there isn’t much to listen to in the area.
Dick had put a tarp over the picnic table on Tuesday. We enjoyed sitting under it and left our chairs out at night. On Thursday, Dick received a text message from David that a storm was headed our way from Dalton. We put chairs up and tried to tie things down. I retreated to my van and continued to read my book. I fell asleep in the mid-afternoon and thought that the nap may impact my night rest – but, it didn’t. Anyway, sometime during the storm, a wind gust got under the tarp and with the rain and heaviness of the weight – broke a tie-down line and caused the tarp to fall. After the storm, Dick and I push the water from the tarp on the ground and he wrapped the tarp over the picnic-table top so that the stoves, etc. would be protected. He had packed up chairs and I had put mine back in my van (inside the passenger side rear door.) I had left the cardboard box for the Mr. Heater on the table and it got blown around. After Dick put the tarp back up, I left my fold-up chair in the van and sat on the picnic table bench on top of the cardboard.
On Thursday, after the storm, the weather turned cold. The forecast was to go down to 24 degrees Farenheit. I came on this trip to learn how to cold-weather camp and this would be a real test of my preparation. In the end, I did pretty good during the night. As the weather turned cold, I turned on the Mr. Heater and listened to the radio and read more of my book. I was comfortable and enjoying the experience. The next morning was a little different. I made sure to open both the driver and passenger windows a little. They are the only windows that will open in the van. I kept the Mr. Heater on when I was awake and turned it off during the night. I was comfortable under the 12-volt heated blanket and sleeping bag. During the night, I had an old army wool blanket folded many times on my feet and they were warm. In the morning, the van was cold, but I had the Mr. Heater near the bed and turned it on for about 45 minutes. It warmed up the inside and I was able to dress and be reasonably comfortable. When I got out of the van in the morning, Dick was in his chair and warming up to a fire that he had started. I looked at my battery bank and the digital display told me that my power remaining was 11.7. I was below 1/4 tank on van gas and knew that I would have to drive somewhere in order to get some gas and charge the batteries. So, I told Dick that I planned to return to Atlanta in the afternoon. As I hung around the fire, I was warm and moved around some. However, if I sat down very long, my feet got cold and I was uncomfortable. I knew that David Hair planned to come on Saturday and I wanted to see him – but, I didn’t want to discharge the batteries further and I needed van gas. I left about 2pm and returned to Atlanta about 6pm. Of course, I stopped for gas on the way and in addition, I stopped at a fast-food restaurant. I had a good trip and was glad to be home. I unpacked some items after returning home and left others to unpack in the morning. My plans were to wash clothes and go visit my younger brother in Savannah.
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2011-11-23 Wed. to 2011-11-28 Mon. – Trip from Atlanta to Savannah to visit my younger brother and his family. My older brother and Dad visited my younger brother also.
My younger brother, his wife, son (who is a Junior at GaT), and daughter (who is a Senior at Savannah Arts) hosted the rest of my immediate family for Thanksgiving. I purchased and packed in an ice chest a Honey Baked Ham for the trip. We all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving feast and time with the family for the long week-end. The weather there was short-sleeve warm and there is always an ocean breeze. My brothers and Dad went fishing on a couple of occasions and returned with about 12 fish. They cleaned and dressed them and my older brother returned to Bamberg with several meals. In addition to the fish, my brothers bought some oysters from a nearby seafood distributor and they heated them in an outdoor gas cooker. They were good and the weather was exceptionally warm. Also, my brother has a couple of crab traps and caught about 18 crabs. They cook both the crab and the oysters in different batches using the outdoor gas cooker. Several guests visited and everyone filled to the gills with seafood while there.
One night, there was a great sunset. I took several pictures of it over the marsh. In the summer, whenever there are pretty sunsets, you get mosquito-eaten when taking pictures. However, since it is cooler, the mosquitoes have retreated and it was great standing near the marsh.
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2011-11-28 Mon. to 2011-12-05 Mon. – Trip from Savannah to Bamberg.
My older brother stays with our Dad. Well … , he has a Class A Motorhome that is parked behind my Dad’s house. He likes ‘full-timing’ and lives in it. Dad is 91 and has macular degeneration and shouldn’t live alone. So, my brother is Dad’s caretaker. I visit when I can and before I retired (about a year ago), I used Family Medical Leave (leave without pay) to visit and help with Dad. Sometimes, my brother would leave in the motorhome and ‘get-away’. Lately, he has a project restoring a 1941 Jeep and has remained ‘in-town’ while I visited. He gave me a ride for short distances since he is working on getting a title and tag. Riding in it was quite an experience – it is loud (I think that he said he intends on working on the muffler some more) and it is bumpy. It doesn’t have a top so the scenery is viewed by looking all around and above.
While at Dad’s, I watch tv and surf the internet. I visit my brother and we went out to eat in a restaurant with friends. The time there is very relaxed and I try to help with things that are needed. On this trip, the town Christmas parade was held on Saturday morning and we went to see it. It was a small town parade and didn’t have a large entry of floats as a big city would have.
Back Home – in Atlanta. It’s been a year since I retired. I’ve gotten used to ‘doing what I want to – when I want to’. It’s very selfish. When I first retired, I shopped for groceries in the middle of the week and in the early morning. I couldn’t believe how empty the store was (compared to week-end shopping that I was used to). Also, I didn’t have any problem with traffic because it was mid-day. (In Atlanta, traffic is always a consideration when going somewhere.)
Today, I went grocery shopping. The weather is blustery – grey, winter cloudy and windy. It has rained off-and-on for a couple of days. The grocery store that I went to is being renovated. The construction workers are adding a new front entrance and expanding the store inside on the left-side. In addition, they are building a pharmacy and moving the up-right freezer aisles. It was a ‘mess’ – but, I was amazed at how many people were shopping. It wasn’t until I checked-out and got a senior-citizen discount that I realized that most of the shoppers were like me, senior citizens. That store is near a retirement community – so, I guess the expansion is needed; i.e., there are lots of people who shop there. U-m-m not the same scene as what I had a year ago. Still, it’s nice to shop in the middle of the day.
Of course, Christmas selling is in full-swing. The store has more floor space now because of the addition and they’re filling it up with the normal food items plus the new Christmas ones. I was able to find everything that I needed on my list. The store had many employees moving items from shelves to other areas and then dismantling the shelves to be moved. There were a lot of people working – but, they were spread all over the store. Where workers needed extension cords across the aisles, there were rubber rugs over them so that the car could pass wihout going around. There were many areas to go around – but, they had put up big signs so that you would know which direction to go. I needed toilet paper and it was in the new section. There were hanging ceiling signs visible from the far aisles in the middle indicating that paper products were beyond where the store wall used to stand.
One thing that I haven’t changed is that I usually wash clothes on Saturday morning. I guess it is a tradition that I started when I worked and the tradition has continued. I’ve recorded many Oprah, Dr. Phil, and The Doctors tv shows. My recording machine won’t record anymore – probably because it is full. I try to watch and delete recordings when I have time. Also, I’ve read several books and have plans to read more. I’ve been to a couple of library book sales and have a stack waiting for me. I listen to talk radio and become more insecure every day. My dollar is buying less because of inflation and I worry about everything. I think that women were wired to worry about things and that I’m no exception.
Today, the winter weather has arrived. We previously had sun and cool weather, but – today, it’s been getting colder and it’s been windy. Good day to stay inside. A couple of days ago, I blew the leaves from the carport and down the driveway. With the rain, there was a large pile still in the driveway that was wet. Today, I got out the rake and put as many leaves as I could into a trash can. Also, I cleaned out tree leaves and hickory nut shells from the gutter above the carport some. Tomorrow, the yard-waste garbage crew should pick it up. Slowly, I gather as many waste cans of tree leaves as I can and have them take it away. Eventually, I get enough scooped up and can stop. At the end of fall, after my last yard grass cutting, I left gas in the mower and intended to mow and bag the leaves – but, it got wet and cold and I’ll have to work on the yard later. (Bagging leaves works best when they’ve just fallen and are dry. I went vandwelling and missed my opportunity to mow and bag them.)
So, where does my time go? I don’t really know. I surf the internet, read email (the vandweller email is long) and watch tv and movies. Now, if I can keep the bills paid…..
Oh yeah! My younger son moved back home and started a new job last Monday. My older son is working in Amsterdam for 3 weeks. Maybe ‘the working young men’ in my life can help keep the bill-collector at bay? (Note: Another 5.5 years of house payments and another 2.5 years before collecting full-term Social Security.) Wish me good-health and lots-of-luck… Otherwise, “Life-is-good”.

2012-08-13 to 2012-08-17 From Atlanta, GA to Ellijay,GA (75+ miles).

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay - Coosawattee Homeowners Entrance

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay – Coosawattee Homeowners Entrance

2012-08-13 to 2012-08-17 From Atlanta, GA to Ellijay,GA (75+ miles).
<<Note: To make the type larger, push the <+> key and the <Ctrl> Keys at the same time. To make the type smaller, push the <-> key and the <Ctrl> Keys at the same time. >>
My friend, Karen, invited me to visit her in Ellijay at a private homeowner association campground (i.e., gated entrance). Another yahoo-group vandweller girl-friend, Donna, was visiting and “we girls” got together and watched movies, cooked out, and enjoyed each other’s company. We had rain off-and-on the whole time so we had some rain-avoiding things to do. At least the weather wasn’t “end-of-summer HOT” or “Georgia Dawg-Days HOT”. I had a great time reading an old New Yorker magazine that Bob let me have -and- watching movies. I saw “Fight Club”, “Killers”, “Accidental Husband”, “Girl With a Pearl Earring”, “Flags of Our Fathers”, “The Notebook”, “Happy Gilmore”, and “Dear John”. I enjoyed them all and if I had to pick a ‘favorite’, it would not be “Fight Club” – probably just a generational thing and my age is showing. Karen cooked some hamburgers for us, our male-friend, Ken also cooked some hamburgers for us and we ate salmon and sandwiches. I even ate breakfast in a nearby local restaurant one morning with Donna – which was excellent. Homemade biscuits with thick, white gravy. I enjoyed watching Karen’s cat, “Larry” try and corner a squirrel and the deer walk across the field. Pictures of the campground in the rain and our fun times are included in the post.

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay-FishTrapCampground - Playground

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay-FishTrapCampground – Playground

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay FishTrap Pavilion

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Fish Trap Campground Pavilion

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay View Of Campground From Bathhouse

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay View Of Fish Trap Campground From Bathhouse

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay - FishTrap Bathhouse

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay – Fish Trap Campground Bathhouse

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay - Swimming Pool across Cartecay River from Fish Trap Campground

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay – Swimming Pool across Cartecay River from Fish Trap Campground

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay - Dog Walk Park across Cartecay River from Fish Trap Campground

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay – Dog Walk Park across Cartecay River from Fish Trap Campground

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Coosawattee Homeowners Association Gated Entrance

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Coosawattee Homeowners Association Gated Entrance

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Campsite next to Bathhouse

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Fish Trap Campground Campsite next to Bathhouse

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Fish Trap Campground - "Bird Girl" - Birdbath

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Fish Trap Campground – “Bird Girl” – Birdbath

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Public Library

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Public Library

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay  Modern Day "IceHouse" with credit card purchase down chute

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Modern Day “Ice House” with ice purchase that comes down the metal chute

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay  Yard Art = "Pot Tree" (For lack of a better description)

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Coosawattee Yard Art = “Pot Tree” (For lack of a better description)

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay unofficial "Girls Night Out" - with Friends and 'special occasion'

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay unofficial “Girls Night Out” – with Friends and ‘special occasion’

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Coosawattee Homeowner - Ken and his newly purchased "The Meow"

2012-08-13 GA,Ellijay Coosawattee Homeowner – Ken and his newly purchased “The Meow” (and doggie Bella)