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Winnie to High Island TX

We’ve spent the day today at the High Island RV Park, a real haven, especially with our hosts Regina and Ronnie. We’ve got a campsite on the grass next to the bird feeders, and it’s got shade much of the day. There’s a great pavilion with electrical outlets, so we can sit outside to work, and charge all our electronics at the same time.

There’s a real home-feeling, very clean bathroom with a shower, right next to a washer-dryer room. The washateria has chairs, a big television, and free Wi-Fi. Last night we took our first showers in seven days, and we looked forward to getting our laundry done first thing in the morning.
But first, let me catch you up on how we got here.

We worked non-stop on our giveaways in Winnie, but by Sunday night we knew we wouldn’t make it out on time. We did get up by five a.m., though, and continued working. By noon, stressed and irritable, we knew we wouldn’t make it out on Monday either.

Test riding with the panniers. Full speed ahead!

Monday was spent doing the last sorting of our goodies to give away and packing the to-go items in the panniers. I’ve bent your ears enough about the difficulty of having ten black and yellow bags, so I’d like to report that it miraculously solved itself, but it’s still a challenge.

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Winnie-Stowell City Park, Texas

This morning dawned chilly with clear blue skies. The massive lawns here at Winnie-Stowell City Park are shining emerald green with diamond-dewdrops that soak my feet and flip-flops and pants bottoms on the long early morning hike over to the bathroom.

What a relief the cool air brought after we’d soaked our way through several days of blistering hundred-four-degree heat. At night we hung our sweat-soaked shirts and pants on the overhead net shelf in our tent, and by morning they were just as damp as when we took them off.

I see some product reviews in my near future for our Ex Officio shirts and Patagonia Rockguide pants. They are absolutely living up to our expectations of them. We’ve worn them four straight days now, they still don’t stink, and it’s actually okay pulling them on wet in the morning.

The city park is very lightly used, especially considering the huge expanse of lawns, parking, children’s playground, electrical and water hookup for trailers and campers, horse training facilities, and outdoor theater. It’s well maintained on the basics. Though toilet paper is provided in the bathrooms, there are no trashcans, no paper towels or air dryers for your hands, and the cubicles have no doors. There are no mirrors nor even stainless steel mirrors.
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Organizing, Catching up, and Small Miracles

Organizing and catching up

Our lives have continued to be full of organizational and catch-up issues. While I wrote blogs and culled our photos for the photo albums, Chelsea set up our Traveling Roses Facebook page and put photos in our blogs.

I squeezed in time to work on deleting programs, photos, and music from my laptop, hoping to improve the functioning before calling in James. Then I tackled learning more about my Droid 3 and QuickOffice.

For many months now I’ve used the QuickOffice app on my Droid to take notes when I’m in the field. That part worked well, in fact I love having it, but when I transferred the documents to my laptop I ran into some snags. That took some looking around on my phone and consulting with Chelsea before I finally discovered it wasn’t my failure to understand, it was the limitations of the app.

I’m happy to report that I solved the phone-to-computer transfers of photos and documents, I know where to find everything on the phone (I’ve discovered all the little hiding places), and now I know my limits for what I can expect instead of being frustrated. That’s a very good thing.
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James Gayle and Solving Computer Issues

Chelsea had been having problems for almost two years with settings on her laptop. She’d tried any number of avenues looking for help. She finally stripped her hard drive and reinstalled her operating system, only to discover she couldn’t get drivers for her internet, audio, and video. Her wireless had gone out too.

James Gayle fixing Chelsea’s laptop

We wrote to James Gayle at Duck Capital Computers, who came through like a champ. In short order he had fixed Chelsea’s wireless, audio, internet and video drivers, and tweaked a couple of other annoying things.

Not only did he clean that all up and get Chelsea’s computer humming along perfectly, James also copied all our data off two heavy old hard drives to his hard drive. We’d been carrying those hard drives around since Delray Beach in February, trying to figure out a way to get that data off.

We weren’t about to give up easily on it, as they had photos we couldn’t replace, but wow, was it annoying to carry that weight and bulk around!
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Gueydan – Getting There and Getting Settled

The following morning in the Super-8 motel was heavenly. Though I was sliding downhill fast, Chelsea came to the rescue and headed out to the breakfast bar, bringing back breakfast goodies. Combined with the juice from the night before, we had a feast.

We moved slowly after breakfast, getting things ready for our ride to Gueydan.

Seeing Kenneth and Krisy was an absolute delight. They are both low-key, and Kenneth in particular has a completely irreverent and irrepressible sense of humor. It was just what we needed.

Krisy and Kenneth were amazed at our stories, laughing along with us. They were suitably impressed to hear that Krisy was only the second woman we’d spoken with in four months. We told them we had felt like little bits of estrogen floating in a sea of testosterone for the last few months.
Read more: Gueydan – Getting There and Getting Settled

Getting to Shreveport

Twenty minutes down the road we met up with Sherry Bell and her silver Dodge minivan. Chelsea, Pat and I worked like well-oiled machine, shifting the bikes and gear in under five minutes. After quick and heartfelt goodbye hugs with Pat, Chelsea and I settled into the middle two seats in back with our gear and bikes behind us. Sherry’s deliveries and personal items rode shotgun in the front seat next to her.

Eleven hours later, tired almost beyond caring, but quietly pleased with the direction things were heading, we sank in bone-deep relief onto the beds of a Super-8 motel in Shreveport, Louisiana.

I had driven a hundred sixty miles in the first three hours. We’d survived the battle of the dueling navigation systems. We’d driven another eleven hours, the first five hours with no break. We’d met a wonderful new friend. We’d had complete strangers be very kind to us.

Best of all, we laughed more from Atlanta to Shreveport, deep belly laughs, laughs that just took us over, than we’d laughed in far too long.

Sherry started it.
Read more: Getting to Shreveport

Our Last Week in South Carolina

Getting sick

Though it was difficult living in such a bitty space with its attendant challenges of noise, low light and wildlife, it paled in comparison to that last week when both Pat and Chelsea got sick with fevers and upper respiratory infections. They both awakened sick on that Monday morning after we posted our books and had our mini-celebration.

They were feeling very, very unwell. That left me to hold down the fort on anything and everything and I wasn’t feeling like the brightest light that had ever shone. None of us had much fun, particularly Pat and Chelsea.

There’s not much to say about it all, except that it was pretty miserable. Chelsea and I shared a small bed, so she coughed in my face all night for a full week (not deliberately, I hasten to assure you), and we had Pat coughing and choking and periodically gagging upstairs (he was much sicker than Chelsea). We all got very little sleep for six days.

Perhaps the low point was on Thursday night, the day after the Fourth of July. We’d had a big rainstorm that was dropping a phenomenal amount of rain. I lay in bed listening to Chelsea coughing next to me, with Pat upstairs coughing. I couldn’t help but think, “I’ve sure had a lot more fun than I’m having this week”!

I heaved a deep sigh and tried to think upbeat thoughts. It was hard. Very hard.
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Don’t Give Up At The Eleventh Hour

Not much changed in the short ride from Oconee campground back to Pat’s place. We were still hot, tired, in need of cool showers and fresh clothes, and to add to the mix, we were disoriented.

Our books weren’t up for sale yet, we’d run into technical snags that needed to be solved, we still had some sorting and packing to do, Pat needed the newly cleaned and painted basement room for an anticipated family visit within a week or two, and we didn’t yet have travel plans set for our next transition.

After unpacking the truck, Chelsea and I sat on the bed in stunned silence, seeking a bit of solace in the afternoon sunlight, surrounded by our pile of black and yellow panniers.

The red cooler from our campground sojourn sat in the sun on the porch, with the remains of our food getting warm. The stack of Pat’s gear still needed to go back to the workshop. Pat was clearly anxious and edgy.
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Oconee State Park

Given that it’s now high season here in the foothills with a major summer holiday quickly approaching, Pat, Chelsea and I took a quick run out to the State Park to find and secure a campsite. After several rounds around the campsite loops and several conversations with the rangers in the office, we picked our perfect site and reserved it.

Arrival day was a bit frantic. Chelsea was working quickly and single-mindedly to post the journals and photos I’d completed. I was fighting down physical nausea at the mere thought of sitting in the chair even one more hour, but I managed to finish a few last minute things.

The goal had been to finish the prologue and epilogue for our book series, but my body went into rebellion mode, screaming, “Enough! Enough!”
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South Carolina, moving to a new abode

I’m having a near death experience, but I think I see the white light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it’s heaven, because I’m sure ready for a heavenly experience.

With a massive desire to be caught up on our blogs and photos, then waylaid by the work necessary to bring out our new series of journal e-books, I have spent the last six weeks under brutal conditions, glued to my chair for far more hours each day than is even remotely healthy.

Thinking we were staying through October at the family home on Jim’s hill, we decided to work straight through our current projects, take a break for some fun, then start in on the brain recovery book.

All went well for some weeks until one fateful Monday morning when Chelsea found me typing away and whispered, “I think you should hear this. Jim says he needs the house and we may have to leave!”
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