Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

03-20 through 03-24 Great Days in Colorado

Current Location: Flag City RV Resort, Lodi California

Breezy, partly cloudy, and 65 Degrees F at  6PM

On Wednesday, when we arrived in Colorado Springs, the skies were a blue so brilliant and perfect that I was enthralled.  What better way to do laundry than to walk through a pine fragrant campground with an armful of clothes in the bright sunshine. I took my time catching up laundry, shaking out rugs, cleaning up the MoHo a bit and preparing for the next few days with the luxury of our home parked in one place. At Peregrine Pines, laundry is not free, but the machines are new and nice and the $1.75 per load for washing and $1.50 for drying is reasonable.

Our campsite isn’t far from the laundry and bath house at USAFA Peregrine Pines Family Camp

We decided that with the coming days of driving around both Colorado Springs and Denver, it would be a good idea to take the kayaks off the Tracker and lock them up at the campsite.  With the cooler temperatures, and visits with friends and relatives on the agenda, there wouldn’t be any kayaking happening.

I let Erin know that we were settled in and we made arrangements for the following day.  Since we weren’t planning to get together until lunchtime, Erin suggested that we might like to hike the short pathway from the Academy Visitor Center to see the iconic Cadet Chapel that is a landmark visible for a long distance from many parts of Colorado Springs.

The morning wasn’t as perfectly gorgeous as the previous day, and the air was chilly.  We meandered around the base, which is huge, and found the VC and the trail to the chapel.  As we entered the chapel, the sun came through the clouds at just the right moment to illuminate the colorful stained glass windows perfectly.

This magnificent chapel was completed in 1962 and in 2004 was named a US National Historic Landmark. There was a docent who showed us around, discussing the architecture, the lighting, and many small details that I might have missed. 

For instance, the ends of the pews are made of walnut and oak, shaped like airplane propellers.  The metal railings on the pews are made from aluminum, and represent the wings of an airplane. 

The architecture of the building is fascinating, with huge tetrahedrons bolted together to create the modernistic shape that soars skyward.  There are services held at the chapel for several denominations so that all cadets are represented. 

The cross at the front of the chapel is 99 feet tall and is shaped to symbolize not only the Christian cross, but also a soaring bird in flight, or perhaps an airplane. 

The windows were the most fascinating, with colors and angles that challenged the ability of the camera to capture light, turning everything a bright blue, even though that isn’t exactly how it was perceived by the eyes. 

The docent pointed out the stairs leading to the Roman Catholic chapel below, in addition to the Jewish Synagogue, and a Buddhist Meditation space.  The entire building was so inspirational.  I would have loved to be there for a Sunday service, just to hear the magnificent pipe organ, but our schedule demands that we be on the road early Sunday morning, so we will have to save that for another visit.

After we returned to the campground, Erin and Mui drove out to our campsite and then suggested we follow them to the lunch restaurant they thought would be a nice place for the four of us.  Most travelers with a tow vehicle know about the use of said vehicle as a sort of garage.  We were unable to take Erin and Mui in our car because it was crammed full of all the winter clothes we didn’t need in Florida but did need in the Pacific Northwest and in Colorado, with kayak gear, paddles, extra dog food, and wet water shoes.  Not a nice place to sit.

Erin and Mui had a bit of the same problem.  Having only recently ended their full time lifestyle, their car had been without a back seat, and once it was replaced, they had yet to find the proper seat belts.  Hence 4 people in 2 cars meandered through Colorado Springs toward the charming historic town of Colorado City. 

I was delighted with the lovely town, with lots of restaurants, shops full of enticing goodies, and brilliant murals on the old brick walls.  We didn’t have time to dawdle, with lunch at TAPAteria next on our agenda. Erin and Mui know good food, so I was excited to experience their choice of restaurant. 

I wasn’t disappointed and we shared several small plates and a couple of salads.  I even tasted Mui’s octopus, a first for me.  Our shared pitcher of frosty fruity blood orange sangria was the perfect accompaniment to our delicious meal.

After lunch we decided that a trip to the nearby Garden of the Gods would be a great way to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  Once again, we caravanned to the park and began our visit by an exploration of the Visitor Center.  The view from the outside deck is perfect, looking west toward the red rock fins of the park with a backdrop of snow covered Pikes Peak.

We decided to take a few minutes to see the park movie, shown in a round theater with seats that are supposed to represent a spaceship.  The movie travels back in time a few billion years, explaining the creation of the rock formations of the park over the eons.  Of course I loved it, even though it did seem that it was made mostly for kids. 

The displays at the Visitor Center were beautifully done, and I especially fell in love with the backlit artist’s renderings of the progression of time through the ages with the associated plants and animals.

With the afternoon passing by very quickly, and the somewhat windy and chilly air, we decided that a drive through the park was more reasonable than hiking.  The caravan once again took off for the 7 mile loop drive, stopping at the viewpoints to enjoy the panoramic views, and competing with a lot of people for parking spaces.

The Garden would be a lovely place to hike, and I will have that on my agenda for my next visit to Colorado Springs as well.  My favorite moment, however, was when I decided to climb up the rock around Balanced Rock so Erin could get a photo.  The minute my feet hit that slickrock, I was in heaven.  Climbing slickrock takes at least a dozen years off my life, and instead of doddering along trying to keep from stumbling around, I am suddenly a mountain goat, bouncing up the rocks without a qualm.  I love love love slickrock, probably my most favorite feeling underfoot.  Slickrock is not slick at all, and almost vertical hiking feels so simple.

One last time, the two car caravan meandered across Colorado Springs back to the western edge facing the prairie toward Erin and Mui’s brand new home.  What a treat!  Having just completed the building of our own new home in the last couple of years, we knew exactly how it felt to have it finally finished.  We were thrilled to have the honor of being their first guests.

One of my favorite moments came as we entered the lower level where all of Erin’s beautiful needlepoint and framed photographs were lined up along the wall waiting for their someday placements.  Having been blogging friends with Erin for at least a decade now, I have seen occasional photos of her work.  It was quite a thrill to see it in person.  So beautiful!  I can hardly wait to see how their home evolves as they add their touches and make it their own. 

I didn’t take photos at their house, figuring that Erin could share what she chooses at her leisure, but let me tell you, that view out the windows facing the prairie is spectacular. Across from their home is open space and an arroyo that is home to antelope and other wildlife.   Here is a blog post from Erin that ends with a sunrise from those gorgeous windows.

As the sun lowered in the sky over the mountains, we bid our farewells for the day, making plans to get together one more time before Mo and I resume our journey westward.

The next morning, Mo and I left the MoHo safely parked at the base, and loaded up the Tracker for a trip north to Denver to spend a night with Mo’s sister Edna.

I had to laugh, because even for a single night, traveling with our little dog is as bad as having kids.  We had to pack up the dog crate, the dog bed and blankets, dog food, and halter and leash, making sure we didn’t miss anything.  Mo and I didn’t bother to take much more than a toothbrush and some nightclothes.

The trip to Denver was uneventful, and we arrived at Edna’s early enough in the day to share some morning coffee and conversation before sitting outside in the lovey sunshine and taking Mattie for a nice long walk through the neighborhoods.

We spent a quiet afternoon visiting and collaborating on a 1000 piece puzzle that Edna had previously started.  Made me want to buy a puzzle, but it also made me a little bit crazy.  Early evening we ordered in pizza and enjoyed the company of Edna’s daughter Marci and her husband John, who came over to join us. The next morning we shared a nice breakfast Edna of leftover fabulous cherry pie before getting on the road back south.

Overnight, the crazy weather in Colorado changed again, and snow covered the hills as we traveled back south toward Colorado Springs.  There was a big slowdown on Interstate 25, long enough to give me a chance to get a photo of gorgeous Pikes Peak in the morning sun.

Once back home, I let Erin and Mui know that we had returned.  Initially we had thought we might do something as dramatic as visiting the Broadmoor Hotel and Manitou, but Mo and I were feeling a bit worn, and we all decided to keep it simple. Having camped at Peregrine Pines for a few weeks prior to moving into their home they knew the good spots.  Erin suggested a walk around what we think is a water retention pond, and a visit to a special spot at the base that we might have missed otherwise.

Once we knew they were on their way back to the campground, we said the magic word “walk”, in fact I am pretty sure we even spelled it out, which doesn’t help at all because Mattie knows how to spell a few important words.  The walk was lovely, with views of Pikes Peak, and we discussed how nice it would be to get up early enough to take photos at sunrise with reflections on the pond.  Something I never quite managed to do.

W –A –L –K ?? Really, Mom? what’s the hold up??

The Heritage Trail at Doolittle Hall was lovely in the afternoon light, with memorials and statues honoring famous graduates of the Academy. Doolittle Hall and the Association of Graduates honors the heritage, legacy, and history of the USAir Force Academy and its graduates. 

This lovely bridge is called the Challenge Bridge and was donated by the graduating class of 1959. We enjoyed the wildlife along the trail as well.

Dark Eyed Junco first time I have seen one

We then meandered back toward the Visitor Center Mo and I had passed on our first morning of explorations and spent some time viewing the wonderful displays of Academy history and cadet life.

As I read more and more of the codes of conduct of Academy cadets, I was so moved by what kind of inspiration it must be to young men and women to be part of such a tradition. If only part of the people that attend the Academy live up to such lofty ideals, we are lucky to have them in our world.

Great man, great smile, Mui was in the Air Force and knows how to do those hospital corners

Once again, the afternoon was waning, and it was time for Erin and Mui to lead us to supper.  And what a great supper it was. The big surprise was that the Italian bistro type restaurant that we visited was in a mall, and such a mall it was.  Colorado Springs seems to be a hotbed of wondrous shopping, and I really wished I would have had time to explore some of the real sticks and bricks stores that were clustered around our restaurant, Il Vicino.  Add that to the list of things to do when someday we return for a visit to Colorado Springs!  What a fun place to be.

What a yummy place and a truly delicious supper.  I can’t believe we didn’t take any photos that evening, but we were enjoying the conversation, knowing it would be the last real time visit for who knows how long.  We bid our final goodbyes and headed back to our little home on wheels, waiting patiently in the forest at the USAFA campground for the next leg of this long adventure.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

03-20-2019 Crossing the Country

Current Location: Peregrine Pines Family Camp, USAFA Colorado Springs, Colorado

Full moon clear at 29 degrees F at 4:00 AM

The days are starting to all run together.  When traveling east on I-10, crossing Texas, it seems like it goes on forever.  I can’t remember how many days it took us to get across that state, but I am sure it was at least four.  What I have discovered, is that the name of the state doesn’t matter, one state, five states, whatever, it takes days and days to get back west.

1620 miles, 5 days driving, with one down day in Palestine, AR, looks like our 300 mile per day routine is about right with a little bit extra

When we left Okefenokee, our main focus was heading home, taking I-40 back west as an alternative to I-10.  It helps to have a bit of different scenery, new landscapes to wake up the eyes and heart.  I know there are many sights we haven’t visited along the 10, but my ache to see new sights is waning a bit as our trip exceeds two months.  I am sorta ready to be home.

The annual Home Show in Eufaula, Georgia would have been a fun stop if we weren’t in travel mode

We left our little campground in Albany, Georgia on Thursday morning the 14th of March, traveling west and north.  Our original plan included driving toward Nashville, where we had a reservation at Arnold Air Force Base for two nights.  We thought it might be fun to see a little bit more of Nashville than we saw back in 2007, and to continue west toward Memphis.

We did have an important destination.  My mother, deceased in 1952, was born in Palestine, Arkansas.  I have spent several years attempting to track down my mother’s father and relatives on that branch of my family with little success.  With the help of Ancestry DNA tests, I discovered that I truly do have family connections right there in Palestine.  We had been invited to park at my cousin Rita’s place as long as we wanted.  Our visit will get a post of its own, but that will come next.

My cousin Rita and her husband Johnny in Palestine, Arkansas

No matter where you travel this time of year, weather can get in the way of the best laid plans.  The huge “bomb cyclone” that hit the upper Midwest was coming east in a long red, orange and yellow band that stretched from the lower southwest corner to the upper northeast corner of our route, spawning flooding, and scariest of all, tornados.  There was no escaping it. Should we hunker down and wait somewhere for it to hit us, or simply drive fast through it and hope it misses us.  As my daughter Deanna said, you are moving and the tornados are moving, no matter what you do, it is a crap shoot.

We decided that we should take the most direct route possible to get to Arkansas, skipping the sight seeing and cancelling the Nashville reservations.  All I had to do when calling the office was mention the tornado watches we were traveling through and we got a full refund.  Nice.

Our goal on the 14th was to simply get through the line of tornado watches.  We crossed Georgia in lovely sunshine, entering into Mississippi and some of the most kerthunkety roads we have traveled since I-10.  We passed Montgomery and Birmingham, navigating the freeways without much trouble.  I thought a lot about the important historical locations in both of these cities.  I have read great stories about visits to both cities and wished I had the weather, the time, and the energy to stop and spend some time appreciating the changes we have experienced in our country since the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.

Did I mention I was a bit burned out on city sights?  I found myself a bit glad that I had the excuse of tornado warnings to keep us moving north and crossing Mississippi in record time.  I joked that there would surely be a tornado shelter at the Cracker Barrel.

There were only a few scary moments, as we watched the swirling black clouds north of Birmingham building, and fought the erratic wind gusts.  The sky never did turn green, and the warning system app never sounded an alarm for tornado conditions going from watch to warning.  There were a few intense downpours, but no hail, for which I was extremely grateful.

That night, once again we overnighted in the free parking lot of a Cracker Barrel in Tupelo, Mississippi, safely on the other side of the tornado watch.  Nickie teased that we must love Cracker Barrel food, but not so much.  We do love their free parking lots however, and so far at each one we have used, the lot has been quiet.  In Tupelo we were the only rig in the lot, as we were previously in Florida. 

On the morning of the 15th, we continued north and west, crossing the Mississippi River mid day and arriving at my cousin’s place early afternoon.  We stayed two nights, and as I said, the story of that visit will come in another post.

Lots of high water on the Mississippi Delta

On Sunday morning, the 17th, once again we pointed the rig west along I-40, crossing Arkansas and most of Oklahoma before settling in once again at another Cracker Barrel, and another night alone in a quiet parking lot.  There were a lot of hotels surrounding the restaurant, but it seemed perfectly quiet and safe, even on the fringe of a big city near the airport.

This time we decided to succumb to the big country breakfasts that they are famous for.  Mo had French Toast for the first time on this two month trip, and I had some kind of great scramble thing, with biscuits and fresh squeezed orange juice.  We don’t eat out a lot, and this was our first breakfast out on the entire trip. 

Texas Rest Areas are sometimes as big as everything else in Texas

Our lovely breakfast kept us satiated through the rest of Oklahoma into the Texas Panhandle toward Amarillo. We haven’t traveled the Panhandle since 2010, and we were still unsure if the weather was going to cooperate with our plans to turn north toward Colorado.  There were inklings of snow in Colorado Springs, and if that continued, our plan was to spend the night in Amarillo, and continue west toward Albuquerque.

Gorgeous informative displays at the Gray County Safety Rest Area

Checking the weather, messaging with Erin, and looking at options for routing, we finally decided that it would be OK to make the journey north.  Instead of stopping in Amarillo, we continued north along highway 87 toward the little town of Dumas, Texas.  Using All Stays, we found the Dumas City Park, called Texhoma Park, a free camping spot with free electricity.  Free?  yeah, it really is free, with a limit of 24 hours only.  There is a donation box if you wish to help keep the place available. 

Once again we were almost the only rig there for the night.  Our only company was a gray RV with signs all over it in Spanish, basically advertising their travels from Chile to Alaska.  I did a bit of sleuthing, I found a photo of the same rig on Facebook, and ended up messaging with the person who posted that photo who had seen them in Chile.  Crazy world.  He and I did some more hunting, and actually found the Facebook page of the family, who have been on the road for two years. 

I had a lot of questions about that entire process.  Do they have to get visas for each country they pass through? Their facebook page says they are supporting themselves by selling things, but how do they do that in the US? It is a mom and a dad, two kids and a dog. They left their ordinary lives and ordinary jobs of teaching in Chile to travel all the way to Alaska.  I guess the RV dream is everywhere.

When we woke up and planned a leisurely 200 mile drive to our next destination, we were shocked to see that the plug-in voltmeter  was showing 18 volts and we were on store! It dropped down to 14 part of the time, so we really didn’t understand what was happening.  We tested a few things before deciding that we needed to find some help.  I found a mobile RV repair guy, Bob’s Mobile RV Service, who was back south of Amarillo, but he was so kind and helpful.  He said it could just be the meter itself, but that driving between 14 and 15 volts might not be a problem to get us to a repair service.  He then made some calls and set up a visit for us at the local Ford Dealer.  What a sweet guy.  He even called back a few hours later to be sure that we were OK. If you are ever in the vicinity, and need help I would highly recommend his service.

After driving to the small Ford dealership in Dumas, we waited a couple of hours for a technician to check our batteries, and alternator. Everything was fine, and as Bob had suspected, it was our voltmeter that had failed. The Ford dealer didn’t charge us for the service and we were on our way just a few hours later than planned.  Nice that we had a shorter mileage day ahead.

Eroded limestone at a rest area near Two Buttes, in far southeastern Colorado

Speaking of the RV dream, I am definitely not a full timer.  We have been traveling for 2 months now, and it has been wonderful.  I am so glad we can do it.  I am also so glad that we are heading home.  I have lost a bit of the excitement, and the thrill of exploring new places has taken a back seat to the thrill of once more getting back west.  The thrill of returning to our little town, and our green lovely acre, and our comfortable home is overshadowing the thrill of seeing more brown barren trees and brown barren grass on the high plains of the United States.

The Texas Panhandle isn’t completely flat.  We might have liked to explore Palo Duro Canyon, the Grand Canyon of Texas, second largest canyon in the United States

Following the snow predictions for the east side of the Rockies, we knew that it would be cold but not snowy for a night at John Martin Reservoir State Park.  We stayed at this park back in 2010, even spending an evening kayaking.  It was September then, not March, and wasn’t as cold. We knew the temps on this night in March were going to drop to the 20’s.  I discovered by pure chance that the park is now reservation  only, and made a reservation at the last minute as we drove north.  When we arrived, signs on the posts said do not occupy without a reservation, but same day reservations were allowed. Only problem, there is limited cell service at the park and one would have to return to the little nearby town of Hasty to attempt to get service.

Once at the park, my choice of a site seemed really stupid.  On the website it is very nearly impossible to get any kind of idea of what a site might be like.  There are no photos.  We ended up all alone in a loop over by the dam.  It turned out nicely, however, since it was completely quiet, and I could take Mattie out running off leash without any problems.  It was too cold to be on the lake anyway!

Yesterday morning we got up to a windy 24F degrees, that quickly warmed to 34F degrees but the wind was biting cold. 

Yup, that’s me trying to take phone photos at 24 degrees in the wind.  Stupid selfie camera comes on when I don’t know it

On the road by 9, we knew we had a short day ahead driving west toward Interstate 25 and our final miles toward Colorado Springs and the USAir Force Academy Peregrine Pines Family Camp.

We have read about this beautiful camp over the years, and seen beautiful photos from Erin’s blog about the trails and the chapel, and knew it would be a good place to stay.

Settled in at Peregrine Pines with the bluest skies we have seen in a long time

Erin and Mui loved this area so much, it called to them when they made their choice to end their full time lifestyle and settle down once again to a sticks and bricks home. (You can read about it here). We look forward so much to seeing their new home and spending time with them here in Colorado Springs.

Still not quite sure about our return route.  Once again, weather will be the determining factor. Mo isn’t too excited about returning back south to the 40 and I am not that excited about traveling over the mountains on the 70 or through the cold windy country  of Wyoming on the 80.  That route on the 80 is actually 400 miles less than my choice of returning back to the 40 and then having to go back north.  Ah well.  As I said, the choice will be made next Sunday morning when we exit Colorado Springs.

Hoping that a few extra miles going back south will be rewarded with warmer temperatures and maybe even some desert flowers as we continue our run home west toward Grants Pass.  Either way, home is the prize waiting at the end of the journey.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

03-15-2019 Visiting My Cousin Rita in Palestine, Arkansas

Current Location: Peregrine Pines Campground, USAir Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Overcast and chilly at 48 Degrees F

We were lucky that the weather was with us when we arrived in Palestine for two days visiting my cousin Rita and her husband Johnny.  The sun was shining, and in spite of the chilly nights, the days were warm enough for shirtsleeves and we enjoyed our time exploring the local roads and cemeteries.

There is some background here that can get a bit daunting, so I’ll simply summarize a bit.  My own mother passed in 1952, I didn’t know my father, so he wasn’t a source of information for me about my family background.  My grandmother was incredibly secretive and refused to even tell my mother who her father was.  All I knew was that she was born in Palestine Arkansas in 1924.  My grandmother died with her stories untold.  Later in life, I found my father and he said there was a name, “Hurt”, that was probably my mother’s father.

Enter Ancestry and DNA testing.  A few months ago, my DNA came up with a very high probability match with Rita Hurt Jayroe.  I WAS a Hurt! I wrote a tentative note to Rita, and in spite of the sketchy background, was welcomed with open arms and tons of stories about the Hurt family. 

Her father and my grandfather William Isham Hurt were brothers.  There is no record of my mother’s birth, but amazingly for the time, my grandmother has two photos of a man holding my mother when she was weeks old.  I showed that photo to Rita, and she said, sure enough, that was her Uncle Isham.  What a world!

We talked for a long time on the phone, sharing stories and laughs, and Rita and her husband Johnny, with such open hearts, offered a place for us to park our motorhome if we ever were to pass by Arkansas.  Sure enough, with our trip plans including a return along I-40, I asked if it was a good time for us to visit.

Rita’s Uncle Isham, my grandfather, William Isham Hurt, holding my mother as a baby

What a delight it was to step into the roots of Rita and her family.  We arrived mid afternoon, and were directed into the big barn with a cement floor and electric hookups.  It was nice to have the view out the front and yet have shelter for the predicted freezing nights to come.

Mattie had a playmate for a couple of days while we visited.

Rita welcome us with open arms, and then we walked around the property a bit, hearing more stories of the Hurt Family.  In the photo below, you can see a small white house, located across the street from the house that Rita and Johnny live in now and that they built over 40 years ago. 

Rita was born in that little white house on their property across the road from where they live now

  Rita and Johnny built this home more than 40 years ago

Rita and Johnny have been married for more than 50 years, and Johnny also has very deep roots in Palestine.  During the afternoon, before Johnny returned from work, Rita shared movies of her father and uncles, including Uncle Isham, my grandfather, on the right in the photo below that I took from the projection on the television.

I also saw portraits of my great grandparents and other family treasures that have been part of the Hurt family.

Later that evening, we rode with Rita into Palestine for an supper at a little cafe called the Crazy Donkey Grill.  The place was packed on that Friday night, and the food was good.  Quite different from our western version of Mexican food but still tasty. The restaurant has been open only a year or so, and has a map of the United States with pins marking where people are from.  Our two pins were the only ones from Oregon!

Johnny joined us as we finished up our supper.  We had the farmer discussion about this being being “supper” and the big meal at noon was “dinner”.  Johnny told us lots of stories about farming in this part of Arkansas, one of the biggest rice growing areas in the country.  I had no clue that rice was grown in Arkansas. Johnny was as kind and friendly as Rita, and wanted to be sure that we were comfortable.

Rita loves her flowers, and we could see how pretty everything would be as spring progresses

We retired to our cozy nook in the shop, and the next morning Johnny insisted on making breakfast for all of us in the house.  The day was cool but beautifully sunny and we had plans to travel to Forrest City (the nearby county seat) for lunch at another restaurant that is a favorite of theirs, the Ole Sawmill Cafe.  There we were treated to some traditional Southern cooking at a buffet that included Southern Fried Chicken and fried okra.  Yummy stuff.  They had plans to take us out to dinner, but we said, please, no more food! 

The rest of the afternoon we visited the cemetery in Forrest City where my grandfather was buried, and then later we wandered around the cemetery in Palestine where Johnny had been in charge for several years so he knew where a lot of the gravestones were located.  There we found the headstones for my great grandparents and many other members of the Hurt family. 

Tina “Tiny” Cooper Taggart, my great grandmother.  All I will ever know of her

We thought perhaps we might find my grandmother’s mother Tina somewhere in that cemetery but had no luck.  What we did find was a record of her death in 1931 in Little Rock.  There are so many stories that died with my grandmother that will never be known.

The no more food suggestion didn’t work very well, because after a short late afternoon nap we walked back over to the house to discover that Rita and Johnny has ordered ribs and fixin’s for supper!  Good thing I don’t live in the South.  Good stuff.

It was a wonderful visit, and Rita and I spent a bit of time going over the family tree that she has worked on for some time now, with roots going back to the 15th century.  I always thought I had no extended family, and now look, I have cousins!  I am so glad that Rita was willing to answer my tentative note, and that we had a chance to meet and share stories about our children, our lives, our history.

For someone like me, who has lived in so many places throughout my life, it was fascinating to meet Rita who has lived only right there in the vicinity of Palestine Arkansas for her entire life. I once made a google map of all the houses I lived in from 1945 until now.  Here is the link to that map.

It is good to have some roots. It is also interesting to discover that my somewhat strange connections to the South and how I feel when I am there actually have some basis.  My family roots on this side are in the South.  In Arkansas, in Tennessee, with preachers and Civil War soldiers, and sheriffs, and farmers. Those roots go all the way back to Virginia, and then England and Scotland and Ireland. 

It seems that many people I have talked to lately are discovering so many hidden stories in their families, truths that have long been hidden revealed. As Rita said, all of Isham’s legitimate grandchildren might not be so welcoming, and she is going to take her time letting them know about me.  No matter, this connection that we have made is enough to fill in some of the blanks that have been part of my life story for 70 plus years. 

The wonders of DNA.  Who knows where it will lead for so many of us seeking answers to our stories.