Thursday, May 31, 2007

Billy's Blog

Hiya... Just a quick post to let y'all know Billy has decided to author his own blog featuring his work and thoughts on the painting process in general. You can find his writing at A Brush With Life. Or Either way will get ya there. He will be posting all his new work there a piece at a time and discussing the techniques he is working with, the reason for chosing the landscape painted and all kinds of interesting little artsy tid bits. So check it out people. This new development will allow me more space to blab and carry on here so this is fair warning. Billy was the thing keepin' this blog safe and clean people. Now that he has moved out into his own blog home anything goes... sharp edges, smack talk and general silliness may infect the posting on (every) occasion.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sakonnet Rocks

We spent the day out near Little Compton and on Sakonnet Point which is one of our favorite spots to hang out when we are in Billy's old hood. The point is really one of the most beautiful spots I have seen in New England. You can swim, snorkle, tide pool and spend hours just wandering the beach searching for cool tumbled rocks. I ALWAYS come home with my pockets jammed full of rocks. Some of them are way too big to be carrying around in a pants pocket. I love rocks. If you get what I mean by that... then you get what I mean by that. If you don't...then there is no explaining it. Some rocks just feel right. These must come home with me.

After walking the point we drove back through to Tiverton Four Corners and had a mango chutney and chickpea sandwich at the local deli and then (of course) crossed the street to Gray's Ice Cream for a cone. The whole area is riddled with old stone walls, huge old trees and the most quaint old shingled cottages you can imagine. Lots of OLD stuff. This is a good thing.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Workin' For The Weekend

I spent most of the day today working on a new batch of goodies I am listing on ebay. Even though I swore up and down and wrote it out in blood on the ceiling of the Hall of Justice (Aquaman was there to bear witness) that I would never again allow myself to indulge in buying vintage for resale... it has happened. I have an illness. I cannot resist the treasure hunt. What must happen here is this.... I must sell 75% of what I have in stock before I am allowed to go out and get more. If any of you out there care to support my habit please rush immediately to my auction pages and bid like your life depends on it. My fave thing I have to offer is a bunch of pieces of Royal Crown Porcelain Ovenware from the 70's. I went blind with happiness when I found it.... but then I quickly crashed into the reality that I can't have it. Porcelain cannot live in a bouncity bounce trailer rambling all over the country. Sigh.

We are set up for most of June in New England visiting Billy's family. Our first night sleeping indoors was really almost surreal for me. The bedroom is huge in comparison to our bed space in the peanut and it is painted a pale watery blue. I lay awake most of the night feeling like I was laying at the bottom of a swimming pool. Weird. It's even more strange to be looking out the bedroom window at the trailer sitting out in the driveway. I think I am suffering a bit of separation anxiety.

Let me just mention it was no small task for Billy to get that trailer into that driveway. There were some high test moments when the front pan of the trailer was like a quarter of an inch away from scraping on those little brick walls at the base of the driveway. Getting it hitched back up on the slope of the drive may prove to be more of a task even than backing it in was. We will deal with that when the time comes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Not All Fun and Games

OKAY! I am so tired my brain feels like a week old hush puppy from Long John Silvers so this is gonna be blunt. We drove 9 hours today. We arrived at our one night stop over in up state New York. It is ridiculous. There is a giant plastic Statue of Liberty at the front office if that tells you anything. And when I say giant I mean it's like 7 feet tall. As we were trying to back into our space the people camping next door started chatting with me. They were very hesitant to STOP chatting with me even though I insisted I was tired, wanted to make dinner and go to bed. Then during set up we discovered the fridge will not power up. So we spent the next two hours trying to figure that out. Never did. All this time the people next door kept it up asking if they could come look at the Airstream? Do we wanna drink wine with them? How old are we? Can they suck our blood? Can they eat my brains out of my head with a spoon? To all this I continued to answer "No." We gave up on fixing the fridge which means all our food is as good as old hot mayonnaise. We then decided we would just take quick showers and go to bed. The hot water heater (suddenly) does not work either. So we took cold showers. The capper is the realization that with all the in and out dealing with the fridge we managed to fill the trailer up with giant mosquitoes. They are everywhere. It looks like it's snowing inside...snowing fat mosquitoes. I spent about ten minutes hopping around smacking at them... going blind trying to see them against the bright ceiling lights. I give up. Totally. I will probably wake up in the morning with an eye swollen shut from a bite and a hot case of West Nile. That's all. Wish us luck and I will report back once we have regained some semblance of sanity and a stock cold unspoiled mustard.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Return from Paradise! Ouch!

Well, if climbing miles up the steep sides of mountains is paradise... then we were there. Our time in the Blue Ridge was mighty fine. I would have loved to stay up there for another week or two but we are making for Massachusetts and that is that! Our campsite was right at the base of Crabtree Falls which is a series of waterfalls that stretch up the mountainside for two solid miles and the trail which runs the length of the falls eventually meets up with the Appalachian trail up top. It was smash your brains out beautiful.

This time of the year there are thousands of wild rhododendrons in bloom all over the place and the color is amazing especially in conjunction with the falls.

Beyond the falls area we climbed up to Spy Rock which gives a 360 degree view of the surrounding Blue Ridge and waaaay off into the distance as well. It was a serious ass whipping for us to do both hikes in a row (we are clearly out of shape) but it was so worth it. And as you may have guessed by this point in the post.... I was spared by the bears of the Blue Ridge. We did see signs of them near Spy Rock, but they had places to go and other people to eat that day so there were no problems. Billy was comfortable enough at the top to take a nap while I crept around shooting pics.

It really is troubling the extent to which my leg muscles were demolished by these two hikes. Last night I felt as though I had been beaten by a large wooden bat from the hips down. I can't imagine what it must be like to hike the entire AT from Georgia to Maine. There must be days in the beginning when the word pain does not even come close to describing the sensation in your legs and back. My hat goes off to all y'all who tackle that challenge. We met a guy on the trail to Spy Rock who was doing the whole AT. He had started in Georgia on March 15th. He was alone and I would guess he was around 50 years old. He was the picture of happiness and health. There was not a trace of worry, stress or negativity on his face. You have to see someone with a face like this to realize that most of us DON'T have a face like this. He was eating a sandwich like it was his last meal and his favorite food and he was on ecstasy. The sandwich looked a mess... but he was lovin' it. This is one of the benefits of true hunger and actually really needing the fuel for your body... an old cheese sandwich tastes like a million bucks.

We have traveled back down to the Charlottesville area to get Big Berta's oil changed and pull ourselves together for the final push back to MA. We should arrive there before the weekend hits. I will post a few more pics and Billy's new VA work along the way. Now I must go and eat ice cream.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Luna Bar Strategy

This is a scene from one of the beautiful walks we took back at Chippokes Plantation... courtesy of Young William McLane...

Today is hot. Tomorrow... they say...will be cold. Then it will rain, possibly for days. People, the weather matters a lot when you live in a trailer. Wet means WET. It gets wet inside too. Wet sheets, wet towels that never dry, etc. I am not complaining (well, yes I am just not in a very loud voice,) I am merely pointing this out in case it had not occurred to you people living in "normal houses." We are dealing with this quite well. I am nervous as Hell about this Summer in New England with the humidity though. From our past experiences in Dolly (our old '83 VW Vanagon we used to travel in) the inside of your home can overnight become something of a petri dish growing mold. THIS is NOT GOOD. So we are looking for advice from anyone out there in the know.... what works best to abate moisture inside the trailer? Let the words of wisdom fly if anyone has any suggestions here... it would be greatly appreciated.

We are gearing up to leave Pocahontas State Park tomorrow morning to head up into the Blue Ridge Mountains for 5 days. Today I bought the Luna Bar which will lure the bear that will eat me to my backpack. It is a Lemon Zest flavored bar. I bought Billy a Carmel Nut Brownie one... there is my strategy. I think we alllll know which Luna Bar will smell tastier to Mr. (or Ms.) Bear. While Billy is "feeding" his Luna Bar to the bear... I will be catapulting myself down the steepest slope of the mountainside. It should all work out just fine.

We are both laying around nursing Cool Hand Luke belly aches. We had bought a whole watermelon and brought it home only to realize... "Hey! This thing won't fit in the fridge!" So we ate it. Almost the whole thing. I felt like I was participating in one of those competitions where some tiny Asian guy wins by packing away 57 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Only ours was a slow, leisurely packing away of the food item. The results are the same. A belly as tight as a bongo drum.

Word on the street has it we will have no cell signal up in them thar mountains so this will be the last post til Monday. This will also be the last post if bears prefer Lemon Zest to Carmel Nut Brownie.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

Still Lovin' Virginia!

Our new campsite is in Central Virginia not too far from the Appomattox River and Lake Chesdin. Once again this is an area steeped in history and has tons of charm in it's old country roads and farms. We took Big Alberta (our truck) out for a long "hike" yesterday afternoon exploring. I was struggling against car sickness most of the way due to the twisting turning roads and the fact that I was trying to read the map on the GPS screen and look at the scenery all at the same time. I ate about 400 ginger mints and it got me through the queasiness.

We wandered around a bit on the banks of Lake Chesdin listening to the creaking, rattling and croaking of what sounded like a thousand different frogs and/or toads. I was longing for a kayak or canoe to get out on the water and explore all the nooks and crannies of that area. It is really beautiful. We are taking a mental count of all the places we encounter in this first year out on the road to see if it would be worth the investment to buy a couple of kayaks to haul along with us on top of the truck. Nice kayaks are not cheap and it will add significant weight to our whole set up and will eat into the already ridiculous gas mileage situation so we want to be sure they would get used...a lot.

We were about 20 miles from camp when we realized... "Hey! We have not eaten anything all day!" And suddenly we were moments from death. Really. We barely made it home. I was seeing things in triple when we pulled in to the park. Grill Master McLane quickly fired up the "little girl" and cooked some asparagus, squash and fake chicken. People... if you are at all interested in the concept of fake chicken products (and I know some of you secretly are) get yourself anything made by Quorn. They are doing stuff with "faux meat" that will rock your world... I promise. "Faux Meat." I had to say that again and with quotes around it. Say it out loud. Faux Meat. It is "meat" that is not your foe. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Long Dizzy Ride to Pocahontas.

Sorry for the lag in posts but we have had a really slooooow, blahhhh sort of beginning to the week. And today was moving day! Always exciting... moving to our new home/campsite. This time is was just a quick jump up the road about 50 miles to Pocahontas State Park. Big deal right? Well, it was kind of a big deal only because we both felt like we were gonna DIE the whole time. Not sure what the problemo is or was but both Billy and I were totally tired, spaced out and feeling kind of sicky/crappy. To the extent actually, that driving was a real chore. I was plotting ways to conveniently barf in a clean, streamlined manner out the car window without asking Billy to pull the truck/trailer over to the roadside. Happily neither the barfing or pulling over ended up being a necessity and we made it to the new campground with our breakfasts still in our bellies. TMI? Well, I am only being honest people. It's how the day played out.

Our new site is smashingly beautiful and woodsy and private and all the fabulous things one hopes for in a campsite, so I think we will be cozy here for the next week. We are laying about like three toed tree sloths tonight shaking off the tail end of whatever creeper was making us feel oogie today. Tomorrow is find the grocery store and post office and other important "stuff" day. Word on the state park streets is that we have about 38 miles of hiking trails at our disposal in this park so it is petty possible we will just hang out right here in the the whole time we are camped here. After this we hit the Blue Ridge Mountains where I will most likely be eaten by a bear. It is my destiny. If it does not happen this time... it will happen sooner or later. So get it while ya can people...get it while ya can.

OK. I will try to post pics of the area tomorrow.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

All Quiet on the Birthday Front

We spent Billy's 32nd just hanging out here on the farm and went for a long walk to enjoy the amazing huge puffy clouds which were racing by all day long (it was really windy today.) We are trying to soak up the last few days in this part of Virginia before we start to head slowly North.

Since we had a really low key day (the big event of the day was making some fakin bacon BLT's for dinner) this is just going to be a short picture post. It was such a beautiful day...check it out!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hog (Heaven) Island

Yesterday we spent the entire afternoon walking the trails out on Hog Island which is a wildlife management area known for it's spectacular array of water fowl and shore birds (over 60 species have been recorded on the site.) There are miles of trails and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. We lucked out and had an afternoon full of interesting cloudscapes for a backdrop to the landscape. We saw several bald eagles, tons of osprey and at least a dozen ducks and various water fowl that we could not even identify. We also saw a family of fox... a mamma with two pups. They were very curious about us and kept us laughing for a good section of the hike peeking out at us from behind forest service maintenance buildings. I'll post a pic of one of them here... it's a bit blurry but you can get the general idea of the extreme levels of cuteness involved.

Anyone passing through this area that wants to hit Hog Island for the birding/hiking... be aware that you have to pass through the Surry Nuclear Power Plant security checkpoint to gain access to the wildlife management area. They search your vehicle, run your plates and all that jazz. So leave your explosives at home or you will never make it out to see the brilliant array of ducks and geese. The guys at the check point were very friendly and we were though in about 5 minutes so it is a painless experience and the area is worth the trouble of gaining access for sure.

We are still tucked in under cloudy skies, occasional drizzle and cool temps here in Virginia. It's also getting buggier by the day. We have officially begun the battle against mosquitoes. They are such a bummer. Speaking of small buzzing creatures... we have been descended upon by a girl scout troop in the group campsites right next door to us. It should prove to be an interesting evening. Kumbaya.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rainy Day

It's been drizzling rain aaalllll day today. I pretty much woke up feeling right in line with a quiet, sleepy, rainy day vibe so we have stayed home here in the trailer listening to the drops tapping on the roof. Billy has been working on a new painting of the plantation farm tirelessly. It's a really challenging piece with lots of foliage and greenery. Creating a good painting involving so much green is really tough. It's like trying to make a really tasty soup out of one ingredient. It's all about color values, light, shadow, and composition.

He has been working on that painting so long today I don't know how his eyes have not popped right out of his head.

We have 5 more days to enjoy the farm here before we move on farther inland. Billy's birthday is this weekend so we will probably be here eating way too many baked goods and other various indulgent foods with that as an excuse.

Our next stop is close to Richmond so I am sure we will day trip in there to check out the state capital. Soon after that we will head straight on into MA to stay with Gail (Billy's Mom) and to visit family and friends out on the Vineyard and Nantucket. We have not seen anyone out there in over a year. It will be good to get back to New England and hang out with everyone and enjoy the early days of Summer.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

This Little Piggy Arrives in a 1940 Ford Pick Up

We had a pretty special start to our day today. We were visited this morning by a new friend whom we met down on Main Street of Smithfield, VA yesterday outside the ice cream parlor. His name is Al and he is a fine Virginian gentleman... he was helping us out with directions and telling us a bit about the history of his town and his own personal passions. These are the moments that make our trip something worth talkin' about. Al collects old Ford trucks and hot rods (specifically from the years 1936 and 1940.) After meeting him yesterday he mentioned we could check out his website to see pictures of his collection. Make sure you click through and check it out...he has some really cool stuff. I emailed Al last night through his website and mentioned that I sure would love to take a spin in one of those old trucks. Al was not gonna let me down on that one. He brought out the newest addition to his fleet which he calls "Walker Ride" after the man who owned it originally. We sat at the picnic table to chat over coffee for awhile and then took a drive around the plantation farm roads in the truck. It was a real hoot! Here's a look at the truck....

Al also brought us a couple of mementos from our stay near Smithfield... a couple of wee little golden pigs which are pins. Smithfield is of course famous for it's ham... hence the golden piggies. Thanks Al! We are so glad you stopped out... maybe we will see ya again downtown when we drive in for that slice of pie. And we will wear our Smithfield pigs with pride!

We pretty much took the rest of the day off from painting or anything else and cleaned house. We scrubbed the peanut down from it's tin roof to the floor. The cupboards got rearranged and the fridge got cleaned out. Even though this is such a small space....or maybe BECAUSE it is such a small space, it gets really dusty and "outdoorsy" in here really easily. So it felt good to get all that pollen and junk zapped outta here. After we got done cleaning I baked some coconut cupcakes from a Barefoot Countessa box mix my Mom shipped to me awhile back. It was a very domestic day. I made a dozen cupcakes... there are two of us. It could get ugly. I'll leave it at that.

Oh! Happy 1st of May! Aren't you all so glad it is finally MAY? I have had enough of Winter and cold to last me the rest of my life. Billy and I have sworn to avoid temperatures below 50 for the rest of our days on this Earth. OK... I am heading for the hills people... all that cleanin' today knocked me right on my a-s-s. Adios!