Saturday, March 24, 2018

Plan B

Plan A was to be a slow and leisurely drive up north from Florida. After all it is still to cold to be in Minnesota in March. So slowly we travelled. 2 nights in Cedar Key, Florida. 3 nights near Pensacola, Florida. 2 nights near Meridian, Mississippi.

Then a sense of urgency was called for. That sense of urgency is because of grand-baby one is due any day now. So the navigator planned a course that would get us to about a day away if grand-baby one decided to come early. Remember that it is March still and it is cold in Minnesota. Campgrounds there don't open until May 1st so we would be in Lisa's mother's driveway for a month at least. So we made it to the Quad Cities and are hunkered down in a KOA that happens to be open. Not our favorite kind of campground but it is the only thing open. We got here before a winter storm hit the area but the temps are supposed to stay above freezing. We hope.
There's something wrong with this picture.

Let me back up a little bit. After our secret location in Florida, we made a short jaunt north to Clarkco State Park in MS. It was a nice park and very empty during the week. We had a nice site on the water. It was called a premium site because of the view and it was only 24 a night with full hookups. The regular sites where only 20 a night. Great deal.
Site 37 with a great view.

The pad was a little short so we really hung over the end.

Lake view

After 2 relaxing nights, our plan was to go to Vicksburg MS. There they have the Vicksburg National Military Park. Now if you are easily offended, stop reading now.

Vicksburg was a city on the Mississippi River that was vital to both sides of the Civil War. Nearly 100 thousand troops faced each other for over 40 days of fighting. Over 20,000 lost their lives. It is a very somber sight for both sides of the war. This is similar to Gettysburg if you have ever been there and if not, I would recommend both places before the creampuffs change history and tear them down. Personally I was not offended. I was in awe of the whole place.

Missouri Monument
Minnesota Monument

Union Cannons

Ready, Aim, FIRE!

Illinois Monument

Wisconsin Monument.

Statue at the Wisconsin Monument

Confederate Cannon

The monuments of the north are larger than the south's due to the economics after the war. Both sides recognized the importance of saving this history because of the sacrifices made by both sides.

USS Cairo

Inside of the Cairo
The USS Cairo was a union ironclad ship that was used to bombard Vicksburg from the Mississippi River. It was sunk during the war and they have raised it and rebuilt parts of it for the museum.

After our visit there we got hungry. We wanted local so we found the Gumbo Pot. It was delicious.
Deep fried shrimp

Shrimp and Grits
So Plan B was in effect. One night in Vicksburg and then we headed north to Sikeston, Missouri. We just stayed the night and moved on up to our current secret location. We got here before a winter storm hit the area. Now we are covered in snow and it has been snowing all day. Which brings us back to the beginning. 

We don't normally stay at a KOA for many reasons. Mainly the price. I don't know how they can justify the prices that they charge. If we did stay at one we would ask for a military discount which saves a little, but this one doesn't offer that and I don't know if all KOA's have gotten rid of that discount. So we won't stay at KOA's if they don't offer that any more. I wonder about their price here. Is it because they are the only ones open now. $46 a night is expensive. We got to our site and then we were informed that the water was off due to the low temps. So we then had to go back and fill up. I think they should have told us before we got to the site. Also our fire pit.
Look at all the trash in our firepit. And yes, that is a diaper in there. They will not get a good review from us.

Now we are in a holding pattern for grand-baby one to arrive and waiting for some warmer temps up north. 

Stay tuned for the next chapter of "Dorks on Parade".

Monday, March 19, 2018

It was Bound to Happen Sometime

"Hey Gladys,where's our next super secret location?"

"Tango, you will love it!"

So we packed up and left the quaint little coastal town and started traveling north and west. We got to our next super secret location only to realize that we may have been there already. We drove by a state park and we looked at each other and said, "didn't we stay there?" Or, just maybe we have reached the age that we are forgetting things? Or maybe we have travelled so much that we have forgotten the places we have been to? After all we really don't document our travels that well. I know it was before I started blogging.

It was reconfirmed when I went on Tripadvisor to find out the top 10 things to do here. We have done that museum, we have seen that lighthouse, visited those forts and walked that beach. Crap, now what are we going to do? "

"The weather doesn't look too promising, so lets go for a drive and see what we stumble across." said Gladys.

 "Great, I love it when a plan comes together."

So we climbed into the "Beast" and headed to the coast. Naturelly the weather people had it wrong. It was beautiful there and we wished we would have packed our beach gear. Dorks on parade. We could have spent the day just soaking up the sun. So we just went for a walk along the beach and enjoyed that. Not crowded at all. We found many beaches that were empty and it is spring break here. We also found some crowded ones, so now we have an idea of which ones to go to if we come back.
Gulf Coast waters

This sexy mermaid washed up on shore

We took a break from the beach and we wanted to find a local place to eat. Gladys said that several people had eaten at a certain restaurant that we came across so we went in. They had peel and eat shrimp! Two orders please, chop, chop! And beer!
Peel and eat goodness

I will divulge where we were at because we are not there anymore. We drove the Gulf Shores National Seashore from Navarre Beach out to Ft. Pickens. Great drive along the beach. We didn't get to Ft. Agrinins. Just not enough time for Pickens and Agrinins. So we just explored Ft. Pickens. I love things like that and find them very interesting.
Ft. Pickins


Gladys with the Pensacola lighthouse behind her.

Our second day involved an inspection from a VIP. Which I was glad was going to happen. At least Gladys will clean the house finally. The VIP we were waiting for was Geraldine Cowpuncher. One of our favorite paddlers from our Amazon trips.
Gladys and Geraldine
It was nice to catch up with Geraldine again. Gladys was so excited to be able to get the chance to wear her bike hat.

That is it for another episode of "Dorks on Parade." Gladys has assured me that our next secret location is one that we have not been to. She thinks.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

First Stop on the Undisclosed Location List

First order of business. Traveling with assumed identities. Mine is okay, but Lisa's I didn't quite like. Remember hers is Josaphine Butterpump. After much thought I have decided to give her a new name. One that rolls off of the tongue better, and that is this. Gladys Butterpump.

Second order of business. We left the Berry festival a day after it ended to take care of some business in a east central Florida town. When we returned to the Berry festival I couldn't believe that they had nearly torn the whole thing down in just one day. Truly amazing to be able to move over 80+ rides and the same amount of food stands. Talk about logistics.

We left the Berry festival grounds on Wednesday and we had a short drive to a quaint little coastal town that we know of. We were kind of excited to get back there because it has been over 2 years since our last visit. It is a cute little town on the gulf that says it is like what Key West used to be. Very laid back. Nothing to do but relax and drink.
Sunny day on the gulf


More Pelicans

Looking down the main street
Looking back the other direction

The town recovered nicely after the hurricane

Looking at the bars and stores from the peir

Island in the Gulf

This little town is known for it's clams. So we just couldn't leave without some of those. So we walked over to the "Big Deck" for some clams and peel and eat shrimp. It was delicious and we washed those down with a couple of beers. 
The Big Deck
Steamed Clams


Love these peel and eat shrimp
After our appetites where satisfied, we walked the town some more before a drive out to the scrub and some Sasquatch hunting. 
The scrub and Sasquatch hunting
It was a quick trip but we have been there before for a couple of months at a time. So we move on to our next secret location. Tango and Gladys out.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Strawberries

As I sit here in my Tidy Whities contemplating the differences of the Strawberry Festival this year and the Strawberry Festival last year, I can't help but smile a little. For several reasons.

1. This year we are working for someone else (and when I say "we", I mean me) and not the festival itself. We are not standing in a parking lot for 12 hours a day in the blistering sun getting insults and vulgarities hurled at us. No, we are working for some very nice, fun people we met last year at the Strawberry Festival.

2. The second reason that makes me smile is that some of you are really thinking that I blog in my underpants.

So this year I am driving trams.
"ALL ABOARD!" beep, beep, toot, toot.
Shuttling people around the parking lots to the gates of the festival. It has been fun and the people are nice getting on because they are excited to go ride the rides and eat all of the different varieties of food. The ones that get on at the end of the day are just tired and thankful for the chance to ride back to their cars instead of having to walk.

Day 1 and 2. I worked the day shift. Pretty slow in the mornings because the gates open at 10 and the midway at noon. 2-5 people would board at a time and then we would shuttle them to the gate, then back again. Around and around we go. Then I was moved to the night shift and  it got busier, plus the weekend arrived. It sure made the nights go by fast.

3 days into the festival and I have already had some interesting stories to tell. I am sitting at the gate in the tram, a lady comes up and tells me she can't find her car. I am not sure how I can help but I ask her where she parked. She said the handicapped lot. I said that is right there next to where I was parked. She holds up here key fob and hits the button. "See, it's not there." I wonder if I had a dumbfounded look on my face? I then told her to go to the gate and someone there could help her because I told her that I honestly didn't know where she parked.

One night I was hauling a VIP into the festival. The tram stopped at the gate and there was a gentleman waiting to get on. The VIP was with the fair board and she asked him if he needed help. Immediately she knew he was drunk. I mean can't speak and ready to fall over drunk. So she then walks to the gate and gets the Sheriff's deputy. Meanwhile he climbs onto the tram and I don't know how he got up there. I get out to ask him if he knows where he is going and he just kind of nods. The deputy calls for backup and we wait a little bit. Backup is on its way so the deputy confronts him and gets him off of the tram and the VIP says to leave so I did.

The flag people in the lots are no different than the ones last year. They stand in the middle of the road and just flap their arms like they are trying to take off. Just flap, flap, flap. Keep going, the breeze feels good. I will be lucky if I don't run them over.*My lawyer advises me not to run over flag flappers.

One of the perks with this job is that we get to go into the festival for free. We just show our ID badges and walk right through. The bad thing about that is that you get to walk right through everyday if we want. What do you think that would do to our figures?  Because of that the death marches have begun. So we only go in every couple of days to look around and find some good fair food. They have a huge variety, that's for sure.
It says, "Chompers, Crunchy balls of goodness". Not sure I want to try that. *My lawyer advised them they should say spheres instead of balls.

I have never seen so many food stands at a festival.

Another perk is that we get to camp for free at the festival.
Our own little corner of the fair.
Getting to immerse ourselves into the whole carney experience. *My lawyer says that I shouldn't say carney but rather Entertainment Engineers. I never thought that I would be a carney(entertainment engineer) and follow the fair circuit but this is very close. We are hired by the festival and provide a free service to the people. So it's not like we are hocking games or rides or anything like that.

The Florida Strawberry Festival is all about the strawberries. They are all over the festival grounds and also outside of the festival.
Parkesdale Strawberry stand.

I found the Strawberry Queen.
They grow some beautiful strawberries around here and are very proud of it. Another thing that is good here are the onions. Yes, onions. They plant them around the strawberry fields and it gives them a sweet taste.
Sweet onions. They are huge.
Days 3-6. I have just been working the night shift. When we were offered this job we thought we would be working together, but we are not. I have never been away from Lisa for this long. I mean we are talking a couple of hours a day. Plans where that Lisa was going to drive a 22 passenger golf cart outside of the festival.
Lisa and her golf cart.

The look of terror.
As you can imagine the roads around a festival this size were a nightmare so that didn't pan out. Plus there are not enough barf bags in Florida to keep her riders supplied with. Now she just sits home eating bon-bons and sipping gallons of wine. I will get a call on the radio, "Lisa's out of wine, can you drive the tram over to the liquor store?" To which I reply, "Roger willco, over and out. Hang on everybody!"

7 days into the festival and it finally dawned on me that I have been bamboozled. I am the one working and Lisa is having all of the fun. I don't recall needing a job. It is seriously cutting into my video gaming time. So I am at work and Lisa is enjoying the concerts. I will be driving and then get a message from Lisa. It goes like this.
"HAHAHA! Trace Atkins! I need a new bra! Wish you were here! HAHAHA!"

3 more days and hopefully they will be busy because it will be the final weekend. Walking around the festival I found this.
With this bad boy, I may never have to walk again. Maybe after the festival I will have made enough to get one. We will see.

Well the rest of the festival was uneventful. I did realize that my tolerance for people has been reached. The reason I know this is that my hands are starting to form a choke hold when someone starts asking stupid questions. Like the same questions over and over. Kind of like working in Yellowstone. Only  instead of "Where are the bears?" it's "Are you going to gray parking?" "Are you going to the festival gate?" "Where did I park?" It is time to ride off into the sunset under our assumed names and find more undisclosed locations.  Also I think I have touched more people than I care to touch. 

So in conclusion: The festival was much better this year for me and I know it was a blast for Lisa. We met some fun, hard working people that we can call friends and we are looking forward to working some more events with them.

Till we surface again somewhere.

*My lawyer advises me that I should disclose that I do write the blog in my underpants.