Almost forgot ... by popular demand, I've raised the font from a 10 to a 12 ... more readable now?

We're finally taking that summer trip! If you've followed my newsletters and other assorted chatter, you'll know that Joyce and I have been "planning" a trip since about April. First plan was to go right after tax time ... something medical postponed it. Then we were going to go in June ... something art-wise postponed it. Then we were going to go in early July ... something WiFi-wise postponed it. Finally, Thursday, July 27th, we hit the road!

All of our RV trips are really for me. Joyce goes along as part of our agreement to hang around the house part of the year and go RVing part of the year. If she had her way, we might as well sell the RV, because she really, really doesn't enjoy it. She's good for a couple (or maybe three?) weeks, then she has this overwhelming urge to get out of the RV and back home. Because of this, I generally find myself evaluating my own desires relative to a trip -- Where do I/we really want to go? How long to I/we want to stay out? And this time, I found myself thinking "Do I/we really want to go at all?"  I got to thinking about the gas prices, handling the 4 dogs while travelling, Joyce's "hesitance" about RVing altogether, etc. But, then, I/we decided to go ahead, since we'd talked about it all summer.

One of the complaints in recent years has been that we always seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere, so this trip is to be "casual" with a little advance planning as possible. Our over-all, general plan is to go along the Gulf Coast, then cut up into the Ozarks and across Arkansas, then over to Memphis (and Graceland), then to Guntersville to visit family, then over to North and South Carolina (mostly in the mountains), then meander down the Eastern coast back to Rockledge. We've been discussing for a while about how nice it would be if we could find a reasonably-priced piece of land somewhere cooler (like in the mountains?) to go during the hot Florida Summer months. We had talked about a lot of different options, but recently had been looking on the internet at Ozarks and the mountains in North and South Carolina.  ... So, that was the plan.

We sort of broke our "don't plan to be anywhere at a certain time" rule the first day. I'd talked to a guy in Cedar Key and agreed to meet with him Thursday evening, so right away we had a place to be the first night. Not a long drive, only about 6 hours, but still not casual enough that we could stop anywhere we decided to ... oh, well. We stayed Thursday and Friday night at Cedar Key Sunset Isle RV Park & Motel, advertised as the only park in Cedar Key that's on the water. Neat little park and, of course, Cedar Key in general was as neat as ever. It's a little artsy-craftsy town on Florida's West coast above Tampa that gets blown away by hurricanes every ten years or so. They have some really neat art galleries and gift shops, plus some nice restaurants.

I forgot to mention - I'm doing something different on this chapter/trip. Usually, I wait until I return home to write about the trip. This trip, I'm going to try writing as we go (more or less). I'm not sure if it will be one chapter or several, thus the Part I title above. Right now, it's about 4 AM Tuesday. We went to bed last night about 7, because it was pouring down rain and the dogs were very upset about the lightning, thunder, etc. The plan was to watch TV in bed, but I think we both fell asleep before 8 ... wild times, eh?

So. Cedar Key. Below is a photo looking out at the bay by the campground at low tide. With the black mud showing, etc., low tide isn't very pretty. I'm not sure you could even cross there with an airboat with those piles of black mud here and there. Mouse over the photo and you'll see how it looks in the morning when the tide is in. Much prettier!

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81. Summer of '07 : Part I
Boat coming in
Street scene
Well, I'm going to close this chapter, then pick up with a new one when we finish our family visit and start off into the mountains ... unless we change our minds before then :)
Michael and Brandon
Joyce took her camera to downtown Cedar Key and took a bunch of photos. Below, I've included a few to kind of show what the town is all about, plus a few of her artsy shots that she's going to use to do paintings later.

Next stop after Cedar Key was Saturday at my sister Marylin's in Tallahassee. The usual visit, getting beaten in Cribbage by nephew Michael, enjoying Marylin and Bill's hospitality, and -- this trip, our first time to meet new grand-nephew Hayden. A few photos below.
Brandon and Hayden
One of thousands of tiny crabs running around in the mud
Another restaurant
Uncle Bobby and Brandon
Couldn't resist taking a photo of this unusual car in Grand's parking lot - from Texas!
Front room
This will soon be on my "cool and unusual" page - first one I've seen with 5 slideouts - three on one side and two on the other
Waterfront restaurant
Broken dock that looked neat
Flower for painting
One of many beautiful old homes
Yet another restaurant
Low tide mud flats
Here are a couple of closeup photos that Joyce took of the mud flats, then one showing my "work area" - that's what I call a "hostile" work environment :)
Moving along ... we stayed one night at a really neat country campground in lower Alabama. We talked about Arkansas, Biloxi, then, guess what? We decided to go to Tunica instead. We decided that if we really did find a "mountain home" for part-time summer stays, it shouldn't be as far away from Florida as Arkansas. So, the plan now is to wander across to visit family in Guntersville, then on to the Carolina mountains, to see what we might be able to find there. Right now, we're in the campground at the Grand Casino in Tunica. We went over last night, ate their great buffet, cruised by the Pai-Gow tables and decided against the $10/hand limit, cruised by the Hold 'Em tables and decided to skip that, put $10 into a slot machine, then decided that was enough gambling :)  Seems the online poker has really ruined us for live casinos. Joyce visited the local outlet mall today and we're planning to head out to Guntersville tomorrow. I only took three photos in Tunica.
Oops! Almost forgot! We went up to Graceland today! I've been wanting to stop in for a long time, but we've never gotten around to it. Even when we were in Memphis for the concert commemorating the 20th anniversary of his death, we didn't go because of the crowds here then. Well, today we went and really enjoyed it. We're both serious Elvis fans, so going through Graceland was a real treat. Photos below.
Dining room
Jungle room
Elvis' favorite gun
Back view of the mansion
Smaller house out back
Another back view
Some memorabilia
Monument in the memorial garden
Here's Elvis!
Cadillac in front of the Chrome Grille (cafeteria)
View of the front of the mansion from Chrome Grille across the street