Saturday, June 30, 2007

Entergy Rising

At the beginning of June I finally got my trailer powered up through the largess of my neighbor. I promised to reimburse him for the cost of the electricity we used. I decided it was time to try to determine how much power we have actually used.I went back over last year and using our Entergy bills determined that the trailer used about 600 KWH of power a month during the summer, when the Air conditioner is on. That's an average of about 7 amps.

Like everyone else I heard stories of the tremendous escalation in Entergy bills some people have reported. I was a little concerned about that. I was surprised to find that the base rate really hasn't changed and the fuel adjustment was higher but for June and July it was virtually the same as last year.

I also determined that the rate is very nearly the same we pay to Georgia Power in Atlanta.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Letter from Uncle Sam

We recently amended our tax returns for the last three years. There will soon be a big check coming from Uncle Sam or rather his evil cousin the IRS. Our accountant reminded us you can take a deduction for an uninsured casualty loss, and spread it back over three years, and forward as long as it takes.

We waited a long time to do this since we weren't sure if Road Home money counted or how much we might be able to get from that. In the end we decided to simply file for the personal property loss. It was easier to document and not tied up in any of the other programs.

I still expect to be audited.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Grass is Growing in New Orleans

Prior to Katrina we had a very green suburban lawn. We also had a reliable gardener, Mr. Tri, or Mr. Nguyen, depending on how he felt like writing it. We hired him because he did our neighbors lawn and it was easy. We found it mildly amusing that the gardener was named "Tree".

On those few occasions we were actually home we found his blitz grass cutting technique simply amazing. Mr. Tri would pull up and it seemed like twenty guys with lawnmowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers and other implements would pile out to attack our lawn and our neighbors in a frenzy of activity. The grass never had a chance. In a few minutes with grass clippings bagged and sitting on the side of the street every one would pile back in and off they went to their next yard.

He did an excellent job, coming without being called and leaving notes on how much we owed him, with an envelope to mail him a check.

After Katrina we had a brown mess of dusty, dead grass. For a long time it didn't grow, well into 2006 we had nothings but dead stuff and dirt.

Eventually stuff began to grow, including the sunflowers and other odd plants which sprouted spontaneously around the area. I even seeded the yard with a weed killer, grass seed mix in an attempt to get something worthwhile growing. It didn't work.

We had lost touch with Mr Tri, so we got my Mother-in-Law's neighbor's son to cut the grass. He was a teenager going to school and like many teenagers not very reliable. He would come sometimes but it usually took a few tries to get him to come. Once he was there he did a great job. Eventually he stopped coming all together.

You might ask "Why I didn't do it myself?" I probably should have but, well I don't like mowing the lawn. I had owned a lawn mower before Katrina but being under water for awhile destroyed it. We had not been on intimate terms anyway. When I set it on the street to be picked up It was gone before the other stuff was picked up. It seems some people will steal anything. Since petty theft was an is rampant in New Orleans I decided not to replace it right away.

With the coming of Spring and especially the rain our collection of plants began to grow again. In the interim we had heard from Mr. Tri so we called him. He referred us to is Brother or Brother-in-Law or cousin I could quite figure it out, Mr. Luu Tran. Mr. Tran and I met and we made a deal. One fee for the initial cleanup plus a monthly retainer. Mr. Tran was a little hard to talk to, I have to admit my Vietnamese is very sparse, limited to a few dishes on restaurant menus. He got his point across and before I left Mr. Tran was pulling his gear out of the back of his van. The van looked very much like Mr. Tri's van but, without the helpers.

After the first go at it I was a little concerned, the yard wasn't really finished but it was a vast improvement. I wasn't sure if Mr. Tran thought he was finished or if perhaps he was interrupted by one of our summer thunderstorms. After a week or so to see if he would come back on his own, we called the phone number on his business card, and spoke to Mr. Tran's father. We weren't sure the message got through. A few days latter I came home to find the yard cut, all of the clippings gone. Everything was copacetic.

Things were finally back to normal ... Once more, the world was spinning in greased grooves.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What if I buy my Trailer

FEMA has told us we might be able to buy our trailer. I'd kind of like to keep it but I have no idea what I might do with it if I did.

Press reports and logic indicate FEMA could sell it to me cheap, just to keep from having to deal with it. If FEMA were to sell it to the former occupant, they could avoid the cost of hauling it off ($2-4 a mile) and reselling it.

Ever since I heard we might be able to buy it, I've been thinking about what we might do with it.

I have floated the idea of a sort of blogger resort somewhere north of here, no takers so far.

We have talked about buying some land nearby and parking it there. One thought is down on the Cameron Parish Beach

We're open to suggestions. Please feel free to offer some.

A friend of mine has asked if he could buy mine, after I buy it from FEMA.

I expect there might be a pretty active local market in third hand former FEMA trailers hear abouts. Any one want to make and offer? I promise a low mileage Travel Trailer, occupied only by mominem although occasionally She visited.

One thing is for sure, before I could haul it anywhere I would have to get a license for it as soon as I get a title. Looks like it will cost $40 for four years.

Since as far as I can tell the auctions of similar trailers in Hope AR with identified deficiencies bring around $3,000.00-$4,00.00 ea. Published reports say FEMA may sell Travel Trailers for about $650.00. I have no idea what offer we'll get from FEMA. I do know that to sell our trailer for $4,000 FEMA will first need to pay someone to disconnect it ($?,???.??) and tow it the 445.6 miles to Hope (at a minimum of $2.00 per mile or $891.2). These figures don't include the cost of inspection, advertising and the auctioneers commission. It seems likely that, FEMA's costs will exceed their recovery.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We've been Looted.

One thing we discovered on Memorial Day really set us back.

During our absence our house was looted. All of the copper pipe was carefully cut out and removed. The thieves actually left all of the cast bronze fittings, and the remaining sub and shower fittings. We plan to reuse them.

Like others the thieves also broke into our trailer.
That was also very odd. To gain entry they carefully drilled out the rivets on one of the windows. The theft was odd. As far as we can tell, they only stole one thing. A small LCD TV and its remote control, which I'm sure they had to look for. Again oddly they didn't steal the stand which was in a cabinet, because the TV was hung from a wall mount. Again oddly they only took half of the wall mount. Nothing else appeared to have been disturbed. I guess I'm lucky.

We have fastidious thieves in our neighborhood.

We called the police and filed a police report. I might need it for FEMA or an insurance claim for the theft. I also informed the Smith Research Trailer Technician. True to the State of the City our Police Department is out of Incident Report forms but the officer wrote the number down for me on a scrap of green paper.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Our Father's Day

When we was much younger we celebrated Fathers day alternately with our respective Fathers. We also celebrated Un-Fathers Day separately, because we had not inadvertently become pregnant during the preceding year.

Over the intervening year Un-Fathers day fell by the wayside.

This year we observe our first true Un-Fathers day. Both of our Fathers have passed away, mine most recently.

Our fathers were both World War II combat veterans.

Her father was in the Navy. He was stationed on aircraft carriers during the war. I believe he was involved in many of the dramatic battles of the Pacific War, although his service record is a little difficult to decipher. He never spoke of his war service in my presence. As far as I know he never had any contact with any of his shipmates. After the war he was discharged from the Navy but later rejoined the Navy eventually retiring after 20 years of service. He became a Master Chief Yeoman and served, just before his retirement, at the US Embassy in Rome, a time She fondly remembers.

Master Chief Yeoman

He was a wonderful, generous, gregarious man. He loved life and lived it well. He never met a stranger. He never met a man he didn't like.

He had such a good time that it was years before I realized how hard he worked. Every morning he was out early and by 7 had dispatched his crews. He put in half a day before many people woke up. He played golf nearly every afternoon for years, usually with is customers, leaving the impression he wasn't working.

My father was less gregarious. He was serious and quietly humorous he loved bad jokes, often on himself. He served in the 8th Air Force as a member of a B-17 bomber crew. My parents were married on D-Day, just before he went to Europe. They would have been married 63 years on June 6th.

"Mighty" Eighth Air Force

After the war my Dad attended college on the GI Bill. He joined a fraternity and completed engineering school in 3 years. I was born just a few months after his graduation. We lived an almost typical American Family life. Very much like the family sitcoms of the day.

Although he was proud of his service and spoke of it often, like many veterans he seldom spoke of his combat missions. He maintained contact with his fellow crew members, his comrades in arms, distant at times but closer later in their lives.

832 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)

The only times I ever heard him talk about his combat experience was when he shared his experiences with other veterans, in quiet voices late in the evening. I sat quietly on the outside listening to these men I thought I knew well speak of their experiences, many were chilling. I hung on every word.

Many years after the war he visited Germany on business. Before leaving he was apprehensive that the Germans would hold his war service against him. HE said, "The last time I saw Germany was through a bomb sight".

He often recounted the story of the Rathskeller where he had a wonderful dinner orchestrated by is German hosts. They very proudly described the restoration of their medieval town hall which took place after the war. He came back relieved and ebullient. Proud of his German heritage.

Later he became heavily involved with his units veterans organization, eventually becoming Group Historian. Since the 486 Bomb Group (Heavy) was formed during the war and deactivated at the end of the war, there were very few younger members, mostly the children of veterans had died during the war

486th Bombardment Group (Heavy)

As Association Historian my Dad later determined that he was on the mission which probably destroyed the town hall where he had that wonderful evening. As a Virginian, raised in the long shadow of the Civil War, he felt sorrow for their loss and his part in it.

Throughout his life my father loved children. I didn't realized how much for most of my life. I was only aware that there were alway small children around, even after his had all grown. Thinking back I remember when we lived in West Virginia he would watch neighborhood children climb over the short chain link fence on the alley behind our hose to steal ripe apples. My did would sometimes watch them from inside and just as they were leaving he would go outside and yell "What are you kids doing?". He would come back in laughing saying "The apples always taste better if you think you got away with something". Had they asked he would have let them to take all they wanted. We always had more than we could eat or than my mother could can, bake into pies or put in jelly, apple sauce or apple butter.

Over the years he established close relationships with many children, often neighbors children who would come over to "talk to Charlie" or "visit Charlie" sometime to "play with Charlie". The children were a second extended family for him. Over the years my parents were included in Graduations, Weddings and other special events, often with special invitations from children (now grown) they had not seen in years. They were included in family celebrations like the births of children and grand children of his once small friends.

We both miss both our fathers every day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

It Feels Good to be Back in the 'Hood.

We have lights in our trailer.

Just before Memorial Day I asked my neighbor (who had just gotten his own power back) to allow us to install a trailer outlet on his house to power our trailer. He agreed. I think that he appreciated that I let them "borrow power" from the trailer while they were under construction, at least as long as the power lasted. We decided to defer installation until after the Memorial Day holiday weekend since I had plans of the abduction.

As soon as I returned I called an electrician who was able to come out right away and install the outlet within days. I hope the bill isn't too bad.

I was going to need a couple of 30 amp RV Extension cords.

In our absence the trailer held up pretty well. There were no serious problems except for the plastic vent hatch covers.

The trailer has two skylight vent hatches. One in the bathroom and one over our bed. When I returned after Memorial Day we discovered that the one in the bath room was missing. I called Smith Research the FEMA maintenance contractor for our zip code. They sent out a very nice very conscientious competent man to correct all of our problems.

He replaced the missing vent and a light fixture one of his predecessors had removed but not replaced, due to a roof leak.

Unfortunately we apparently have a "Travel Trailer", not a "FEMA Spec Trailer", something I sort of knew. Apparently the "FEMA Spec Trailer"s use a different kind of hatch cover which doesn't fit our trailer. They also have standard residential toilets but lack the holding tanks and 12 volt power system of a Travel Trailer. A FEMA trailer may be a little more familiar but it seems to be less flexible.

In any event he solved the problem of rain getting in. It only cost me a morning.

I found the remains of the hatch cover in the yard the morning the cover was replaced. The plastic was so deteriorated it literally crumbled in my hand. It had the structural integrity of a stale saltine cracker.
Ever since I became Trailer Obsessive I have frequented Bent's RV Rendezvous. I spend time cruising the aisles to see what is available. Bent's had the correct hatch cover. One thing I was surprised they didn't have was sink cover cutting boards.

This interesting accessory is pictured in a lot of RC literature but seems as elusive to find as Sasquatch.

I decided to buy two covers and replace both of them, since one was the wrong kind and the other one was likely to go soon. They cost a little more that $15 each.

Saturday I went back to The Trailer to put it back in commission. I had my tools, my hatch covers, my Trailer Extension cords and my garden hoses. I got there just in time, the second hatch had failed and left the opening over the mattress wide open. Rain would have been disastrous.

Replacing the hatch covers took only a few minutes. The design is ingenious. They are held in place by two sheet metal screws. I kept the wrong cover as an emergency replacement.

In any event I now have power and water through the good graces of my neighbor.

It feels good to be back in the 'hood.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

1485.4 Miles - Part IV Reentry

Monday Morning. All good things come to an end. After a hearty breakfast of ham and eggs. We spent the morning packing and searching for stuff under the beds.

Since we had brought most of the food we ate with us we had a lot less stuff to return to New Orleans.

We were concerned about the traffic so we decided to leave early. We rolled out about 10 AM.

428.1 miles, Total Time: 6 hours 30 mins (approx.)

The weather was beautiful and the traffic away from the beach was light. We made good progress back towards I-10.
As usual our Yahoo Maps directions were more or less accurate and once we got to I-1o we didn't need any more instructions.

As we headed west we were amazed at the lack of traffic. We sped down unfamiliar parts of I-10 heading towards Pensacola. It wasn't until we got to to bridge over Mobile Bay that there was any traffic. There was a serious backup at the tunnel.

We cleared Mobile and continued pretty well. Every minute brought us closer to New Orleans.

Crossing from Slidell we knew we were back in New Orleans. The East is showing signs of recovery, but it is also still showing the scars of Katrina. There are gutted and collapsing buildings everywhere. There are also lots of FEMA trailers and apartments with for Rent signs.

It was still early so we decided to stop by the house and check things out. Exiting 1-10 at Morrison Road we were really reentering the real New Orleans.

After 1485.4 miles in four days we pulled up in our driveway. It was worth the trip.

Back to reality.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

1485.4 Miles - Part III A Panacea for what ails you.

Early Friday Evening we arrived on the Forgotten Coast and immediately got lost or at least confused. We had trouble locating the rental office in Panacea, because in spite of the twelve high foot sign in front of it (which we missed) it was in an area identified by the road signs as Ochlockonee Bay, not Panacea, which we had already passed as our directions said. In any event, after a scenic trip to St. Teresa and back we found it, picked up our keys and found the house. The detour even helped us locate the turn off to Alligator Point.

After unloading it was still early so we decided to check out some of the local seafood restaurants we had passed.

That turned out to be harder than we anticipated. The area was hit hard by Hurricane Dennis and many of the local restaurants either were still closed or weren't going to reopen. Harbor House, a water front restaurant, seemed to be closed. We saw a sign for Angelo and Son's but couldn't even find the restaurant.

We ended up at Posey's Oyster Bar. It is an unpretentious place with very good fried seafood. Apparently it was formerly a bar or road house judging by the stage and pool table in the corner. We had two dozen very good small oysters on the half shell for $5.00 a dozen. I had the seafood basket which had grouper, shrimp, oysters and scallops in it along with something they called crab puppies. They looked like hush puppies to me, but they were good. Dinner for the two of us with drinks was less than $40.00. A very good deal.

We finished the night unpacking and sitting on the porch listening to the surf.

Saturday morning dawned late. Followed a southern breakfast, a beach walk and discussions of what to do next. Nothing would have been a good answer, but we had to go down to the rental office and settle up. Stirred from our somnolence we drove to the rental office and gathered a lot of local intel.

Our Beach

In the house we had already discovered a glossy brochure for the Big Bend Scenic Byway.

We picked up our own personal copy at the rental office.

The descriptions were seductive, so since we had already decided to check out the surrounding area, we decided to use the Big Bend Scenic Highway Brochure as our local guide. We headed for the beginning of the Big Bend Scenic Byway, the St. Marks Wildlife refuge and lighthouse. We though we might find a nice local place to eat somewhere along the road.

The Byway begins at the intersection of US 98 and SR 59. Sr 59 leads to the coast through the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge to the historic St. Marks Lighthouse. It's worth the trip.

St Marks Light

The coastal landscape was spectacular. Oddly for a wildlife refuge they allow fishing. I think that odd. She looked apprehensively for alligators all day with no success and some disappointment, I think.

St Marks Wildlife Refuge

On the Way back we were close to the Historic town of St. Marks and according to the guide there were restaurants there on the river.

Town of St. Marks

St. Marks is at the confluence of the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers and is a big boating stop. The area boats great fishing and St. Marks is Close to the Gulf, but far enough inland to offer some protection. The town has a long history but unfortunately little of that remains. There are a few old buildings and a lot of marinas, cabins and trailers.

The original Posey's, now closed.

Many of the older buildings are abandoned, possibly as a result of Dennis and new building regulations.

We ended up at The Riverside Cafe, a sort of Boater/Biker Bar/Pirates Den located next to the former Posey's, which seems closed. It had a dockside dining similar to the picture of Posey's below.
The Deck at Posey's

We had a very pleasant late lunch with another dozen of the fresh local oysters. After touring around St. Marks we headed back, determined to buy some local Seafood for a home cooked dinner.

In Ochlockonee Bay we stopped a local seafood shop, we purchased a couple of pounds of hopper shrimp. They only sold them with the heads off, something we had noticed before in Florida. I love to make barbecued Shrimp similar to Pascal's Manale Restaurant. It tastes much better if you have head on shrimp, so you can get the full flavor of the shrimp. I sometimes use the heads and shells to make shrimp stock.

Hopper Shrimp

We also purchased a beautiful grouper fillet. I think grouper is one of the best eating fish there is. The firm white flesh cooks up with large tasty flakes. It's as good as Snapper and almost as good as Pompano.

Red Grouper

While we were they the were whipping up a batch of the local delicacy, smoked mullet. The whole place was like a smoke house. I didn't realize how much until the next day when I opened the sack with the remaining shrimp and got blasted with the smell of smoke. Every place in town seemed to be pushing mullet, it must be mullet season.

A late afternoon swim and walk on the beach followed by dinner of grouper, summer squash and fresh bread. We spent the evening on the screen porch looking at the cloudy sky and sipping some white wine.

Alligator Point Beach

Sunday morning I made one of our traditional brunches. A Portobello mushroom stuffed with mixture of artichokes and shrimp topped with a poached egg and Bearnaise sauce, served with steamed asparagus and cold champagne.

We hit the beach again and got in a nice refreshing swim.

After our beach time we decided to head down the Big Bend Scenic Byway West this time towards Carabelle and Eastpoint. We hoped to see some sights and possibly find a place for an early supper.

The drive west on US 98 was attractive, much of the shoreline is really a bay behind barrier islands and it all seems to be under small scale development. One place which just started is called Summercamp and is being developed by St. Joe a former paper company, that just happens to own 800,000 acres in Florida.

The towns of Carabelle and Eastpoint aren't big and overgrown, to tell the truth there isn't much there. But is it beautiful, friendly and quiet.

We decided not to go all the way to Apalachicola, been there done that, probably will do it again.

We stopped at That Place on 98 in East Point. It was a nice family style seafood restaurant.

That place on 98

We stopped and although there were cars in the parking lot they didn't seem busy. We were a little concerned they might not be open. As we approached the front door I noticed a sign "Closed Sunday". Since it was Sunday I was confused. Inside we were greeted by the Owner/Manager and he seem perplexed that we though they might not be open. He told us "Of course they were closed on Sunday, except for holiday weekends". Of course this was a holiday weekend. Obviously we were the only people puzzled by this unwritten rule.

That Place on 98

That Place on 98 was inundated by Dennis and has been almost completely rebuilt. There are pictures of the damage and the rebuilding all over the place. Reminders of Dennis were everywhere along the Forgotten Coast.

A nice drive back and sunset on the porch, and another quiet evening.

Sunset at Alligator Point

Monday we get ready for reentry.

Monday, June 11, 2007

We Got Our Gold Letter!

I have today, after waiting almost six months for some response from The Road Home, received A “Gold Award Letter”. I was disappointed to see a flawed, incomplete and grossly inaccurate award letter.

Today we are returning our Attachment 3 - DELAYING BENEFIT SELECTION in order to contest the determination in our case. We made no election with regard to closing. We want to close as quickly as possible, if we can make substantial progress we are willing to close before all issues are resolved.

There are three serious flaws in the letter.

First. There is no calculation of the damage. Based on current cost estimates and other Road Home letters we are aware of we would expect this amount to around $120.00 per square foot. The letter made no mention of any damage figure.

Second. There is an improper deduction of $4,358 in FEMA Grants.
We have received no FEMA grant for property damage. As we told them at our appointment on January 19 these grants, provided to almost everyone, were temporary housing and emergency expenses, not for Property Damage. We were assured that everyone at The Road Home was aware of that fact, if only because of the exact amount. In fact we provided our adviser no information on the the FEMA payment, only that we had received them. She filled in the amounts.

Third. “The Certified Appraisal” is grossly inaccurate. In July 2002 we refinanced our home and it then appraised at almost exactly what the Road Home "Certified Appraisal" came up with. We always felt the 2002 apprasial was low but it since it was adequate for the refinancing we didn't bother. We could not provide a copy of that appraisal for The Road Home since all of our records were lost. If that figure were escalated in accordance with Road Home guidelines it would yield a pre-Katrina Value more than $70,000 higher than the Road Home Value. In addition I recently learned that my next door neighbor had a 2005 appraisal valuing his similarly sized home at about that same amount as our escalated appraisal.

We believe we are entitled to a grant in the range of $50,000.00.

I have requested a copy of the “Certified Appraisal” and a damage evaluation, but I don't expect to ever get it.

The above is based on the letter I sent to The Road Home. There are several things about this I find disturbing.

First I think property values in my neighborhood are being seriously under estimated. I know of more than one case where this has happened. In at least one case it made no difference, so it wasn't challenged. The home values don't seem to relate to pre-Katrina sale prices at all. This is probably because we are being lumped in with other nearby neighborhoods with historically lower property values.

Secondly the title of Attachment 3 is an insult considering the errors and confusion surrounding The Road Home. DELAYING BENEFIT SELECTION? I am not delaying anything by assisting them in correcting their errors.

Oh yes the punchline;

We are entitled to exactly $0.00

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Blog Challenge; You do the Math

Sophmon left this comment on my post 1485.4 Miles - Part I - Abduction Intervention
Sophmom said...

Dang. I didn't scroll down when I came and read Part II. Silly me. We passed in the night it seems, as I arrived in Destrehan at about 2:40 CDT. I'm thinking somewhere in Mississippi or maybe even Alabama, depending on where you stopped/detoured. LOL. I bet you scared her silly.

Sunday, June 10, 2007 4:23:00 PM

mominem said...

I left at 12:30 AM CDT so I imagine we passed somewhere on I-10 East of Slidell.

I hit Slidell at about 1:00 AM CDT.

My detours were much later on, when I was getting punchy. I should have drunk more coffee.

This is starting to sound like one of those math problems.

If Sophmom traveling from Atlanta arrived in Destrehan at 2:40 AM CDT and mominem left Kenner at 12:30 AM CDT for Atlanta, where did they pass each other and at what time.

Get your slide rules out.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

1485.4 Miles - Part II - Road Trip

When I got to Atlanta I was prepared to sleep the day away and drive into the night if her commitments prevented an early departure. She seemed excited to be going so I was counting my lucky stars at this point and was willing to acquiesce to anything.

She got over her shock. She decided to depart Atlanta at noon.

I was also excited about the road trip. I have driven around the county most of my life. Driving is, in my opinion, the only way to see the real America. I grew up taking family vacations in the family station wagon. We visited my grandparents in Florida often, usually twice a year. I remember my Dad driving "straight through" all night to get to Florida. I remember laying in the back of the family station wagon watching the stars as we traveled through the Carolina's and Georgia when I was supposed to be asleep. I could see the Milky Way, we were so far out away for cities and lights. My brother and I planned a family vacation to California, to go to Disneyland Those trips were magical.

She and I have also enjoyed many many interesting road trips. Our trips have usually been shorter than my childhood trips. None the less we have spent many many enjoyable hours learning about our country, close up.

To get to Alligator Point FL from Atlanta you generally head due South. Fortunately there is no Interstate going there.

Atlanta to Alligator Point FL
Total Distance: 316.1 miles, Total Time: 5 hours 3 mins (approx.)

Based on media reports I was anticipating a long hard drive with a lot of traffic. Again the media was mostly wrong. Inside Atlanta gasoline was expensive and traffic heavy. Heading south on I-75, again traffic was heavy. Fortunately it moved pretty well and we were only on it for about 75 miles. In Albany Georgia we turned off I-75 onto GA 300. The change was immediate and beneficial.

Georgia 300 is mostly a four lane highway pointed directly South. It is also a fairly new road and doesn't have a lot of the road side relics of the old highways made obsolete by the Interstate System. Once on GA-300 we traveled easily south though farmland and small towns. Many of the towns deserve further investigation places like Albany, Pelham, and Thomasville.

Approaching the Florida border we encountered a smoky overcast from wild fires in the area. It continued for miles and miles. The smoky air added an almost surreal feeling to an already magical environment of oaks and Spanish moss.

Yahoo maps, cryptic as ever, none the less guided us into and through the heart Tallahassee's FL, past the State Capital and on to Crawfordville. I am a Genius for being able to follow the directions without a supplementary map and an Idiot for leaving the map in New Orleans.

Passing Tallahassee we entered Wakulla county, home of the Wakulla Springs State Park, location of Wakulla Springs. The Springs are the opening of an underground river and the water is so clear you can see the skeleton of mastodon deposited at the bottom of the spring. The lodge and glass bottom boat ride are not to be missed.

The Lodge is an interesting place to stay for a short time. We visited there several years ago and never knew that a beach awaited just a few miles south. Oh yes the Creature from the Black Lagoon was filmed there.

Continuing south we passed through Panacea and on to Alligator Point.

My dry recitation doesn't do justice to the scenic rolling beauty of the South Georgia farm country, the Florida panhandle moss covered oak trees or the coastal splendor of Alligator Point.

The journey was worth the time spent.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Today I am a Redneck

Last week I got a haircut.

Today I worked outside almost all day without sunblock in a t-shirt, without my customary collared cotton shirt and my customary sunblock.

I am sunburned from my hairline to my collar line.

Tdoay I am a Redneck