Friday, November 14, 2014

Travels In Our New Hurley Situation

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     Our adjustment to the new Hurley Life Situation  --  without a home on wheels -- is going well.  We've managed to squeeze in a couple of short excursions in the past couple of months, during breaks from the new house projects.  Our newest transport, Vinny the CRV, is proving to be a comfortable ride to wherever.   In keeping with the history here at Hurley Travels blog, here's an update:
     Celebrating a Special Birthday with Friends Tim Payne and Stella --  We enjoyed very much being a part of Tim Payne's 50th birthday celebration in early September at Summit Lake State Park, east of Pendleton, Indiana.      Becky's parents provided a fabulous meal of bbq ribs, chicken, fantastic potato salad and more goodies; friends and family shared libations,Jamie Savage and Becky Payne games and just plain old hanging out. 
Happy 50th Birthday Tim     This was our first occasion spending any time in a campground in the past ten years minus a home on wheels.  We couldn't have had a nicer group to break that tradition with.  The park and the people were both enjoyable. Here are a few of those birthday memories (above):  The birthday sign created by Becky's brother gave the perfect atmosphere at the camp site.  Tim loved Stella's help opening his birthday cards.  And Jamie and Becky accommodated my photo-taking while enjoying some girlfriend time. 
        Our First Hotel Trip in Vinny --  Wisconsin is one state where we've spent very little time during our RVing life.  So, when it was time to take a break from our home projects in late September, we loaded Vinny and headed for cheese and beer country.  Besides, there would surely be some great spot along the way where we could celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary on September 30.  The only plans we had were to find some sharp cheddar, cheese curds, Wisconsin beer and see a few new places - new to us, that is.  After taking a route through small towns and countryside for two days, we paused in Fond du Lac, at the south end of Lake Winnebago --  because it seemed like the right place to stop. We found a pleasant hotel room at Country Suites; then asked the desk clerk about a good local spot to have a beer.  She recommended Fat Joe's, downtown.  The place was just what we wanted, like Cheers. The chatter at the bar was fun with locals and others passing through like us.  On the bartender's suggestion, we tried a beer brewed and sold only in Wisconsin called Spotted Cow.  It has a crisp lager-like taste - brewed by New Glarus Brewing Company.  Well, we had to have a second one. And before we left the state we purchased some to bring home.   
     More local recommendations led to interesting places over our next few days in the area.  For instance, the unexpected sitings in a small town south of Fond du Lac named Waupun.End of The Trail sculpture in Waupun, WI.      We were surprised to learn that this town of 11,000 people has a beautiful collection of outdoor sculptures.  In fact, it is called the City of Sculpture.  The benefactor of these art pieces was a local successful industrialist, Clarence Shaler, who wanted to give back to his hometown.  He commissioned a bronze replica of the famous  "The End Of The Trail" sculpture by James Earl Fraser that is a National Historic Landmark in Waupun. (above)  Shaler was a sculptor himself, donating his work.   The two photos below are among the sculptures by Clarence Shaler on display in and around the town.   Pioneer Woman sculpture by Charles Shaler. "Who Sows Believes In God" is a young peasant woman and "Dawn of Day" is an American Indian woman casting off her garments, Shaler's first piece.  This photo I took from the back because I thought it showed the textures in her hair and the clothing she's holding, against the beautiful autumn tree.Sculpture by Charles Shaler, Waupun, WI. Mr. Shaler didn't begin his sculpting until he was 70 years old, after a productive, inventive career.  He, obviously, had many talents.
    Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Horicon, WI   A short drive east of Waupun is the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, where we spent a few pleasant hours relaxing and enjoying nature.  The drive around the loop is peaceful and scenic. And there's a one mile walking trail that includes a wooden path winding over a part of the marsh. The leaves were just beginning to turn, enhancing the views at the refuge. 
      And, of course, during our travels in Wisconsin, we also visited two cheese factories.  We found some interesting, squeaky cheese curds and a fantastic sharp cheddar.   And since we had a cooler in the back of Vinny, we could make some cheese purchases for snacking in the evening and taking home to share.   
     When we left Indiana we were thinking we would probably end up in Door County, Wisconsin.  There's so much said about the beauty of that peninsula into Lake Michigan.  But…..we were on our way further north when we took a look at the weather forecast.  It was looking pretty gloomy, rainy and cold.  We stopped briefly on our way out of Fond du Lac to consider if there might be a better direction to go.  I can't remember exactly how it happened but we decided we would make a left turn and go southwest toward Iowa.  We could miss some of the rainy stuff.  And, there was one place that was still on our bucket list in that state - "Field of Dreams."
      Baseball & Museum & Sushi Make For A Great Anniversary:  We had less than 200 miles to the new destination, Dyersville, Iowa. But the obvious place to find a resting place was about 26 miles east in Dubuque.    I'm sure most everyone remembers that the Field of Dreams is in the cornfields, not an area where you'd find a hotel.  So anyway, using our new hotels app, we located another Country Suites in Dubuque, since we had a good experience the few days before in Wisconsin. J. R. Hurley on first base, Dyersville, Iowa, Field of Dreams. The next morning we set the GPS and found our way to the Field of Dreams site.  Our first impression approaching the site, was that the ambiance was preserved by the noticeable lack of commercial advertising.   How nice!  This site couldn't be more authentic to the actual family home and baseball field used in the movie.  The minimizing of the commercialization carries forward all around the grounds. So far, the setting is preserved as it was when it was the site of the movie in 1985.  There is a small gift shop and a display that gives the history of the property, the farmers who owned the property and the making of the movie.  It seemed so peaceful there.  We walked around for a while, standing on each base and the pitchers mound, listening at the cornfield and sitting on the team benches.  A few other people arrived while we were there and did similarly.  But mostly, it felt like we were alone.   You could have your own time to think about tradition, family, dreamJerry walks to the pitcher's mound at Field of Dreams.s...or whatever the movie represents to you.  We were happy that we finally took this road to this place.
     As we were finding our way earlier through the city of Dubuque, Iowa, taking yet another look at the Mississippi River that we crossed often in other travels,  we noticed a large structure alongside the river.  It turned out to be the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.  This was another pleasant surprise full of  interesting exhibits on the river, the people involved with it, the industry, the animals, and more.  Of course, Mark Twain was thoroughly embedded in the stories and there is a paddle wheel boat ride available.  There are also at least a dozen different aquariums with all sorts of wildlife - otters, frogs, turtles, beavers and many huge fish found in these waterways.  
     To complete this little trip, we tried to come up with an appropriate restaurant to have dinner on our 14th wedding anniversary.  Nothing exotic or formal, just a nice meal and, if possible, some place a little different. Yelp and Urban Spoon didn't seem to bring up any good prospects.  Then, I remembered that we had passed an Ichiban sushi restaurant in our driving around the area.  Since we had recently learned that sushi is much more than raw fish, we decided to give the place a try.  We enjoyed sharing three dishes that we chose pretty much blindly, from the ingredients in the menu descriptions.  Two of them were very creatively displayed, with avocados and other food forming various shapes. Everything was delicious!  And we now know that we are fans of pickled ginger. 
     That's the story on our new life situation at this point.  There are plans for more episodes on-the-road.  But…..who knows where or when.
    Thanks for visiting with us at Hurley Travels.

Copyright © Nancy Hurley 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Making More Transitions

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     When last I wrote for the Hurley Travels blog I talked about being fluid, exploring a different phase in life for Jerry and me.   Well, quite a bit of that changing and flowing has happened in the last four months.  Also, I took some time to consider whether our Hurley Travels blog should have its last chapter.   If we were ceasing our life on the road, did I want to also cease writing here about our life???   It took me a few months, but I've decided there are still episodes to record. We are planning to keep on exploring in various ways.   So, here I am moving along into the next mode for Hurley Travels.

     But first, it just wouldn't be right if we didn't say a few words about turning this corner away from RVing.  Jerry and I absolutely loved our ten years of being on the road.  There are volumes of wonderful memories that we couldn't have experienced without the culture that is available among RVers.  We appreciate the people everywhere along that road that are the special ingredients.  There are so many unique, interesting and indescribable facets of those ten years that make us smile all the time.  

     This past winter was quite a moment in time for us.  We had the feelings of uncertainty last fall about how many more roads we would travel in Ferd.  But neither one of us was ready to say yet.  Regardless of where the next spring would take us, we began our travels in November with repairs on Ferd and also had him polished up nicely in Nacogdoches at our favorite facility, Motohomes of Texas. That 1995, 36-foot, no-slide, Foretravel diesel pusher was feeling and looking good.  It turned out to be a very nice last winter in Texas and Alabama.  After considering a trip to Florida, it seemed best for us to make the winter stop in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  While settled in our spot at the Gulf Shores State Park we contemplated how much longer we'd be traveling as RVers.  We had some time to discuss and vacillate about what our next steps would be.  We came to the conclusion we would end our RVing adventure.   But I have to say we'll miss those desert gatherings and stops along our route to see old friends. Those times can't be matched.  Thanks friends!  You know who you are.  There will be other ways, I hope, to stay in touch and visit occasionally.

     Once we Jerry takes a little time to contemplate the great times in Ole Yeller and the coming trips we plan in our new car.adjusted to our decision to sell Ferd, we started making plans for the change.  The story isn't quite this simple, but to keep it short and sweet,  we returned to Indy, found a buyer and turned over ownership in a matter of a couple of months.  We did hold onto Ole Yeller (the loyal towed Jeep) for a while.  It was hard to cut that final string.   But actually, the good result was that the same young family owns both the motorhome and our Jeep.  We're glad to see them enjoying the fun that connects them.

     It will take some getting used to this new phase in our lives.   But…onward we go.  Pretty quickly we made more plans. We're thinking we'll still travel… to those places we missed in the motorhome, right?  So we need a "highway car" that's roomier and more comfortable for those trips when we'll now be  staying in hotels.    Anyway, we took that step, too.   Here's a shot of Jerry making the transition from Ole Yeller to Vinny (the new CRV). 

     Speaking of transitions, we made a major one in mid-July. We purchased our new home, just a few miles northeast, in Fishers, Indiana.  We have a pink and a white hibiscus.Our little condo was just right for the time we were on-the-road, but we were looking for more space now that we didn't have our home on wheels.  Usually older folks downsize, but these two went the other direction!  We now have a home with a big garage that has space for the cars, a motorcycle, a workbench for Jerry and the extra refrigerator.  Smile   And we have more room inside for visitors and to store those things we're accumulating again.   Besides, we're also pleased that Krissy bought our cute little condo.  It's perfect for her!  So now I should post a pic of the front of  the house,  right? Instead of one of those, I think I'll insert one of the flowers on our hibiscus tree that is among several flowering plants, bushes and trees we are enjoying at our new place.    

     I could also write many happy words about this summer's activities that didn't involve the chore of moving. We've had more than our share of good times.   For instance, there were super visits with old friends that came through Indianapolis, fun family reunions, several special birthday celebrations, helping with our grand dogs, hanging out on our new deck, setting food on fire on the grill Winking smile and meeting new neighbors.   I won't try to describe those experiences,  just keep doing more.  This short story will have to suffice as the catch-up on Hurley Travels for now.  The leaves are falling and it's time to move on. 

     Thanks for sharing some time with me.  Check in here at Hurley Travels again as we see where this path leads us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Keeping Up On Phases in Life

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The blog-writing has had some interruptions lately.  Some of those time-robbers have been very pleasant and planned….others were not so welcomed.
Winter hit our condo in Indianapolis with a staggering punch!   But there’s recovery in this story.  Our ice maker on the refrigerator decided to go nuts and spray water everywhere while we were wintering in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Tim came to the rescue when he found the disaster.  He got the water shut off, brought in the guys to tear up the flooring and stabilized things until it warmed up enough for us to get back with the motorhome.   There’s not much use crying about it now.  The homeowners insurance kicked in and we got things livable as quickly as possible.  We’re once again settled in on Cape Drive in Indy. 
Meanwhile, during the repairs, we had our old parking spot for Ferd at Tim’s house.  Somehow this situation seemed appropriate, depending on Ferd the Foretravel as our home again for a spell.  So, things were very comfortable when they could have been treacherous.
We arrived in Indianapolis, and were all setup a day or two in advance of the March celebrations.  To start off right, we joined a few family and friends at the neighborhood Murphy’s restaurant on St. Patty’s Day.  It was fun to tip a few and chow down on corned beef and cabbage, while catching up with our peeps who had weathered the long, frigid winter in Indy.
Two days later I was treated to my birthday lunch and a really cool time at the Indianapolis Museum of Art by Krissy.  Here I am inside the bamboo exhibit in the three-story lobby.  This is one art exhibit that you can touch. Imagine these reeds hanging from about 50 feet(??) up, just a few inches apart, in a huge circular design that you can walk through.  Oh well, it's hard to explain. The photo doesn’t do it justice!Nancy at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, lobby exhibit of bamboo art.What a fantastic mother/daughter day we had. Krissy found a small, white-table-cloth restaurant for us to try with great food and nice atmosphere.  We saved our birthday brownie deserts for later when we knew we’d have restored our appetites after walking the museum.  The featured exhibit currently is Robert Indiana, “the Hoosier state’s most famous living artist.”  The exhibit includes his most iconic works, such as, the Love statue and his Numbers pieces.  There’s a good deal of background from interviews with him that bring some light to the motivations for his work.  It’s very interesting to learn about his history and what influenced the pieces he created. We used the audio tour to walk through while we heard all about Robert Indiana.  Plus, we roamed through more of the creations on other floors in the museum before our feet were beat. For instance, look at this unusual piece of artwork - it’s actually wearable!  Want to try to order a McDonalds wearing this?!  Krissy and I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday browsing both contemporary and ancient works of art.  http://www.imamuseum.org/Indianapolis Museum of Art  
About the time we got settled back into our condo at Cape Cod Village, April started out with a treat.  Mary Jo (friend since high school) came to visit from New Mexico.  Of course, she has other folks to see besides me.  But I was lucky enough to have some time with her on three occasions during her week in Indiana.  Thankfully, we never lose touch.  Between visits on our travels, her occasional trips back to Indy, email and phone calls, we keep each other up-to-date pretty well.  But these times when we can just talk together like old times are the best.  We had a super time Nancy DeLullo and Mary Jo Wallen in Nashville, IN.on our day in Nashville, IN, with her cousin, Nancy, (great gal). It was a blast for the three of us to make the trip to Brown County, cruise around the state park we all love, and then browse for the afternoon in the shops in Nashville.   Here are Nancy and Mary Jo with a furry stuffed friend we found outside a local establishment.   And I had to stop to say hello to Abe at the woodcarver’s shop, too.
Nancy in Nashville, IN.
The latest celebration was just a few days ago with Grandson Ben.  He’s 19! It seems incredible that he’s grown from that little boy drawing pictures in our living room to this 6-foot-something youngBen Fairfax and Jerry Hurley, Grandson and Gramps. man on the road to being an electrician.  We sure enjoyed having a birthday evening at Applebee’s with Ben and his sister, Caroline.  Here’s Ben and Gramps having one of those special moments.
Our lives seem pretty fluid right now.  We’ve given Ferd the last sprucing up.  He’s awaiting the anticipated transfer to a new owner.  We’re just moving into a new phase in our lives -- whatever it turns out to be.  For sure, we plan to roam some more.   Who knows where, when or how.  Keeps life interesting!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Last Hurrah in Alabama and More

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The winter weather in the north is finally finishing up  -- taking its sweet time!  We’re enjoying the last few days of temps in the 60s and 70s in Alabama while the weather in Indiana keeps improving. We’ll be Ferd in Gulf Shores, Alabamawinding our way back home soon.  So, I thought I’d write the “Last Hurrah in Alabama.” 

We’ve enjoyed being in the community of Gulf Shores, becoming used to the surroundings as you do over a three-month stretch.  There have been many sunny, 60-deg. days, but also some tremendously wet days. A few days the rain pounded so hard on our roof it hurt our ears.  I’ve written about some of our days when we checked out the beach, the parks, and the various goings on. (See Alabama link on right)  We even made it to a movie - American Hustle was a great surprise!  We’ve had some good times trying out the local cuisine, the seafood and sausage dishes are great.  I’ve walked the routes around the 496-site campground many times, observing the array of license plates from Alabama to Ontario.  Many of the people we’ve been parked with in the monthly-section here have made this their winter home for a number of years.  They reserve their spot for next year as soon as reservations open.  You see gatherings of old friends everywhere along the roads as you are coming in or out of the campground.  We are surrounded by folks from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, as well as from Florida and Alabama, and the many Canadians.  They all agree that this winter has been colder than usual.  But, it’s a very nice place to be.

I do have one more food story.  In our exploring of the great seafood in the Gulf Shores area we noticed that there are “Reds” on the menus.  Since we haven’t spent any time in this area we weren’t really sure what this was. Red snapper first came to mind, but they wouldn’t call it that, right?  So, we googled it. We learned that these are a special kind of shrimp found in the deepest areas of the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. They’re very popular for their lobstery taste.  The other day we decided it was about time to try them. We were planning to share an appetizer of a pound of Royal Reds that we found on the menu at Mikee’s, one of our favorite spots.  Then, we inquired about how they were served.  And you know how Jerry doesn’t like to “work on his food,” unless he’s the chef.  WhenNancy at Gulf Shores, March 2014. the waiter explained that the “Royal Reds” were served whole, with heads, tails and shells, Jerry said “never mind for me.”  Well, I decided they sounded too good not to try them. I ordered the pound as my meal and got busy pulling off the heads and peeling the shells. Yes, they are pretty messy.  But, Oh My My!!   They do taste like lobster, mild and juicy.  And they are served with the melted butter, too. Yummy, yummy.  I think the waiter was surprised I ate them all.  But I thoroughly enjoyed my feast!

To wrap up my Last Hurrah I wanted to post my video of the ocean, lapping away at the shore.   It’s really beautiful - spectacular! (LOL)  But, for some reason I can’t get YouTube to upload it.  Tried it from my phone and from my laptop…no luck.  It’s frustrating.  I’ll figure it out later.  (Instead I guess I’ll post my selfie at the beach!)

As we’re making plans to sell Ferd soon, we’ve been talking quite a bit about how fortunate we’ve been.  These years on-the-road in the RVing lifestyle have been tremendous for us.  The fun experiences, the fabulous people, the beautiful scenery and unique places - they’ll never leave us.  Thanks to everyone who shared with us and made our time special.  And thanks to our families who encouraged us to enjoy ourselves!  We’re winding up this phase of our lives, but not Hurley Travels.  There are more travels to come, just a different type.

We could never choose the best of all those memorable stops, people and events. Many of them are in our posts for this blog in the right column, all fixed up with a title and attached photos.  Some of them we have to remind each other about.  Then we can smile again, sometimes even there’s a cringe,  while we describe what we each think we recall.  But, just for fun, here’s a brief photographic sampling of the last ten years at Hurley Travels:

 

Thanks for visiting Hurley Travels.  Be safe.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What’s Happening In Alabama?

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Since we made the decision to Gulf Shores State Park, Alabama, in the ice storm, 28 Jan 2014.stay put this winter here at the Gulf Shores State Park, you could say we’ve settled in to our Alabama home.  We’re getting familiar with local sites, the people, the sounds, smells, tastes.

Similar to much of the northern and eastern areas of the country, the weather has been colder than normal.  We even had a few days in the 20s overnight!.  One day the ice was actually wilting the trees around us.  And, wow!, the thunderstorms these past few days are as loud as I’ve heard in my life.  Mostly though, the sunny 50s and 60s is very nice compared to the snow, ice and single digit temps up north.  There’s another part of the weather story that I won’t dwell on that involves our condo in Indy and a bad icemaker and electrical outage.  Thanks again Tim, for running interference for a while.

On those nice days here in Alabama we’ve been exploring the area at our leisure.  We visited the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and the local farmers market and local Jerry at the canon in Fort Morgan, Alabama.artist gallery.  Oh yeah, the gallery was closed the day we went.  Have to get back there.  We had an interesting afternoon exploring Fort Morgan, the fortress built in 1823 to defend Mobile Bay.  This fort is well known for the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War when Confederate Navy Admiral Farragut is quoted as giving the command:  “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead.”  Fort Morgan provided protection and served as a temporary training ground until it was finally abandoned by the U. S. Army in 1950. The signs of each era of coastal defense are there to see and touch. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. 

The local food continues to bring more good flavors. Our newest favorite restaurant is King Neptune’s. Jerry’s found a creole Andouille sausage dish that’s become a repeat. Some of the other delicious menu items are the catfish, seafood gumbo and the Greek salad with grilled shrimp. (I won’t post those food pics since it annoys Jer!)  And add to the good food, the 1/2 price happy hour Monday through Friday from 11 am to closing. The Yuengling is cracklin cold on draft and $1.75 can’t be beat. The ambiance is extreme casual and the wait staff is super friendly. What more is needed!

We’ve also explored the back roads and beach routes that Beautiful sand beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.lead around the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach communities, scoping out the homes, restaurants, movies, shopping and just plain being nosy.  (Who knows when we may want info on a rental, or something.) In addition to the high-rises, there are the rows of beachfront two or three-story properties stretching out on the peninsula, most perched on skinny stilt legs and painted a pastel color.  Of course, there’s always the fun of walking in the sand or finding a bench along the shore to watch the ocean and people. Then, one day we drove over to Pensacola, about 35 miles east, to get supplies from Sam’s Club. What? 35 miles? Sure, why not. 

Since a favorite part of this ten-year lifestyle is remembering our unexpected, or extemporaneous, events that happen as we move along the road, it’s time to write a few more down. You know how you’re out doing the usual, grocery shopping or filling up with gas or pausing to look at the ocean, when you exchange a few casual words with a stranger or see an unusual site.  Or maybe you’re just settling in at your chosen spot in the desert when someone knocks on the door. (Remember Grateful Ted?!#)  Well, these are those kinds of everyday encounters.

These latest events have happened when each of us was out somewhere on our own. Jerry has started a new practice that usually elicits at the very least a smile, and sometimes an appreciative comment.  He’s concluded that since he’s become a guy in his 70s he has a new-found acceptance.  He says that the reactions of women change when you’re “an old guy.”  “They will smile back at you and sometimes even strike up  a conversation. Because it’s safe now, I guess.”  Since he’s “harmless” now, he’s decided to spread a little joy.  When he sees an attractive lady he’ll try to improve her day with a comment.  The other day he was at WalMart getting the ingredients for a crock pot chicken recipe he wanted to try. (Turned out great, BTW.)  Well, in the parking lot he saw a lady loading her groceries in the car next to him.  He said: “You have great hair!”  She responded, looking so pleased: “Oh, that’s so nice of you.  I’m taking chemotherapy. This is a wig.”   He wished her good luck and she thanked him again.

Another day Jerry  was grocery shopping again, waiting for a middle-aged mother and her two sons to move so he could grab a dozen eggs.  All of a sudden she realized he was waiting.  She apologized and said: “Oh, I’m sorry to be in your way.”  Based on his premise that “Now that I’m in my Mustang full of oranges, Gulf Shores, Alabama70s I can say this,” he replies: “A pretty woman is never in my way.”   Jerry says that she just glowed, gave him a big smile and told him “You made my day.”   I wonder what will happen to him next.

I had my own peculiar, but heartwarming, happening while out on my own.  I was on the way back to our home after visiting a bead shop and a local art fair when I decided I would stop at the beach for a little while to soak up some ocean views.  I found my parking spot and was walking the short distance to the beach  when I noticed a bright red mustang with the convertible top down.  Then, I saw the rest!  There were bags of oranges completely filling the backseat and the passenger seat.  I mean they were piled high from the floorboards to above the sides of the car.  I didn’t see anyone around.  But you know I had to snap a photo.  As soon as I pulled out my phone a man walked up  to the car and put something in the trunk.  He smiled. So I asked if I could take a picture for my  blog.  And I  also had  to ask why so many oranges.  The explanation might be a little quirky, but I love it!  He was happy to share his story: “I’m taking them back home to Flora, Illinois, from Ocala, Florida.  Every year I drive down and pack up my car with oranges from the same place.  Everyone loves them in Flora.  That’s F – L – O – R – A, Illinois.”   I’m sure he didn’t make it too far up the road before he had to put the top up and change from his shorts and sandals.  But, think about the juicy aroma all the way home. He sure made me smile.  What a nice guy!  

I know everyone has a story to tell. What’s happening in your life lately?   Thanks for visiting Hurley Travels!  Be safe.

copyright © Nancy Hurley

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sticking Around in Gulf Shores, Alabama

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Why not hang around when you have a comfortable and interesting place to be?!#%  That’s what we decided about the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Gulf Shores alligators sign in Gulf State Park.So, we moved out of our short term spot, #474, into a monthly spot, #262. It’s obvious here that there’s a good-sized group of snowbirds.  On our drives through we see many Midwest license plates; Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan are plentiful. Although, there’s also no lack of folks from Canada, Tennessee, Missouri, etc.  We’re only a few roads away from our first spot, but the differences in our new neighborhood are obvious.  From day one, about a week ago, we noticed that people wave at each other, stop on their walks or cross the road from one parking spot to another to visit.  A brief conversation with a few of our fellow winter residents informed us that there are many who come here year after year, making friends, acquiring repeat parking spots and living alongside one another while they escape the cold.  It’s not too surprising since one can reserve a spot for $475 a month, inclusive of electric.

But, why here for us?  First, we’re also dodging the weather.  As it turns out we’re missing the horrendous blizzard that’s going on up north right now.  Indianapolis is frozen in, with temps in the teens and at leastJerry has a new techie toy for amusement. a foot of snow and ice. Hang on, you guys, it will be over soon! Since just about the entire country is experiencing the cold snap, staying here in the colder than normal conditions for a brief time, 40s in the day and 20s at night, was acceptable.  We’ve been a little less active for a while, waiting for nicer weather.  But meanwhile, we got comfortable. We’ve started by searching out local restaurants in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. The shrimp, seafood gumbo, fried pickles, fried meatloaf and even the Tasso in my omelet, all were excellent.  Some of those restaurants, for the record, are: Wintzells, Zen, The Hangout, GooRoo’s Grill, Mikee’s Seafood and Brick & Spoon. (Especially for my cousins who plan a vacation in Gulf Shores this year.)

While we’ve had a little down time with cooler temps, there’s been no lack of ways to entertain ourselves. Besides sampling our share of local food, there’s football games, reading, walks in the park and on the beach, cooking, movies, Book TV, writing blogs, crocheting, jewelry-making, family history and of course, the Internet in general.  I’ll let you guess which of those activities are assigned to each, or both, of us.  Walking on the beach isn’t quite as much fun in cooler temps, but some of us still do.  Here’s a glimpse of the folks by the ocean in December, warmly-dressed families, one metal-detecting guy and a lone surfer in his wet suit at the right.   Gulf Shores beach

For instance,Gulf Shores computing since we’re in the middle of seafood heaven, we (both of us) tried our hand at cooking our own seafood gumbo with the fresh shrimp, crab and scallops from Blalock’s Seafood Market.  And learned about file powder (accent over the e in file), the sassafras leaves seasoning that most people in these parts use in their gumbo that adds a nice distinctive flavor.  The recipe was judged a success by the two of us.  Also, Jerry’s got a new toy – his Nexus 7 tablet – that he’s putting to the test every day with his surfing, streaming and inquiries.   So far, this new technological addition is fitting in well.  His iPad is being neglected for a faster, lighter-weight, smaller-screened friend.  Here’s a photo on the left that  he slyly snapped on his new tablet while I was completely unaware!   The only complaint I’ve heard is that there’s no Flash Player, so one of the sites he reads won’t load.  But there’s probably a fix on the way for that ~ surely~

What now?  Well, since the temperature is moving on up, we’re planning to have a few day excursions into the areas surrounding us.  Then, we’ll meander over to Florida. Hope everyone is staying safe and warm.  Thanks for visiting Hurley Travels. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from Alabama

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You just don’t knowCocaCola Christmas Truck, Beaux Bridge, LA what might pop up along the road.  For instance, on one of our overnight stops in a WalMart in Louisiana, we noticed on our walk back from dinner at Wendy’s that there was commotion and bright lights at the front of the store.  Curiosity and caution made us check it out. If we hadn’t been in this place at this time we would have missed this unique Santa transport provided by Coca Cola….Not the traditional Santa sleigh, right?.  In this photo, Santa is talking to children in front of the folks you see standing.  --  Nice surprise!
So anyway, our last stop was when we were having Ferd spruced up in Texas. A little poorer, but ready to move on, we quickly found the shortest route to Gulf Shores, Alabama.. Now we have a comfortable spot for Christmas and New Years at the Gulf State Park.  This park has 496 sites that are mostly occupied with long term, snowbirds, for the winter months.  We are in one of the 50 sites that during the winter are reserved for short-term visitors.  It’s a very nice park with large, paved sites, reasonable rates for a resort area, and a laundry and mail receiving service. The Internet is good mostly, too.
There’s still a lot of nosing around for us to do in this area.  But, so far, we’ve found some great seafood gumbo and creole Alligators at Nature Center, Gulf State Parkomelets at local restaurants.   
For now, we’re relaxing a while, finding good seafood, playing with a new tablet, watching football, learning our way around, etc.Baby alligator at Gulf State Park Nature Center  I’ve covered almost all of the park on my walks, including the Nature Center, where these baby alligators live, along with snakes, turtles and other creatures.
I’m told these little ones are offspring of “Lefty” who lives in the canal running through the park, just across from our place.  (Haven’t seen him yet and don’t really want to!)
The noise the alligators make sounds almost like a frog.  They were very active, chomping away at their dinner. But this one seemed pretty interested in me also.
Hurley Christmas 2013I’ve had fun during my walks around the park seeing how people have decorated their homes for Christmas.  Thought you might enjoy seeing some of these creative exhibits.  So, I’m posting an album.  Click below to take a look.
Merry Christmas and a Very Happy, Safe and Prosperous 2014!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Taking Time for Ferd in Texas

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Just like any home, Ferd needs upkeep and updates.  That’s where we are for a few days – Motorhomes of Texas in Nacogdoches.  Our northwest travels from Gulf Shores, Alabama, included a few days in Livingston, Texas, at the Rainbow’s End Escapees Park, our “headquarters.”  But after picking up our mail at our box and making our appointment for the motorhome, we meandered north about 75 miles to have the necessary Ferd enhancements. 

Our good experiences over the years with MOT bring us back when we can reasonably work it into our path.  So, now it’s time again for watching and waiting while the work gets done.  Let’s see….broken windshield, generator has a broken support bar, brakes need repairs and engine needs service….and then, on the road coming up here our alternator decided to bite the dust!  Ferd wait to enter the bay at Motorhomes of Texas.The repairs list keeps growing. 

Oh yeah, we’re also sprucing up the finish on poor old Ferd.  You know, he’s about 19 years old now and he’s pretty dull. There’s a deep polish we can get to bring back some of the original luster.   It took some consideration and contemplation on this elective stuff.  We talked with two or three people here about the benefits and results.  After discussing the budget, etc, we decided to get ‘er done!  Can’t erase all the years of wear with just this fix, or revive the cracks in the decals. But Ferd will have a bigger smile, a nicer finish.  Kindof like me having a Botox treatment, but keeping the cellulite and gray hair – noticeable improvement, while keeping a few badges of time!Winking smile

So for now, we’re settled in. Motorhomes of Texas, NacogdochesComfortable... using the pleasant surroundings in the customers lounge, free coffee and internet and tv...and living in Ferd when the employees move us outside for the night’s stay. Of course, as soon as they position us inside the bay in the a.m. for the day’s work, we’re off to a breakfast spot. We’re on our second night parked here and expect to be here two more. If you have to spend the time and money, MOT is our choice of the place to do business.  The people are straight with you on what’s involved, do a professional job and are extremely pleasant.  We hear so many “yes Ma’ams and Sirs” and “ya’ll need anythings?” from these courteous Texans that you just have to feel welcome.  The guys on the work crew make sure we have electricity and answer any questions before locking the gate in the evening.  (we have the code!)

These maintenance trips are among the ingredients of this lifestyle that aren’t the most favorite times, that’s for sure.  But, just as other activities/toys/hobbies that any of us choose, we have to keep it up to enjoy it.   Whether you have a yacht, a cabin, a pop-up camper or a bicycle….there’s always something to do.  Right?  Please say yes!  Steaming mad

We’ll soon be taking roads to warmer places again.  And our home on wheels will be purring along much smoother and shinier.

Thanks for visiting Hurley Travels.  See you down the road!  Be safe.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Goin Up Around The Bend -- Indiana to Alabama

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There’s a place up ahead and I’m goin’…..Come along, come along with me………

We’ve had fun over these past nine years of travels goin up around the bend with this CCR song. This one just fits – and there are plenty of memories connected.  So now there’s another place up ahead.  We’re on another winter road trip, south from Indiana to Alabama….so far that is.

This trip starteStarting our 2013-14 winter trip from Indianapolis, I-465.d a little differently.  We were both indecisive in the weeks leading up to our late-November departure about our destinations and which roads we wanted to take to those places.  We gave ourselves options……Texas or Alabama or Florida, or maybe all three.   So, we just headed south from Indianapolis on I-65,  with our first night’s stop chosen  - Nashville, Tennessee.  

As we hit Nashville, the reports started coming in about the huge winter storm heading east that could cause highway concerns. So, it was easy then to decide to take the shortest route to warmer temps in the Gulf Shores area of Alabama.  The ride through Tennessee and Alabama was smooth and mostly sunny. 

No matter how many times we travel the same road, though, there’s usually something new, to us anyway.  You know how you aren’t always looking at the details?  I know I’ve been there, but this time I paid attention to the rocket at the welcome center as we came into Alabama.  Actually, it’s a Saturn 1B and it’s located in Elkmont, AlabamaSaturn Rocket in Alabama.  This is just right there along the highway.   And just because, here are a few details I found:

Installed in 1979, the 224 foot tall Saturn 1B was a forerunner of the Saturn 5 launch vehicle for NASA missions. It boosted unmanned Apollo modules and a few orbital trips.

In the late 1990s, you could stop at this Alabama border Welcome Center, stand under the engines and imagine how the blast of takeoff would feel (like Alabama in August?). Renovations to the exhibit since then prevent strolling under the rocket.

Anyway, after a leisurely two-and-a-half-day ride from Indy, we arrived on Monday, November 25, at the Rainbow Plantation Escapees Park in Summerdale.  The park shrimp-etouffee-platemakes a nice stopover spot, comfortable parking on grass in a quiet area.  Although we don’t like the slow Internet much. But, since we were both still recovering from coughs and colds, it was nice to just settle for a while.  And we also were thinking it would help to find some of the good shrimp etouffee we remember from our other visits. 

We’ve had a nice time checking on the ocean at Gulf Shores, exploring a future parking spot at the Gulf State Park and eating fish/seafood. Oh yeah, we had a quiet Thanksgiving dinner in our little home, steak, mashed potatoes, salad and chocolate crumb cake.  And the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn fans are very evident in this region, to put it lightly.  They’ve been preparing for the excitement of that big game, decorating their cars and getting ready for the huge event last Saturday.  Well, if you didn’t see the last few seconds of that one, I can’t begin to describe It!!!

Meanwhile, there’s another project that was on our planning list; Ferd needs some maintenance and repairs.  So, now we’re making phone calls, pricing and planning for that.  If possible, we prefer to have maintenance done in Nacogdoches, Texas, home of Foretravel.  Besides, we haven’t visited Livingston in a while, our “rving home,” that’s along the way between Alabama and Nacogdoches.  So, we’ll be taking a northwesterly route to do some necessary stuff.  We’ll look for a few new turns in the road through southern Louisiana and Mississippi as we go.  See you later.  

Goin Up Around the Bend

Songwriter: JOHN FOGERTY

There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'
Just as fast as my feet can fly
Come away, come away if you're goin',
Leave the sinkin' ship behind.
CHORUS:
Come on the risin' wind,
We're goin' up around the bend.
Ooh!
Bring a song and a smile for the banjo,
Better get while the gettin's good,
Hitch a ride to the end of the highway
Where the neons turn to wood.
[CHORUS]
Ooh!
You can ponder perpetual motion,
Fix your mind on a crystal day,
Always time for a good conversation,
There's an ear for what you say.
[CHORUS]
Yeah!
Ooh!
Catch a ride to the end of the highway
And we'll meet by the big red tree,
There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'
Come along, come along with me.
[CHORUS]

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Conjuring Up Creatures Through the Years

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I’ve been sorting and scanning old photos again.  Then, it just happens!  All kinds of blog post ideas start emerging.  So now...I can’t resist gathering these generations of goblins together for Hurley Travels.  Here’s some time travel from the 1940s through 2000s.
Cousins This first Halloween step back is a group of cousins that were gathering at Grandma Weber’s house in 1947.  Don’t look all that happy about trick-or-treating, do they?!  These youngsters are from two to five years of age:  At the top on the landing is my brother, Donny Niehaus.   The girl standing just one step down from him is my sister, Martha, with my cousin, Bill Niehaus, next to her.   In front of Bill is his sister, Marilyn. And in the front of them all is our cousin, Janet Weber.Nancy Carole and Martha Niehaus The theme here seems to be hats; four out of five have some facsimile. 

The gals in the next black and white photo from 1952 are incognito ~ Me (Nancy) and my "older" sis, Martha.  These costumes and masks don’t necessarily match.  But, as I remember, ours were usually random outfits in those days.  We Halloween Krissy Bumhad a big box of costume paraphernalia carried over from year to year that we put together in various ways. There was one really scary rubber devil mask that might be worn with anything.  You never knew what might come out of the box or be left after the other siblings got theirs.
Then, the photos move through the generations to about 1986.  The bum on the left is Krissy.  Take a look at the weird mask. Not really sure what it is.  And she’s wearing one of my jackets and scarves. Whose hat is that?!  Oh, and that’s a candy cigar, BTW!  Creating a costume out of old clothing became a tradition, I guess.  Krissy and her friends kept that up for years.
 
That brings me Halloween Ben and Caroline, about 2002to the early 2000 era.  These darling grandchildren!!!  First we have the cutest leopard ever, Caroline, with her painted face and black cat ears.  Her brother, Ben, looks pretty horrid as some sort of ugly zombie hanging on her side. 
And lastly, here’s C as an Indian girl (I think), with her buddy, Nicole, the green-faced something.  These two grew up on the same street, spending time at each other’s homes, sharing the fun of Halloween, birthdays and just being friends.  They look back on those days fondly as they are going into their adulthood today.Halloween C and Nicole
Using imagination to become another being for a few hours is a lot of fun!!!  All of these costumed folks are beyond that phase now.  But I hope those following along in their footsteps enjoy their own Halloween times and can dig up some interesting creations for posting here in the future.  C’mon Eland, Luke, Ava, Lila, Jude, Chase, Madison, Annabelle, Madelyn, Eli,..........Let’s see what you've got!