This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Headed for the North Georgia Mountains

I’ll be hitting the road with the motor home on Monday for the first time in quite a while. It won’t be a long trip, just eight days from Texas to Georgia and back. One night on the road each way and five nights in the North Georgia mountains. Building a house doesn’t leave much time, or money, for traveling around in a motorhome. The house has been under construction for some time now but is almost finished. We should be able to start moving soon after returning from this trip to Georgia. It is really a bad time to take off, with the house so near completion. However, this trip is for a really special occasion.

When I was a kid, from age ten to fifteen years old, I went off to summer camp for anywhere from a month to two months. The summer after I graduated from high school I worked as a counselor at the camp. My brother and sister also went to camp for several summers. The camps were Camp Dixie for Boys, located in Wiley, GA (you will be hard pressed to find Wiley on a map) and Camp Dixie for Girls in Clayton, GA. My sister went to the girl’s camp. After I was married, my son and daughter spent many of their summers at Camp Dixie. Hopefully, my grandson will want to go to Camp Dixie next summer.

The boys camp is long gone and the girl’s camp has changed hands a few times. The girls camp became Camp Dixie for Boys and Girls before my children began attending.

Carol Ann (she did not go to Camp Dixie, although she grew up in Toccoa, GA, probably thirty miles or less from the camp), my daughter Kristin, grandson Jamie, and I will be attending the Dixie Camps’ Centennial Celebration over the coming weekend.

My first year at camp was in 1954, sixty years ago when the camp was only forty years old. I really enjoyed my summers at camp. We went on overnight canoe trips (portaging over dams and shooting the rapids on the other side), overnight horseback rides, overnight hiking trips, and even overnight truck trips to places too far away to paddle, ride, or walk. We water skied at Lake Rabun and saw “Unto These Hills”  in Cherokee, NC. I hiked for a week on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and North Carolina before the park service began trapping the bears and relocating them far from the trail. There would always be several bears following us with their noses and trying to steal our food after dark. They would even walk around our sleeping bags looking for food but they never really bothered us (you just lay very still and prayed!). If they got too close we threw rocks at them and they would run away.

Anyway, we hope Jamie likes this little taste of camp life. Kids need to get away from the TVs, cell phones, iPads, laptops, and computer games for some good quality time out in the real world communing with nature and learning to love it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Where Were You When Apollo 11 Landed on the Moon?

Buzz Aldrin wants to know where we were when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. It was July 20, 1969, forty-five years ago. Anyone who does remember is most likely eligible for membership in AARP. No spring chicken for sure. Well, I have been a member of AARP for sometime now and I remember exactly, and vividly, where I was when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon. I was at my in-laws home in Toccoa, GA after having moved a very pregnant Carol Ann back in with her parents after I was drafted into the Army.

I entered the service in January 1969 and suffered through basic training in the ice and snow at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. I then spent a relatively pleasant spring at Fort Sill, OK’s Field Artillery School learning to be a 13E20 (Fire Direction Control Specialist). At the end of my training I was sent home on a 30-day leave with orders for Vietnam at the end of my leave. I had appealed, unsuccessfully, to the Army and the Red Cross, for a delay in shipping out so that I could be home when our first child was born. The due date was about six-weeks after I was scheduled for shipment overseas. Finally, while on my 30-day leave, our two families were able to convince the two Senators from Georgia, Richard B. Russell and Herman Talmadge to intervene on my behalf. I received a telephone call from a highly pissed-off Colonel in the Pentagon who informed me that as a courtesy to Senators Russell and Talmadge I was to be given 6-weeks of temporary stateside duty, beginning when my leave was over. He asked what Army post was nearest to Toccoa. It was Fort McPherson, 90-miles away in Atlanta, GA.

For those 6-weeks I spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights at Fort Mac. I would drive to Toccoa on Thursday afternoon and not return to Fort Mac until Monday morning. I had a very understanding commanding officer and as a result I was in Toccoa when my son was born on Thursday, July 17, 1969.

Three days later, on Sunday, July 20, 1969, I was standing in the door of my in-laws bedroom and we were all watching the color console television set in their bedroom as Neil Armstrong took that big step. I vividly remember the scene, the furniture in the room, the colors, and the picture on the TV. It was an unbelievable moment.

Then, on Wednesday, July 23, 1969 I was on an airplane en route to Vietnam. Man possessed the technology for men to fly to the moon, land on it, walk around on it, and then return safely to Earth. Yet with all of that brainpower we were still training men to kill each other like cavemen.

Forty-two years later I was fortunate enough to meet Buzz Aldrin in Sun Valley, Idaho at a small cocktail party during the Christmas season. We were two of only six or eight guests at the home of a friend of my son’s. I was able to casually discuss the moon landing, NASA, and the future of space travel with a real astronaut, a “rocket scientist,”  who had been to the moon and back. His wife (now divorced) was there also, almost every square inch of her clothing, including her shoes, covered in rhinestones. Buzz was dressed in a sport coat, a shirt that neither matched in color or pattern, and a western string tie. He was extremely cordial but it was easy to tell that he enjoyed the attention and ego-stroking that he had grown used to over the past 42-years. He had a large ego and was somewhat boastful, but that should probably be expected of someone who had the guts, ambition, and ability to accomplish what so very few people have done.

But the thing I remember most about my conversation with Buzz was when he explained why it was Armstrong, rather than himself, who was the first to exit the landing module and be the first man to set foot on the moon. The explanation was simple, according to Buzz Aldrin. The module was quite cramped, their spacesuits were bulky, and Armstrong’s seat was next to the door. He had to exit first to keep Aldrin from crawling over him to get out.

Please tell us where you were and what you remember about the moon landing in the comments.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Let the Good Times Roll!"

Last year, Bobby Jindal, Gov. of LA, signed six gun bills into law. He wrote, “We’re not just signing a few bills.... we’re also celebrating the Sportsman’s Paradise and American values...” One of the six bills that Jindal signed allows the state’s citizens to apply for concealed carry handgun permits that will last their entire lifetimes. Louisiana also has an “open carry” law, which permits citizens to walk around and openly carry their guns with no need for a permit. It wasn't one of the new laws, but just so you know, a permit is not required to purchase a handgun in Louisiana. 

Then, in May of this year, Jindal singed another five gun bills into law. One of these bills modified the state's stolen firearms code to reduce the penalty for possessing a stolen weapon if you simply say you didn’t know it was stolen. But the worst of all was the law allowing loaded weapons to be carried into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. You can imagine what was bound to happen once that bill became law (I will get to that in a moment).

On June 18, 2014, about a month after Gov. Jindal signed the law allowing people to carry loaded weapons in bars, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention published statistics that revealed:
  • Guns kill more people per capita in Louisiana than in any other state.
  • High rates of gun deaths in Louisiana and other states correlate with weak gun protection laws and high gun ownership.

In other words, states with lax gun control laws have more gun deaths than do states with stricter gun control laws. Why is this correlation so hard for some people to understand?

Now, allowing drunks to carry loaded weapons is a really bad idea. Any person, even the Governor of Louisiana, should have known that something bad was bound to happen. Well, that bad something happened this past weekend in New Orleans (NOL). The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that at approximately 2:45AM on June 29, 2014 (you know nothing good is going to happen at that time of day), two men, after leaving a bar, got into a gunfight with each other on the French Quarters’ famous Bourbon Street. I can't help but picture the scene near the end of the movie, “High Noon,” when the Sheriff, Gary Cooper, and the bad guy, Lee Van Cleef, face-off against each other in the middle of the street. But they hadn’t been drinking, it was a respectable hour of the day, and all of the town folks were hiding behind closed doors. On Bourbon Street it was two drunks and a lot of people still out partying at an ungodly hour. Of course, drinking until almost 3:00 in the morning is bound to throw off one’s aim. As a result, the many bystanders were sent diving into open and still-bustling bars and nightclubs for cover.

After the smoke cleared on Bourbon Street, nine of the bystanders (they must have been the slowest of the group) lay wounded in the street. The two shooters were nowhere to be found. Of the nine injured, two are listed in critical condition.

When asked to comment on the Bourbon St. shooting (the NRA would rather the media not use the word "shooting" because it implies that a gun was used. Duh, that's why they are called shootings!), Louisiana’s Lt. Gov., Jay Dardenne, said, “I don’t believe this one incident will keep people from coming to the city of New Orleans.” Dardenne went on to say that New Orleans' worst crimes were usually outside the French Quarter, but “This is obviously a glaring exception.” No shit, Sherlock! The crimes outside the French Quarter must be some really hellacious ones because the French Quarter is definitely not a “low crime” area. The Lt. Governor must not have seen the NOL Crime Map for the week 6/24/14 to 7/1/14 (one week). I’ve stuck in a copy below this paragraph.
Where the action is!
You can’t actually see the French Quarter on the map because it's covered with those little icons representing locations where crimes were committed during the week (please note that the map’s legend indicates that I did not select any "victimless" crimes to be displayed). The map looks like someone fenced all of the criminals up insinde the French Quarter to keep crime from spilling out into the rest of the city.

Here is another map showing areas where NOL murders (NOT just homicides) are “clustered.”

Most likely places to get murdered in NOL
Once called “America’s Murder Capital,” New Orleans has seen the murder rate decrease from 63.6 murders per 100,000 people in 2008 down to 42 murders per 100,000 people in 2013. Chicago’s murder rate in 2013 was only 15.2 murders per 100,000. That makes Chicago safer than New Orleans when considering the odds of getting murdered (NOTE: Chicago had more murders than NOL but Chicago has a lot more people; about 9.5 million in the Chicago metro area vs. 1.2 million in the NOL metro area).

Louisiana has more gun violence per capita than any other state in the nation. Based on data from the Center for American Progress, the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, and various news outlets (with state gun laws compiled by the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action) the ten states having the most gun violence are Louisiana, Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas, and Georgia (in that order). Did you notice the number of Southern states? Seven if you count Missouri, six if you don't. Do you know why? Yes, because it is hot in those states (Alaska must be an outlier)! Not to mention that they have very lax gun laws and a whole bunch of guns per capita. In fact, none of the ten states require permits to purchase handguns. It's a recipe for violence.

So, if anyone is considering a little vacation in NOL, please don't venture from the “safety” of the French Quarter. Oh, and while celebrating in the French Quarter you may want to consider wearing ballistic (bullet-proof) clothing.