Before departing Dobbins AFB, we were able to get a run in, and while on the trail, I admired these marsh grasses and the purple berries below on some plant-like green thing. (Remember, I’m a sailor, not a horticulturist.)
We put Marietta, GA, in our wake, and had a long day’s drive heading south on I-75, arriving for our last night on the road at another Air Force campground outside Valdosta, GA, just a miles north of the Florida state line. As anxious as we were to get home, we didn’t want to arrive late at night and face unloading the Coach when we were tired from a long day’s drive. The puppies were also anxious to get one last squirrel chase in before going home to our street (which lacks the furry little rodents), but we were disappointed and found only mosquitoes.
One last half-day’s drive and we arrived back in The Villages! But before driving to the house, we visited Suzanne’s Lovely Mom Ruthie, who had recently downsized her home and moved into new digs nearby in Oxford, FL, at Steeplechase. It was great seeing Ruthie again – I owe her about a dozen chicken enchilada dinners after being gone all summer. Fortunately Suzanne was able to visit her for a week over their shared birthday, but they were both ecstatic to be back together for the rest of the year.
Our little hunter, Rudy, is also happy to be back home. We may not have squirrels on the street, but he has been going crazy chasing geckos. I think the score stands at Rudy 4, Geckos 0. Unfortunately, he must have eaten one, and it didn’t settle well. I’ll leave the description at that… yuck! As for little Gretchen, she just watches her big brother Rudy for a few minutes and then goes to sit next to Suzanne.
I spent this morning washing The Coach, and it was getting hot and humid, and I was tired. Then as I was just finishing up, My Good Friend Bob came over and said, “Looks pretty good, but you’re going to dry it off, right?” For a moment I debated spraying Bob with my still-charged garden hose, but thought better of it to maintain good neighborly relations. “No, Bob, but I can hand you a chamois if you’d like to spend a few hours drying it off…” RV owners across the galaxy will be impressed by the high gloss finish I achieved. Trouble is, it only takes a few miles on the road before the bugs splatter up the front windshield and dirt and dust speckle the sides down low. In any case, she looks pretty good for the moment, eh?
Speaking of bugs, I had forgotten about this photo, taken outside Wichita Falls, Texas. I hope My Good Friend John can identify the grasshopper in this photo; I won’t even ask him to try to I.D. the “walking stick” (Phasmotedea), because he’s one of those “specialists” that looks down on bugs other than grasshoppers… In fact, the walking stick is a highly adaptable insect that has amazing capabilities to mimic other insects (like scorpions), to camouflage itself (to look like a twig or a swaying leaf), feign death (thanotosis), or to secrete stinging chemicals that irritate a predator. Like their distant relatives the grasshoppers, walking sticks can also discharge the contents of their stomachs through vomiting when harassed, a fluid considered inedible by many predators.
Speaking of animals, when we arrived back home we discovered a “gift” from our neighbor and friend, Jan Blythe (Bob’s Lovely but Occasionally Smarty-Pants Bride). Last year when we returned, I found a tiny fishing rod charcoal starter hanging on the pantry door, purportedly to match the teeny tiny fish that Jan and Bob had accused me of catching. This year they hung a fishy hot pad on that tiny rod and reel. I may just leave the next few fish I catch under the hood of Jan’s car… (Yes, Jan, I hear you: “That’s not much of a threat!”) Well, we shall see….
Finally, thanks to all the new friends we met on this summer’s Messages of Hope Tour, and to all the old friends back in The Villages whom we’re looking forward to getting reacquainted with now that we’re home. It was a long trip, 166 days and 12,039 miles, covering 26 states and 2 provinces. We will take a break from now until April 1st 2015, when we will head out on our 200 day, 15,000 mile 2015 Tour, heading from Florida out to California then to Boston and back to Florida… with lots of stops in between! But the Most Special Thanks go to Bev Garlipp, Suzanne’s assistant here in Florida who makes our Summer Tours possible. Her hard work scheduling and publicizing events across the country while we are on the road makes it all happen. Thank you, Bev!!! (This was on our departure day, April 23rd, with Elizabeth Magee, MLB and Bev.)
I will be continuing this blog through the winter, so stay tuned! Our next event will be a Celebration of Wolf’s Message, set for Sunday October 19th, 7:00-9:00 PM. It will be a fundraiser for a scholarship fund that will help several young single moms complete their practical nursing programs here in Central Florida. Suzanne is reviewing the applications as I type this blog post. We hope you can join us; details are on Suzanne’s web site at www.LoveAtTheCenter.com.