Monday, April 30, 2012

Set It And Forget It

This is a phrase coined by Ron Popeil, an inventor and marketing personality. Surely you remember the Showtime Rotisserie where Ron or one of his aides would stuff a chunk of beef into the rotisserie and encourage the audience to repeat that infamous phrase, "just set it and forget it".

Another marketing hit is the phrase, "so eaay a cave man cold do it", coined by GEICO to describe how easy it is to use their website.

The idea goes on in this YouTube video showing how easy it is to hook up a Winegard Satellite antenna.

We decided to purchase a Winegard Carryout satellite antenna because it was $1000 less then the Winegard Traveler. The idea of a portable satellite antenna made sense to us because several of our RV buds have roof mounted antennas and carry a portable as a backup. For us that was not an option.

After tons of research, the decision was made to get the Carryout. Today is the day I hook it up. After morning chores and breakfast I tackled this challenge. The video runs for just a little less than 3 minutes. That looks pretty simple. I did exactly what the video showed and then played the wait game. I read that once the antenna is powered up, it will make noise as it searches the sky for the appropriate satellite. It did just that. In my service panel outside, I have a place to connect a satellite antenna cable. That was pretty easy. Next I am inside and find the other end of the satellite connection (I think). After powering up the VP112K receiver it came on came on as expected. The TV even displayed a Welcome to Dish screen.

IMG 0149At step 3 of 5, the receiver asked me to check to connections. Apparently it was not able to complete the action. So I check the connection, then reconnected, then rerouted the cable, and finally ran the cable directly from the antenna to the receiver through a window in the RV. Now, keep in mind that it took about 35-40 minutes for the receiver to get to the same place in the configuration. Just before I gave up, I decide to remove the dome cover to see what direction the dish was pointing. OOPS. Up is not the correct direction. The satellites are located in the southern sky just above the horizon. At least that is where my phone says they are.

So, I unplug the power from antenna, move the dish by hand to make sure it is not stuck, then reapply power. This little dish responded like R2D2, it whirred, and hummed, it spun and moved up and down looking for home. As it swept across the southern sky I heard it say, "Whoa! There it is."

Then it moved back and forth as well as up and down in continually smaller increments. Finally it stopped. I cold almost here a sigh of relief.

You know what is really amazing to me? This little dish can find a signal 23,000 miles a way. That is amazing. Maybe one day our computers will find our Verizon MiFi signal as easily.

Back in side, I reset the receiver. This time it moved passed the point where it previously got stuck. Yea! Finally Step 3 is complete and the receive has received appropriate information from the mother ship. Great!  Now in step 4 it begins looking for a phone or ethernet connection. Oh crap! I have neither. Instead I have cell phones and wireless network. After another long wait, the receiver announced it had completed configuration and was fully operational. Cool.

Now for the real test - select a channel from their program guide. I opted for The HallMark Channel because it was showing the Waltons. I thought it was odd that the time was one hour behind our time. Then I noticed the guide was broadcasting KHOU and KPRC. These are Houston channels. I must have the local broadcasts from Livingston, TX near Houston not our neighborhood (Atlanta or Chattanooga). At least we have multiple channels now, not just the three we pick up from the batwing antenna.

Next test. Disconnect the cable from the receiver and reconnect it outside at the service panel. Then connect the receiver to the wall plug in the RV. Everything worked as expected. That is cool. All I have left to do is figure out which hard drive I need to purchase so I can get DVR functions, then see what can be done about getting local broadcasts from Chattanooga or Atlanta, not from Houston area.

Was the process as easy as the video showed? NO. Maybe now that the receiver is configured, it will be. I'll let you know.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

WOW, what an incredible park. It is hard to imagine that in 1895, this park was dedicated. The government found that most of the area had remained unchanged. The park includes over 1400 monuments and markers depicting troop placement and movement. Placement was supervised by the War Department to assure historical accuracy.

The main building houses an impressive collection of 346 rare and unique weapons that are from that period. In the main building are displays including a restored transportable forge used to maintain weapons in the field, a display of the tent office used by the field generals. Park volunteers are well versed in the history of this epic battle and present narratives about the battle.  To give you an idea of how large this battle was, there where 34,000 casualties of the 124,000 soldiers engaged. This one of the Civil War's bloodiest battles.

The park also incorporates a 7 mile driving tour of the grounds where you can literally witness the battle of Chickamauga as it occurred. Along the route, 8 markers indicate points to stop and observe the markers and monuments plus read a short brief about that location. You can look out over the fields and literally see the battle going on. You can also call 585-672-2619 to hear narrations related to each of the 8 stops along the route. That is impressive. Give it try.

  Chickamauga Battle Field It took us about 2 1/2 hours to go through the park. We really need to go back and spend more time there. The National Park Service has done a fantastic job with this place. For more information please see 

Once I get the photos off my camera and sorted, I'll post some for you to enjoy.

After leaving the park we hurried on to Dalton, GA where we stopped for lunch. Then headed for the hills - literally. From Dalton, we drove through Chatworth, GA then drove GA-2/52 up to Ft Mountain State Park, then back down to Ellijay. It was another scenic route.

It was good to get home. We both took a nap and are ready to get back into our grove tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


DSC 0027 CroppedPersistence - the act of being obstinately repetitious, insistent, or tenacious; holding firmly and steadfastly to a purpose, state, or undertaking despite obstacles, warnings, or setbacks; continuing in existence.

Today we visited Point Park on top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was struck with a deep sense of awe as we roamed the park. I could sense the persistence the soldiers demonstrated as they fought for their cause. I took a stroll along the paths that descended to the lower areas of the park. Along the path I saw out of the corner of my eye a plant embedded in the rock. I almost moved on past but I stopped to take a closer look. I took a second look. What caught my attention? The plant's persistence. It held firmly and steadfastly to its purpose despite the rock just like the persistence of the soldiers.

Today my blogger friend Terry posted the following on his blog Ignoring The Barking Dog
The very act of stopping and enjoying the beauty of a sunrise seems to give me a sense of peace, and upon further reflection, a sense of gratitude.
While Terry wrote this in the context of watching a sunrise, his words echoed the sentiment of what I felt as I walked through the park. The very act of taking time to reflect on the persistence of the soldiers, many of whom gave their lives for their cause.

Sunday we head each to our home in Blue Ridge. We will stop at Fort Oglethorpe where we will visit Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Then a short stop in Dalton before we get back to the farm. Our vacation is coming to an end.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Babies - Really

Today we left Blue Ridge for a weekend get-a-way in Chattanooga. Before we got off, Pam came over to let us know that September was showing signs of labor. We just knew that one of the babies would pop out while we are away.

We headed for Bumblebee's for breakfast, then fueled up the truck. We headed north out of Blue Ridge on GA-5 to the twin cities McCaysville, GA/Copperhill, TN. From there we are off on TN-68 following the Occoe River. At Duck Town, we turned west onto US-74. It was a beautiful drive as expected. Just a few miles past Lake Occoe, Carol saw a sign that indicated a vineyard was near by.

So, I followed my nose to Savannah Oaks Winery.  After a little sampling, I settled for a bottle of their Blue Diamond Chablis. We also purchased a small snack of sugar free fudge to munch on the trip. After a short chat with Bruce Davis, Owner, we headed out to the truck to get back on track.

Just as we got the truck, Carol received a call from Pam. She called to let us know that September's little boy made an appearance at 11:40 this morning. Say hello to the newest boy on the farm. That is his Momma, September, checking him out.
Pam said that within the hour, he was up on his feet and nursing. We have one more opportunity at being there for a birth. The other lady-in-waiting, Dee, is due anytime now. Meanwhile, here are some photos of the newest addition on the farm. No name yet. Pam wants a name beginning with "R". I am leaning towards "Ringo".

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From Savannah Oaks Winery, we found our way to I-75 by TN-163. A few short miles later the traffic started to pick up and we got to Shallowford Rd where we found our pet friendly La Quinta Inn. Yep, we decided a vacation required staying in a different place.

We got checked in then headed across I-75 for a little shopping at Hobby Lobby and Best Buy. Then we headed to Camping World for the rest of our shopping. Sunday when we head back we have to figure out where this stuff will go in the truck.
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Next we headed for supper (or dinner). I found a place on line using Chow Hound. This is one of my favorite links to good eats next to Guy's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The posting mentioned Nikki's Drive-In. When I read the poster's comments, I get interested when he said,
"The Best Shrimp I have had anywhere that was more then 1 mile from the Gulf. Their fried shrimp are colossal! The breading is delicate not heavy, and I swear if I could only have one fried shrimp again, including all my favorite food spots in Apalachicola Fla. Nicky’s would be my choice."
That got my attention and he was not wrong. The shrimp was the best we've had since leaving Corpus Christi. In fact I told the manager, Tree, that this shrimp was as good as what we got from Snoopy's in Corpus Christi. Nothing fancy but plan ole good cooking. You can decide for yourself.

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They do not have a web site but are on FaceBook.

After that, we drove around town a little to see where things were. Tomorrow we are going back to Camping World for a seminar on satellite TV system, then we are making a trip to pet friendly Rock City, Ruby Falls and perhaps Point Park.  If we have time we will hit the Railroad Museum.

By the way, is another one of my favorite links that I use when searching stuff we can do.

Sunday we will hard back to the farm, making stops at Fort Oglethorpe and Dalton, GA. Monday we go back to work.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


We got babies.

OK, I know this is not what you were expecting but we still got babies. This nest is in the boy's barn.

I asked Sugar what was going on with the pregnant llamas and she just laughed.

Then I asked the other girls. They just ignored me.

So I said, "OK, be that way." I'll just take hay to the boy's barn.

Friday we are headed to Chattanooga for a couple of nights. We are stopping in at Camping World to load up on our satellite system and attend a could of seminars. Then on Saturday we get to play tourist. Not sure what we are going to do or see so if you have any suggestions, fire away. Sunday we come back to the farm. Maybe we'll have llama babies by then.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wow, Wow, Wow

What a spectacular day. We are just awe struck at the beauty of the region. Our plan today was to drive to Blairsville, Helen, Dahlonega and back by way of a route through the middle of the Chattahoochee National Forest on GA-60 and Aska Road. (Click here to see the planned route on Google Maps)

The trip to Blairsville was uneventful until we snap a photo of the Historic Union County Court House.
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From Blairsville, we drove south GA-11, US-129, US-19, better known as the Gainsville Hwy, for about 7.5 miles. Then turned east on State Route 180 for about a mile to make our connection to GA-348/Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway. This highway winds 14.1 miles through the Chattahoochee National Forest climbing from 2,040 feet to 3,644 feet. There are a few spots to pull over and take in the view.
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Naturally we stopped to take in the beauty. I cannot tell you the names of the peaks in the distance. We enjoyed the view and did not worry about their names. We started our descent into Helen and saw this sign on the side of the highway.
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I actually drove past it at first. Carol and chatted a bit and we decide to turn back to check it out. Carol is not one to climb or hike trails so I took off and found an observation deck where I got this shot of the falls in the distance.
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From the observation deck, I followed a trail for about 1 mile that dropped around 400 feet on three switchbacks. The view of the forest along the trail was amazing. All the way down, I kept thinking, "I'll never make it back up." When I got to the bottom, the view was… Well, you decide. Here is a sampling of the photos I got.
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Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Yes, it was pretty chilly down there. At the top, the temperature was hovering in the low 50's. I would guess it was in the mid 40's at the bottom. For more info abut Dukes Creek Falls, click here.  On the climb up, I kept thinking about how thankful I am that I've been climbing the pastures at Windy Valley Llamas. My legs held up and I did not pass out. I will be doing more hiking. While I was busy hiking, Carol got a few shots of Yonah Mountain. Yonah is the Cherokee word for bear.

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We pulled into Helen about 1 1/2 hours later than planned. What a cool little town. It looks like a small German village. Absolutely brought us back to our time in Europe in the 70's.
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We grabbed some lunch at a Bavarian Restaurant. While there, we got a chance to tell some folks about our stay in Blue Ridge. It is always cool to share our story. After lunch, we checked out a few of the shops, then stopped at Habersham Winery where I tasted a few of their wines. I came home with a bottle of Habersham Signet.
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Then we walked across the street to Jumpin Goat Coffee Roasters where I picked up some small bags of their coffee for tasting
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Then we went next door to the Nora Mill Granary Grist Mill & Country Store. A bag of Pioneer Porridge followed us back to the truck.
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By then it was 3:0PM and our dogs were barking. That is when we decided the rest of the loop would be done on another trip. On the way back, we found a cool RV park that is reserved exclusively for Air Stream products - Top of Georgia Airstream Park.

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Our return trip was on GA-75 and GA-180. GA-180 has been designated a National Scenic Byway and a Georgia Scenic Byway. We videoed the journey up and down. I'll post links to the trip once I get them uploaded to YouTube.

As we travel through the southern peaks of the Appalachian Mountain range, I cannot help but think of the pioneers who traversed these routes. They had an amazing spirit that kept them going.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mountain Retreats

Saturday, Carol was feeling good enough to join me on the scoop patrol. We cleaned up the pasture pretty good because we are off Sunday and Monday and did not want to have a big mess on Tuesday. Then we chowed down on French Toast. Later in the day, we planned to grill hamburgers for our boss and a friend down the street. When we first discussed taking this position, Jerry Fink (owner) said he and Pam wanted to make sure the workampers felt more like family than workers. They have certainly done their part.

Here we are with our boss and friends. Tim and Karen were workampers here a few years ago. Tim is a retired Presbyterian Minister. They liked it the area so much that after retirement they decide to sell their place in Florida and move up here next door to Jerry and Pam. We are enjoying the afternoon sitting on their back porch. Jerry and I were working on the burgers.

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Sunday Carol and I visited the Church of the May Be For Us. We had great praise and worship time followed by a thought provoking message, "What's In Your Hand" delivered by the Chairman of the Deacons. Starting with Moses, he gave example after example of how God uses the tools in a person's hand to accomplish His purpose.

  • Moses, his staff or rod (Ex 4:1-4, 19) 
  • Shamgar, his Ox Goad (Judges 3:31) 
  • Giedeon, his trumpet and torch (Judges 6:7, 12-14) 
  • Sampson, a jawbone (Judges 15:14-16) 

He closed with a quote from Bob Westfall in The Fulfillment Principle "God has already given you the talent, ability, skill, money or passion you need to fulfill His plan, to be entrusted with more and to walk in pure joy." Considering where we are and what we are doing, we can certainly say AMEN to that.

After church we went to town looking for the Arts and Craft Festival. Guess what? We could not find anything. We saw signs pointing to parking lots but we did not see any signs indicating the festival location. Strange! It continues next weekend so hopefully we will figure out where it will be.

After that, we decided to take our doggies for a walk through an abandoned golf course along the Toccoa River. We did not venture too far into the property since this was the first time there. There are no signs posting the area off limits. I think tomorrow we will hunt for the other side of the golf course to see if there is something else there.
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After the walk on the course, we took a trip to Tennessee. That is not such a big thing since the state line is less than 15 minutes from here. Before we got there, we took a side trip to check out Bear Mountain Ridge.  Here are a couple of photos of the view from the top. I think the best word I can think of is "spectacular".
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Then we finally arrived in McCaysville.

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This is a cool little town that sits on the state line. McCaysville is the Georgia town while Copperhill is the Tennessee town. Carol is straddling the state line. Qianna is in Tennessee and Cody is in Georgia. There is a Mexican restaurant there the we will be trying out soon.
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The other reason we went there is to see our first Georgia Historical Marker - The Madden Branch Massacre.

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Monday we are going to Blairsville, Helen, and Dahlonega. Dahlonega is in the middle of Georgia's wine region. Yummy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Poop, Crap, Dung, Sh-t

Today has been a crappy day. When it rains here, we are not able to get ChuckWagon out into the pastures to clean poop. There is way more poop than the dung beetles can consume so it piles up. This is our job security, as long as there are llamas, there will be poop and we have a job. Now you're thinking, "Oh Crap! Where is he going with this?"

Please don't get me wrong here. We love what we do. Today was double duty day because for two days we were not able to clean the pastures. And to complicate the work schedule, Carol was not feeling well. She has chronic lower back and hip pains that get worse when the weather is cold or when she stresses her lower back or hip. The other day Carol aggravated her hip/lower back when we walked the boys. The last couple of days we've had wet and cold which also aggravates her joint pains. Today she was not walking very good at all. That means pasture cleanup was my duty. Thus, today was a crappy day.

After feeding the dogs, I helped Carol with harnessing Cherio, a large mini who just does not like being harnessed. Then Savannah and I went for our therapy walk. Savannah got hurt exiting the llama trailer a few months ago. Today she is fearful of the trailer. She tends to jump out instead of walk out. This is a problem because llamas can jump pretty high. Savannah has jumped high enough, while inside the trailer, to hit the top of the trailer. As you can imagine, this causes more stress for Savannah. I've been walking her to a spot on the grounds where there is a step off. This is to get her comfortable with the idea of stepping down. Today, Pam wanted to see how Savannah would do in the trailer. With a little coaxing, she stepped in just as she should, then when led out, she stepped out just as she should. Yeah!! Just call me the llama whisperer. She still has a long way to go but she is showing signs of improvement.

Finally, I am headed down to the boys barn to get them fixed up. Part of my chores down there is to make sure the two large water troughs are full of fresh water. The one on the left is being filled and the one on the right is full of yesterday's dirty water.

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While one water trough is filling, I got started on the poop scoop work. The guys always leave me a nice mess to clean up. Dirty on the left, clean on the right. The holes in the ground are bad by dung beetles coming for a snack.

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Next the boys got harnessed and fed. Then I set out fresh hay. Finally I lead the boys on a stroll through their pasture. Do you remember their names? Rudy, Major Deal, then Cricket and Smudge.

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OK, the boys are fed and happy now. So I climb into the ChuckWagon and go hunting for poop. If the dung beetles are doing their job, finding the poop is pretty easy. For piles like this, I use a broom. This is sort of like sweeping marbles off the ground. If the pile is in taller grass, a rake is needed.
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Just about done with the boys pasture now, making my way down hill to the gate. See that dark spot on the light soil about 4 fence posts down hill? This is their communal spot. They always leave a big mess here.
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And guess what? sh-t really rolls down hill. That is not just a figure of speech used in the business world. These little poop beans roll down the hill. This makes it a challenge to get the poop in the scoop. The boys pasture is cleaned now.

Next is the pasture belonging to the ladies-in-waiting. This pasture is next to the house and is our front yard. Their pasture is not too bad other than it is pretty steep. That makes for some tough walking up and down. I drive the ChuckWagon through here also and so far have not flipped it over on the turns. That would not be a pretty scene. Two more pastures to go, then I am done with the scooping.

I stopped by the RV to see how Carol is doing and to pick up Cody. He and I went together today to deliver our load to a farmer down the road. The framer is establishing the Blue Ridge Mountain Diner for the local dung beetles. It is just about time for the noon smorgasbord so I can't be late. Too bad I do not have a dinner bell. Instead, I have to shout, "Come and get it."

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Now, that is how my crappy day started.

After dumping, Cody and I came back to the RV, I got cleaned up, Carol and I ate breakfast, then I took a nap. Later in the afternoon Carol and I went grocery shopping. One of these days, we will get grocery shopping done on a weekly bases. I am sure we can save a few bucks by doing that. We shop at Ingles in Blue Ridge. There is a Food Lion in town but it is small and has limited selection. Walmart is a 34 mile round trip. Not sure I can save enough to offset the cost of fuel. Ingles is a cool store. It is very clean, has great selections and friendly staff. Most grocery stores have an aisle for cold beer. Ingles has a Beer Den How cool is that.
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Well, that's it for tonight. Hopefully Carol has rested her hip and lower back so she can join in on the fun tomorrow. This weekend, Blue Ridge is the 8th annual arts and crafts sale. 40 plus vendors selling items such as pottery, wood carvings, quilts, canned goods and much more. Live entertainment and food. Show be a fun time unless it rains.

Thanks for stopping by.