Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wonderful Visit in the Benton, KY Area

People always want to know where others are “from.”   It’s not like we came from some foreign country.  I have yet to run into someone who is from a place outside the U.S. who is oohing and aahing about the beauty of the parks.  Most people visit these parks several times a year or at least every year.   Most are southern folks who just like to get away for a while to look at the water and relax.   In the winter months, we see tags from Maine to Wyoming and I understand those folks coming south for the winters.
I still don’t understand why so many southerners like camping.  I think there’s more of it now with the economic problems (cost of air travel, increase in various other vacation luxuries).    Unless you stay in the Corp of Engineers’ parks and have a 50% senior discount, the nightly cost at many RV parks can be $35 or more per night.  Taking a camper to a park is a lot of work to pack up, cook up food or shop to take everything that’s needed away from home.   I don’t really understand sitting outside in 90 degree weather with flies and mosquitoes.  (I have been eaten up with mosquitoes this summer with the wetter weather). 
I think Ron and I were poor as we grew up and a house with air-conditioning is far better to us than camping out.   I think campers would be very unhappy people if they had to live this way all the time.  They would feel that they are very poor if they had no other choice. 
Our tag is from TX – so many want to know “where in Texas?”    I wonder if they think we got our money from oil wells.   They are too nice to ask, so I just let them keep wondering.  It would appall them if they knew we lived on our social security checks.   We are blessed to have had good jobs early in life and paid sufficiently into the system so our return is enough to live on (provided the fund is not depleted or eliminated by the government). 
All of my life, I’ve felt that I’m rather ordinary and, actually, I never liked standing out.  I’d rather “blend in” than be noticed.   Most people who camp do have smaller or older campers so I’m sure our 40’ RV does stand out a little so we may not blend in too well.   But, this is our home full-time and it’s still far from luxury.  It is compact and convenient, but the traveling is not easy.   Ron says if I buy anything, I have to throw something away to make room for it.  That gives you some idea of how condensed our surroundings are even with a longer RV.  I’ve had women tell me they could not do it because they could not live with so few clothes or their husbands could not give up their tools to live in a camper full-time.
When we arrived yesterday at Bailey’s Point Corp of Engineers’ park near Glasgow, KY, we remembered the park from last year.   The highlight of this park last year was seeing the geese flying off of a hill and diving for the water.   I asked if they were here this year and was told they are.  They have taken up residence here and I can’t blame them.  I’ve heard them in the distance but have not seen them flying down to the water yet. 
Ron reserved a pull-through parking space that we thought we had last year.   A pull-through is usually good for us because he doesn’t have to back the RV into a spot.  It turned out to be the spot right above the one we had last year.   It’s a horseshoe shaped space with large trees on both sides and a 40’ RV does not bend in the middle.   Ron pulled in but knew we could not pull forward enough to plug into the power and it was pitched downward and we would never get it leveled.  A nice man walked down the hill from his camper and he said he suggested we take the car off and drive around to find another space.   (The park gatehouse was closed until 4 p.m.).   He told us to look for the little reserved note on each spot and find one that was available for the two days we would be here.  It turned out that the one right across the road was O.K.   Ron backed out (with some difficulty) with another camper helping direct him.   This spot we are in now looked level but by the time he got the levelers down and got it level, the two front tires are about 6” off of the ground.  Otherwise, the back of the RV would be 6” higher than the front.   He warned me that the step from the RV was up very high.   I told him it’s O.K. because I’m still a “high stepper.”
We are due to receive 70% rain this afternoon and tonight.  We walked up to the gatehouse about 5 p.m. to let them know we moved into another spot.  The gate worker told us that they received 6” of rain over the weekend.  All camp spaces are on rolling hills so the rain drained into the lake.  The gate worker said the lake came up a lot with that rain.  This has been a good spring for the south – not too hot and with plenty of rain.  The corn and tobacco crops across Kentucky are beautiful.   The farmers will have a “bumper” crop this year.   In previous years, it’s been hot and dry and many could not save their crops.  Last year, Texas ranchers sold off much of their cattle because they didn’t have enough to feed them without good hay crops.
We had a wonderful time in Benton, KY (June 17 – July 9).    The first week, we were at Canal Campground and the rest of the time we parked in the driveway of Rick and Linda Clark, members at Union Hill.  It was impossible to get reservations at the parks around the area because of the Independence Day holiday.  I felt badly that we needed to impose on the Clarks and I hoped we would not be a nuisance to them.   Linda also got many of the appointments set up for Ron.  She knew someone at every congregation and that helped introduce us so they would let Ron come give a report.  Besides reporting to the congregations we already knew, he got to speak at a few other congregations because of Linda’s efforts.    As they say, “it’s not what you know so much as it is WHO you know.”   So, it was very good to know Linda and get her help.  (Wonder if she has some dirt on each of them and they were afraid she’d get even if they didn’t give Ron an appointment?)   Well, it didn’t work in one case because she told us of a trick she pulled on one elder at a congregation and he didn’t give us an opportunity to give a report there.   They had a big building fund underway to pay for a million dollar building so I guess they were afraid someone might give to us and take away funds they needed.
Rick and Linda are wonderful people.  We did not know them very well until this year.  Linda and Rick support an orphan and she was instrumental in getting the ladies at Union Hill to support seven more children.   We have talked by phone over the past several years.  Once, we drove up to give a report from somewhere else and we spent the weekend in their 5th wheel camper that’s parked in their driveway.   That was a wonderful weekend, but until this year, we really didn’t become close friends.
Ron had many things he needed to do on the RV and not only did Rick help him, he had a workroom full of the tools Ron needed for the various jobs.  Ron and Rick took care of many things over the 10 days we were there.   I was happy to water plants and watch over their house while they went to the Smoky Mountains over the 4th weekend.   Ron was happy to help them set up their new computer into a working condition and show them many things about it.  We were pleased to see them getting involved in email and downloading photographs onto a flash drive.   I bought them a wireless mouse and flash drives as gifts but they outdid us with more gifts and favors.   Rick has gotten into playing mahjong on the computer!   We told him he can retire and go to China and sit around and play it with the old people.
I reported in the last episode that we went to Patti’s Restaurant with the Clarks to celebrate Ron’s birthday (a week early).  They were upset that Ron paid for the meal and since then they have not only tried to get even, they have done so much that we are indebted to them for the rest of our lives.  They said they liked it that way.  I told Linda I would not want to be their enemy.   Ron had a bank check sent to them to cover utilities (power and water) but it arrived one day before we left and Linda literally tore it up and handed it back to us.   I would not want to add up all they did for us and what it would have cost if we had gotten all of this done somewhere else.   
Linda cooked a delicious grilled tilapia dinner for us on Ron’s actual birthday and made homemade peanut butter ice cream.  After dinner, we drove to Murray, KY to a parking lot and watched fireworks.  It was a wonderful treat for Ron’s 76th birthday.   In spite of being in Beijing for a Chinese New Year and seeing fireworks for seven days, we enjoy these fireworks because they were beautiful and somewhat different.   We forget a lot of birthdays, but I don’t think he will forget this one.  They made it too special!
When we arrived yesterday and got parked and hooked up, we were hot and tired.  Ron said he needed some of Linda’s ice cream.   I told him she sent some with us.  He said, “You’ve got to be kidding.”   I wasn’t.  I showed him the container in the freezer.  He said Rick better watch Linda because if he (Ron) wanted a younger wife, he’s go after Linda.   Linda has many appealing qualities but Ron is especially interested in her ice cream!  Shows his age!!!
When we were packing up to leave yesterday, Ron said, “it’s like leaving family.”   It really was.  We had such a good time with them and shared so much that it’s like they are family now.   They could “almost” be our kids.   Rick asked if we wanted to adopt him but I quickly told him “no.”  I told Linda as we left, that regretting the distance between us for another year is the price we pay for true friendship.   But, they are going to be in Franklin, TN one weekend while we are in the Nashville area so they got a motel near our park for their last night (Saturday) so we can get together.  They will go with us to Fairview to church on Sunday (Aug. 11th) where Ron will speak.  We’ll go for lunch before they leave to drive back to Benton, KY.   We have this reunion to look forward to.  I told them they should follow us around on our travels and get even with us.  We could buy all of the dinners we have out.
I’ll write the next segment after we are parked at Campbellsville, KY.   We have a lot of driving by car to do for the rest of the time we are in Kentucky.   I’ll report on our visits for the rest of the month next time. 
We know that many prayers are going up daily for us and our work in China.  Thank you so much for your loving concern for us and the generous support and encouragement we receive across the country. 
We have lots of friends and acquaintances we enjoy seeing every year.  It is what makes our job of fund-raising so enjoyable.   Friendships make the travels “bearable.”  
May God bless you and care for each of you.

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