April 2007

We departed Jekyll Island, Georgia for Mountain View, Arkansas.  The trip covered about 800 miles so we had interim stops near Birmingham, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee.

Jekyll Island was our home till just after Easter. We continued to help the Brunswick Habitat for Humanity affiliate build a home for Ms. Alberta.  Dave and Mary, our new RVing and Habitat friends that helped us get our Habitat fix while we stayed in Jekyll Island, left the beginning of the month.  We look forward to seeing them sometime down the road, or even back at Jekyll this winter.

Harry and Marie, our friends with whom we spent most of January and February this year, stopped by for a quick overnight visit as they headed back home to Ontario in time for Easter. We all managed to get in a quick bike ride to Driftwood Beach during their visit.  They hosted happy hour after our bike ride, during which we caught up on news since seeing them last.

Yvette and Pat drove down with their camper on Good Friday and joined us for the Easter weekend, as did friends Bill and Jann.  We took turns cooking -- Pat kicked it off with his scrumptious seafood chowder on Friday evening; we enjoyed Jann’s delicious lasagna and fixings on Saturday; and for Easter we chose the easiest meal – sliced ham accompanied by all sorts of tasty side dishes that Yvette and Jann brought. 

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We enjoyed campfires and meals with Lucille's sister Yvette and her husband Pat, and friends Bill and Jann.  One of our afternoon trips on Jekyll Island was a walk on the almost deserted beach on the south end of the island.  We saw the "Glory Boardwalk" and remains of a shrimp boat.  Since it was a very blustery day, the gulls and kites were packed together and only moved away from us begrudgingly.

Jekyll Island has miles of wonderful bike trails but the winds were pretty stout that weekend, so instead we drove to search for the boardwalk used during filming the movie “Glory” as well as a shrimp boat buried in sand up to its mast.  We found both the boardwalk and the ship’s mast after an invigorating walk on the beach, fighting the blowing winds.  The beach was almost deserted of human visitors but we saw plenty of shore birds.

The Easter sunrise service at the convention center was as awesome as it was last year.  The sun was brilliant as it rose.  Tom Williams, the Singing Postman, was the soloist.  When he isn’t singing gospel music, he’s a postman here on the island, thus his nickname.  Listening to his wonderful voice further added to this special service.

Shortly before we left Jekyll, we toured Faith Chapel, located in the historic village on the island.  Volunteer docents staff the chapel from 2-4 pm on selected days.  

Built as an interdenominational chapel by the Jekyll Island Club in 1904, its architecture is early colonial meeting house mixed with Gothic-style decorative elements.  Gargoyles are found on the exterior of the steeple.  On the inside roof trusses are six carved animal heads, the meaning of which are unknown.  The interior is built entirely of stained wood, which has aged to a dark, warm brown.  On the west end of the chapel is a signed Tiffany stained glass window.  Louis Tiffany only signed those windows that he helped install.

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Faith Chapel, completed in 1904, replaced a smaller chapel built for the Jekyll Island Club.  It's shingled walls and signed Tiffany stained glass window make it an island treasure.  Bottom right photo is the window on the east end of the chapel.

Your eyes are  drawn to the east end of the chapel where a beautiful stained glass window, the Adoration of the Christ Child, was installed as a memorial to one of the charter members of the Jekyll Island Club.  The window is made of several layers of glass, giving the illusion of depth and perspective.  It is one of the most outstanding pieces of stained glass art in the nation. What is amazing is that the window is entirely lit by natural light.  It sparkled yet the sun was already overhead.  It must be spectacular when sunrays come through this window.  

Faith Chapel is still used for religious services – hopefully some day, we will be able to attend a service there.

Our month at Jekyll Island came to an end.  We’re looking forward to going back there but have decided to avoid spring.  There are thousands of live oak trees on Jekyll, which add to the beauty of the place.  But when these trees start blooming – watch out!  We both got socked with allergies and kept the Kleenex folks in business for several weeks.  

Our next stop was to spend a few days parked in Pat and Yvette’s front yard while Yvette and Lucille researched independent living facilities for their parents, currently living in Florida.  Family members feel it is time for them to be living closer to one of their children.  Near Yvette was the natural choice as the Georgia climate is more similar to Florida’s than either Arizona’s or Connecticut’s.   Our search was successful so the wheels are now turning to make the move happen.  

As a result, we’ve had to change our summer plans.  Originally we had planned to go back to Lone Oak in Connecticut and work.  We don’t like to renege on a commitment but family needs were more urgent and had to come first.  Making the phone call to Lone Oak wasn’t easy – we’ll miss working with the friends we made there last summer.  We are thankful that our lifestyle is flexible enough to allow us to be where we need to be.

Time to hit the road for Arkansas, stopping first to blacktop camp at Sam’s Club in Irondale, Alabama, with a second overnight stop at the Agricenter RV Park in Memphis, Tennessee.  Our Sam’s stop turned out to be expensive, not from the groceries that we stocked up on while parked free in their lot, but because of a freak accident.  Sometime during the night, the wall clock fell off the wall, landing on the printer/scanner/copier below, which rides on the floor when we’re on the road.  Do you know how many pieces of a glass there are when the scanner/copier top of the printer shatters?  What a mess!  Life is never boring…. Overnighting in Memphis was less stressful, which included a stop at our favorite all-time barbecue place, Corky’s.  We can’t drive through Memphis without eating at Corky’s.

The ride from Memphis to Mountain View was uneventful but very scenic.  The weather and traffic cooperated – we got to the Ozark RV Park around 2 pm.  Friends Karen and Galen had checked in the day before – it was good to see them again.  

Mountain View is quickly becoming one of our favorite destinations.  Not only do we enjoy the music that surrounds the area and both the daytime and evening activities and concerts at the Ozark Folk Center, but also the campground itself is a treasure.  Friendly folks own the park--Andy and Virginia make you feel very welcome, like you’re coming back home.   Several of the campground guests were also here last October – it’s like family welcoming us back.  The campground's Pickin’ Shed hosts a variety of activities: the weekly potlucks are fun; the jam sessions are enjoyable; and the Sunday ecumenical services get your week off to a good start.  The campground is just a few minutes walk to the Ozark Folk Center and is within walking distance to town, with a pleasant walk through City Park. The campground is kept very clean; no trains or street traffic to awaken you at night; no loud and obnoxious neighbors; and you can’t beat the monthly rates – you can see why we enjoy it here so much.

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We met with friends Darlene, Mike, Karen and Galen at the Ozark Folk Center.  Galen, wearing the overalls, played his wash tub bass with the musicians that day.

Our stay here was timed to catch the annual Spring Festival as well as the season opening of the Ozark Folk Center.  Mike and Darlene, who worked with Karen, Galen and the two of us at the Escapade in Ohio last fall, came down to join us for this festive weekend.  It was great seeing them again – we met at the Pizza Inn for the buffet. Between snacking on pizza and catching up on news since last fall, we made our plans for the upcoming weekend.

While they were here, we spent time at the Folk Center’s crafts village, had lunch at the Skillet Restaurant, and enjoyed the Friday and Saturday evening concerts.  Saturday was the parade in town, followed by several of our favorite musicians playing around the square.  We enjoyed listening to performances by Robert and Mary Gillihan as a duet and with Dave Smith later as the group Harmony.  Mike and Darlene quickly saw why the area is such an attraction for us.  

One of the main reasons we chose this time of the year to return to Mountain View was to attend one of the dulcimer workshops, in conjunction with the Annual Dulcimer Jamboree at the Ozark Folk Center.  After an orientation session with all the participants and instructors, we broke off into smaller groups.  Jeff Hames taught the beginner mountain dulcimer workshops – a very talented and patient young man who had close to 40 students each session.  Our group met on the concert stage – probably the one and only time we can say we performed on the Folk Center’s stage.  

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We participated in a dulcimer workshop along with 38 others.

The workshops consisted of two one-hour sessions in the morning, with 30-minute breaks in between, at which time we were treated to mini-concerts by different instructors.  The lunch hour featured a different instructor every day, performing for an hour – what a treat.  The afternoons had two additional one-hour sessions, with mini-concerts during the break.  

The evening concerts were spectacular.  Not only did we hear performances by the dulcimer instructors, two new groups, consisting of teens from the area, made their debuts.  Train Ticket Out played one evening – fiddle-playing Caleb at twelve years old is their youngest member.  The next night Lace N’ Bass performed and got a standing ovation – something only a few performers get.  Their “Orange Blossom Special” was awesome.  

A little about the guest instructors/performers: Larry Conger, Gary Gallier and Jeff Hames are wonderful mountain dulcimer players, each with his own style.  Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnely are an extremely talented and versatile wife-husband duo.  Between the two of them, they played a guitar, harmonica, mountain dulcimer, banjo, mandolin and a bodhran (a traditional Irish drum).  Their voices harmonized beautifully.  Aubrey introduced the audience to foot clapping, a Maritimes way of dancing, using your feet only, while sitting in a chair.  She made it look quite easy but then downright impossible when she added playing the banjo and singing, all at the same time!  Aubrey learned all her dance steps on her own, picking up new routines in their travels.  She gave us a demonstration of various styles of dancing, differentiating between tap, Irish step, and many other styles, all the while continuing her explanation without skipping a beat or getting out of breath.  Check out their website to see if they’ll be performing in your area.  We hope to see them when we return to New England later this year.

David Moran, Ken Kolodner, Russell CookSteve and Ruth Smith,  and Mountain View’s own Joe Jewell play hammered dulcimers.  Steve Smith accompanies wife Ruth with his guitar.  Again, their styles are all different but all are a pleasure to watch and listen.  We look forward to seeing any of these talented players again.  The Dulcimer Jamboree was a wonderful finale for the month. 

Coming up:  More time in Mountain View; a week at Petit Jean State Par (north of Hot Springs, Arkansas); a week at Huntsville, Alabama (with an overnight stop in Memphis – Corky’s again…yay!) 

 

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