Heavy Petting: How many strange pets can one family have?

When our nest emptied, it emptied it not only of kids, but of pets too. We have nothing against pets. We’ve had both dogs and cats and loved them, but the GypsyNester lifestyle of no-plans and go-anywhere isn’t very conducive to taking an animal along. So, for now at least, we are finished with being pet parents.

But pets are often a part of parenting and I got to thinking about some of the colorful characters that were a part of my family through the years. When I was a little kid, our first pet configuration was a… CONTINUE READING >>

David Writing

When our nest emptied, it emptied it not only of kids, but of pets too. We have nothing against pets.

We’ve had both dogs and cats and loved them, but the GypsyNester lifestyle of no-plans and go-anywhere isn’t very conducive to taking an animal along. So, for now at least, we are finished with being pet parents.

But pets are often a part of parenting and I got to thinking about some of the colorful characters that were a part of my family through the years.

When I was a little kid, our first pet configuration was a dog, a cat and a bird. Needless to say, the bird and the cat were best of friends. Their relationship went like this: cat sits and stares with hungry look at bird; bird sits in cage on the brink of heart failure. That went on until the bird mercifully died, probably of heart failure.

Our dog, Holly, was an incredibly high strung English Setter that spent her every waking moment frantically trying to escape from the backyard. Unfortunately, she finally did and it led to her demise. I remember it well, when my brother and I came home from watching “Yellow Submarine” we discovered that she had busted free and came up on the short end of an encounter with a car.

It’s too bad, because the next year we moved out to the boonies of southern Colorado where Holly would have had all the room in the world to work off all of that high strungliness. This was pet Shangri-la.

Our new dogs, Pogo and Connie, were truly in hog heaven. In fact, Pogo began to emulate a hog. It became his one true life’s mission to smell as bad as any living thing on the planet. He could kick up a stink that shamed a dead carcass rotting in the Death Valley sun. Vultures would circle and then think better of it and move on. He smelled so bad that his fur would curl.

Washing him was futile — his only thought after a bath was to find some fresh, wet, stinky cow manure. He had a method. Wallow in the wet manure until well covered then find some dry dirt to roll around in, to really set the mixture. Repeat as needed. It was like breading chicken for frying.

Sometimes we’d try throwing him in the pond, but that just aggravated the stink. Then we’d have to run for our lives before he’d shake. Pogo loved the pond, it had many opportunities for adding to his arsenal. Seriously, wet dog, plus pond scum, plus caked on two day old cow manure equals an olfactory assault of epic proportions.

One summer’s day, Pogo was hanging out (upwind of course) while I was fishing. He suddenly lunged at the water’s edge, snapping something up. Turned out he swallowed a frog, whole. I could practically see the poor amphibian kicking all the way down Pogo’s ingestion passages.

The crazy mutt had a very disturbed look when he began to contort into a full body wretch, a disgusting spectacle, even by Pogo standards. The culmination of this contortion was — Jonah the Frog — slightly worse for wear and seriously freaked out, wretched up, before hopping back into the pond and swimming to safety. Pogo simply went on about his usual business, in search of his next vile pile of revolting refuse to roll in.

Connie, was our beloved, tragic clown. The runt of her litter, she was a complete physical wreck from the get-go. It took several surgeries just to get her past puppyhood. The last of these was an experimental eye surgery performed at the Kansas State University Veterinary Medicine School. The results were only temporarily successful.

By the time Connie was two or three years old she was blind as a bat and stone deaf. She didn’t seem to care in the least. She went on about life as if running full speed at a dead run square into walls, fences, trees, horses, creeks, ponds — pretty much any stationary object — was completely normal. Her nose was one big callous.

In spite of this, her sense of smell survived. That was all she needed to find us and follow whenever we rode off on our horses. She did fairly well unless we stopped. Then she would either run into hind legs or right past us. The hind legs usually resulted in a Connie-launching-kick, and the ever present “yipe,” that signaled another collision.

She was so good-natured about the situation that it became ridiculously humorous. We could hear her “yipes” carrying through the woods as she bounced off of the trees, fences and rocks. Nothing slowed her down.

One day my brother and I were riding along the dirt road into town and, as always, Connie was charging along beside us. A rare car approached so we pull our mounts over to the side to let it pass, but Connie kept right on going. Oh no! She was headed right for the car’s front tire! Tragedy seemed eminent.

We yelled and waved and luckily the driver saw us and tried to stop, the car skidding on the loose gravel. Just as the vehicle slowed to a halt, Connie plowed full speed, headlong into the tire, letting out a louder than usual “YIPE!”

The driver was horrified — mostly at the sight of my brother and I nearly falling off our horses laughing — he thought he had killed our dog. As we regained our breath, we explained our pinball wizard mutt to him. He drove off, unamused. Connie simply charged ahead with plenty of new obstacles to encounter… head on.

I realize that our finding humor in Connie’s shenanigans sounds uncaring, but just think Mr. Magoo, on steroids, and about 10,000 times funnier.

One winter, when we came down the mountain to stay in the city, Connie wandered off. The weather took a turn for the horrendous, below zero with snow, sleet and icy winds. After a couple days of searching, we began to give up hope. Naturally we figured our little blind, deaf, short-haired mutt was a goner and we lamented her loss.

Ten days later, Connie, completely encrusted in ice, came bouncing up the driveway. I kid you not! I guess she sniffed us out.

After our initial joy, and caring for Connie, we started thinking about this miracle and ended up in hysterics visualizing her adventure. How many car wrecks had she caused by blindly wandering right into traffic on the icy roads? Picturing the swath of destruction left in her wake as she ambled around town had us in tears.

Doh-de-doh-de-doh… screeeeeech, crash. Phone poles down, store fronts driven through, multi-vehicle pile ups, a real reign of terror. That’s hilarious! We were sick puppies.

The news media completely missed the story by incorrectly assuming that the town’s recent wave of destruction was caused solely by the weather.

As adults and parents, we have had a few memorable four legged members of the family. Our kid’s first pet came right before the birth of our second child, Decibel. We allowed our oldest, The Piglet, to name the new dog. She named him Bubba, guess she was hoping for a boy.

Bubba was a pound puppy and grew up with the girls. He thought of them as littermates and would tolerate absolutely anything from them without the slightest protest. Tail tugging, fur grabbing, rope harnesses for sled or big-wheel pulling, clothes wearing or just general love mauling was all in a days work to Bubba.

I think it helped that he was anything but the sharpest knife in the drawer. He was more like that one butter knife that’s been back there unused for several decades because it won’t even cut butter. Actually, he defined the saying ignorance is bliss. It made him all the more lovable.

He did have one trait that was far from lovable — the propensity to dig. A fur covered jackhammer. A backhoe with a tail. Moles don’t take to digging like Bubba did. The backyard looked like a minefield, where the mines had been placed way too close together and then detonated.

He dug a basement under his doghouse. The usual view from the kitchen window was Bubba’s butt sticking up out of a large hole with a rooster tail of dirt flying out behind it while two little girls tried to tie something onto him. One day I walked outside and he had dug up the water line and was chewing on it. What the hell? He was an unstoppable excavation machine. We really should have started a swimming pool installation company. Opportunities missed.

One opportunity never missed with our furry companions is the chance for kids to learn valuable realities of life. Love and caring for a dependent creature, being responsible for something other than yourself and the loss of a loved one — all of these are usually first experienced through a pet.

As well as gut-wrenching laughter.

David, GypsyNester.com

Your Turn: Is/was there a pet in your life that made a difference in your family? Have you owned any lovably weird pets? Please share!

The Smallest Church in America


We LOVE this stuff!

Mrs. Harper was a rural grocer who didn’t have much money and folks said that she shouldn’t build a church that wouldn’t do justice to God. She felt it was the thought that mattered and built it anyway.

The deed was made out to… CONTINUE READING >> 

The Smallest Church in America, Eulonia, Georgia

The Smallest Church in America, Eulonia, Georgia

In Eulonia, Georgia is the self proclaimed Smallest Church in America.

Under Spanish moss-draped live oaks, the church was built in 1949 by Agnes Harper as Christ Chapel, a sanctuary for travelers.

The Smallest Church in America, Eulonia, Georgia

At only ten feet by fifteen feet it is one tiny house of worship.

Click here to see more about Coastal Georgia and the area around the church

The Smallest Church in America, Eulonia, Georgia

The Smallest Church in America, Eulonia, Georgia

Mrs. Harper was a rural grocer who didn’t have much money and folks said that she shouldn’t build a church that wouldn’t do justice to God.

She felt it was the thought that mattered and built anyway.

The deed was made out to Jesus Christ.

The little chapel sports stained glass windows imported from England, holds up to thirteen people and is always open for visitors.

The Smallest Church in America, Eulonia, Georgia

But a little investigation revealed that several other churches have laid claim to being the smallest.

Let the debate rage on.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Click here to see more about Coastal Georgia and the area around the church

Swamps, Shrimp and Sea Monsters in Coastal Georgia

Just below, as in south of, the famous Carolina Lowcountry lies a lesser known region, Coastal Georgia.

Geographically, culturally, and historically this area is virtually indistinguishable from its northern neighbor, it’s simply the Savannah River that separates them.

Join us as we survey the swamps, seafood, and even a sea serpent along the Atlantic shoreline…. CONTINUE READING >> 

Coastal Georgia

Just below, as in south of, the famous Carolina Lowcountry lies a lesser known region, Coastal Georgia.

Geographically, culturally, and historically this area is virtually indistinguishable from its northern neighbor, it’s simply the Savannah River that separates them.

Coastal Georgia

Swamps and islands, surrounded by brackish tidal rivers, define the topography from Savannah down to The St. Marys River, which marks the Florida State Line.

The few parcels of dry land among the marshes are inhabited by pine and live oak trees, and a handful of hardy souls. Traditionally, most of these souls make their living off the sea.

The Shrimp Shack in Eulonia, Georgia

We had no idea that Georgia had such fantastic seafood until we stumbled upon The Shrimp Shack in Eulonia.

The shack is exactly as advertised, a seriously tiny building with nothing inside but a table, a scale, and a cooler filled with fresh-off-the-boat shrimp.

The Shrimp Shack in Eulonia, Georgia

When we stopped by, Margie Sawyer was behind the table. She reached into the cooler and pulled out a couple pounds by the antennae, then tossed them on the scale.

While weighing our order, she told us how the family operation has worked for over twenty years.

Every day during the shrimping season the boat goes out, and that’s all they sell, each day’s fresh catch. And, that day, they were only four dollars a pound.

The Shrimp Shack in Eulonia, Georgia

With a quick stop off at the Piggly Wiggly for some seasoning, potatoes, and corn on the cob, we were chompin’ at the bit to whip up our own version of a Lowcountry boil.

The finished product was so good that we went back to the shack the next day for another couple pounds. Without a doubt the best shrimp we have ever put in our mouths.

The Smallest Church in America, Eulonia, Georgia

Just up the road from the shack is the self proclaimed Smallest Church in America. Built in 1949 as Christ Chapel, a sanctuary for travellers, at only ten feet by fifteen feet it is one tiny house of worship.

But a little investigation revealed that several other churches have laid claim to being the smallest. Let the debate rage on.

See more about the Smallest Church in America (and see inside!)

David poses with Altie at The Darien - McIntosh Visitor's Center in Georgia

Another issue up for discussion in these parts is the existence of local legend Altie. This Loch Ness Monster type sea serpent is said to reside in the Atlantic waters around the mouth of The Altamaha River, perhaps coming upstream to feed or breed.

Named Altamaha-ha by the Tama Tribe of Native Americans, stories about the creature go back hundreds of years.

We kept our eyes peeled whenever we crossed a bridge, but over the centuries sightings have been very rare so we didn’t feel too bad about not getting a grainy, out of focus photo to put up on the web.

We did get a perfect picture of Altie at The Darien – McIntosh Visitor’s Center though, so we posted it instead.

Altie at The Darien - McIntosh Visitor's Center in Georgia

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

In Darien we also found something much less mythological, Fort King George.

In 1721 this southernmost outpost in The British Colonies was built to defend against the Spanish, who were already well established a few miles down the coast in St. Augustine.

The fort suffered much more from it’s environment than enemy attacks. Disease and starvation made it nearly impossible to keep a garrison in fighting shape.

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

But those same harsh surroundings kept Spain from ever mounting a serious invasion.

After the death of the commanding officer, Colonel Barnwell, in 1724, and a suspicious fire that the soldiers did little to extinguish in 1726, the fort was abandoned in 1727.

See more photos of Fort King George

A shrimp boat docked in Townsend, Georgia

Even after consuming all of that history, we still had seafood on the brain.

In our travels we had seen several beat up old billboards bragging about a seafood buffet at Pelican Point Restaurant in Townsend, and decided it was worth a trip to see if it still existed.

Pelican Point Restaurant in Townsend, Georgia

Getting crabby at Pelican Point Restaurant in Townsend, Georgia

It did… and how! We took seats right by the water, then proceeded to belly up to the buffet. Huge steamed crab legs, and of course shrimp.

Enough to make Bubba Gump proud. Broiled shrimp, Peel and eat shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp cocktail… and all delectable.

This was not a five star type of place, but the food was definitely top notch.

Getting crabby Pelican Point Restaurant in Townsend, Georgia

There are some luxury resorts along the Georgia shore, most notably on St. Simons and Jeckyll Island, but we chose to confine our explorations to the more everyday.

As in, “It’s not every day that people see Altie swimming up The Altamaha River.”

No it’s not.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See more about the Smallest Church in America (and see inside!)
More photos of Fort King George

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

Fort King George was erected in 1721 and was the southernmost outpost in The British Colonies.

Colonel John Barnwell petitioned the king to build a fort to defend against the Spanish, who were already well established a few miles… CONTINUE READING >> 

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

Fort King George was erected in 1721 and was the southernmost outpost in The British Colonies.

Colonel John Barnwell petitioned the king to build a fort to defend against the Spanish, who were already well established a few miles down the coast in St. Augustine, and became the commanding officer.

Click here to see about Coastal Georgia and the area around Fort King George

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

The fort suffered much more from it’s environment than enemy attacks.

Disease and starvation made it nearly impossible to keep a garrison in fighting shape.

Click here to find out about the beast that lives in the waters around Fort King George

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

But those same harsh surroundings kept Spain from ever mounting a serious invasion.

After the death of Colonel Barnwell in 1724, and a suspicious fire that the soldiers did little to extinguish in 1726, the fort was abandoned in 1727.

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

Fort King George in Darien, Georgia

Guale Indian Villiage at Old Fort King George, Darien, Georgia

Guale Indian Villiage at Old Fort King George, Darien, Georgia

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Click here to see about Coastal Georgia and the area around Fort King George

16 Cheesy Tourist Diversions from Around the World!

As GypsyNesters, our quest is to see the world and relate it to you in our own quirky way.

But why should we have all the fun?

To share the wealth, we asked the web’s best independent travel bloggers to send us their best Cheesy Tourist Diversion moments as a part of Travel Photo Roulette.

We hit a goldmine of the craziest, funniest and just plain weird travel photos in the world! SEE ALL 16 CRAZY TRAVEL PHOTOS >>

World's Funniest Tourist Traps

As GypsyNesters, our quest is to see the world and relate it to you in our own quirky way.

But why should we have all the fun?

To share the wealth, we asked the web’s best independent travel bloggers to send us their best Cheesy Tourist Diversion moments as a part of Travel Photo Roulette.

(Travel Photo Roulette may be followed on Twitter with the hashtag #PhotoRoulette)

We hit a gold mine of the craziest, funniest and just plain weird travel photos in the world!

Here’s what we asked for:

We LOVE cheesy attractions. Everyone who travels has seen them – those quirky, remove-a-buck-or-two-from-the-tourists wonders of ingenuity. Sometimes they are full productions, others are side-of-the-road pit stops. Often, there are amazing people and stories behind the scenes. Moments like that are our favorites. Show us yours!

We’d like to thank everyone who submitted their amazing shots to Travel Photo Roulette. It was unbelievably difficult to chose a winner to host next week’s round on their website!

Cheesy Tourist Diversions – The Runners Up

Any one of these incredible photos could have been chosen as #1. We just have to say it again – WE HAD SUCH A HARD TIME CHOOSING!

Note: Photos are in no particular order

From Josh of Traveling 9-5: In Chiang Rai, Thailand the popular tourist restaurant is called “Cabbages and Condoms”. And, yes, they have mannequins at the door whose attire consists entirely of…condoms.
Cabbages and Condoms by Traveling 9-5

From Ted of Traveling Ted: Thank you for giving me an opportunity to post some cheesy photos.A real cheesy tourist diversions from Traveling Ted

From Tom of Travel Past 50: I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t get any cheesier than the “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine” in Darwin, Minnesota. Thousands of people drive out all the way from Dassel, Minnesota, 4.9 miles away, every weekend just to see it and be photographed with it. Eat your heart out all of you who think your photo of you in front of the Eiffel Tower is hot stuff.
World's Biggest Ball of Twine by Travel Past 50

From Abigail of 1,000 Miles On My Own Two Feet: In a wax museum, I feel like a somebody either glamming up with Marylyn Monroe, locking arms with Brad Pitt, or even staring down Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector (of course in real life, my knees would be wobbly to see all these celebs!). Here I am with Jack Black in the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, Missouri!
Jack Black and Abigail of 1,000 Miles on My Own Two Feet

From Kris of The World is Our District: Being in one state is soooo boring…especially when you can be in four at once! Four Corners on the Navajo Res in Arizona/Utah/Colorado/New Mexico.
Four Corners by The World is Our District

Cheesy Tourist Diversions – The Winner

Congrats to Suzanne of Boomeresque! Congratulations and we can’t wait to see what you choose as your theme next week!

From Suzanne of Boomeresque: Sometimes the tourist contributes to the cheesiness of the moment. Here, a blogger (moi)  confers with FDR while Winston Churchill looks on. In self defense, I maintain that this sculpture called “The Allies” on Bond Street in the Mayfair section of London, England is a cheese magnet.
Talkin' to FDR and Churchill from Suzanne of Boomeresque

 

Cheesy Tourist Diversions – Honorable Mentions

Note: These are in no particular order

From Tash of Jouljet: Has to be Larry the Lobster! On a roadtrip in South Australia – a must detour to Kingston to see him, to jump out of the car, and get a photo with him! A must!
Larry the Lobster from Jouljet

From Craig of Flashpacking Around the World: We had this picture taken at the Terracotta Warriors at Xian.  You pay to get your photo taken in front of a painting of the warriors in a room to the side of one of the pits. It was tacky, cheese, but we just had to do it.Terracotta Warriors at Xian from Craig of Flashpacking Around the World
From Cam of Traveling Canucks: We took this photo yesterday while in Gravenhurst, a small town in the Muskoka region of Ontario. This is the world’s biggest Muskoka chair. I don’t know why anyone would want to take a photo beside a massive wooden chair, but apparently we’ve become the type that pulls over the car in order to do so. My how the times have changed!The world's biggest Maskoka chair by Traveling Canucks
From Heather of Ferretting Out the Fun: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is chockablock with cheesy tourist attractions. One of my favorites is an animal park called Alligator Adventure. Billed as “the reptile capital of the world,” advertisements for the place can be found all around town. The star attraction is “Utan,” a gargantuan Siamese crocodile thought to be the largest in the U.S. Meet Utan!Utan of Alligator Adventures from Ferretting Out the Fun!

From Adrian of Travel Destination Search: This giant ice cream cone in front of a gelateria in Lisbon looked so tempting, we just had to take this photo!
Ice Cream Affair by Travel Destination Search

From Noel of Travel Photo Discovery: Totally cheesy is this princess riding in a pineapple float – its a horsey dung pooper float and her escorts are the horsey pooper scoopers
Pineapple Float by Travel Photo Discovery
From Alexandria of Fluent in Frolicking: The tour guide made me do it! Taj Mahal silliness by Fluent in Frolicking
From Adam of Getting Stamped: The life size statue of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli,from the TV Show “Happy Days” cast in bronze is worth the trip to Milwaukee alone. I give this attraction two thumbs up!
The Fonz by Getting Stamped
From Gadi and Tun of Being in Awe: We are getting cheesy and dirty in mud bathes of Moon Water Cave in Yangshuo, China
Mud bath in China by Being in Awe
From Poi of No Place To Be: Think of all the amazing trash you can buy for your friends from this place! Well actually, no. It’s the same as the rest of the stuff on the strip at inflated prices! The world’s biggest gift shop (apparently).
World's biggest gift shop by No Place to Be
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Which one is YOUR favorite?