The immediate and extended family of Donald P. Cooper gathered at 11:00 a.m. in Huntsville Cemetery for graveside services. Dad was a proud World War II Veteran who saw extensive combat in Europe, and as a member of the Greatest Generation he was accorded appropriate honors. A local veterans group came to the cemetery to present the family with an American flag and to give Dad a 21 gun salute. Then Pastor Ellington conducted a very touching and moving service, and reflected on Dad's well-lived life of 95 years.
Most of Dad's ashes were interred in Huntsville Cemetery, but the family spread some of his ashes to ensure that he will always be a part of the Indian Lake area that he loved so much.
It was difficult to leave the lake, because a chapter truly closed today. That's where Rick grew up, and where he had so many great times with his family and friends, and going back to the lake will never again be the same.
After the service we headed down the highway for a stop just south of Wilmington. We were just too drained to go any farther today. It started raining shortly after the service, and continued throughout the day.
Not much else to say, because again, our minds are not on our trip right now. We're going to stop at Mammoth Cave for two days, then in Nashville for two more days, and hopefully our minds will be distracted a bit. On the way to Ohio we went through Tennessee and Kentucky (and will pass through those states on the way back to Florida), to bring our total of states visited in the Viva to 30. The map on the back of the Viva has been updated.
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It was a long, boring drive on I-75. Thankfully, the severe storms didn't materialize—it didn't rain at all during our drive today. But, as we knew would be the case, the skies were an ugly gray when we drove over the Ohio River. Some things never change.
We took the I-275 bypass around Cincinnati to avoid construction and downtown congestion. We arrived at Indian Lake State Park about 3:00 p.m., and it was a balmy 54 degrees. We checked the web and back home in Mount Dora it was a more reasonable 90 degrees. How do people live up here?
The upside to the cool temperature was that we pretty much had the campground to ourselves. The main ranger station was closed, and in our entire loop of at least thirty sites we had only three neighbors—and none of them were home. They might have just parked their trailers until the weekend. Or maybe they froze to death a couple of days ago.
Did we mention the geese? Did we mention their dark green, slimy deposits they seem to leave everywhere? We took the dogs for a long walk along the shore, avoiding the aforementioned deposits.
Thursday evening brought dropping temperatures (overnight low will be 45) and light rain.
On Friday we met Rick's brother, Don, and our nephew, Cory, at the church to talk with the pastor in advance of the services for Rick's dad on Saturday.
It was cold again Friday night, which fit well with our general mood. Just another sad day on a sad trip.
It was a brisk 41 degrees on Saturday morning before we broke camp. There were actually two couples walking through the campground wearing gloves and winter coats. Brrr.
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We had to drive around the outskirts of Atlanta, so we asked the manager at Atlanta South RV Resort what would be the best time of day. She said to do it before 6:00 a.m. or after 9:30 a.m. The latter would have been too late because strong afternoon thunderstorms were predicted along the route to our next destination, so we set our alarm and actually left the campground at 5:30 a.m.
Even bypassing the heart of Atlanta and sticking to the outerbelt was a challenge. We couldn't believe the traffic at that early hour. And everyone seemed to be in a great rush to get where they were going, because they flew past us. We stayed in the right lane, going the speed limit, and at times it felt like we were standing still. But we made it, and north of Atlanta we stopped for breakfast in the Viva.
We had plenty of time, so we got off I-75 and took a scenic route that turned out to be more scenic than we intended. Curvy, hilly roads in the backwoods of Tennessee, with no cell phone service, no clear idea of exactly where we were, and more Confederate flags than we have ever seen. If we had a breakdown in the Viva we decided that we would tell people we were Floridians and not Yankees from Ohio.
The scenic route ended in good ol' Rocky Top, Rocky Top, Tennessee, and we were back on I-75—just in time for the thunderstorms to begin.
We were again in the right lane on I-75, doing the speed limit, as cars sped by in the left lane, spraying us as they passed. A late model Corvette went by us, then another. Then another. It was some kind of Corvette rally, because there were at least 30 Corvettes in the caravan, mostly newer ones.
We were happy to finally reach the campground. Even with the rain, we had a nice experience here. This KOA was rated 5 stars, and they deserved it. Friendly staff, well-kept and shaded sites—our site had a concrete patio with table, chairs, umbrella and fire ring. It was too wet for the dogs to go to the large enclosed exercise area or explore the trails, but they did get some exercise on the grounds.
We noticed the rig next to us had Ohio plates. Rick struck up a conversation with the guy and learned he was from Marysville. For forty years he has had a cottage at Indian Lake, which is where Rick grew up. He used to buy donuts from Hinkles, where Rick worked as a teenager—the odds are good that Rick made some of the donuts he ate. They started talking about music, and John Schwab and McGuffey Lane came up. The guy knew John Schwab very well, and Rick told him he wrote songs with John for over twenty years. Small world.
The rains became heavy overnight, but it was clear by morning when we set out again. Next stop, Ohio.
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Today was the start of our first RV trip that ventured outside the state of Florida since we returned from our 2015 Western Adventure. Sadly, this was not a trip we wanted to take.
Rick's dad came down to Florida on March 8 for what was to be a 3 week visit. However, he had serious health issues that continued to get worse, finally resulting in his passing at age 95 on April 14. We set out today for Ohio, where his memorial service will be held on Saturday.
We aimed for a departure time of 6:00 a.m., although we rarely leave as scheduled. Today was no different, but we weren't that far off—we pulled away at 6:15.
The first leg of our trip was 390 miles up I-75 to Atlanta South RV Resort, a nice campground obviously south of Atlanta. It was packed and the spaces were a little tight, but there were many mature trees throughout that provided welcome shade. There was a fenced dog park where Zoe ran off a little energy, then we took Zoe and Tybee for a walk on a path near a lagoon.
Would like to say it was nice to get on the road again, but not this time.
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