Friday November 11 Fort Payne, AL
Norcold Notcold, Not Notcold
Darn, I don't like these clocks going back an hour here, and an hour there. Like in a daylight Savings Time change here, and a time zone change there. Unfortunately, or possibly fortunately, this morning there was something to interfere with my early morning escapades. Note the temperature in the above photo. What in the world are we doing in a place where the thermometer almost dips into the teens?
We know the coach really does not like low temperatures and it has many ways of displaying its displeasure. The jacks down alarm sounds as we drive off, the ABS light comes on, the Alt Charge light and warning sound, for example. This morning I first noticed the system heat, the heater that is supposed to keep the wet bay above freezing, wasn't working. Then it happened, I opened the refrigerator door and and our Norcold was once again Notcold.
Notcold that is in the sense of the green light being out, and in not currently operating. Today's early morning hours were spent looking at websites and trying to figure out what might be wrong. When Linda finally lumbered out of bed, I broke the news. She was a peach, not getting excited as I outlined what I thought we should do. Later, after doing some more checking online, mostly to confirm where we could get a Dometic portable freezer, I looked at the frig and the green light was on indicating it was operating. Also by this time it had warmed up outside, which leads me to think that our frig simply doesn't like cold weather. Who knows, but for now we shall hang our hat on that slender thread.
With the Notcold Norcold Nowcold, we adopted the philosophy of, what's done is done, and forgetting about out Nowcold Notcold, we headed out on our planned trip for the day, hoping that our Isnowcold, Willbecold when we returned in the late afternoon. Then it was off to Scottsboro, to the world famous Unclaimed Baggage Center. It is some 40,000 sq ft of the best in what people lose, and if you can imagine taking it on a trip, it is likely here.
While you may think that it may resemble an oversized Goodwill Store, or other such establishment, it is anything but. The quality of the merchandise is way beyond what is available at those type of stores. Right off I found a perfect case for my camera, and a Lowepro case at that. Meaning I'd already paid for the gas to drive over here and we hadn't hardly started.
I couldn't be faulted for getting a little excited about this place, but I paled in comparison to some the more serious shoppers. Look at this beautiful young girl. She how she is armed with the latest in the over the shoulder treasure bag. Her posture is set in the way only a serious can show. Swiftly she riffles through the various racks of clothing, finding just the perfect article. I thought her a $100 rain parka with breathable fabric that she got for $25 was a great example of her shopping ability. In the end we spent some three hours in the Center, and could likely do the same, sometime next week and end up finding all kinds of new bargains. The unclaimed Baggage Center, a must stop along the roads of Life.
Did we experience many other things today? You bet, but time does not allow those tales to be told. Of course you can always check on what Linda has written and see if she has decided to brag about herself, I mean talk about them. As for me, let we say that the garlic clove that I used in tonight's dinner had to be the biggest one I have ever seen in my brief Life.
So many things happening. So many chances to enjoy Life. Life is good and getting better. But let me ask you a question, "Just exactly what did you do today?" As for us, our day went from sucks big time to way beyond super. Or put another way, it was just a typical day in the Life of a fulltimer.
Saturday November 12 Fort Payne, AL
Not all Bob's are created equal
We have been in Fort Payne for three days now, yet had not once set foot in town. That ended today as I got my fill of the history of the north end of Fort Payne, while Linda spent an equal amount of time shopping. Maybe I should back up a bit, she didn't spend her time shopping, she spent her time buying. And when I finally found her, all she could do was give me what she had picked out to hold for her while she searched for even more items to buy.
She'd started at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and to be clear, no one has ever accused her of being a spend thrift, and eventually she gravitated to Hammers, where I finally found her. And it was when it came time to leave that is when we ran into the not Bob, Bob, the Bob who was not created equal. We were the next in line at a very long register line while the call went out, "Bob, I need help at the registers."
It wasn't long before smiling Bob appeared, clad in a University of Alabama shirt and exhibiting all the intelligence one would expect from someone associated with such an institution of lower learning. Instead on taking us first, he took the person at the end of the line, and everyone behind us quickly got into that line. This caused some real eye rolling from the clerk that called Bob to the front, but we decided it wasn't over his actions. it was because she knew his level of intelligence, him being such a staunch University of Alabama supporter and all. In the end we got checked out, and we got Bob's big smile and thanks for shopping with them. As for us, there sure isn't going to be anymore shopping with a store that employs someone with the intelligence, or should we say lack of intelligence, that Bob displayed. Sometimes we Bob's just have to realize that not all Bob's are created equal, no matter how much it pains us. It's a tough thing for a Bob like me to admit, but there really are Bubba Bob's in the world.
Hard as it is to believe, that shopping and history exploration trip took the morning and much of the afternoon. I guess you can say, I love history and Linda loves buying. On the way back to the coach Linda mentioned something about me spending the rest of the afternoon fixing things, but somehow, that went over my head. Once I was informed of what was expected of me, it didn't take long before things were happening. First off was the replacing of the batteries in the outside thermometer. I wasn't sure why she was dead set on me doing this task today, especially since it has been over two months since the outdoor thermometer stopped working because the battery was low. You'd think she could exhibit a little patience on occasion.
That job done, my next assignment was to fasten down the body panel that had come loose immediately in front of the passenger side rear tire, that also happening several months ago. The first thing was to remove the broken bracket, a job that was easy on paper, but not in practice. Three screws, one came out easily, one broke of when turned, and last one rounded out, proving nearly impossible to remove. In the end it succumbed to a special pair of vice grips that Rich gave to me at Christmas many years ago, and from then on it is just nothing but more problems.
The broken bracket, a casualty of when we hit a block of wood while traveling down the roads of Life. In more ways that one we were lucky because all that block of wood flying off the tire did was to fracture the two brackets that held the body panel in place. We have seen photos of pierced body panels from a similar experience, and it made us realize just how fortunate we were.
With the broken bracket removed, it was time to make a new one. I call this the full timers vise, using the space between the board in the picnic table to hold the material you are working on. It took a few tries, but before long, the new bracket looked just like the old one, and finally, with a little more effort than anticipated, the panel was secured in place.
Where the old bracket was is to the right, and I have to say the replacement Linda and I made looks like it will work just fine. It really wasn't as easy as I make out, a broken drill bit, at least 8 trips from my position under the coach to figure out how to do what I had to do, made it nothing but easy. I always look at it this way, if it was easy, then anyone could do it, and since that certainly wasn't the case, I must be good at what I do. Bottom line, if Life in the Fulltime world was easy, everyone would be doing it. Next to bottom line, six years into fulltiming and we are still constantly learning new things.
I am reminded of a conversation I had when we returned to the town we had lived in for over twenty five years. The time was six months after we had started fulltiming. An old and well intentioned friend of ours said that he and his wife had also been full timers. They had spent six months traveling all over the US, had seen everything, and stopped full timing. In their minds they had seen everything. In our minds, after nearly six years in the full time Life we have seen next to nothing. They lived the full time life, we live the full time Life, and therein lies all the difference.
Sunday November 13 Fort Payne, AL
Remember the song, "Lazy Day" by Spanky and Our Gang? That's what today was for us, minus the strollin' in the lane, and also the shady tree, that is. There was nothing exciting in our Life today, no interesting happenings, unless you call the giant blister that formed over the acorn squash as we microwaved it for dinner, a happening. Still, there was the time that we spent "holdin' hands and being with you" that mirrored those lyrics. Not all things in Life need to be discussed, but that doesn't mean many things in Life aren't enjoyed.
I did manage to venture outside two times today, which was one time more that Linda did. The first was a lone excursion to the dumpster, but the second was a joint effort to bring our places traveled map up to date. It was time for Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania to take their rightful place on our wall of where we have been. A little rubbing alcohol to clean the surface, a couple of peel and stick placements, and a map that has fewer blank spots. Will we ever get it all filled in? I doubt it. Will we miss the places we have never visited? Who knows. It's not what we didn't do, it's what we've done that gives meaning to Life.
The only other thing of consequence that took place today we that we wrote and got our 2111 Christmas letter ready to mail. From Linda's suggestion that we needed to do it, till completion it was less than three hours, a world record for us if there ever was one. We hadn't sent one out to our family in 2010 because we were so busy with all the moving to Texas happenings, so this year was a Christmas Greetings Greetings letter for both 2010 and 2011. We hope everyone who gets it understands, but if they don't, well then they just don't understand how wonderful the fulltime is.
Monday November 14 Fort Payne, AL
The Sock Capital of the Universe
It used to be called antifreeze, at least when I was growing up. Now it is referred to as coolant, and the price is much higher. The Explorer has a tendency to consume quantities of "coolant", and this is my low cost answer to that problem. One can buy premixed 50/50 coolant, or one can buy coolant and distilled water and make their own 50/50 blend. The thrifty part of me comes to the fore here, and between the distilled water and the coolant, the two gallons save us a good bit of money. No real reason to do it other than habit, but as you know, habits die hard. And as long as the Explorer lasts until we can junk it and and buy a new Jeep Wrangler, all will be well.
Linda, bless her heart, is an Appalachian hill girl, meaning that she has a different outlook on Life than many people. Maybe I should say it is definitely different than her husband, who is also known as yours truly. She's a do it now, take no prisoners person. I, on the other hand, will get to it someday, and when I do it will get taken care of. The problem is that never shall the twain meet. What you see is prime example of the our differences.
We have had a problem with our System Heat light not coming on during these cold mornings. The System Heat is supposed to proved heat to our bay tanks and prevent them from freezing during temperatures below freezing. We weren't seeing that, and so Linda was prying deep within the bowels of our fuse boxes to see if she could discover why. It wasn't to be, but it was interesting to be pulling fuses and learning that what seems bad does not mean it is bad.
I end it here, in the museum that celebrates the Sock Capital of the Universe. Or at least Fort Payne was that for a certain period of time before our politicians decided that cheap, worthless goods from China were better than quality goods from American factories. This is the Hosiery Museum in Fort Payne, Alabama, and while it is easy to miss it, a stop will open your eyes to what once was and never will be.
For years we have been subjected to incompetently in our leaders, and it isn't something recent, as it goes back decades. It seems like the rewarding of their money donors and the destruction of America is what they seek. Sure, where we are staying was once the heart of the segregated South. It was where Negroes were treated as less than dirt. It doesn't make it right, but at least we didn't have the hatred we have today. The absolute bigotry that masquerades as being politically correct. As much as it pains me, I am not proud of my country. I am not proud of the slime that we have elected. I am for throwing each and every one one of them out and starting all over again, trusting that whatever, and whoever we replace them with, whatever party they may affiliated with, they can't be as bad as what we now have. Each of us has our opinions and that is what makes our country the greatest on earth. We may disagree, but in the end, we will come together for what is best for our country. What more could we ask?
Another rainy day
It was warm, but rainy day in northern Alabama today, with just boring domestic stuff happening. Just the routine living of the routine Life of people who live in an RV. Much of that routine of the day centered around preparing for where we will be and what we will be doing for the next 5 days. There were lists to make and double check, plus nagging little problems to take care of, none of which were very exciting, but all of which were deemed necessary by she who deems such things.
Since we don't plan to be near shopping for some time, it was also necessary to stock up on those things that we just can't do without. That meant a trip out in the rain, which allowed Linda to test out her new raincoat. As luck would have it, it immediately stopped raining so she still doesn't know how it will work. As you can see, she who deems tomatoes to be an essential daily food, had deemed it necessary to make sure there was an ample supply on board.
Food, it was big food day as we made a big pot of southwestern beans, which Linda followed up by later making a big bowl of sweet potato salad. There are some good meals coming up, each consisting of something grilled with potato salad and beans. Of course that doesn't relate to the above photo, though in a way it does. For dinner I made our favorite fish dish. It's Orange Roughy baked with a special sauce. Linda said she would taste it, then take a photo. Mind you this dish is so good we each eat a half pound of fish. To my way of thinking she had more than just a taste before she took the photo, but then again, maybe we were lucky to have a photo of any of it all. As I said earlier, it was warm, but rainy day in northern Alabama today, with just boring domestic stuff happening. Then again, Life is what we make it.
Wednesday November 16 Fort Pickens, FL
A drive through the rain to Florida
It was a warm, but rainy morning in northern Alabama today, but we had exciting things happening. We had decided to change our plans once again, reviving our earlier travel plans to visit Florida, though with some very major changes. Instead of traveling to the west coast of Florida, we were heading to the western end of the Florida panhandle. The weather forecast was calling for rain, but with Thanksgiving being next week, we were limited in how long we could stay at the park we had selected, Fort Pickens.
It was going to be a long day's drive and so we wanted to get on the road before 8 AM, and believe it or not, we did it, pulling out at 7:45 and heading to a truck stop for fuel. Part of the getting ready process involved my collecting all the jackets and other cool weather outerwear, then piling them up on the couch. Looking at it, I commented, "We sure had a lot of jackets out."
Linda looked at the pile and replied, "Those are all yours except for the ones that are mine." [Editor's Comment: I really did say that!] I said nothing, mostly because anything I would have said would have gotten me into big trouble. I did think of a few blond jokes, and how true they were. A closed mouth Bob was a Good Bob.
Many hours later, what we were looking for came into view, and while we still had nearly a hour's more driving to do, it was a good feeling. I don't know if it was how a snowbird feels when they see that same sign, though it really doesn't matter. And even if it isn't as warm as it might be over the next few days, it still meant that we were in the warm south. Our route took us through Pensacola, then across a long bridge, next was turn to the west and a drive out along Santa Rosa island.
We will be here until Monday, getting our little bit of Florida fix. We really don't have anything planned other than walking along the beach, visiting the fort, and hopefully soaking up at least a little bit of sun. I had to laugh at our appearance, as shortly after we parked in our site, I was sporting tee shirt, shorts and Teva's. Linda must have still been on northern Alabama time, since her long sleeved shirt, jeans and Keen's with socks suggested that she still hadn't made the transition to Florida living. Didn't really matter though, because the important thing is that we are here, a here we didn't think we would get to. It was warm, but cloudy evening in western Florida tonight, but what an exciting time it was.
Thursday November 17 Fort Pickens, FL
On the beach
Well we finally made it, made it to the beach with the Gulf of Mexico in front of us, that is. Many, many beach photos today and I'll just let Linda use as many as she wants for in her blog. In fact I'll just let her do most of the blog posting today.
It actually wasn't a full day of beach time, as there was also a goodly amount of unbleaching time put in by Linda. I know she thinks she was cursed by have skin that tans to an off white, but as I like to tell her, "You've got a great mind and personality, plus your hull is very nice looking too." Some women think that men don't know to compliment them, but with the above statement I should have laid to rest any fears that I don't know how to give a girl a very nice compliment.
Notice in all the compliments I poured on her in the above paragraph, I never mentioned walking without tripping over her own feet. This is why. One minute I was talking to her and the next minute she sitting in the sand on her lovely little butt. As I learned, the lean, lithe athletic woman I married misjudged the edge of the sand and the next thing you know, down she went. No real damage done except to her pride. Of course it didn't help that there were a number of people out on the beach to also watch the spectacular sunset who had ringside seats for Linda's spectacular buttset.
A while later, back at the coach, I go outside to get some almonds out of the bay and I return to this. I admit to doing a little, but just a little, teasing about her display of how not to sit. Whether this was an attempt to show me that she had more than just her feelings hurt, I don't know. She says she really didn't hurt anything, other than her pride, but something tells me there's going to be a sore woman in the coach tomorrow.
We ended the evening making plans for next fall, signing up for a Rick Steves tour of France and doing a rough outline of how we will be spending our 2 1/2 months in Europe so we can build a budget. When we started this journey of fulltime living we realized that living the life of, some day I'll, results a life of I wish I had. Besides, since we travel all the time, what better way to take a vacation than to travel. After all, it's not the destination that matters, it's the journey, and what a journey it is.
Friday November 18 Fort Pickens, FL
Out and about
This is a morning beach photo, but I really need to start at about 10 o'clock last night when we left the coach and walked out towards the beach to see if we could view the Leonid Meteor Shower. It was cold and windy night, but we actually did see a few, second or so long, flashes in the sky. Not as spectacular as some 10 plus years ago when we stood out on the shores of Lake Tahoe at 2 AM and saw meteorite after meteorite flash across the sky. Still what we saw was more than probably 99.9% of all Americans saw, and besides, it's what we do in Life, which is to try and travel the road less traveled.
Walking along the beach I spied what I thought was a dead butterfly partially buried in the sand. Reaching down, I scooped it up, showing Linda so she could take a photo. Then as I held it, it's wings fluttered and it tried to fly, only to be caught by the wind and be blown from my hand to skitter across the surface of the sand. I ran after it, finally capturing it again, and this time making sure to cup it in my hands to protect it from the winds.
Then I carried it some distance inland, while it clung mightily to my hand, and deposited it on a small bush that was partially protected from the wind. It immediately grasped the plant and as I walked away it was still clinging to that bit of foliage. It's what makes us who we are. It's what us human. It's what makes us no different from anyone else.
Not to say that your RV might not fit into your site at Fort Pickens, but if you make an online reservation, you just might want to make sure the RV will fit into the site you pick. Actually they have an online reservation system that lets you know how big your site is and what size RV will fit into it. That didn't prevent us from seeing a new world's record in incompetent 5th wheel backing being set tonight. Over one hour of backing and pulling forward, backing and pulling forward before the 5th wheel was properly aligned on the pad, and I really kid you not, it literally was an hour from the time the fellow started until he stopped. Then it took him almost another half hour to unhitch and move the truck from blocking the campground road. I know that everybody has to start somewhere, but he proved the point that there are people who should never start in the first place. Based on the looks and body posture of his 13 or 14 year old daughter as she stood outside watching as he did his thing, I wouldn't doubt that she isn't scared for life.
I'll leave it here, with Linda in stamping heaven as she collects two more stamps of Fort Pickens for her National Parks Passport Book. There are no doubt a number of fort photos on her blog, and that is good. We did visit the fort, going on a great volunteer led tour, then wandering around the inside on our own. This is really a neat place, maybe a little too far off the beaten track for some. Maybe a little too cold this week for what we would really like. And maybe, just maybe, it was a perfect place to spend a few days, immersed in history and the present.
We still have two more days here, and though we have walked the campground a number of times, we just can't catch a couple we would like to meet, sitting outside their RV. Still, Life is what each of us makes it, and if we spend time dwelling on what might have been, we miss out on what might be. Along that line, today we signed up for another tour that we will be taking in Europe next fall, this one for Spain and Morocco. Life is short, live it to it's fullest.
Saturday November 19 Fort Pickens, FL
This is a morning we had an interesting view of the 5th wheel that took an hour to park last night. Obviously they were prepared to be a great distance from the water spigot. Also they are making a fashion statement with their choice of hose color. Everyone else in the park has a white hose, so maybe green, if that is what it is, is the new white. Also have to love the temporary cover. Can't say too much though, as I had to go out and buy the items to make an extension cord so we could hook up to electric those many decades ago when we had our first night in our first RV.
Rain, it was the story of today. Gentle at times, heavy downpours at others. A brief sojourn outside to empty the trash, otherwise a kick back and relax day. Some days are like this. Not every day is a do something day. Or maybe I should say that some days, what we do is to do nothing.
Sunday November 20 Fort Pickens, FL
No photos, but sure fun to watch. Sunday means all the weekenders are leaving and the 5th wheel several sites down that took the hour to get backed in the other night was making preparations to leave. They went on and on opening compartments and putting things into them, but finally it was time to back the truck up and hitch up to the fifth wheel. I counted nine times he tried to get aimed right, with multiple exits from the truck and a number of times adjusting the height of the 5th wheel before contact was made.
That wasn't the best part however, as there was more action to follow. Once hooked up, he pulled out of the site in one shot, as opposed to the hour it had taken him to back into it, and we thought we had seen the last of him, but how wrong we were. We have all had the experience of that first time at the dump station, but how many of us have taken 55 minutes to complete the task?
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a new winner in the best imitation of "RV, The Movie" dumping contest. Unfortunately we could not see all that took place, and in hindsight, we are not sure we would have wanted to see it, but we did get to the see the last act in this play, which was watching him wash his shoes off with the water hose at the dump station. We will let you fill in whatever details of the dump you might imagine. As for us, we are glad our first dump is in the distant past.
Later we took a walk down the beach. What can I say, we have been to the beach, as in camping on or very near the beach, only three times during our six years of fulltiming, and every time the weather has been lousy. Today for once it was nice and we were making the best of it. Here is Linda cautiously avoiding the precipice that looms at the edge of the sand. One small mis-step and over the edge she goes for a major buttset. But not today..
Linda's twin sister. Okay, maybe not her twin sister, but there have been times during our over four decades together that I have felt she has some kind of kinship to this critter. I realize it doesn't have fur, fangs and teeth like a grizzly, but sometimes she exhibits multiple ferocious personalities. Lucky for me I have survived all the attacks that have occurred.
Even grizzly's have a soft side, and so does the Linda. Entitled, Grandma wrapping presents, she was model of loving grandmaism as she wrapped present after present for our grandchildren. Then it happen, she ran out of scotch tape, and fortunately there were no grandchildren nearby to hear what was uttered. Somewhere down the road there is a tape refill to buy and more presents to be wrapped. Until then I will be keeping a low profile, continuing to only write what I observe. Some days are more interesting than others. Only you can decide how interesting today was. As for me, I won't say anything more. Simply because anything more that I might say is going to get me in more trouble than I already am. Life is good and we should keep it that way.