Monday November 21 Summerdale, AL
Short drive today. Short post today. The drive was just over 50 miles but it wasn't without its moments. For example, can't say I was too fond of being in the middle lane of three lanes at a stoplight, all three lanes behind us being full of traffic. The bad part was the sign showing the road we wanted to take was a turn to the right, the road the GPS was telling us to take was to the left, and traffic was only letting us go straight ahead. It took a few blocks, a few turns in what passes for downtown Pensacola, and we were at least headed in the right direction, even if it wasn't on the right road. Such is Life.
All good things must get better, or at least something like that, meaning that we did make it to the SKP park in Summerdale where we will be spending Thanksgiving week. Temperatures in the 80's, a nice shady tree to eat under, Life is indeed good. And to make it even better, it is my favorite times of the year, meaning there are Christmas movies to watch on Hallmark and Lifetime every night of the week. Linda teases me that I can recite the dialogue for many of them because they show them year after year. What can I say other than, I really like them, and if I've been know to shed a tear a time or two over them, well, I get to live my Life my way.
Tuesday November 22 Summerdale, AL
We each went our own way today, Linda doing crafts at the clubhouse, and she will certainly talk about her sewing adventures on her blog. As for me, I was into fixing a few things, one of which was to adjust the MCD shade over the door. A quick Google, a few turns of a knob on the shade, and it was as good as new. Then it was on to replacing the wayward MotoSat fan.
Some time ago, when we had stopped at Pat and Sharon's during our trip across Ohio, Pat had given me a heavy duty fan to replace the one that was going bad. That old fan had finally surpassed the going bad, and had settled firmly into the realm of, is bad. So today it was into the trash with the old and into the cabinet with the new. It took a while to figure out where and how to best mount it, but with a little help from Gorilla Tape, it was soon secured in place and cooling far beyond expectations. It was better than a problem solver, it is problem preventer, and it doesn't get better than that. Thanks, Pat!!
The other job was to clean out and repack one half of one of the bays. Three bags of trash and a number of items for the bargain table at the park later, I was amazed at how much room there was. Fall house keeping, it's been a few years since we have done it, but better late than never. It's really what we are here for, doing some rearranging and cleaning, kicking back and not doing much. Enjoying Life and remembering that: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.
Wednesday November 23 Summerdale, AL
It was one of those days when we do a lot, but nothing really happens. Linda will no doubt cover all the little things that she enjoyed, in which case I will highlight a couple and be done with that. Take shopping for example. She made her list and checked it twice, making sure what we'd bought didn't depend on a roll of the dice.
There were potatoes galore, with enough peeling to make her hands sore. To the park potluck we are going, signed up for potatoes, both mashed and sweet, the height of the piles to be measured in feet. White today, sweet tomorrow, so many I thought there were pans she'd have to borrow.
T'was the day before Thanksgiving, when what to our wondering eyes should appear, but a one gallon aquarium, bright shiny and clear. Swept up in a flash, it didn't take the last of our cash, still up near the top of his new house, Red Rob leaped with joy and a splash. Life is what we make it, some days we work a bit, and on others it takes some wit.
Thursday November 24 Summerdale, AL
It was a day to get stuffed, not as in stuffed like the taxidermist stuffs something, not as in how the Thanksgiving turkey gets stuffed, though we did get stuffed as in being stuffed from eating too much, and I'll tell you, did we ever live up to that definition of stuffed. Part of that stuffing was going to be the sweet potatoes we were taking to the park Thanksgiving Day meal, and Linda was out of hibernation early this morning making sure her slave, err, husband, peeled the sweet potatoes to her liking. Note that I was using a vegetable peeler, peeling potatoes as they were meant to be peeled as opposed to the hack and slice, leave a little potato, type of peeling, she who orders me around did yesterday. She claimed to have knobby potatoes, I claimed to know how to peel potatoes. She convinced me we were both right and I agreed. Smart Bob.
Linda working her magic with those sweet potatoes. I have to say that I was a most happy man at the meal, as there were a number of people at our table who just raved about how good those sweet potatoes were. While I wanted to thump my chest and proclaim that my wife was the best ever I didn't, but it didn't mean I didn't think it. Now that was quite a change from what I was thinking about her this morning when she "suggesting" I peel the potatoes and help in other ways. Just goes to prove that the saying about how there is an itsy bitsy teeny weeny tiny sliver of silver lining to every terrible thunderous dark cloud.
Our table of chow hounds at Rainbow Plantation Escapees Park. Two dollars a head for turkey and gravy, we each bring something else, a table full of other traveling SKP's, strangers when we sat down, friends when we parted. At the next table was the last of my hero's, Norm Payne, who started fulltiming in 1999 and whose blog I read in the years leading up to our going full time. Time spent talking to Norm, a truly wonderful Thanksgiving Day, and in the end, Linda and I both so stuffed we could only eat one piece of sweet potato pie and a brownie apiece for dessert. Life simply doesn't get better than this. And our former friends from our previous Life wonder how we can keep on living the fulltime Life. If they only knew, if they only knew, but safe in the life they have always lived they will never know. As for us, we were stuffed today, but in the best of all possible ways.
Friday November 25 Summerdale, AL
"Ducking" Black Friday
We let others go out and fight the crowds on Black Friday, glad that we bought Red Rob his Christmas present a few days ago as he is really, really enjoying it. Truth be told there are already rumors going around the coach of putting the old tank back into use with something new in it, but they are just that, rumors. RVers get foot disease where they keep wanting another RV just a foot or two longer than the one they currently have. So far we have only been struck by gallon disease once, and for now we want to keep it that way. Maybe Christmas will bring Rob a Betta Exerciser, otherwise known as a mirror. It gives him another Betta he can spare with, but one where he can't get hurt.
Linda thought this dish satellite dish was intriguingly interesting. I thought it was definitely different. Something tells me that even though we occasionally have bird problems with our satellite dishes, this is not ever going to be considered as a solution. The opportunity to take this photo came during our forced march, the 30 minutes of brisk walking around the park that was decreed by she who ate far less than I did yesterday. It shall be interesting to see if the same regimen is imposed by the family personal trainer tomorrow.
Turkey day was a day when we ate turkey, but we had our own Thanksgiving meal planned for today. Just as last year, our bird was to serve a two fold purpose, providing several fowl meals now, and later the king of meals as far as we are concerned, Cassoulet. That is why the drumsticks and thighs are being removed. While my skills as a butcher may may not be the greatest, my meat hacking is right up there with the worst of them. Doesn't really matter though, since we will pick the duck carcass clean, and the Cassoulet is cooked to the point where all the meat falls off the bone, showing that a good cook can sometimes make up for a bad butcher, at least when Linda's the cook.
In the end, the cooking bag did its job, the duck was way beyond great tasting, and we have a bowl of juices to turn into something else, once we skim off the fat. There was also the requisite dressing, sweet potatoes and Linda's wonderful cranberry sauce she always makes. Great meals two days in a row, and with more to come. Life, for some everyday is the same, for others everyday is an adventure. The choice is ours to make.
Saturday November 26 Summerdale, AL
Off to Mars
One of the nice things about the fulltime Life is that when Saturday morning comes around, it is just like any other morning. Gone are the days when it meant yard work. Take this morning for example, up early, wrote the Daily Journal, then settled in to watch the launch of the latest rover going to Mars. All week we had been watching programs on NASA TV about the preparations for the launch, which was scheduled for just after 10 AM this morning. And as you can see, this morning I wasn't the only one up to watch the launch, because Linda was as glued to the TV as I was.
One thing that Linda did was to take photos of the launch, lots and lots of photos. And I guess that was quite reasonable in light of there being 2.5 billion dollars behind what was heading towards space at that moment. The launch was successful, and sometime on August 6, 2012 it will arrive at Mars, and you can bet we will be watching then also. What can I say, some people like to watch NFL games, we like to watch and follow Mars missions.
Just wanted to show that watching TV wasn't all we did. I even got into the act, moving my chair so she could sweep under it, which was almost all the exercise we got during the day. Now we did go into town for a little shopping, but that hardly counted as exercise since it was only to get a carton of milk and a few things we needed for the coach at the ACE hardware store. As far as forced marches around the RV park were concerned, there was nothing on the order of yesterday's, just a pleasant after dark stroll over to the dumpster which gave us a chance to see the various Christmas lights some people had out. Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if the coach physical fitness director has another 30 minutes of walking scheduled for tomorrow, and something tells me she does. But as the song goes, Que sera sera.
Sunday November 27 Summerdale, AL
It rained during most of the night, it rained most of the day, and it seemed like everyone in the park stayed inside their RV's. Almost everyone that is, with the exception of she who enjoys washing the coach windows. Actually it wasn't just that the windows needed washing, it also gave her a chance to try out the new to her rain coat she got at the Unclaimed Baggage Center. And as luck would have it, no sooner did she go outside than it really started raining hard, giving that rain coat a very good test.
Either that rain coat was working like a charm or it was letting so much water in that her brain was turning to mush, because once she was done with the front window, she tackled the side windows, ending up doing all of them. Lest you wonder why I wasn't out there helping her and making sure my new to me rain coat functioned properly, somebody had to bite the bullet and stay inside to take photos of what was taking place outside. It was a tough job, but I did my best.
Yesterday I ended my post with this: "Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if the coach physical fitness director has another 30 minutes of walking scheduled for tomorrow", and today I found out just how prophetic those words were. In the very late afternoon it finally stopped raining, and that was when what is quickly becoming the family fitness fanatic declared that it was time. My ears shot up at that only to learn that what it was time for was our half hour of walking. It turned out she wasn't the only one who had exercise in mind, as there were also a number of other women out walking their husband's. Yes, sometimes we men seem to lead a dog's Life, but with a woman like Linda holding the leash, who's complaining. Life is indeed good.
Monday November 28 Gulfport, MS
Today we affirmed that the coach really, really doesn't like cold weather, as it was a case of, if it could go wrong, it did. I can't hope to remember all that did not go according to plan, but the following will give you the idea, which stated this morning when I started the coach and the stop engine light came on. Now I have gotten used to various warning lights and buzzers when it is cold, but the stop engine light, that was definitely something new.
A little knowledge can go a long way, and the only reason the stop engine light comes on is oil or coolant. Normally it would take a glance at the computer readout on the engine monitor, but that was also not working. When it rains, it pours. First guess was oil, and it proved correct. In went a gallon of oil and it barely registered on the dip stick. Gave the engine a try and still got the stop engine light. Off to WalMart we went, returning with two more gallons of Rotella. Unlikely we would need them both, but better prepared than sorry.
With the oil taken care of, but the stop engine light still on, it meant it was also the coolant. First came the struggle to remove the cap, though a little persuasion from a hammer seemed to solve that problem. Like I said at the beginning, the coach really, really doesn't like cold weather and it was definitely cold this morning. Next was to determine if it was low or not. It has a quasi see through plastic tank, with the quasi today being to the not able to see through side. The use of a wooden stick took care of that problem, and in went two gallons of coolant to bring the level up to the maximum mark.
We were making progress, especially because now the engine running and no stop engine light was on, and the engine monitor was showing all systems functioning as they should. But when it came time to bring in the slides, the cold weather jinx was once again activated. First Linda had problems with the switch, and one of the slides stopped about half way in. A little jiggling on Linda's part, with the switch that is, and it started working again. But when the slide came in I noticed the slide topper didn't automatically rollup, instead bunching up and preventing the top corner of the slide from completely closing. Back out it went, and this time it worked as it should, both the topper and the switch. Things were starting to look up.
Once we were finally underway, some two hours later than we planned, we drove across I-10, and into Mississippi. While it wasn't necessarily the coach's fault, we kept passing through intermittent heavy rain which made the drive less than ideal. In the end it turned out just fine and we had a safe trip and arrived at our stop for the night where we got a nice long, level pull thru site. We were also greeted by a very heavy downpour that waited until we were hooked up and in the coach before it fell.
This one we couldn't blame of the cold weather this morning, mostly because it has been an ongoing problem that has getting worse. Thinking back it first may have manifested itself on a cold day, but that was immaterial since it was going to get fixed today. It being the MCD sunshade over the front window that has been creeping ever further downward every time we use it.
Linda had taken a look at the instructions for reprogramming the shade and had basically thrown up her hands. I must admit that my first reading of them left me completely confused. Then, about 15 minutes later I read through them again, and everything fell into place. After that it really didn't take too long before it was working as good as when first installed and finally adjusted correctly. The best part was when Linda mentioned that she really didn't think I could do it, but I did. Not only is she brainy and beautiful, she's also kind caring and considerate. Did I ever pick good or what. Or was it that she picked me?
Tuesday November 29 Gulfport, MS
Just a normal day
I could say that Linda's loud snoring awakened me at 5 AM, but that would not be true. I could say that all the scratching, yawning and itching she did when she first appeared this morning distracted me, but that would not be true. What would be true is that we are located in the perfect place to do a lot of shopping and our credit card bill is going to show that we did that in spades. But more on that later. The first stop was Walmart where we stumbled upon exactly what Linda was looking to buy for our grandson, then proceeded to buy several other things that were not on the list, an activity we continued to perfect as the day progressed.
I won't go into the lengthy search at Michael's for "stretchy" ribbon or small suction cups. The latter had something to do with the gold star Christmas decorations we saw suction cupped to the front window of the coach next to us at Summerdale. Suffice it to say that we will soon be sporting a dozen and a half of them from our coach windows. I did figure out that if something ever happened to Linda and I needed to find a place to meet women, Michael's would be the place. There were more women in that store than I could count, and they all appeared to be pretty good in the domesticity department based on what they were buying. The things we men can learn when we follow our wives into some stores.
Oh yes, I'd better mention what the above photo was about, and it wasn't about me and a younger woman. It was an attempt to improve Red Rob's life, something we succeeded in doing. His aquarium now sports an additional live plant and three very tiny ghost shrimp. He's very happy, the ghost shrimp have settled in, and if Rob acts like he has to this point, the shrimp are not going to be a meal for Rob, cute little fellows that they are. At least fellows are what we think they are, unless a passel of little ghost shrimp happen to show up.
There were other stops, but the last one was at Sam's Club where we indulged ourselves in some favorite things. It wasn't raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, but rather sweet peppers and portabella's, pork back ribs and bags of almonds. All of which are most definitely a few of our favorite things.
We may not have cleaned out the store, and the partially full cart that didn't even fill the back of the Explorer confirmed it. So just why was our bill over $400? Linda checked it over as we were walking out the store and pronounced it correct. The verdict? When you buy a hundred dollars worth of nuts and a hundred dollars worth of cheese, it doesn't take much more to boost the total right up there in the stratosphere. At least we are most definitely going to eating pretty good for the next couple of months. And isn't that one of the more important things in Life?
Wednesday November 30 Abbeville, LA
Betty's the best
Another travel day, this time some two hundred miles to Abbeville, Louisiana where Betty's RV Park awaited. It was also another day of traveling on the kind of roads we prefer to avoid, the Interstates. Here construction, there construction, everywhere you drive construction. Sometimes the road was rough sometimes it wasn't, but most of the time it was less than ideal. Unfortunately, the ability to build good roads that last for more than a few years seems to have escaped the people who design and build the roads in this state.
A field full of FEMA trailers. The sign along the road said: Trailers starting at $2000. I guess that they are worth every penny of that amount. We didn't stop, but some people must. If it is what they want, then that is what they get.
Picture of the Mississippi taken on the I-10 bridge. Looking at the 6 or 7 photo's Linda took of our river crossing, I was shocked to see that only one of them had her usual trademark of more bridge than river in the photo. What's next? A river crossing where she only takes photo's of the river and not the bridge. Will wonders and miracles never cease.
Our destination was Betty's RV Park, which we had heard so much about, and which we found to be unique to say the least. And that was after we arrived at Betty's. I will not go into what happened when I was in the right lane to turn left just north of town and Linda told me not to turn. I really was supposed to turn left, but she had me turn right, which was most definitely not right. Eventually the wrong right was righted, and what was left is best left unsaid.
Most RV parks take your money and that's it. At Betty's we discovered that there was more. Not only did we have to pay for our site, we also had to work for our site. With a tree limb threatening to touch the bedroom slideout, Betty provided ladder and loppers, while I provided the labor to do a little tree trimming. We were told that we wouldn't believe the experience of staying at Betty's, and even though we had only been here a few minutes, we realized how true it was.
At 4:30 something else that makes staying a Betty's unique commenced. The nightly happy hour, which in this case lasted for over a happy hour and a half, which may or may not be typical. Already we have extended another night, making our stay four nights, plus tomorrow night we will be going into town with a group from the park to take part in the 13th annual Abbeville Christmas Stroll. As for what the following couple of days at Betty's will bring, who knows, but it is what makes Betty's, Betty's, and also life, Life.