Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting Settled in Chattanooga

Getting used to Eastern Time is a challenge for me. I feel as if I'm behind and need to hurry to catch up. I woke up early this morning and hit the ground running. Got dressed, fixed a cup of coffee and hurried out with the dogs for their walk. After they were fed, Jim and I went on another walk.

Breakfast was next, followed by another walk with the dogs, and then it was time to set up my Wii. I have it set so the cables and hardware aren't too obvious. One of these days, we will figure out a way to thread the cables behind the tv so they aren't visible at all.

I exercised with the Wii Fit for about 30 minutes while Jim and Mark were off on a Camping World shopping excursion. I swear, these two guys like shopping (for boy things of course), as much or more than Dortha and I do! When they got back, Jim and I bowled with the Wii Sports until it was time for me to get ready for the big meeting.

I used to be faithful to the Weight Watchers program, going to meetings every Saturday morning with my walking buddy. In fact, we walked to the meetings, stopping by Starbucks for a skinny latte on our way. Unfortunately, when I retired from work, I also retired from Weight Watchers, which was a big mistake. After my weekend away, I'm getting my act together to get back on the program.

I asked Dortha if she wanted to go with me to this meeting, and she agreed, so off we went. I picked up all the new program material while there, so I'm set now, all I need to do is get back into the groove with the food and exercise plan. I do much better when I have the accountability of meetings, so I will be looking for WW meetings now as we travel. I am a lifetime member, so I will just have to pay the meeting fee until I get back to my goal weight.

We went to Souper Salad after the meeting and had, guess what - soup and salad! After that, we stopped at the local Publix grocery, and then back home. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon going over the books, reacquainting myself with the program.

Mark grilled pork chops for dinner, while Dortha and I collaborated on the side dishes. Dortha made a Weight Watchers Key Lime Pie which is just about the best thing I've tasted in a long time! What a treat that was!

Today's blog is certainly all about Weight Watchers! Tomorrow, though, I promise a whole different view. We're going to the Lynchburg area to tour Jack Daniels and another distillery. That ought to be fun!
Jim and Mark are getting it all figured out:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Out of the Wild Mississippi Woods

We've returned to civilization, although I'm not sure it's really such a good place to be these days. We were able to find diesel today, after passing several stations obviously out of gas. People tell us to be sure to get gas where we can, whenever we see a staion that has gas. Hopefully this particular issue will resolve within a week or so.

Today's travel was 281 miles, from Town Creek Campground just outside of Columbus, Mississippi to the Best Holiday Trav-L-Park of Chattanooga. Our gas mileage was 8.9 mpg. We arrived around 2 p.m. (3 Eastern Time). Dortha and Mark were not far behind, they came from Red Bay and are parked next to us. We had a nice Mexican dinner at a little neighborhood restraunt called Amigos and came back to clean off the bugs from the front of our rigs.
Dortha & Mark's Phaeton on the left, ours on the right:

To catch up a little from the past few days while we've been out of touch, last Wednesday morning, Jim dropped me off at my friend's house on the opposite end of Columbus from where we were camped. Shirley and I spent the day grocery shopping and preparing for the weekend. Just in time for supper, the rest of the group arrived at Shirley's "camp house" on a bluff overlooking Tibbee Creek. This is a group of women who post on the Weight Watchers online community, and we've become good friends over the years. We meet once (or sometimes twice) a year at Shirley's place to rejuvinate (or restart) our Weight Watchers program. We spend our time kayaking on the creek, going on really long walks, cooking healthy meals and talking. We throw in some fun too, like watching movies at night out on the deck. This year we added a Wii and played Guitar Hero, bowling, tennis, baseball and general fitness activities. Oh, and we went geocaching one afternoon, and found 2 of 2 caches. It was a great time, wonderful to see my friends again and get my motivation going for getting back on the Weight Watchers program.
While I was gone, Jim took care of the Castle and the dogs. He bought us 2 new ladders, a 3-step stool for me and an 8' ladder for him. He donated the old ones to the rangers at the campground. They seemed happy to get those.
These were taken at our site at Town Creek Campground:

I reached Rock Star level on one song!

Sunset on Tibbee Creek.
We will be here a week, I have a feeling it won't be long enough, but it will have to do for this time!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Columbus, Mississippi

We haven't had a decent internet connection since we arrived at Town Creek COE park on Monday so I haven't been able to post an entry.

There won't be any more entries to our blog until probably Monday night or Tuesday morning. This is because I am off on my adventure with my girlfriends, while Jim holds down the fort back at the campground.

Here is our view of Town Creek from our site at the campground:
The "Creek" runs right behind our site:

See you all next week!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last Day in Red Bay - Again

I think this really has been our last day here. Unless something happens tonight or tomorrow morning, we plan to head out towards Columbus, MS by around 11 in the morning.

We had picked a COE park southeast of Columbus, but after looking and thinking and discussing some more, now I believe we'll be going to a different COE park that is closer to Columbus. Jim will be on his own from Wed. until Sunday evening while I go "camping" with the girls. He will be closer to town at this park, so he can go to the store more often, or eat out if he chooses.

Today I played with the new camera a little bit. It's a lot different from the one I'm used to using. Practice is definitely needed. I'm used to the quick focus and steady action of the Canon and this little camera is a bit slower to react.

I did manage to get a couple of scene shots of the greenery in the surrounding neighborhood.

Dortha came by and we found a couple of places to go after they get done here in Red Bay and I finish my camping trip. We'll meet them in Chattanooga, TN for a week and then travel to Pigeon Forge for a few days. We couldn't get reservations for the full time we wanted to be in Pigeon Forge, so we'll just figure that out later.

Later this afternoon, we joined Dortha and Mark with their neighbors, Carolyn and John for a cookout. We had brats and burgers with all the fixin's. Jim made a peach cobbler dump cake which was very tasty. We had a fun time visiting and getting to know Carolyn and John. Too bad we didn't meet them sooner, as I'm sure we'd have more fun times.
Mark and Dortha relax and visit:

Dortha and Jim relaxing:

Enough relaxing. Let's eat - Mark, Dortha, Carolyn and Jim fix their plates.

There was some football thrown in for good measure today, and I managed to get over 35 minutes of WiiFit exercises in. If I don't turn the thing on every day, I get fussed at by my "trainer" so I'm trying to stick with it.
Another great day here in Camp Red Bay!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day Trip to Tupelo

During the work week here at Camp Red Bay, things start early, but on weekends it's pretty quiet. We managed to sleep in until 7:30 this morning, then took our time with waking up and drinking coffee.

Eventually we got going, though. We wanted to go to the surplus grocery store near Red Bay, so with Mark and Dortha, we stopped there for some shopping first. We picked up some pretty cheap canned goods that haven't reached their "sell by" date quite yet.

After the grocery run, we kept going and ended up in Tupelo with the idea of seeing Elvis Presley's birthplace. We didn't actually buy tickets to go inside, I guess we are not all big fans of Elvis. For me, it was more of a sense of just wanting to know where it is, I enjoy the scenery wherever we go.

Jim and Mark at the Elvis Plaque:

The"shotgun" house where Elvis was born in 1937:

Dortha and I pose by a statue of Elvis at 13:

Mark checked out the 1939 Plymouth, representing the car Elvis' family had:

We stopped at a Shoney's for lunch, I ordered a salad which I sent back because it was a bit unappetizing. Dortha and Jim both shared their sandwiches with me, so I sure did not go hungry!

Shopping was next on the list. We found a Dick's Sporting Goods, where I found a new pair of walking shoes. A Best Buy stop was next. Since I'm going to be kayaking next week, I decided a small digital camera might be better for me to take instead of the big Canon Rebel. I found a little one that wasn't too expensive, I will get that all figured out before next week.

While we were shopping, I got a call from Glenn, letting us know they needed to head back to their son's house due to a family matter. Sorry we didn't get to spend more time with them, but we'll get together again, I'm sure. Safe Travels, Glenn and Sylvia!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tourists in Northern Alabama

Up early again, but with fun on our agenda instead of repairs. We, along with Dortha and Mark, started off with breakfast at Swamp John's, a local eatery. Glenn and Sylvia were also having breakfast before heading back to Camp Red Bay to supervise their daily visit to the service bays.
After breakfast, the four of us went off in search of our first destination, the Coon Dog Cemetery. This is a local area cemetery that is open only to proven coon dogs. The first dog buried here was Troop, on Sept 4, 1937.

Each Labor Day there is an even held at the cemetery, when the graves get decorated. They also sell barbeque and t-shirts.

This is "Easy Going Sam", Last one on the Wood. These people take their coon dogs seriously!

The next stop was the Tuscumbia/Muscle Shoals area, where we stopped to visit the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Are these people famous? Mark, Dortha and Jim:

There is a portrait of each performer who has been inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame:

A colorful jukebox entryway:

The Hall contains exhibits and memorabilia from hundreds of musicians who either lived in, or were from Alabama. They also have a working, free, jukebox that plays music written by songwriters from Alabama. Mark picked a song and grabbed his girl for a turn around the dance floor.

The band, Alabama was certainly well-represented, here's their tour bus. Hey, whose driving the bus!

Just down the road a ways from the Music Hall of Fame is Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller. I was particularly interested in visiting this historic location, because back in the olden days when I was in high school, I played Annie Sullivan in "The Miracle Worker".

This is the little house located next to the main house. Helen was actually born in this house. It also served as Helen's school house. When Annie was unable to make any progress with Helen's education while living in the main house, she implored the family to let her take Helen to this little house, where she could deal with Helen one-on-one without interference.

This water pump is where Helen Keller experienced a breakthrough in understanding language, when Annie spelled out the word "w-a-t-e-r" in Helen's hand, while water from the pump flowed over her other hand.

This is a bust of Helen Keller, located in the gardens on the property.

Dortha found a paragraph in a local information brochure about a pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River, and we wanted to go walk across it. It took us some time to find it, and a stop at a questionable motel where Mark sent Dortha in to the office to get directions. Directions obtained, and off we went. The Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau brochure says, "The Old Railroad Bridge opened in 1839 as a toll bridge, and for almost a century was the only way to cross the river. During this time, trains crossed on the upper deck while wagons, pedestrians, and herds of livestock crossed over the bottom deck."

Here's a view from the Old Railroad Bridge, looking towards the O'Neal Bridge across the Tennessee River:

Jim and me on the bridge:

While we were looking for this bridge, we drove through the Tennessee Valley Authority Reservation. The Wilson Dam was closed, but we did see their service center and power plant.

After the walk across the bridge, which by the way, doesn't go all the way across the river but stops a little more than halfway, we were getting hungry, so it was off to a local Mexican Restaurant for lunch. Mark needed a thingy-majigy for his water heater and Dortha wanted a little doo-dah for her computer desk, so we went to the local Lowes. I'm having trouble remembering the last time I was in a Lowes, maybe last summer in Arlington, Texas. It was interesting! All that stuff you need when you own a house - sure glad we don't need all that anymore! Now, having said that, we did look at ladders. We are thinking about replacing our 6' ladder with an 8' one, and our little step stool with one a bit higher.

It was time to head back to the camp, what a fun day we've had!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oops! Never Mind...

Yesterday turned out NOT to be our last day in Red Bay, after all!

Last evening, after I hit the "Publish Post" button, Dortha, Mark, Sylvia, and Glenn joined us for an evening of football on tv, great conversation and snacks. Sometime in the conversation, we got around to talking about where we're going next. Plans got thrown out and we decided that we're going to stay here the rest of this week.

It isn't the most scenic campground we've ever stayed in, but the price is right. Now that we've been stamped out of the service area, we have to pay to stay here, but it's just $10 a night. We can take day trips to the things we haven't seen yet and actually afford the gas to get there.

I usually don't clean much the day before we travel, saving that chore for after we get parked. It's easier to clean as I do my inside set up. Besides which, traveling tends to get the rig pretty dusty anyway. But, since today turned out not to be a travel day, I did some cleaning chores. There's a strip of carpet in the driver-side slide out, and that needed attention. I moved everything off the carpet (except the computer desk which is bolted to the floor) and used my trusty Resolve spray carpet cleaner. It works pretty good for the type of cleaner it is. I also straightened things up and vacuumed.

Along with my usual dog walks, I've stayed pretty busy today. Glenn & Sylvia got into a service bay (they actually had an appointment), and got assigned a full hook-up site. When they got here yesterday, the office was having everyone go park on the runway until they knew what sites would be available. Dortha and Mark had their front end alignment scheduled this afternoon, so they are out and about.

Last evening I was talking to son Josh. I asked if he'd been up to the cabin recently. This cabin was purchased by my grandmother in the 1940's, and it's been in my family ever since. It's located off Highway 24 between Colorado Springs and Woodland Park. There is no electricity or running water, it's really very rustic. Anyway, he said yes, he has been there, and for the first time in his life, he saw a bear up there!

The weather has been just about perfect today, and it's been a great day!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Last Day in Red Bay

I got a surprise when I opened the door this morning to take the dogs out - there was a chill in the air. The a/c has not been on all day and we've enjoyed having the windows open. It's been breezy but not terribly windy, just a nice day.

We took care of our paperwork this morning at the office, so we're "officially" finished with our service. We're staying one more night and will be leaving Camp Red Bay tomorrow. The only thing is, we still don't know exactly where we're going. We had tentatively planned to go on down to the area near Columbus, MS, but now we're considering going to the Lynchburg, TN area. Mark wants to go on a tour of the Jack Daniels distillery and we have a little time before we need to be in Columbus, so we might go ahead and wait for him and Dortha. They're making good progress on their list and may be out of here in the next day or two.

Glenn and Sylvia arrived and stopped by to visit early this afternoon. It was great to meet more RV-Dreamers. They, along with Dortha and Mark, are coming by this evening to watch a little Monday Night Football on our patio tv.

I stopped in to talk to Dortha and found her busy at her computer, taking care of some business:

Then we wandered down to Glenn and Sylvia's place on the runway and found him busy cleaning the bugs off his windshield:

Dortha, Glenn, Mark, Jim, and Sylvia, standing around visiting:

Glenn and Sylvia's Allegro Bay with one of their "furkids" laying in front:

It was time to head back to the Castle. Now it's time to prepare for the football game. I need to put some warmer clothes on, it's kind of chilly!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday in Red Bay

The wind woke us this morning, but it was late enough to be up and around, so we got up and had our coffee. I walked the dogs while keeping an eye on the clouds swirling around. A neighbor stopped by to let us know that the next county to our west was under a tornado watch. He wanted to let us know the office told him that if our county experienced a warning, the customer lounge would be opened (pets allowed) for us to go to.

The warning never materialized and we only got some wind and a few rain showers. We never really had any sunshine today, but that's ok, we got off easy compared to a lot of places dealing with way too much right now.

I worked on my second time cutting my own hair this morning. I'm definitely not fast, but I think it looks at least presentable. Since I've been spending anywhere from $20 to $40 about every 5 weeks for haircuts, I figure I can save around $240 (or more) a year, hey that's about half a tank of diesel. Every little bit helps...

We had planned to do a burger cook-out today with Dortha and Mark. With the weather acting "iffy", we proposed that they come up here and we grill the burgers on the George Foreman. I baked a chocolate cake and got the burgers and fixin's ready. Dortha brought beans, chips and some Queso Dip and we had a great afternoon visiting and eating and watching football.

We got serious about watching football about the last 2 minutes of the Brocnos/Chargers game. Those Broncos! They got a lucky break, they always give me heart failure the way they play. Dortha and Mark had some things they needed to get done, so they left soon after the game was over. We sure enjoyed their company and wish to thank Joe (Speedy) and Sherri for getting them to come into the RV-Dreams chat room so we could meet them!

It's been another great day!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We DO Barbeque!

This weekend was the 2008 Riverfest Barbeque Cook-off in Decatur, Alabama. This is an official Alabama State cookoff, so we figured we shouldn't miss it. We asked Dortha and Mark if they'd like to join us, and of course they said sure, so off we went this morning.

But first, we had to make a stop at "The Tradition of Charm", a local gift shop in Red Bay that advertised items for your motorhome. Well, we didn't find anything we couldn't live without, but it was fun looking.

We arrived at the Riverfest and got started looking around at all the different barbeque teams set up all over the place. Mark has found a good one!

Jim investigated the vendors who were providing barbeque for sale. Even though there were many cooking teams, there were only 3 vendors who were actually selling meals.
Some of the team members were in a hurry to get their entries to the check in table in time.

The folks at the check in table accepted the entry, put a different number on it and put it in a flat that was picked up by a runner to take to the judges, who were all sequestered in a tent where they did their tasting and judging.
Yummmm, it smelled so good! We got samples from a couple of the teams, wow, there were some tasty items!
Many of the teams had clever names:
Dortha and Ellie after enjoying a great barbeque lunch. I had chicken, everyone else had pork. We chose the Texas Rib Rangers from Denton, Texas for our meal.
One of the judging categories was dessert, oh, this strawberry cake should have won, it looked so delicious!
The event was held along the Tennessee River, and included a "Ducky Derby". Here are the guys getting ready to start the duck race:

They're off!
"Gee, do you think we should come back Tuesday to see if they finish?" These ducks were not in any hurry!

One of the exciting moments of the day came when we stopped in at the Hospitality Tent to sit in the shade for awhile. As I took the camera strap off my shoulder, I caught my earring and it flew off. I saw it go, but when we started looking, we could not find it in the grass. Imagine 4 adults crawling around in the grass under a table. We soon had 3 or 4 other folks join us, searching the grass for my missing earring. I finally gave up, as did most of the others. But not Mark. He and Jim took a break and went for a walk, but when they came back, Mark had to look one more time - and of course, he found it! Thanks again, Mark! I'm glad you're that persistent!
We stayed for a while longer, but thinking of the drive home and the decision to stop at Walmart on the way back convinced us to head back. We missed Glenn and Sylvia by less than an hour, but we'll get to meet them Monday before we leave.
It's really been a great day, we enjoyed getting out for some fun away from service bays!

Friday, September 12, 2008

What - A "Do-Nothing" Day!?

Well, not completely, I did set up the Wii Fit and got some more experience with hula-hoops, skiing , strength training, and bowling, you know, important stuff.

Otherwise, I've prepared 2 reasonably healthy meals, read blogs and journals, and watched the progress of Ike, while saying prayers for our friends and relatives in its path.

We slept in until the roar in engines told us the parade to the service bays had begun. When I was out walking the dogs, I came across Dortha and Mark, they got finished at the paint facility which is about 5 miles from here in Belmont, Mississippi, and had their coach back over to the service bay just after 7:00.

Jim fixed up a little stop in the bottom of the cabinet that got the new vent installed, so things don't slip into the vent area and cut off the circulation.

This is looking up at the bottom of the cabinet, with the new vent:

Here's the front of the cabinet, with the vent at the top (this was original with the motor home):

The little piece of trim on the bottom shelf will keep things from falling into the vent:

I received a message from Glenn and Sylvia of Avery's Wanderings yesterday, letting me know they would be in Red Bay on Monday. They are part of the RV-Dreams family, having sold their house and gone fulltime this year. Soon after they got on the road, Glenn had a heart attack, but that didn't slow him down much, and once he completed his rehabilitation, they were once more traveling. We'll try to get together with them in the next couple of days.

Tomorrow, we're going to Deactur, Alabama to witness and experience the Official Alabama State BBQ Cook-off. Decatur is about 60 miles or so east of Red Bay. We're taking Mark and Dortha, so it should be another fun day.