Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Robin!

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It sure doesn’t seem that long ago I struggled over my sewing machine to make you a ruffled, long, feminine “prairie” dress you hated….but I guess it was about 25 years ago!  A lot has happened in those years, hasn’t it?  But the bottom line remains, your Dad and I love you very much, and wish you all the happiness you  most certainly deserve!  Happy Birthday, Dear Robin!  May you have many, many more years to celebrate the most wonderful person you are.

Today we spent a lot of time watching over the weather.  The forecasters promised us that muggy, humid, hot air would leave us and we’d have clear skies and cooler, drier air moving in.  Yay, it finally arrived around mid-day.    It was muggy and rainy when we got up this morning. I got Jasmine and Mr. BJ out between rain storms for a short walk.  By the time Jim went off to the store and I spent some time with my Wii Fit, the rain stopped., but it was still cloudy and muggy.

Finally, the sky cleared and the sun prevailed!  The dogs and I got a few more short walks done and I got my side of the closet cleared out.  Funny thing, though, it doesn’t seem like the closet has fewer things in it, but I have a whole stack of stuff to go to the craft folks here, plus a few extra clothes I don’t need now.  How does all that stuff manage to hide out! 

Here’s another picture of a rose that Jim took at Fairhope.  He sure has a way with that camera!:

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Late this afternoon, we cleaned up our patio area and I sat outside for awhile.  Jim was getting the charcoal grill ready to grill steaks when our new neighbors stopped by.  We’d watched this afternoon as they got parked and then backed a small car out of their “garage” attached to a big truck that pulls their Teton 5th wheel.  We were surprised to find out they have our same last name – Meacham!  We don’t meet many other Meacham’s, wonder if we’re related?  They are new to the fulltime life, welcome, Jay and Vickie!  They’ve met our friends Mike and Pat Mcfall and Rollie & Gina, as well as Jack and Danielle Mayer.  Small world, this RV community, isn’t it?

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve been messing with the layout and template design of my blog.  Thanks, Penny, for your comment about the small text size on the gray background.  I’m working on that, and hopefully you’ll have an easier time reading it now. I sure don’t mind comments about the layout -  especially if it’s meant to help me make the blog better and easier for you to read!  I appreciate all your comments, and hope that you all continue to follow our adventures!

Of course, not every day is filled with new adventures, some days we get off to a slow start and never seem to gain much momentum, but every day is precious, and we are happy to share our blessings with you.

We wish you safe travels, blue skies and happy adventures!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Out n’ About

Yesterday was Weight Watcher’s meeting day.  I found the meeting room after one false start – tried to go in the back door.  That’s probably why it looked so deserted!  The meeting had already started, it was listed at the wrong time on the internet.

Even after what Dortha calls a “summer free-for-all” my weight has pretty much stabilized these days.  I’m a few pounds up from my lowest weight, which is not surprising because I’ve never been able to maintain that lower weight for long.  But, I seem to be able to hold my current weight and still have a life.  I’m not interested in looking or being skinny, at this stage and age of my life, healthy and comfortable is where it’s at for me.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  Seriously, though, it’s important to me to maintain where I am now, and I still work at following the Weight Watcher’s program, journaling my meals, exercising, going to meetings and making healthy choices, at least most of the time.  Yes, there are times I indulge (as you will see reading down the page), but I’ve learned where the line between that and over-indulging is, and I don’t cross that line.

So, what does every good Weight Watcher do after the meeting?  Yes, you’re right – go out to eat!  In this case it was lunch time.  Jim did a little looking around the neighborhood while I was at the meeting, and he was waiting in the car when I came out.  We’d seen a Mellow Mushroom Pizza place not far away, and I remember they have really good portabella, spinach, and feta sandwiches, so that’s where we went and what I had.

I liked this guy hanging out on their balcony:

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After lunch we took a drive over towards the east shore of Mobile Bay, where Clear Point and Fairhope are located.  This map shows where we went:

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As we drove along the scenic road that runs right along Mobile Bay, we noticed that many of the beach houses just south of Point Clear are for sale.  I wonder what the asking price is on some of them.  Some are just ordinary houses in need of some TLC, and some are quite nice!

Once we got into Fairhope, we stopped at a city park to walk a little and take some pictures.  Jim got to practice with his new 300 mm lens and caught this turf war between a bee and butterfly:

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The City of Fairhope has left the banks along Mobile Bay in a natural state to encourage butterflies – and we did see many flying around.  It was so much fun to try to get pictures!  We watched them flying around for quite awhile, but also just gazed at the bay, too.  What a peaceful, beautiful setting! Oh, our new header picture was also taken here.

We continued on to another section of the park, where we found there was at least one person out enjoying the breeze:

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At the park there is a beautiful garden with roses in bloom:

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After spending a while watching people going about their lives, fishing, walking, and like us, just enjoying the day, we headed to downtown Fairhope to see what we could find.

Pink Flamingo, anyone?

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Jim was magically drawn here:

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Yep, it’s a bakery! With ice cream, no less!  OK, I only had half a sandwich for lunch, maybe a little reduced fat ice-cream would be good.  The Fairhope Bakery, Heavenly Creations, does have a few spooky items in their case:

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The owners were so friendly, and interested in our lifestyle!  If you find yourself in need of a treat in Fairhope, stop in to see them!  They’re located at 410 Fairhope Ave.

We each had a single dip of their reduced fat, reduced sugar butter pecan ice cream, and couldn’t resist bringing home 2 cookies for later.  But we resisted all those spooky Halloween treats!

I was up early this morning to gather my wits and my stuff to be at line dancing by 8:00.  I made copies of the music CD’s that are being used for the dance classes, but couldn’t get them to play on the CD player at the Clubhouse.  Today, I took my computer over to the clubhouse so we could at least have some music.  It worked out OK, but the volume on the computer speakers is pathetic.  We don’t have a portable CD player, so I downloaded the songs onto my mp3 player and will use our Bose Speaker to hook the player up to that and we’ll have some fine sound for Friday!  The Bose is designed to work with the I-pod, but with a cable connection it works just fine with our “other brand” players.

The rest of the day we’ve just tried to stay out of the muggy heat here.  We are looking forward to the cooler, drier air that’s been promised for the next few days.  Even the dogs are draggin’ after we’ve been out for a short walk.  I’ve been thinking about all the folks in the Midwest dealing with all the strange weather that’s been going across the nation and sending safe thoughts to everyone.  We hope you all stay safe!

Till next time…

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday Gives Way to Monday

Yesterday was Sunday. I know that because it was the second football day in a row. Usually the first football day is Saturday, so the second football day would be Sunday. I remember one time after my Dad retired, he complained because he no longer got weekends and holidays. I laughed then. I guess I’m still laughing, because now it’s us. Saturdays and Sundays are a little different in our lives, we try to keep a low profile and stay out of stores and local attractions, preferring to visit those places during the week, on the theory that they won’t be as crowded then. Sometimes it works, but most of the time we think places are just as crowded anyway.

So yesterday was Sunday, and I did actually go to the store, but didn’t stay long, just got the few things I needed and got back home. Jim grilled a pork tenderloin for lunch and we enjoyed that along with green beans, rice and “hoppin John”.

The rest of the day we spent watching football and the weather. We got some thunderstorms last evening, noisy enough to have Jasmine trying to hide under the bed, which is a little difficult, since our bed is on a solid platform. The point is, she doesn’t usually react like that to thunder, so it must have been pretty loud to her.

Today I was up early and headed off to line dancing. The regular teachers aren’t “on duty” yet, and the couple who’s filling in until they do start left today for a rally, so there are just a few of us going over the the club house to “practice” this week.

New friends Sandy and John, whom we met at Defeated Creek, were arriving here at the Plantation today, so we invited them for dinner, as is our tradition, started by folks in the RV-Dreams community. When we know someone who’s coming in to a campground we try to provide their travel-day dinner. Many times we’ve been the grateful recipients of such dinners, so we’re always happy to do this – besides, it’s fun!

I made a baked chicken spaghetti casserole. Judy and Darrell joined us, and even brought a salad and apple pie that was the hit of the evening.

John and Darrell enjoy happy hour conversation:

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Judy, me, and Sandy also enjoyed some happy hour conversation:

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We swapped stories as we visited through happy hour, on in to dinner and long after dessert.

I want to close tonight with an interesting observation on this lifestyle. When we first retired and started traveling, we basically knew the people we hung out with in our hometown. There were several people we spent time with, and quite a few people we knew socially. But we didn’t know anyone “on the road” until I started discovering various blogs. The first friend we got to know in person was a very special woman I “met” on the Weight Watcher’s web site, and she talked about blogs she read, so I started reading them too. That led us to our first rally, the 2008 RV-Dreams first rally. From that website and rally our community started growing and continues to grow all the time. The many friends we’ve made are precious and priceless! We wanted to travel and see this beautiful country, not thinking that the most beautiful part of the journey would be the wonderful friends we’d come to know.

What a great life.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Life at the Plantation

Ellie 005This is our site at Rainbow Plantation, it’s number 35.  Yes, it is the same site we occupied two years ago when we were here with Dortha and Mark.  At that time, there was also a resident magpie living in one or both of the trees you can see on either side of the Castle.  The bird did not like our Castle, and showed us how much he disliked us being in his space by pecking at our roof every day – so why did we get the same site this time?  Simple answer: we knew we could get satellite reception here.  When we first checked in, we were assigned a different site.  We spent awhile trying to get a satellite signal, but finally decided to go with the site where we knew we would get a good signal. So far, so good – no bird here.

We’ve been getting things settled in and looking like home.  When I took this picture, we were alone in the neighborhood, now there are two rigs across the street, but none on either side of us - yet.  As the weather cools in the North, we know we’ll be getting more neighbors!

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The rates here are low, and the campground is beautiful.  The weekly rate is $85 plus electric.  To save even a few more pennies, we’re turning off the breaker and running on batteries during the day, at least until it gets too warm in the afternoon.  Even though we have trees on each side of the rig, we get enough sun to keep the solar panels charging the batteries.

We’ve found that the people here are very friendly – even more so than at some of the other Escapee parks we’ve stayed at.  Each Escapee park has it’s own personality, along with it’s own policies and rules.  This park has 4 different types of sites.  We’re in the campground, which is just that.  There are 87 sites, most with 30 amp electric, water and sewer, and a few with 50 amp, water and sewer.  Then there are 10 lease sites, which I believe are leased for a one-year term.  The next type is what’s know as ERPU (Escapee Rainbow Parks Unlimited) which are also on a lease basis, but in this case, it costs $14,500 to lease a site for 5 years.  After the 5 years, you can renew for another 5 years for $1.00.  With these sites, there is also a yearly maintenance fee of $750.  If you don’t renew your lease, you do get the $14,500 back.  The fourth type of site is a deeded lot.  You purchase the lot and can build a permanent dwelling on it.  These lots can be sold to people who are not members of Escapees, however, as I understand it, the new owners cannot use the common facilities like the club house or pool. This is a popular winter destination, so the park will fill up over the next several months.

Thursday we went on an exploration drive through Foley, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach:

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The top push pin is our location.  Then, moving south on Highway 59, is Foley, Gulf Shores and east is Orange beach. 

The water is blue, the sand on the beach is soft and white – it’s lovely here!

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Of course, while we were out, we stopped at a local favorite for lunch – Jimmy Buffet’s sister, Lulu's:

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You can see the results of some of my other activities – I’ve been working on the look and layout of the blog.  I’m still tweaking things, so don’t be surprised if the look changes even more over the next few days.  I found a problem with how my side links were being displayed – there was a huge gap between some of them and I was stumped as to what was causing it.  I started moving gadgets around and finally discovered that the one I update most often – “Our Current Location” – had about a zillion added lines in it that I didn’t see in the little edit window on until I looked at the html code.  Once I deleted them, the side links started behaving again.

Yesterday evening we joined a large contingent of our fellow park residents at what’s known around here as a “sundowner”.  It was hosted by Ron and Ruth Phinney, whom we just met at this event.  We hope to get to know these folks better while we’re here!  They provided a big ham, and the rest of us brought a huge variety of delicious side dishes including desserts.  The neighborhood was buzzing with activity, but we were just too busy to get pictures!

Jim has started on his big organizing project.  He’s been outside most of the day, sorting through all the goodies in “his” compartments.  I finally took care of the long neglected task of defrosting the freezer.  This time, when I got it done, I lined the top and back wall of the ice-maker compartment with plastic wrap.  We’ll see if that little trick makes defrosting easier next time! The theory is that since this is the part of the freezer that accumulates frost fastest, it will be easier to remove said frost by simply peeling away the plastic wrap.

Remember, make each day count!  Till next time…

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Getting Settled in Summerdale

Ellie 001 We left our group of friends at Defeated Creek last Friday and drove back to Birmingham South Campground in Pelham, Alabama.  On Saturday evening, a good friend’s mom was being surprised with a 75th birthday party, and we’d been invited.  It was a great party with their family and friends, we were glad to be invited to share the happy evening.

This is real concentration – I didn’t even know Jim took this picture of me as I was driving on Friday:

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We also got to see our friends Carol and Steve a few times, actually, they cooked some of the best meals we’ve had in a while (well, at least since we were at Defeated Creek).  We spent 4 nights in Pelham and yesterday moved along to the Escapees Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, Alabama.

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We first visited here 2 years ago in the fall, just about this same time.  We so enjoyed our time here then that we decided to come back for another visit.  Carol and Steve also love this area of Alabama, they come down to Gulf Shores frequently, so we’re hoping they can make a trip down here while we’re in the area.

When we arrived yesterday afternoon, Judy and Darrell Patterson (Wandering America) wandered over from their leased site here to welcome us.  The four of us were invited to Linda and Norm Payne’s place for a travel day dinner.  Except it was a post-travel day for the Pattersons, as they actually came in a day earlier than originally planned.  We had a wonderful dinner with great conversation.  What a nice welcome.

This morning Judy and I both attended the line dancing class here at the park.  There are sessions three days a week here, so I will get a chance to learn some new dances while we’re here.  I’ve had such fun with this line dancing thing, I may be getting addicted to it!  It’s good exercise for my body and my brain, as it requires some thinking and concentration to keep from tripping over my own feet!

There are also plenty of great, paved roads in the park for walking, I intend to do a lot of that here, too.  I need to stay in shape for those desert hikes once we get out to Arizona this winter.  Beach walking is also on the agenda here.  While I’m talking about our agenda, we both have some major cleaning out projects planned while we’re here.  I’ve been carting around a variety of started-then-forgotten-craft projects.  It’s become pretty clear to me that I am just not cut out to be a crafts person and I’m finally going to wise up and find good homes for all those scraps and unfinished projects!  Jim has declared he will be doing some cleaning and sorting of the outside compartments, so I guess we’ll be doing our “spring cleaning” here in the fall.  Works for us!

But in between all these work and exercise projects, we also hope to do some fun exploring of this beautiful area!  So stay tuned for our continued adventures!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Our RV Community/Family has been hit hard.  Many of us have not met each other, yet we share many things, and through the wonder of technology via the internet, we feel like we know each other.  Such is the case with Margie and Bruce, a couple who were killed in a freak accident a few days ago in California.  Margie had two blogs, one about her dedication to maintaining her healthy lifestyle while on the road and the other about her travels.  She left comments on my blog occasionally, and we shared several things in common, including our Weight Watcher’s Lifetime status, our love for our schnauzers and our families, as well as our full-time lifestyle.

When we found about the accident that took her and her husband’s lives in the blink of an eye,  I was shocked, saddened, angry –a whole range of emotions.  I had a hard time sleeping last night and was exceptionally nervous about our travel day today.  I read many of my other friends’ blogs and found most of them had many of the same sentiments.  But I also noticed as I read, and as I talked with friends today, we also are all reminded of how important each and every day of our lives is.

It’s important to be prepared – after all, we really don’t know when or what will happen to each of us.  We only know that our time on this earth is temporary – we’re just “on loan” here,  but none of us really knows when our time is due.  So it’s important to take care of what we need to take care of, make sure whatever arrangements will need to be made are done, and then to live each moment of each day to the fullest.

It’s important to let our friends and family know how we feel about them.  I’ve told several people today how much they mean to me, and I intend to keep doing that every day.  I also intend to be more attentive to the present moment, to live in that moment and to treasure all of my moments.  To all my friends and family who read my blog, please know you’re all in my thoughts, you are all important to me!

We’ll never understand why Margie and Bruce were taken so suddenly, but in the shock and sadness I feel, their family, and our whole RV Community, are in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Defeated Creek, Tennessee

Jim 018 Happy Fall!  Our last few days in the Birmingham area were filled with friends and activities.  Carol, our good friend who lives in the area, joined us for several outings.  One of them was to her hometown, Sylacauga.  There we visited an Amish gift shop owned by a good friend of hers, Debe.  We picked up several things that we managed to get out of Indiana without, some homemade Amish noodles and a few other goodies.  We ate lunch at a BBQ restaurant, also owned by friends of Carol.  Jim and I shared an order of bread pudding that I swear must have been made with donuts, it was so rich.

Last Wednesday it was time to move along, back on I-65 north to Tennessee:

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Our travel day was blissfully uneventful!  We arrived at Defeated Creek Corps of Engineers (COE) park and found our reserved full hook-up site:

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which has a large yard next to the lake:

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We’ve been meeting new friends, like Sandy and John:

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And catching up with “old” friends, like JoAnn and Doug:

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Most of the people who are here in our group have met through the RV-Dreams web site and chatroom, along with Facebook.  It was organized by Lisa and her husband, Tony.  They live in the area and spend lots of time camping in this beautiful park.  Besides the above couples, there are Netters & Mac, Leno & Kevin, Natasha & Boris, Donna & Nolan, Cathy & Chuck, Jenny & Don, and today Cindy & Ken are expected.   Did I miss anyone?

And of course, whenever a group of RVer’s gets together, it involves happy hours and food.  Mac and Kevin at the grills:


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I do have more pictures, but they are on my phone, and it decided to stop communicating with my computer.  Yesterday, we had “girls day out” and I stopped in at the Verizon store to see if I could get it looked at.  The folks there had no answers, but the phone is under warranty, so they’ve ordered a new one which I’ll get tomorrow afternoon.

I spent one day grooming dogs:

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Monday morning several of us went over to the covered picnic pavilion to practice some line dancing.  A couple of other women who are just here camping with their families joined us and we had a fun time.  We hope to get another session or two in!

Relaxing, visiting, playing, dancing, well you know – someone has to do this, as Jim always says!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Good-Bye to Summer



 CT Fall 2010 034 Well, the Fall Camp Taz is already over, and today is Jim’s birthday, so I guess it must be time to bid farewell to yet another summer.  Where do they go so quickly?  It seems like we just got started with our fun summer activities and already I’m looking for jeans and sweaters.  The blanket is back on the bed, and I know soon we’ll actually have to plug it in.

My week at Camp Taz was a much needed break from all the activity and eating out that we’ve been doing for the past few weeks.  There were 8 of us this time, and we were up early every morning and ready to get out on the water for an hour or more of kayaking before getting our morning treat – a homemade latte.

One of the best treats, though, is getting to see sunrises like this:


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I got back to Birmingham on Tuesday, in time to spend a little time with Dortha and Mark before they needed to continue on their journey back to Fort Worth (with a little side trip back to Red Bay one more time).

We also got to see Alan and Jeanne for just a few minutes on Wednesday evening.  We met them at the RV Dreams Rally in Branson in 2008.  I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend more time with them, but they were heading out the next day and we were on our way out to dinner with Dortha, Mark and her brother & family.

On Friday we got the call from the mechanic working on our car saying that it was ready.  He wanted us to come and drive it before we accepted it so we could be sure it seemed ok.  He was able to find an engine in Louisiana that had nearly 20,000 fewer miles on it than our old one.  As he got into tearing out our old engine, he found that the flywheel was also damaged, so that needed to be replaced as well.  Some luck was on our side, and we did not have transmission damage.  The car is fixed, and we are a bit poorer, but hopefully much wiser about being diligent with our pre-travel check-list!

Now, if you ever find yourself in Pelham, Alabama with a need for a good, honest mechanic, we are very pleased with the work at Barrett Automotive.   Jimbo is the owner, and he was very up front with us about the costs, and kept us updated every step of the way as the car was repaired.  He took us in to the shop to show us exactly what he was doing, the damage to the flywheel, and the parts that were still ok.

We’ve been celebrating Jim’s birthday for a couple of days now.  Yesterday we went shopping for his gifts, and he picked out a new laptop to replace the sad, dying one he’s been using for several years, and a new lens for his camera.  Today I made a lemon coconut cream pie for him, and our friend Carol took us to lunch at Applebees.  Thanks, Carol!  And, a very Happy Birthday to the love of my life!  I hope we have many more opportunities to celebrate your birthday!

We’ll be here in the Birmingham area for a couple more days before joining a group of friends in Tennessee.  Now I need to go dig out my warm jammies, I wonder where I put them?