Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stayin' Busy

Our RV lifestyle involves a lot of socializing, which almost always means getting together for meals or happy hours.  We recently got together for lunch with neighbors Paul & Margery and Darrell & Judy at our nearby favorite, Big Daddy's.  Paul & Margery were getting ready to move on to Florida where it's warmer!  We enjoyed spending time with them and hope to see them the next time they're visiting this area.

Last Monday I joined about 45 other women from the Plantation for the annual Christmas lunch.  We went to a very nice restaurant in Robertsdale, Iveys, and had a wonderful time.

This past Thursday we joined 3 other couples to try out a new restaurant that recently opened on the beach, appropriately named The Gulf.  The menu is fairly limited, but the setting is wonderful!  Below is our group seated on the "lawn" (a patch of turf placed on top of the beach sand).  On the left are Judy, Darrell, and Jim.  On the right are Roberta, Joann, George and Keith.

Roberta and Keith are current property owners here at the plantation, but they are in the process of selling that property to our friends Judy and Darrell.  In keeping with the "small world" concept of our RV'ing community, I'll try to explain some of the connections!  George and Joann are new friends of ours (George was Jim's sponsor in joining the Elks Lodge).  They are long-time friends with Keith and Roberta, who also have property at North Ranch in Congress, Arizona, another Escapees Park.  Roberta knows our friend Pat McFall as they have line danced together at North Ranch.

Here are George and Joann standing in front of one of The Gulf's beach lounge chairs.

We had a fun time visiting and enjoying the beautiful beach setting of this unique restaurant.  We all decided the ambiance is fun, the food is nothing that special.  After lunch, George wanted to show us a local "institution" - a restaurant and bar located right on the Alabama/Florida state line - "Floribama".  So we carpooled over there and took a look around.  Everyone agreed to pose in this "beach" setting if I'd post a blog!  So here we all are:  George, Joann, Keith, Roberta, Judy, Darrell, Jim and me!

There's a new neighbor at the Plantation - Gregg arrived about a week ago in his beautiful 5th wheel pulled by a matching Volvo  - big truck!  Gregg is a friend of Pat and Mike McFall and also owns a lot across from friends Dortha and Mark at Retama Village in the Rio Grande Valley - see how the small world connections just keep happening!  Gregg is attending line dancing, as well as many of the other activities at the Plantation, and we're enjoying getting to know him.

Speaking of line dancing, I'm still going to class just about every day.  The M-W-F class is a beginner class, and the Tue. -Thur class is a little bit more geared towards intermediate.  We don't have a designated teacher for that class, right now I usually lead most of the dances unless someone else has a dance they want to teach.  I also found a local class at the Foley Senior Center that meets once a week.  I attended that class last Wednesday and found it just challenging enough!  That gives me plenty of opportunity to improve my dancing skills.

Jim has started a new project too; he's learning how to cane chairs.  There is a group of folks here at the Plantation that refurbishes chair seats and backs using cane.  It's quite an involved art that has been passed down through several generations and is being shared with people here.  Many of the chairs will be auctioned during Mardi Gras here, with the benefits going to the Escapees CARE organization.  We've heard that last year the proceeds of this auction were around $4,000!

We are blessed to be able to enjoy this lifestyle!  More adventures to come....

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Maybe I should think about changing the title of our blog, we sure aren't doing much of that "Justravelin" these days!  We arrived at the Escapee's Rainbow Plantation on September 10 and the only travelin' we've done since then is a move across the street to a different site, but I've already written about that.

Our days have become fairly routine, with a few notable exceptions.  I'm going to Line Dancing class three days a week, soon to be five days with the start of a Beginner 2 class this week.  There's a local restaurant nearby, known as "The Biscuit King",  that has a live country band several times a month on Friday evening; and a group of us goes for dinner and dancing.  Thursdays are usually laundry and cleaning.  Of course Saturday and Sunday are reserved for football!  Otherwise we fill our time with walking the dogs, going to the beach, shopping and all the other miscellaneous activities that seem to fill our days and weeks.

One day we were sitting outside, enjoying our beautiful weather, when a fellow rode along on his bicycle.  He saw us, and parked his bike, came over and said hello.  Of course we invited him to sit and visit.  Turns out he is one of the original builders of Rainbow Plantation.  He and his wife, JoAnn, own a lot at the Plantation, they've lived here since 1991.  We visited for an hour or so with George that afternoon.  He is quite involved with the Foley Elks Club, and we ended up asking him to sponsor Jim as a member of the Elks.  The start of a great friendship was created that day.  We've gone out to lunch and dinner with George and JoAnn several times since that day, and now Jim is an official Elks Club member as of November 15.

We've had visitors to the area;  our dear friend Carol and her sister Susan came down from the Birmingham area for a weekend.  We ate out, grilled at home, and shopped in Foley and Fairhope, it was a blast.

JoAnn Dubrouillet drove over from Panama City Beach, Florida in her new car and spent a weekend in Foley.  It was so good to see her and get caught up with her activities since we saw her in December last year.  While she was here Terry and Randy Guiler made a quick stop at the Plantation on their way to their winter work assignment.  We all got together with Judy and Darrell Patterson for a lunch in Fairhope.  Such a good time getting caught up with friends.

This is the group from left to right, starting with Judy (in the Aqua blouse), Jim, Darrell, Randy, JoAnn and Terry:

I drove up to Columbus, Mississippi for my Weight Watchers "Camp Taz" in October.  We rented a small car for Jim to use while I was gone.  I had a great week with my friends from all over the country, and I enjoyed the drive, about 4 1/2 hours each way.  We almost always get to kayak, and this trip was exceptional for that.  One run we wanted to make turned out to be impossible due to a huge tree that had fallen across the creek, so we decided to make a different run.  That one turned out to be about 5 miles and included a lake crossing.  Whew!  That was challenging, but truly beautiful!

This is Tibbee Creek, near the Camphouse where we stay:

Our good friend, Rosalie, came for a weekend too.  She lives in New Orleans, so of course she is a Saints fan.  She came to watch the Broncos/Saints game, too bad the New Orleans team didn't make the game, the Broncos totally dominated the action.  But, she brought a crock-pot of her authentic New Orleans red beans and we had that with rice, so it was all good.

We celebrated a special Thanksgiving with Judy and Darrell.  They arrived at their ERPU site not long after we did, and it was a special treat to spend the holiday afternoon with them.  They brought some delicious sweet potato casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a spectacular apple pie along with their favorite wine, while Jim and I did a "dueling turkey breast" cook-off, a broccoli rice casserole and a squash casserole.  Jim also made one of his semi-famous "Bubba" pecan pies, with a recipe from Uncle Bubba's Oyster House in Savannah.  The meal was awesome, the company very special.

I've had to get some unexpected dental work done here, but that should be completed by the end of next week.  I broke a tooth, and when I went in to have that checked out, the dentist found another broken crown that caused the next tooth to become decayed.  The result of all of this is I will have three brand-new crowns and the dentist can pay for his Christmas vacation!

Our "Jell-O" plans called for us to roll out of the Plantation around December 14 to head over to the Aransas Pass, Texas area to spend the rest of the winter in the same RV park where Janna & Mike and Rollie & Gina will be staying.  Our hope was that our kids would be able to make a trip from Colorado and Amarillo to spend Christmas with us.  But that plan didn't quite work out. The kids are not going to be able to make the trip, and we have decided to stay here through February and then head over to the Aransas Pass area around the first part of March.  We're OK with that decision, we really love it here and feel very much at home.

That covers most of our highlights from the last couple of months.  We're looking forward to continuing to build relationships here in "LA" (Lower Alabama) as we enjoy the mild weather, beautiful beaches and great activities here at Rainbow Plantation.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another Week

It hardly seems possible, but another week has gone by.  We’ve started to settle into a little bit of a routine around here.

Sunday and Monday brought quite a bit of rain.  We found out our new site isn’t quite as elevated as the one across the street, so we had a few puddles around, but with the sandy soil here, puddles don’t last very long.

A few of the regular line dancers have started getting together in the clubhouse at our regular time – 8:00 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  The actual class hasn’t started, the teacher won’t be here until later on this fall.  So right now it’s an informal process, we take turns suggesting and leading dances.  I’ve learned one new dance so far and “taught” one as well.  I have great fun with this group!

On Wednesday after line dancing, Jim suggested an outing to Fort Morgan.  We have been to that area several times and toured the fort the first time we came to this area.  We’d heard about a shipwreck that was buried, but got uncovered during the recent hurricane, and we thought we might be able to find it.

While we were at the fort, I was taking pictures like this:

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While Jim was taking pictures like this:

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At the fort’s museum, we learned that the shipwreck was somewhere down on the beach, not on the fort’s property.  We thought we’d try to get to the beach, but the first road we tried turned out to be not such a great one:

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Even though we could see that truck ahead, we decided navigating what was left of that asphalt road was probably not in our best interest, so we backed out and went on our way.  We did try one more road, but it was pretty messy too, so we gave it up.

We’ve been doing so well with our plan to eat at home more, we decided to splurge and have lunch out:

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And Tacky Jack’s was just the spot.  Jim enjoyed his seafood trio, and I had a shrimp po’boy (but left the bun).

Other things that have occupied our time this past week include getting both dogs washed and groomed.  The grooming was accomplished on two separate mornings. We have limited shade in the morning, and once my shade is gone, I’m done and so is the dog.  We’ve also taken care of all the usual routine stuff like laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning, while leaving time for that all-important activity – relaxing!

It’s been a great week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Slow Day at the Plantation

I don’t know about anybody else around here, but our day here at the Plantation was slow, very, very slow.  I kind of planned it that way after the busy activities of this past week.

Jim has been wanting to make a run to Camping World up in Robertsdale, so he did that while I stayed home and did – well, pretty much – nothing.  Oh, I did manage to make the bed, cook a little breakfast, straighten up the place and walk the dogs a few times, but other than that, I couldn’t seem to get myself inspired to do much of anything.

We’ve been trying to be good about cooking and eating at home since we got here on Monday.  Yes, we did go to Big Daddy’s on Monday afternoon, but hey, it was travel day, and don’t the rules stipulate there’s no cooking on travel days?

But we’ve been great the rest of the week, and today might have been the winner – when Jim got back from his errands, I had red, yellow and green bell peppers and an onion cut and ready to grill, as well as a package of chicken asiago sausages.  He got those going while I made a pot of whole grain linguini with garlic and olive oil.

Today’s picture has all the important ingredients – the outside TV, chair with controllers on the attached table, open beer, and veggies grilling!

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That was a delicious meal, and we got to watch Auburn squeak by the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Other than that, we’ve been practicing the fine art of “doing nothing” – we may just have to work on this a little more tomorrow!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Move and A Beach Day

Tuesday afternoon, after we’d sweated and worked our tails off setting up our patio, Jim casually mentioned that “next time” we come to the Plantation, we should think about asking for the site across the street, #63.  Of course that played with my mind until yesterday morning.  When Jim got back from the Laundromat, I said why not just move over to #63 now?  I thought he might object, after all the work we’d done setting up in #86, but no, he just went to the office, paid our 2 day electric bill and we were off.
What’s so different about #63?  Well, we face north instead of south, so the patio is in the shade in the afternoon, the time we’re more likely to want to be out there.  And, it’s the only 50 amp site in the campground where we face north that has no trees blocking the satellite dome. In addition to those factors,  we can see the entrance road and the office from here, so we have a better idea what’s happening around us.  Now, I’m not sure I buy in to the principles of Feng Shui or anything, but we also just feel better in this site.
It didn’t take us long to move since we’re right across the street from where we were parked.  We just picked up the outside stuff and carried it over.  And since there wasn’t much driving involved, I didn’t need to pack up things inside, just enough to pull in the slides.  We were done and settled in about an hour.
Where we were:
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And where we are now:
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Around the Plantation:
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This morning I went over to the clubhouse with our sound system and my line dancing book and practiced again for about 45 minutes.  I plan to put up some signs around to announce that I’m doing line dance practice sessions 3 mornings a week.  I need to get myself back in to the groove so I don’t forget all the dances I’ve learned over the past couple of years.  Maybe even learn some new ones!
After line dancing, I came home and puttered around the house for a while, then fixed some leftover taco stuff for lunch.  Then we piled our chairs in the car, loaded some cold water in the little cooler and took off for the beach:
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All is well at the beach, there doesn’t appear to be any significant damage from Hurricane Isaac.
There were quite a few people at the Gulf Shores Pier Park, as well as a couple of birds:
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Of course there was the usual assortment of gulls and pelicans too.
We sat in the sun for a little while, then took our chairs up to the shaded pier and sat with our books for a couple of hours.
What a great day!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rainbow Plantation

Bright and early – well maybe not so early, but bright – Monday morning, we had the Castle all packed up and ready to roll on south.  I had talked with someone in the office at the Plantation to be sure all was ok after the hurricane.  We were assured that everything was fine, come on down.

Almost exactly 4 and a half hours later we were parked in our site at Rainbow Plantation.  The address here is listed as Summerdale, Alabama, but the actual location is somewhere between Robertsdale, Foley and Fairhope.  We’re out on a county road, very quiet and peaceful.  The beach at Gulf Shores is about 20 miles from here, close enough to spend some time there, but not close enough to get tired of it.

We set up our patio yesterday and got the bugs washed off the front of the Castle. 

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This is the park where we have our names on the waiting list for one of the ERPU (Escapees Rainbow Parks Unlimited) leased sites:

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At this park there are 22 large RV sites that are leased by Escapees.  The fee for 5 years is $14,500, with an annual maintenance fee of $750.  The lease can be renewed for $1.00 after 5 years.  However, if you decide to let the lot go, your $14,500 is returned to you.  It’s a good program for people like us who are not ready to buy property.  You can put a storage building on your lot, so we’ll have a place to store some of our things once we get a lot.  Until our number comes up, we’ll continue to stay in the campground.  The cost here is $80 weekly plus electric. 

We think we’ll be here for a few months.  Right now the campground is nearly empty, just a few of us are parked here.  There’s not much going on yet, but the winter folks will start trickling in over the next few weeks.

This morning I took my sound system and line dancing notebook over the clubhouse to practice.  The regular instructor won’t be here until sometime in November, but maybe some of the regulars will drop by and join me in practicing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hanging Around Hoover

We have been enjoying some quiet and peaceful times here in Hoover over the last couple of weeks.  We watched people come and go over the holiday weekend, which was also the opening weekend for college football and the “last hurrah” for the Birmingham Barons baseball team playing at Regions Park in Hoover, Alabama.

All that meant for us was a little more activity going on in the RV Park, which is adjacent to the baseball field. The baseball stadium was busy with the last few games to be played at this field before the team moves to a different location next year. 

Several couples brought their RV's in for the weekend to party and watch Alabama crush Michigan in the college football season opener.  Since it was an away game, they all set up their outside TV’s and had their own version of tailgate parties.  Other than those folks, there were a few families who came camping with their kids, so we had the bike munchkins riding around. 

With the “ghost” of Hurricane Isaac still hovering in the area, the weather has been mostly gloomy and muggy.  We never did get much wind or rain, just lots of humidity and heat.  The weather folks are saying we will be getting a cold front though, supposed to be bringing cooler, drier air.

Our friends Carol and Steve were out of town over the Labor Day weekend, but since they’ve been back we’ve had a chance to go out to dinner a couple of times.  On Wednesday, Carol picked us up in the morning and we went to a local outlet mall to find some shopping bargains.  We’ll get together with them a little more before we take off for Summerdale and The Rainbow Plantation on Monday.

This is our current "home" - until Monday:

An overview of the RV park:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hoover, Alabama

Monday morning we were checked out of Camp Red Bay and getting our air/moisture separator gizmo changed at Bay Diesel by 8:00.  We were out of there and getting propane by about 8:45 and on our way to Custom RV in Vina, which is about 5 miles or so out of Red Bay.  This is a shop owned by a former Tiffin factory employee and he works on all types of RV’s, but obviously considering his location and background, his customers are predominately Tiffin coach owners.  Last fall he installed our supplemental braking system for the car, and we wanted to have it checked and adjusted.  Good thing we did, he found a tiny hole in the air line that connects the motorhome to the car.  He had that replaced and we were on our way to the Birmingham area around 9:30.

We made a stop to fill up with diesel and continued our travel day.  We pulled into the Hoover RV Park and were set up and relaxing by 2:00.  Hoover RV Park is adjacent to the Regions Park Baseball Stadium; it used to be called the Hoover Met and is the home of the Birmingham Barons baseball team.  The RV Park is basically a parking lot managed by the City of Hoover with hook-ups.  There isn’t even an office to check in, just a self-serve kiosk where you use their provided envelopes to pay for your site.  There are no restrooms, laundry, activity center, just a parking lot. However, the City does include wifi and cable TV in their camping fee which is around $28 per night.  We like it here because it is quiet, usually not very crowded, surrounded by woods with lots of room to walk, yet close to all the city amenities.  It’s also patrolled by the local police.

Our friends Carol and Steve live about 7 miles from here, and invited us to their home for dinner Monday evening.  It was great to get caught up with them since our last visit.  Steve grilled the best filet I think I’ve ever tasted and Carol made a wonderful salad and baked sweet potatoes.

Yesterday we got caught up with a lot of our shopping needs, groceries and vitamins and all that sort of stuff.  It took us all day with stops at 3 stores – Sam’s Club, Walmart and Publix, but I think we’re set for a day or two!

This morning Carol picked us up and drove us up to Homewood for a Penzey’s Spice Store fix.  Of course we needed a lunch stop, so we went to a local Barbeque, Saw’s:

Where we enjoyed some very, very good pork!

Just a couple of doors down from Saws is Dreamcakes, a cupcake store, you know we couldn’t pass that up:

After we were completely stuffed, we made a quick stop at the Galleria so Carol could pick up a birthday present for one of her granddaughters.  We made a quick run through Macy’s and then she brought us back home.

In between all of this activity, we’ve been watching the news on Hurricane Isaac.  Our thoughts are with everyone being affected by this storm!    I noticed that the Weather Channel reporter stationed at Orange Beach, Alabama, was standing at a spot that might have been where we took the picture I posted in my last blog, but it was hard to tell for sure because it certainly didn’t look quite the same during that storm. 

We'll stick around here for a couple of weeks, make sure everything is OK with the Castle (so far, so good), and let things settle down on the coast before we make our way to Summerdale.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What's Next?

Yesterday we were called into the mechanics bay about mid-morning.  They looked over all the things we wanted them to and, thankfully, everything looks good, so we have hopefully found and corrected all of the damage that occurred when the jack broke.  The mechanic did find a gizmo that has to do with water separation needs to be replaced, but they don’t do that here, so we will stop by Bay Diesel Monday morning to have that taken care of.

Jim stopped by the tile bay, and they said to come on over at noon, so our broken tile was replaced by mid-afternoon.  That completed all of the items on our list for the Tiffin Service folks.  We stopped by the office so they could add up the invoice.  It was not as bad as it could have been, but still costly.  However, we do have a special fund we keep up just for repairs – made a pretty big dent in that fund.

So, what’s next for us?  We have been discussing several different possibilities, but so far we think we’re going with Plan B.  That is, we will check out of the Red Bay Service Campground early Monday morning, get the gizmo changed out at Bay Diesel, have our propane tank filled and then stop by Custom RV and have an adjustment made on our “Air Force One” supplemental braking system for the car, and then drive down to Hoover, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham.

Of course, we are watching the progress of Tropical Storm Isaac pretty carefully.  The last news we saw indicated that it could be a bit rainy and windy in the Birmingham area by Thursday.  We’ll wait that out, spend a little time getting things reorganized in the Castle and visit friends in the area.

Then we think we’ll roll on down to the Rainbow Plantation at Summerdale for a few months of budget recovery.  We have in mind a few afternoons sitting in our lawn chairs, looking at this view:

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Yes, things are happening and we are getting our Castle fixed up.  Yesterday we had our new leveling jack system installed and some structural welding and reinforcement done.  The technician who worked with us gave us a tutorial on the new jacks, and we think they are going to be a lot better for us.  He also explained that for several years, the materials and engineering for the structural support of the coaches was not really adequate and they’ve had quite a few coaches that needed this reinforcement.

Today we went back into a regular repair bay and the techs did a lot of adjusting on our slides and compartment doors.  They also replaced a piece of trim that was slightly damaged last year when the new slide floor was installed.  We still need to have the mechanics check our air system and ride height.  Then the last item on the list is replacing a cracked floor tile.  

We are hoping to be back on the road soon!

Meanwhile, we’ve been staying busy.  Yesterday, while the welders and techs were working on the Castle, we took the dogs and drove up to Florence, Alabama for a quick stop at Bed, Bath and Beyond to replenish our coffee supply.  After a stop for lunch at Chick-fil-A and a stop for Jim to pick up something or other at Home Depot we were back in Red Bay by early afternoon.  Sylvia and Glenn came over for happy hour and the four of us went to the local pizza place for salad and pizza for dinner.

Then it was back to our level, stable Castle for a little TV and a good night's sleep.