Images, Old Diary

Gone Walkabout, sort of

Not really, ‘Walkabout’, just a little more walking!  I’d like to think we are walking a lot. But truth of the matter is that we don’t walk nearly as much as we did 10 years ago.  Still, it feels good to get out and it’s good for us to get out and get as much exercise as we can.  incline treadmillThe warmer temps we are finding here have us walking more than in Milwaukee and the uneven terrain and good paved roads have us walking more inclines — so we can pretend we’re on our cross-trainers!  NOT!

By the way — do you see the Christmas Wreath on the driver’s side mirror?  Mike sent that along with us when we left Milwaukee.  It’s an annual big thing for him, making wreaths.  He’s a whiz at them too!

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There is something wonderful about being almost alone in a big old park!

But seriously,  we are getting out a little more and getting a little more physical exercise. And a good thing that!  We have two more days of decent forecast and then Grenada is in for a long bout of rain and inclement weather — right after we leave.  We’ll not be eluding the weather forecast though — by the time we get to Fort Pickens we may be socked in for much of our stay.

Serendipity is feeling quite at home here.  She likes being cuddled up to the edge of the pond as she is.  Great for morning sunrises!  And for communing with geese and a few dabbling ducks.

Today is Friday; we leave on Sunday.  We’ll get a little laundry out of the way today; we have to get back into the rhythm of RV’ing.  Our long stay in Milwaukee somehow lulled us into an alternate universe of cycles and repetitions.  We were more into our normal rhythm after 10 months at the Siuslaw forest than when we were after 3 1/2 months in Milwaukee.  We may lack some of the regularity of living in sticks & bricks — monthly bills aren’t so much ‘monthly’ as periodic.  On the way down we filled our diesel fuel twice.  Before that we hadn’t put any diesel in the tank since August.  On the road we tend to pay for camping every one or two weeks instead of making monthly ‘rent’ or utility payments. It’s a different routine — but a routine just the same.

When it comes to routines though, there are always things you don’t think about.  For example, there’s the thing about freezing temperatures.  After 3 1/2 months in Milwaukee hooked up to a heated water supply the idea that the temp was going to dip to 30º overnight didn’t sink in. This morning, for the first time ever, we found the water supply to the coach frozen at the hydrant.  I can turn on our on-board water pump and get water flowing but there’s no supply from the source.  Usually we ‘drip’ 1 faucet overnight and that’s all we need to do until the temps hit 25º or so.  But not here, evidently.  Tonight we have another night of 30º forecast temps, so a-dripping-we-will-go!  Actually, our high today is only forecast for 47º!  But it’s still warmer than what we left behind, and 47º here feels warmer the  47º– 800 miles further north.  Maybe it’s all in our head, but that’s the fact of perception!

Well, the little lady is getting hungry, so I guess it’s time for breakfast. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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Images, Old Diary

Every Sunrise is Different and isn’t that Great!

I guess I’m in a particularly thankful mood of late.

One could say that I ought to be upset about our wonky slide topper — seemed we had gotten everything ‘fixed’ and we finally had the prospect of smooth sailing for a while and now that happens.  But the reality is that maintenance is an ongoing reality and buying a 10 year old coach means that some things are going to need replacing.  Maintenance is nothing to get upset about.

And, we are finally heading South.  For the Winter.

Hooray!

We are much more the ‘Early Birds’ than the ‘Night Owls.’  I love sunrises and it seems as if (when we stay in this campground and in this particular site) that I want to photograph the sunrise every single morning.  Maybe that’s because every single sunrise is different. 

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A few years ago some old geezer said to me that

Any day you wake up
on the right side
of the grass is a good day.

It seems that since hearing that I have embraced that idea even more than I had in my youth.  I’ve never been one to stay sad or depressed for very long.  Well, aside from one major even in my life.  I’m pretty much happy all the time; or most of the time anyway…

I appreciate what we have, and the life we live.  I never, in all my imagination, dreamt that retirement would be this much fun.  When we were working I gave away a lot of years of productive labor to causes; at the time I pretty much thought (as unreasonable as it might have been — who says I have to be sensible all the time) that I would work until I couldn’t work anymore.  Circumstances changed, Peggy needed to leave her job — for her sanity’s sake — and so we retired.  When we ran the numbers and realized we could be comfortable and even take a few chances with our retirement life we were both surprised as heck.  And maybe because we are living better dreams than we ever dreamt, we both wake up in the morning eagerly, looking forward to what most days have to offer us!

It doesn’t hurt that, now for example, we are in a nearly deserted park with beauty around us. We’re feeling healthy (regardless of what the reality may be).  We’re happy to be together; and to spend time together.  And we’re happy to meet new people and have new experiences every day.

That point about being together is one that’s particularly important for RV’ers to consider.  There’s not a lot of places to hide in an RV.  If you barely get along with your Significant Other then taking off in a rolling home is not going to make your co-existence any easier.  It really helps if you have a good relationship, enjoy each other’s company, and take pleasure in similar kinds of activities/things.  If one of you has something happen to them, the other is going to be right there to chime in and like it as well, or dislike it.  In my case we just seem to fit each other really nicely.2015121608270113

After writing yesterday’s blog I thought to myself, “I hope Kathryn doesn’t feel that we think Milwaukee isn’t home any more.”  The fact that this visit  — with it’s doctor induced stress and it’s NeverCold induced stress was a sort of one-off experience.  Oh, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel as if the climate of Milwaukee is welcoming again.  But that’s just my little bugaboo, my phantasm,  my little obsession.  The fact is that being near her is always the most comfortable place to be.  And Michael too.

What I am coming to appreciate more over time is how much Peg and I are changing, and have changed, through this experience.  I guess I look out at some people and they seem to hold tighter and tighter to this world as they age.  And I guess I feel, increasingly, as if I’m letting go of more and more things.  I have my likes and dislikes, but I’m willing to tolerate more than I have been in the past.  Which seems contradictory because as I age I also notice the foolishness and stupidity around me more than I once did.  Or things and people are just getting more foolish and stupid.  (Not sure about that perspective!)

man-looking-through-binocularsWe started out looking for a place.  Now, the place is less important.  Being who we are is and always has been our thing.  But perhaps we never thought about it.  Living life on our own terms — as much as possible — is what we’ve always wanted, and pretty much what we’ve always done.  Perhaps me more than Peggy.  She was the stable one in our life together.  She was the one who stuck with a single employer for 33 years, and I was the one who kept finding new adventures.  But still and all it was about being who we were and not pretending to be something else.

go-back-to-being-meRV’ing is the best place to be who you are.  On some levels there’s less pressure to conform.  (Although if you really believe that you’re buying into RV myths that the reality of RV’ing will knock out of you in a big hurry!)  RV’ing give you the impression of freedom!  But we still have our budgets, our physical limitations, our lifelong habits.

For a week, or maybe a few weeks, I’m quite happy to have nothing much going on.  Every morning Peg asks what I have on my agenda for the day, because I usually have an agenda for the day.  But lately my answer has been bupkiss, zip, nothing!  Which I’m quite happy with. It’s nice that there are ups and downs in life.  Flurries of activity, downtimes, times to coast and times to trudge up the hill: variety is a cliche but that “spice of life” thing has some weight to it, and I’m enjoying every spicy bit.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll chat with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary

Recombobulation Area

Our third day in Grenada and life is good.

I am always amazed when certain places just reach out and grab me.  This time around Grenada feels even more the right place to be at the right time than it did last year.  And the folks in town seem even more friendly than they did then too!  Just this morning I was reading a blog entry from Ingrid (LiveLaughRV) and she was making a similar comment.

At General Billy Mitchell Field, the Milwaukee Airport, someone had the idea to put extra seats beyond the TSA screening area so that people who had to remove their shoes and partially undress in order to get through screening would have a place to put themselves back together.  They raised a sign and call it the Recombobulation Area!

I feel like I’m re-combobulating.  It feels good.  In fact, it feels great.

recombobulationWhy is it that I should relax more here than I was able to do at the State Fair RV Park?  I have no idea.

I’m serious.

We seemed to be busy all the time while in Milwaukee.  Much of that “busy”-ness was self-inflicted. We chose to be coming and going. There were stresses about figuring out my health needs, and of getting my body to adjust to a brand new medication regimen. But the fact of the matter is that we kept active so as not to be spending all our time thinking about the negatives and uncertainties. So being ‘busy’ was not the fun kind of busy.  It was more the nervous energy kind of busy.

I guess I let the sudden revelation that what was wrong with me could have killed me get the best of me for a while.  Interestingly, my blood pressure (which had been quite stable for the months in advance of arriving in Milwaukee) jumped up a bunch of points from the time of my first Cardiology visit.  I didn’t really understand why but I guess my body knew better than I how stressed I was about what I was hearing from the doctor’s lips. Interestingly, after getting the green light from the specialist, my BP readings went back down to where they had been before getting to Milwaukee.  Personally, I think it’s all about getting back to our own lifestyle in our own kind of surroundings.  (P.S.: All the readings taken on the same blood pressure cuff. this is not a case of calibration!)

Once we had the fridge installed and a new supply of meds in hand, life changed.  I was exhausted after our Saturday drive; no surprise about that — it was a long day.  I was tired after the Sunday drive too.  Monday I just puttered around with little details.  And today, Tuesday,  I took a nice long nap — but I FELT much better.  I really don’t like being out of control; and I don’t accept it easily.

With temps touching 70º here at Grenada we had time for a lovely walk.  This is such a beautiful campground.  Sitting on the park bench and looking out into the lake I was quite content.  The sounds of critters and the wind in the pines spoke to my heart.  I could feel the stress sloughing off as I sat there.

On the other hand….

I’m a little skittish about our stay in Ocala.  We aren’t big RV resort people.  We like parks: state, federal, county, city, any kind.  We may ramble on about having a heated pool at the RV resort and how nice it is, but the fact of the matter is that we love the setting of a good old fashioned “park.”  I’m sure that Ocala North RV Park (which bills itself as an RV ‘resort’) will be just fine for a place to stay.  I guess I’m having the same doubts about this new place that I had last year before we arrived at Palmdale.

Could it be that four years into our RV adventure we are clarifying our likes and dislikes without ’trying?  Could it be that now that we’ve lived through 4 years of retirement without the dead weight of a house and a life time of habits and routines that the obvious has always been there just waiting to be recognized?  What we have really wanted is just to be together — wherever we are.  Our perfect place is being together for as long as we can make that happen.  The where we live is less important than the with whom we live.

For example. This summer, while we host at Highland Ridge we’ll be in one place of 5 months.  Almost twice as long as we spent in Milwaukee, but whereas the time in Milwaukee dragged, I’m looking forward to Highland Ridge!  It’s a slow pace.  It’s a park. In every sense of the word. There’s nothing fancy about it. The people who stay there are pretty much like we are in a lot of ways.  And, like this place, North Abutment Public Use Area — it just fits us well.

When we leave Grenada we’ll spend three nights at Service Campground in Silas AL.  That is another COE campground.  After leaving Service we’ll be at a Gulf Islands National Seashore.  It’s been a while since we’ve camped in a National Park or something similar. I’m curious to see whether we feel the same about other kinds of ‘parks.’  We have tended to stay away from National Parks.  National Parks are so popular that they tend to be more congested than our first choice of campground. Our visit in Moab, at Arches National Park was nice but there were a lot of visitors there in an off season.  This is a different kind of national Park so I’m interested to see what the vibe is all like.

We’re having a lot of fun experimenting with different camping options.  We haven’t yet done any real boondocking.  We have tried a variety of state and federal properties.  We have looked at several city and county properties — they’ve been nice but so far we’ve just looked at them.  Same with Passport America and Escapees — we joined but we never really got inspired to USE their services.  It seems they simply aren’t what we’re looking for.

The mud seems to be settling in our RV pond.  The depths are clearer as time goes on.  And the best part of RV’ing has been he people we have met, and gotten to know along the way.  RV’ing is a great way to live for the right personality.  And we are loving every minute.

Thanks for stopping by, and let’s talk again tomorrow.

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Old Diary

Could use a little water!

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2014

We’re hearing a little about how ferocious this el niño is and I have been focussing my attention on the areas of greatest interest to me — namely Florida, Texas and Arizona.  But it’s easy to be distracted from reality by one’s own biases.  For example, there’s the LACK of precipitation here in Mid Mississippi.

When I look at the longterm forecasts for the winter and I focus in on the projection that Florida may get significantly more rainfall than normal — I forget about the fact that we are passing through Mississippi and the situation is very different here.

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Same scene — 2015

The top two images are taken from nearly the same point, one year apart.  As you can see water levels at this dam are significantly lower than they were last year.  Momma Nature can be very unequal about her distribution of her favors!

We are enjoying the sounds of nature, and the wildlife.  Last year we didn’t see any deer at all around Lake Grenada — we were 45 days earlier and there were a lot of campers in the campground.  This year there are 9 camping units set up — and that includes three units for the different loop hosts. — So, really, there are 6 campers in this lovely site.  Last year I thought they were open all the way through the winter but this year I see recreation.gov shows no availability from 1/1/16 to 4/31/16.  Evidently something changed.  It would be interesting to see what winter would be like here.  I know that some of the hosts have stayed through the winter during previous years.

2015121510302703Back to my tale about critters…

Last year we saw no deer.  This year we saw some right away on the first day.  There are a lot of Canada Geese here — whether to over-winter or just in transit I have no idea.  A couple herons have been seen as well as cardinals, jays and a variety of other birds we recognize, we hear numerous woodpeckers, and there are at least half a dozen bird songs that we have no idea what they might be.

The catchment basin that we are parked alongside is nice because it doesn’t seem to vary as much due to water level fluctuations.  It seems to stay fairly full most of the time.  There’s a swimming area, and a pier for fishing — taken more advantage of during warmer weather I’m sure.  I don’t believe I want to go swimming this time of year.

We made one brief trip into town for provisions.  I think we’ll stop over again on Sunday to top off the fridge before heading to Silas but we’re good for now.  I forget that it’s hard to find wine by the box around here — Mississippi is clearly BEER country — Oh well….

When we first sold the house and went mobile we had planned a 2 week stay to decompress after the stress of selling and legalities.  This stop in Grenada seems rather like the same thing.  I can feel the stress just sloughing away and it feels good.  I had some projects I intended to take care of on our first or second stop — they may wait until we get to Gulf Shores.  I’m enjoying being retired.  Peg’s enjoying sitting out side — something she didn’t do at all in Milwaukee for the last 2 1/2 months since the temps started dipping.  This is just a nice homey place for us.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

P.S.:  it’s now a couple days later since writing this and the current 10 day forecast includes 8 days of rain — maybe they’ll get a start on filling this reservoir!

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Old Diary

A check on our solar powered fridge

The first day’s results are in.

Yesterday morning I turned off the battery charging system from the power post here at the Corps of Engineers campsite.  That is an automatic function within the coach.  I have to consciously disable it because most people want their batteries to be charged when they plug into shore power.  In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that I wanted to monitor what happens when we rely solely upon the solar panels to power our new refrigerator.  Seeing as the fridge is powered off the same bank of batteries that power our house lights and some small appliances we’re really testing our over all battery capacity against our typical usage.

Yesterday was a nice sunny day.  By the end of the day, and after several days of severely overcast skies the batteries needed to be brought up to 100% charge.   At the end of the charging day we had a full 600 amp hours in the batteries.  And this morning — as the sun was coming up and the solar panels were about to start working again we still had 94% of our charge. I’m pretty happy with that result.  I will continue monitoring — specially on days with overcast skies — and on strings of days with overcast skies to thoroughly understand the ins-and-outs of the system now that we have a larger continuous load on the system, but I’m happy with the way things are working.

Chill Time

Monday, after two long days of driving, I didn’t accomplish much at all.  We mostly try not to drive two days in a a row but it’s not like we have a “policy” that we won’t do it.  It’s just a preference that we often abide by but don’t get too upset about when we don’t.

It’s interesting though that for various reasons being in Milwaukee seems to have been more ‘stressful’ than one might think.  We’re out of the city, back with nature and after several checks of my BP throughout the day yesterday my numbers are a good 10-15 numbers lower than they were holding steadily in Milwaukee.  We’re back in our kind of environment with the geese and deer and not nearly as many people and no truck backup alarms, and no tow trucks zooming through the parking lot and life is good once again.

The Sunrise Tuesday Morning.

The Sunrise Tuesday Morning.

For the first time in (probably) 3 1/2 months we didn’t get in the car and drive anywhere yesterday.  Even though I had a couple errands I want to run I decided to chill and do nothing.  I started (about 2 p.m.) and finished a James Patterson book,  caught up on computer backups, edited quite a few blog categories and tags — all stuff that I consider ‘doing nothing.’  Peaceful time at the computer, or sitting in the lounge chatting with my sweetheart.

Speaking of sweethearts…

The 21st (of December) is our 47th wedding anniversary.  We’ll be moving from Grenada to the Service Campground on the 20th — so that on the 21st we are stationary and we can just enjoy the day as ‘newlyweds.’ 🙂

Silas AL is not much of a metropolis — I need to get to the grocery before we leave Grenada to find something interesting for our anniversary dinner.  The last couple years we have tended to do restaurants for our anniversary evening but there appear to be only three restos of any sort in Silas AL so I’m going to arrive prepared!

Mrs P — one of my faithful readers — commented the other day about differences in cuisine between East and West (coasts).  And I have been thinking about that comment for a couple days.

One of the things we have noticed as we travel about is how much the grocery stores change from place to place.  I have commented a few times about various things:  corned beef hash, sausages and preserved meats, jelly/preserves, quality of veg/produce, etc. I’m sure I could make comments that would be taken as ‘profiling’ or racially biased but the fact of the matter is that one finds a different variety of product in local stores based upon what the local clientele will purchase.

And sometimes it’s not about different states or cities — sometimes it’s just about neighborhoods.  For example if you go to a grocery that says it’s an Asian grocery or the name of which is obviously Latino one is not surprised to find that the store carries ingredients unique to Asian or Latino cuisine.  But if you go to a Safeway, or Lion, or Sentry, of Jewel it’s easy to think that such differences don’t exist — or don’t exist within departments — but in fact they do.

While in S. Texas we had to learn to buy completely different cuts of beef and pork, and we found it very difficult to find lamb at all.  The cuts of beef were often much larger — intended for the outdoor grill as prime cuts of meat.  The same steaks that we might expect in Milwaukee simply were not to be found — A Porterhouse was extremely hard to find, but what I know as thin-sliced breakfast steaks were in abundance — whereas in Milwaukee not so much.  We have noted that in some areas of the country jams and jellies are found in abundance while in other areas you get the sort of standard grape/strawberry/apricot mix and not a lot more.  Ethnic foods are another telltale.  In some generic groceries there are multiple aisles filled with ethnic food — in others generic groceries you might be lucky to find 1/2 of 1 aisle devoted to ethnic foods.

If you go to a restaurant you’ll find far more standardized dining than if you visit a grocery — or at least so it seems to us.  Especially if you are one of those unimaginative eaters who love chain restaurants — for the thing about chain food is that they work very hard at giving you the exact same thing no matter where you are.  McDonalds has become the ‘taste’ leader — being the first chain to manage giving you the same cup of (admittedly mediocre) coffee no matter where you are.  Their reliance upon reverse osmosis filters (and subsequently their impact on other chains) has done a lot to remove the differences in restaurant coffee based on the local water supply.  Some of you may be young enough never to have tasted coffee made from highly sulphur water, or highly iron coffee but let me tell you, if you missed it, count yourselves lucky.  As terrible as McDonalds coffee might be, it’s infinitely better than coffees I’ve been served in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in independent restaurants and truck stops.

Lemon Curd dundee orang marmaladeMy dad used to love visiting grocery stores while on roadtrips.  When I was young I never appreciated what he found there;  after we married and started traveling on our own I found myself doing the same thing and discovering the same delights as he.  I remember my first container of Dundee Orang Marmalade or Wilkins Lemon Curd.  The original containers — at least of the Dundee product didn’t even have a screw top lid or safety lid — they were covered with a piece of parchment tied in place with a little bit of string.  And they were outrageously intensely flavored — and we could not find them in Milwaukee.

In college I worked for Uncle August Sausage company and developed a taste for smoked meats.  When I first tasted the difference between fresh liver sausage and smoked Braunschweiger (same contents, but smoked) I was over the moon — my tastebuds woke up for the first time ever (or so it felt).  All of these differences to be found in an average grocery store — forget the idea of traveling the world for taste sensations — and we have done that as well.  One of the best meals I ever ate was in Carcassonne France, when I had a classic Cassoulet which is really nothing more than amped up baked beans — and yet the combination of circumstances and flavors hit a high note I have rarely repeated.  It doesn’t have to be fancy to be extraordinary.  Sometimes the simplest ingredients, honored and respected, produce the best flavors.

And at that, I’m going to get in the car and drive into Grenada to see what we can find for dinner.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary, Travel

Two Travel Days

December 12Hitting the road again is always an exciting time. For ME. I’ve been this way since youth and I love it.  I’m a wandering soul — no denying it.  Saturday dawned DRY and a little less windy than it had been of late — a good day to head South!  With meds in hand we raised jacks, retracted slides, stowed our satellite antenna and hot footed it for warmer climes.

We have until January 3 to cover about 1400 miles so it’s not like we’re in any hurry.  That said, we never do long trips at this time of year — the reduced daylight hours are a challenge for the first couple days out of Milwaukee.  The thing is, I have done so many trips covering the first 500-600 miles from Milwaukee that I usually just try to get through it and I’m not much for stopping off and seeing things.  How many times do I want to see the same places? But there is the idea of fewer driving hours…  forcing me to think short.  So Saturday our destination is Effingham, IL — about 330 miles from Milwaukee.

………………..

The only problem with that theory — and what you  just read was a theory when I wrote it in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  But 7 hours later, half way to Effingham I changed my mind. I love being retired and being ABLE to change my mind. We changed our route and ended up about 100 miles beyond Effingham.

You see…. it’s like this….

The more I thought about how many miles in the next three days were going to be two lane the less I wanted to do them.  I have a real love/hate relationship with two lanes. When relaxed I love to drive back roads — but if I get it in my head that I’m ‘pushed’ — even if there’s no good reason for feeling that way — then a two lane road is the last thing I want to see.  Saturday mid-day I just wasn’t buying ‘relaxed.’

The change took us to Marion IL.  We had planned on staying with Uncle Wally.  But as we went past the Walmart in Effingham and Peggy commented on how many cars were parked in the lot at 2 p.m. I finally thought about the one thing that completely eluded me.  Do you think that there might be a lot of cars parked in the Walmart lot in Walmart the second last Saturday before Christmas?  Duh….

Talk about freaking out!   I never even thought about Christmas shoppers! After a couple hours of nerves we pulled into Marion and found that the lot wast as full as Effingham had been, and we located ourselves at the South end of the parking lot — near the Goodwill store as noted in our AllStays Walmart parking app.  It was a nice quiet night.  We left Milwaukee at 7:30 and pulled into Marion about 5 p.m.  A full day.

Walmart parking is something I haven’t spoken much about.  We haven’t spent a night in a Walmart lot since May.  On our return trip from Oregon on I-94 we spent 4 nights with Uncle Wally — So, we will have camped at Wally World a total of 5 nights in 2015.  This isn’t something we’re big on.  I’d much rather stay at a park and there are usually options to choose from;  but sometimes the spirit moves us…

There is a bit of protocol when using Walmart.  Many of their locations are OK with RV’ers parking overnight (meaning a SINGLE overnight) as long as you buy a little something at the store, as long as you don’t drop your jacks or extend your slides.  The best resource is from Allstays.com.  There are also locations that do not allow overnight stays — sometimes as a store policy and sometimes as a city or municipal regulation. We are careful about not  pushing the ‘concept’ of overnight.  Making yourself at home — leveling, extending, barbecuing in the parking lot, etc. are — simply put — just being rude and poor guests.  We have seen RV’ers do all of the no-no’s — leaving indents in the asphalt from their jacks, extending slides into traffic lanes — you name it.  In terms of ruining things for other RV’ers I think it’s just polite to have as little impact upon a commercial lot as possible.  We are there by their kindness.  They don’t have to allow us to overnight there — nor do they have to allow semi’s — and some Walmarts host truckers overnight too.  Being a good guest ought to be common sense, but common sense isn’t so common it would seem.  It’s private property.  Behave there as you would want guest to your own home to behave.

In the end, we put on about 450 miles Saturday.  More than I like.  But sometimes I do things like that.  Arriving at a Walmart early in the day feels dump to me.  And what’s the sense of staying lo-key when you cold be doing something — like getting in a few extra miles.  If we are in a park / RV resort there are things to do and we take advantage of the resources.  We like parks.  We aren’t huge about RV resorts but we visit them too from time to time.  And when Uncle Wally has his welcome mat out we pull in late (for us), grab a quick bite of dinner, watch a little TV or do a little blogging, and then hit the sack.  Our bed is usable with both slides retracted.  I can put up the DISH antenna if I want without jacks or slides.  Or we can use the air channels — as we did Saturday night — we ended up watching Mary Poppins and I forgot how much animation there was in that movie — it was a nice refresher.

December 13From Marion we headed out at 7:30.  We had time for coffee muffins (bought the day before in Milwaukee in anticipation of a quick-bite-breakfast).  We made it through Memphis before the church crowd were turned loose on the city and I pumped 73 gallons of diesel at $1.95 — for the first sub $2.00/gallon fill up in years. I had been planning on another night with Uncle Wally, then three nights at Pickensville AL COE and 3 nights at Service AL COE before pulling into Fort Pickens N.P. at Gulf Shores FL.  But the more I thought about it, and having gotten that extra 100 miles under our belt we decided to return to Grenada Lake where we spent a month last year, then to hit Service AL, and Fort Pickens.  That took out an extra stop (set up and take down and movement), we get to spend more time in fewer places and it just felt better.

Also, when I went online to check on availability at Fort Pickens I discovered that whereas 2-3 weeks ago there were oodles and oodles of open sites (50+) as of last night they were down to 4 long enough for us.  I hadn’t been planning on reservations but decided that safer is better than sorry.

We’d had so much nice weather in Milwaukee that we needed a little fog to just to even us out.  Most of Saturday was spent in the fog — literally and figuratively.  Sunday was overcast and windy — much of it a headwind.  But when I get it in my head to get something done…

It’s funny how you forget little things; parts of your routine when you do them regularly, embarrassing or startling moments when you forget them.  For example, there is the matter of our over-the-door awning.  It’s a Carefree of Colorado unit and for whatever reason when the wind is right the vertical arms vibrate harmonically with the windspeed.  The noise they make can be quite frightening if you don’t know what it is.  We have encountered this before and simply wrapping a piece of velcro around both the upright and the bracket on the outer-wall of the coach stops the vibration completely.  But only when you remember to do it.  If you extend the awning and forget to wrap it — zowey!  What a noise!

I’m sure we all have our regular routines — and sometimes we forget this or that portion of the routine.  We used to go through a checklist — now I think we lost the checklist.  Such is life.  That awning straps were the only thing we know we forgot.  I wonder what we’ll discover tomorrow?

Ok — that’s enough for two days.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary, Travel

In Search Of…

Part of our mission whilst RV’ing is to figure out for ourselves what blend of wilderness/city services/and culture the two of us require to stay happy and function as productive senior citizens.   If you’ve been paying attention you’ll realize that most of the time we settle into campsites that are outside of metropolitan areas — our exceptions being camping out at the RV dealer in Junction City, and at Shamrock RV park in Springfield.  There have been a few nights of staying with Uncle WallyWorld in towns as well.  But most of the time we have been at least 10 miles from any kind of community; sometimes much further.

I pretty much view each of these stops along the way as experiments.  All our lives we lived in close proximity to cities; and we enjoyed the benefits of city living all the while complaining (to ourselves) about congestion, crime, etc., etc., etc.   For a short time, early in our married life we lived in Swanton OH — population 3,000 and we quickly realized we were spending all our time traveling to Toledo and back — our local stores not having the things we wanted.   And all the way along our married life we have taken road trips on weekends and for any single day excuse we could think of.   I guess in some ways we haven’t yet learned our lesson about how much we need the city and how long we can go before getting antsy.

We know folks who Gate Guard as a workamper experience and I don’t think I’m up for that.  Those gigs are 24hours on, 7 days a week, time split between you as a couple and almost always located out in some remote patch of nothingness — for that we are not ready.  But we have learned to  be reasonably efficient with out use of water and wastewater storage so it’s not hard to stay in one place for a couple to several weeks at a time.    What we have not learned is how to spend two weeks or more at one place without getting in the car and going somewhere.  And after a couple years I think that’s possibly telling me something.

Perhaps we never will.
Perhaps we as RV’ers were never meant to do so.
There is no right way to RV.
We’ll see how we feel about being stationary after spending a few months in S. Texas.

GoodwillTuesday the skies were clear, the breeze was calm,  and the weather warm. We’ve been reading up a storm.  Since I have an aversion to spending lots of $$$$ to buy books that will take me less than 48 hours to read, I was up for a visit to the local Goodwill store.

Grenada isn’t big enough for it’s own Goodwill so we went looking for one — actually just an excuse for a ride around the area.  So up to Oxford and Batesville and back to Grenada.

We were successful on a couple fronts.APBS-polish-wheel There was a Home Depot store in Oxford!  That meant another chance to find a polishing wheel to use with my drill for re-polishing the plexiglass covers on our  CR-V. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the hinges we want for the cabinet doors. We found plenty of hinges but not the hidden hinge, euro style that we need.  I have resolved that I will wait until we get to San Benito at which time I’ll call Guaranty RV and have them send me two sets of hinges when we know we’ll be in one place long enough to have it reach us before we move on.

It seems one of our cabinet hinges has broken a spring

I’m Still looking for a replacement hinge, but we’ll have to wait a little longer

We found two Goodwill stores, and loaded up on paperbacks @ $1.99 each.  By the time were were done we had 10 books and that ought to hold me until we get to San Benito!  After not having time to read anything for almost a year I’m making up for that dearth of literature with a vengeance!!!!!

Chicken, Chicken, who’s got the Chicken

In the meantime, Peggy’s been jonseing for some fried chicken.  Now on the topic of fried chicken we have very serious opinions.  On the road in the upper Midwest we have good luck with the Pizza Ranch broasted chicken. We never did find fried chicken that we liked on the Oregon Coast and when we are in Milwaukee our go to source has always been Gold Rush Chicken in Bayviewgold rush chicken. But here, there were none of our fav’s.

What there are, are Church’s and Popeyes, but it’s been so long since we tried either that we decided on a face-to-face taste test.  And therein likes another story…

I’m not sure what’s happened but Popeyes isn’t the same Popeye’s I’ve known.  We saw a Popeyes’ store in Batesville — but it didn’t look the samepopeyes chicken.  Since when is Popeyes Chicken called Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen?  We went inside and ordered a 2 piece meal to split between us and …. wait…. wait…. It was hard to find the SPICY part of their menu.  Popeyes always had spicy chicken. But now they buried the option way over on the corner of the menu where it’s hard to see.  argh.   The two stores don’t look the same.

popeyes store

the new look?

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The Old Look?

I did some research on Wiki and it appears that they are one and the same.  The product though (once we found the spicy offering)  was just we remembered and delightfully moist!

Then to make our face-to-face test work we stopped at the nearest Church’s — in Grenada and bought some more.  Their Mac & Cheese is pretty good.  Not so sure about the red beans and rice, and this was the first time I remember having coleslaw made with ground up dill picklesChurchs_Chicken.  Bottom line for us, however, was Popeyes.  We just like Popeyes better than Church’s.

Now, to all those died-in-the-wool Southerners who may have cut their teeth on fried chicken I’m not saying that any of these are GREAT fried chicken. But, you see we have a snag.   I don’t do deep fat frying in the coach! — so when we get a hunger for fried chicken it’s got to be bought fried chicken from some source — and often (as a traveler) that means our final result will be the lesser of two evils.

Other chores

In the meantime I got my wiper blades installed. And I made a couple blocks to hold our bedside windows open.  I’m sure you RV’ers probably have windows very much like ours — a mixture of side-sliders and double-hung — but the double-hung windows only have a single stay open catch — opening the window all the way.  We, on the other hand like to sleep with our two bedside windows cracked open, not all the way open.  So a small block of wood, 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ x 4″ set on top of the bottom window and beneath the upper-window frame gives us three lesser open settings.  Just what we wanted.

I’m still pondering that lounge cabinet.  Maybe tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary

We’re not in Milwaukee anymore, Toto…

First full day at a new location is usually devoted, at least partially, to reconnoitering.  Our first day in Grenada was no different.

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Frozen Frogs Legs (From China no less) Don’t we have enough local frogs?

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I’ve never seen large economy sized packages of Catfish filets in a Milwaukee store — this single store had three different varieties of bulk packages.

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Ok — everyone likes smoked meats. Right? I’ll have you know that here you can buy not only smoked MEAT — but also smoked SKIN — just for flavoring purposes. 🙂

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And then…. there were the Turkey Tails. Nicely smoked, packaged 5 to a tray for all your smoked turkey tail needs…

I have this  “thing” about going to grocery stores  in new locations.  I don’t mean to buy provisions — at the moment our larder is pretty well supplied.  I mean just to snoop.  What do people here eat?  How do they season?  What’s to be found on the shelves in a strange grocery store that  we can’t find on the shelves in our old, familiar groceries?

We found a lot of interesting things on Thursday — but I only bothered to shoot four meat items.  If you knew how many different foodstuffs I get excited about you might think me really weird.

It’s an interesting town, we found.  I was surprised that we didn’t find a large Kroger, or Food Lion, or Safeway, or some such store.  We did find a Sav-a-Lot store,  and a Grocery Basket Spain’s grocery. All were quite small stores for a city of 12,900.

And then we found out about the Walmart store in town.  Yup — that old Killer-of-local-businesses is here too in their usual SuperCenter type store with bright lights and low prices.

We took a look around town, and like a lot of small-town-america Grenada is having a hard time.  Most of their business district is empty or abandoned — there’s lots going on out on the highway, but the historic district looks pretty woebegone.

My experience of Mississippi is quite limited.  30 years ago I found myself traversing the highways here quite a bit — I spent a few years as an over-the-road driver and I saw a lot of this state.  SAW being the operative word.  I passed by.  I never had much time to sit and attend to what might be around me.  I loaded and unloaded and traversed the state; I slept overnight in truckstops and I ate meals in any restaurant that had a parking lot big enough to park my truck near.  My overwhelming impression of the state at that time was one of poverty, and inequality, and of depression.

I have to say that 30 years later things look a lot different.  Mind you, we haven’t been in this state for even 24 hours — so I’m not qualified to say much more, nor would I dream of doing so.  But I have to say that life from a 23 hour window looks a lot better here now than then.  On the scale of which states are the most dependent on the federal government for spending there’s huge difference between Wisconsin and Mississippi.  Wisconsin taxpayers get $1.84 back from Uncle Sam for every tax dollar they contribute to the Federal coffers (ranking 20th on the scale of feeding at the federal trough).  Mississippi on the other hand pulls in a whopping $3.02 (ranking as top dog – ahead of all other states).  Federal funding is almost 46% of their state revenue.

The Corps of Engineeers project here is a good example of how the money is spent.  This is the cleanest, nicest, facility we have visited of all the Corps campgrounds we have stayed at.  It’s mild enough that the Corps keeps camp hosts here year round — as with the Forest Service at the Oregon Dunes, it’s cheaper to let a camp host stay here through the winter, servicing the few campers that come through than to repair the vandalism that would have been done in an empty facility.  Good use of MY tax dollars I think! 🙂

I’ll admit I have mixed feelings about being here.  I have been looking forward to four weeks in LA — just kicking-back-time.  But there’s this thing about going someplace you don’t know when you’re already in a place you really like.  So, we have until Sunday (our original stay-till registration date) to decide whether or not to re-up for a few more days.  Bayou Segnette is just across the river from New Orleans, while Grand Isle is located at a veritable Land’s End location.  I do want to visit both — but whether it will be 2 weeks at each within the next month or not is up for grabs right now.

2014101615491101Where we are — this physical site — is an ideal place for me to tear into the basement storage bays and make some sense out of them.  But we’ll see how many other projects I get into, or whether I’m just happy putting my feet up and working on another good book.  Only time will tell.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow!

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