Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sweet Rhome Alabama

Curtiss NC-4
Pensacola Lighthouse
USS Alabama Memorial Park Aircraft
Plane damaged by Katrina (tail is gone)

Jimmy in the Brig
Inside the 16" Gun Turret
Live Oaks & Azaleas

While in Alabama we went to see the Navy's Blue Angels at Pensacola Naval Air Station and visited the Navy Aviation Museum. The Blue Angels practice their show two days a week and it is open to the public. It was great to be able to see them without the huge crowd airshows draw. The museum has a large number of Naval aircraft from early flying boats to the latest jets. Some of the oldest planes are the same ones we saw at the Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York last August. We also saw the Pensacola Lighthouse located on the base. We toured the battleship USS Alabama which is part of a large memorial park in Mobile. The tour was self directed and allowed us to go into all areas of the ship. The park had a submarine, a collection of aircraft and memorials honoring veterans. Many of the planes had been badly damaged by Katrina. We took a bike ride and found a beautiful street lined with live oaks and azaleas in the little town of Magnolia Springs. We also found a nice restaurant, Jesse's, where we ended up going twice. We learned from Richard the origins of mistletoe. It grows like Spanish moss and air ferns on a host tree. I am sorry I did not get a picture of Richard with a ten foot branch knocking a piece of it out of the tree. We really enjoyed our time in Alabama and doing things with Valerie and Richard.

Friday, March 21, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth

We are still at the Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, Alabama doing a few chores on the motorhome. Just like a sticks and bricks house there is always something that needs attention. The biggest job was washing and waxing the motorhome but it looks great now that it is done. We have been doing other routine maintenance things and just like working on a house accidents will happen. While changing a part on the water heater a wrench slipped and I got a short but very deep cut on the back of my hand. This resulted in our first trip to the emergency room since becoming full timers for two stitches and a tetanus shot. Another couple staying in the campground are Richard and Valerie Frayer who we met at the Escapade in Goshen last September. They have been on the road about the same amount of time as we have so it was a chance for us to compare notes. We all agree that it is a wonderful way of life. Val makes really beautiful and unique jewelery to sell at festivals and was here for a big arts and craft show in Fairhope. Yesterday, to celebrate the first day of spring, the four of us toured the Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Walter Bellingrath owned the Coca Cola bottling plant in Mobile and had the home and gardens built in the 1930's. The gardens were opened to the public while the family still lived there and the home was opened following their deaths. One of the unique things about the house is that it is filled with all the original possessions and furnishings of the owners and remains exactly as it did when they were living there. The gardens have various types of plants so there is always something blooming 365 days a year. Right now, of course, the spring flowers are in full bloom with the azaleas being the main attraction.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Farewell to Florida

Juniper Lake
Lake DeFuniak
National Registry Home

Hall of Brotherhood
Giant Magnolia

We finally figured out how to overcome the sleep disruption that goes with daylight savings time and no, it was not to retire. On Saturday we traveled from the Eastern to the Central time zone and lost an hour. On Sunday the clocks sprang ahead and we got that hour back. The days are no longer but when we wake up it is still our usual time not one hour later. We spent a couple of days at the Juniper Lake RV Campground in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. We had a great time there with the very friendly owners, Bill and Donna. They go out of their way to make you feel at home. They are usually on the deck, which overlooks the lake, with coffee in the morning and there was a beer tap to fuel an afternoon gab fest. They also invited us to go out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant with a few other couples from the campground. The company was great, the food was wonderful and the margaritas were HUGE. This was by far the best campground experience we have had. The town was also very interesting with over 250 buildings on the National Historical Registry. Many of the homes are built near a perfectly round spring fed lake that was formed by a meteor. It is also the home of the second Chautauqua in the United States founded in 1880. The original Hall of Brotherhood is still there though it was damaged in recent hurricanes and is being repaired. Another site of interest is the huge 100 year old magnolia tree that is 52' high and 78' across. After travelling over 1800 miles in Florida we are now at an Escapees park, Rainbow Plantation, in Summerdale Alabama. They cater to full timers and allow you to work on your rig so we will be here for a couple of weeks with the plan of giving the motor home a good bath, a wax job and doing some other household projects.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Forgotten Coast

Laid Back
Forgotten Coast Sunrise
Hurricane Damage
Camp Gordon Johnson Museum
Crooked River Lighthouse
Rebuilding Cape St. George Lighthouse
Apalachicola Shrimp Boat
Gulls on the Oyster Shells

After spending a couple of days at Econfina River Resort we are now at the Ho Hum RV Park on the Forgotten Coast near Carrabelle, Florida. We have a beautiful site overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. We have enjoyed these two campgrounds and are glad to be away from the one big strip mall that is much of Florida. This area was hard hit by Hurricane Dennis in the summer of 2005 before Katrina hit the gulf coast. There are still many homes and other buildings that have not been repaired. We drove through Alligator Point and St. George Island two areas hard hit by the storm. Both of these towns are very different from other Florida coastal areas with many small beach cottages and no high rise condos. They reminded us of the way the Outer Banks were thirty years ago when we first visited there. The area is also the site of the former Camp Gordon Johnson where, during WWII, troops were trained for amphibious landings including divisions that participated in the D-Day assault at Omaha Beach. There is a museum and a yearly reunion for those who were stationed here. There are a couple of lighthouses nearby. The Crooked River Lighthouse is constructed differently than others we have seen with an outside metal frame holding the center tower in place. The Cape St. George Lighthouse is being rebuilt after falling into the gulf during a hurricane. They are using the original plans, many of the old bricks and the lantern room that was saved from the water. We toured Apalachicola where many old Victorian homes and the downtown buildings have been renovated. It is one of many harbors for shrimp, oyster and other fishing boats. The fresh seafood has been fantastic. While sitting in a restaurant eating oysters yesterday we watched as many bags of them were being transferred from the trucks of the oystermen to trailer trucks for distribution. We have had a couple of changes in our travel plans because Nanc's brother is no longer in El Paso and young John Yanni is getting married in Jamaica in July. We will be going to San Antonio, then to the northern end of the Grand Canyon and the national parks of Utah. We will then go to Washington to visit Nanc's brother Dave and his family. Around the 4th of July we will be at the Escapees Rally in Gillette, Wyoming and then will fly out of Denver to Jamaica for the wedding. After returning to Colorado we will tour the Rockies before heading toward Wash PA in the fall. One of the great things about this life style is the ability to change plans when something comes up.