Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Shopping Trip...

Other than the grocery store, we don't do a lot of shopping. It's just not one of our favorite things to do. But, every once in a while, we break down.

We started out today at the Napa Store where Forry picked up some parts he had been looking for. From there we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond. I needed a new squeegee for the shower and we had been looking for an electric sweeper to use in the coach. We found both of those, plus some new hand towels for the bathroom. I also found a few other things -- BB&B is a dangerous place to shop!

From there we went to the Corelle/Corningware Store at Tanger Outlets where we bought two dinner plates and a lunch plate to replace the ones that got broken the last time we forgot to put the bars in the dish cupboard while moving...

And finally to Winn-Dixie to pick up milk for Forry's breakfast cereal. I can never run into a grocery store for just one thing, so forty-nine dollars later I was carrying my bags back out to the Toad where Forry was catching a quick nap. And darn, I forgot to look for avocados for our salads!

We talked about hitting one of the BBQ joints for dinner on the way home, but Forry noticed a Church's Chicken just across the street from Winn-Dixie. He was hungry, so we decided just to go through their drive-thru and eat on the way home. You can tell we're in the south -- it's the first time we've ever had fried okra instead of fries,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Making Reservations

Forry and I usually fly pretty much by the seat of our pants. We're not real in to making reservations, partially because we don't like to plan that far ahead. But, we realize we are in unfamiliar territory at a very busy time of year. So the last week or so, we've been looking through the various directories looking for where we might want to stay during December.

We have some friends in Tallahassee that we'd like to visit, so we were looking for a place near there. Through our home resort, Neskowin Creek in Oregon, we have memberships in both Resorts of Distinction and (ROD) Resort Parks International (RPI). ROD only has a couple of parks in Florida, but RPI has quite a few. We finally decided to try Pine Lake RV Park near Fountain. Unfortunately, while it is an RPI park, it is not an RPI Preferred park.  Which means we could only stay there one week using the $10 per night rate (plus their $5 per night electricity charge!) instead of the usual two weeks.

But, that will work. If we leave Styx River on December 6th, we would be at Pine Lake until the 13th. Then we want to be somewhere fairly close to our friends Bill and Leslie who are settled in at Mouse Mountain RV Park near Disney World. I spent some time on the Internet checking reviews on RV Parks in the Orlando area. A couple of the ones we looked at in the RPI directory had some very poor reviews. It seems that many of the membership RV Parks are old and in need of renovation! (We've run into that several times!)

We finally made reservations for two weeks at Bee's RV Park near Clermont. It had some pretty good reviews and the pictures on the Internet looked nice. We'll stay there until the 27th and then most likely start heading down the towards the Keys.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fort Morgan, Alabama

Fort Morgan sits on the westernmost tip of the peninsula that encloses the bottom portion of Mobile Bay in Alabama. Mobile Bay is on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. The fort was completed following the War of 1812 when Congress realized how vulnerable the US coastlines were. This building was built to house the Fort Morgan Museum after the fort was deactivated and turned over to the State of Alabama.

The brick fortifications were mostly destroyed during the Civil War by rifled cannon and steam-powered warships. This was pretty much proven in 1864 when Admiral D.G. Farragut led his fleet past the guns of the fort into Mobile Bay with the loss of only one ship. (This was when he gave his famous order, "Damn the torpedoes (mines), full speed ahead!") That ship, the ironclad Tecumseh, was struck by a exploding mine (then called torpedoes) and sunk within a minute thus disproving the view that the ironclads were invincible...

Concrete batteries were built following the Civil War from 1896 to 1905. These batteries were manned during the Spanish-American War and World War I.

Some of the powder magazines below the gun batteries still exist --

 Fort Morgan was mainly used as a training base during the World War I. It was deactivated and put into caretaker status in 1923; then reactivated and manned in 1941. In 1946 it was again deactivated and turned over to the State of Alabama.

Looking out over Mobile Bay from the top of one of the batteries --

There are a lot of what we assumed were oil platforms and other rigs in the Bay --

The last time we drove along the Gulf Coast a year or so after Katrina, there wasn't much left of any of the beach houses except for some of the pillars they had been built on. The trees that were left were mostly broken and bare. Some of the shoreline still looks that way --


But most of it is once again built up with beach houses that look like pastel confections --


I think that there must be a rule that says your vacation home must be painted a color that looks edible!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A VERY, VERY, Rainy Day

It rained hard during the night; then this morning, it POURED! And then it poured some more! We had planned to head down to the western most portion of Alabama on Mobile Bay today to Fort Morgan, but it was way too wet outside!

About three-thirty or so the rain slacked off so we were able to go for a short walk around the RV park. There are probably thirty or so of these little rental cabins scattered around the park. Most of them seemed to be occupied this holiday weekend.

I've seen lots of these pyracantha bushes around the property --

I love the red berries!

It was so wet and nasty out today, even the vultures weren't flying..

As we walked back towards Auntie Violet, the clouds lightened up  and we could see some blue sky

through the trees. The remaining clouds were turned golden by the setting sun --

Unfortunately, the break in the clouds did not last and tonight it is again intermittently raining hard. The weather channel shows the storm heading northeast and out to sea. It can hurry up and do it as far as I am concerned!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Checking out the Area

Styx River RV Resort is an older, pretty large RV park. It looks like there are around 250 spaces along with several park models and cabins. As you can see, the lots aren't real big and the ground surface is mostly dirt --

It was nice enough yesterday that Auntie Violet put her awning out (the wind was gusty this morning, so she put it back in before we left...).

We took a drive this afternoon to find a grocery store and the check out the country a bit. We ran into this field --

of cotton that hadn't been picked yet. This is the first time we've seen an unharvested field. We saw several other fields that had been picked and had big stacks of pressed cotton covered with tarps along their edges.

The soil here is very red. We saw a bunch of guys around this area of red dirt and stopped to see what was going on. Turns out they were racing little radio-controlled cars around this very hilly track. Forry tried to get a picture of the cars, but they were going so fast he couldn't get one! Note that there were NO children racing these little cars -- they were all grown men!

We did find a nice Winn-Dixie store in Fairhope and picked up some blueberries and orange juice. From there we drove over towards Mobile Bay. We got occasional glimpses of the water, but most of the shoreline is occupied by big houses with large fenced off yards in front of them. It was starting to get dark, so we headed back towards the River Styx with a stop at Ruby Tuesday for a seafood supper.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The River Styx

"Charon, in Greek mythology, is the ferryman of the dead. The souls of the deceased are brought to him by Hermes, and Charon ferries them across the River Styx. He only accepts the dead which are buried or burned with the proper rites, and if they pay him an coin for their passage. For that reason a corpse had always a coin placed under the tongue.
Those who cannot afford the passage, or are not admitted by Charon, are doomed to wander on the banks of the Styx for a hundred years."

When we first were looking for RV Resorts in Alabama, I had to laugh when we found that the one we were making reservations at was the River Styx Resort. When I told Forry the story of the old Greek myth, he got a chuckle out of it as well. Today we took a walk down this old stairway to visit the River Styx --

Coming down the bank, you could glimpse it between the trees --

There were lots of fallen tree branches and sand bars in the quiet stream. (We looked, but never saw Charon...or even his ferry...)

 One of the trees we saw along the stream bed on our hike was this holly tree --

As well as many palmettos --

And as it started to get dark, the buzzards returned, heading for their roosts --

Other than our walk to the river, we spent a fairly quiet day. I washed all of the dish towels and clothes that I managed to use yesterday as well as a load of shirts. Forry drained the grey water and added water to the batteries. I hadn't made a great deal of food yesterday, but we did finish off what leftovers there were.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Happy & Blessed Thanksgiving to All

Happy Thanksgiving!

It was a lovely day today. We have caught up with Fall -- some of the trees here are just turning their Fall colors --

This one, just outside Auntie Violet's door has these beautiful shades of red and yellow --

We had a quiet day today, sort of eating our way through it. We started with crab cocktails about lunch time, followed up with pecan pie. Later this evening we had our roast chicken, dressing and caramelized sweet potatoes.

Forry has been kidding me about these extra guests that show up towards evening every day --

This turkey vulture is one of a fairly large flock that roost in the trees at the edge of the RV park --

How many can you count in the picture above? (I can count at least five...)

Note the red head typical of the turkey vulture in the picture above. The one on the right below is most likely a black vulture which doesn't have that red featherless head. It seems to be a mixed flock of the two types. We've counted at least twenty of them circling before they come into roost.

It was a bit chillier today. A cold front came through and I don't think it got much above 75 degrees this afternoon. We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade this morning, then the National Dog Show. I've just realized that Forry has not watched a single football game!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Day Before Thanksgiving...

And all through the house --

The roasting chicken is thawing in the refrigerator (even the little turkeys were all so big!),
The pecan pie ($8.84 for enough pecan halves for a pie!) is cooling on the counter,
The crab cocktail (a VERY small batch!) is mellowing its flavors in the fridge as well,
The celery and onions for the dressing are chopped,
The bread for the dressing is torn into pieces,
Butter for the bird -- and other things -- is out on the counter.

Not a whole lot more I can do today!

As I anticipated last night, we slept in this morning, only getting up in time to watch The View. We were relaxing last night watching the finals of Dancing With the Stars (Yeah, JR won!), when the Severe Weather Alarm went off on the NOAA weather radio! Nothing like its "BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!" to get your attention. We were right in the path of a raging thunderstorm that swept through the Gulf Coast area of Alabama! It POURED rain, accented with bolts of lightning and booms of thunder right over the top of us!

Fortunately, the storm only lasted a couple of hours and we were finally able to see a star or two in the night sky. After it passed, it was MUGGY and still hot. With the bedroom windows open, we were finally able to get to sleep.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mississippi, Louisiana, Mississippi, ALABAMA!

We got an early start this morning (even for us), leaving Movietown RV Park in Canton and heading south on Interstate 65. Our GPS Sally really wanted us to go east on I-20 and argued with us almost half the way -- she so wanted us to cut across to the other side of the state and go down I-69!

This is a small portion of the VERY large automobile factory just outside of Canton. Opened up just a few years ago, it has a great deal to do with the improved economy in this part of Mississippi --

The Nissan factory covers acres of property and is its own small town --

It was an overcast day. We had an occasional drizzle, but seemed to be running just behind the real rain storm. There was lots of water on the road being sprayed up by the trucks. As we left the North Delta area of  Mississippi, we were no longer in farmland, but in the pine barrens.

We drove south through Mississippi and into Louisiana, driving north of Lake Pontchartrain on I-12 until it changed into I-10 and took us back through the 'heel' of Mississippi along the Gulf Coast. What a different looking route it was from the first time we had driven it following Katrina. You have to really look to see some of the broken-off trees still visible amongst the greenery. It felt sort of funny to see the sign pointing towards Pass Christian, which was where our folks from Menno did our first service with Mennonite Disaster Service following the hurricanes.

It was a l-o-n-g day, we had driven twice as far as we normally do when we finally crossed into Alabama. It was another fifty-three miles, close to four-thirty and almost dark when we found our site at Styx River RV Park. I don't think anyone will be getting up very early tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Out 'n About

We took the Toad out this afternoon to look for an auto parts store to find a battery water filler (makes it easier to fill the ones in the back...).

As we came out of the road leading to Movietown RV Park, we saw the men on this water tower. We thought at first they were washing it --

Then we realized they were actually painting it. It's going to go from that light bluish color to white. Can you imagine being that guy who's swinging below the curve with a paint roller?

 After we got the gadget for filling the batteries, we went to a Kroger's. It was a bit further north towards Jackson in Madison. I couldn't find any information -- other than the usual demographic and early history stuff -- about this town, but it looked like it had all been built within the last few years. And all of the buildings were pretty fancy and ornate.

Does this look like the usual grocery store to you?

I did read in Wikipedia that Madison has the highest per-capita income in the State of Mississippi. It sure showed in this grocery store. I think the only one I've ever seen that was bigger and had more stuff was a Whole Foods store we had gone to with Leslie and Bill.

We had another of those gorgeous Mississippi sunsets tonight. This is looking west from the Kroger parking lot. Note the fancy pediments on the roofs of these other pretty ornate buildings.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Once Again, We Head South

My have times changed! We are watching the American Music Awards and just watched Jennifer Lopez' performance. Maybe 'cause we were just at Graceland a couple of weeks ago and saw, once again, the tapes of the Ed Sullivan show where they were SO CAREFUL to ONLY show Elvis from the waist up. Anyway, the dance -- and the costume -- Jennifer did -- and almost wore -- was just plain lewd! To say nothing of some of the rest of the performers!

When I made a comment to that effect, Forry reminded me that it had been over fifty years ago when Elvis caused all that furor... Boy, nothing can take the wind out of your sails faster than a remark like that!

We got ourselves organized this morning, packed up and left the Mid-South RV Resort after our eight night stay, once again heading south towards the Gulf Coast. It was a very grey, overcast day. The clouds were hanging so low, it was almost foggy.  The automatic lights along the Interstate 55 S were still on. The buzzards weren't even flying -- we saw at least a half dozen of them just sitting, looking miserable, in a field.

I found an RV park about halfway down the state of Mississippi near Canton called Movietown RV Resort. I called to make sure they were open (although that no longer seems to be an issue this far south). The lady assured me they were open and had plenty of room. Since there were only directions listed in the Woodall's book, I asked her for an address for the GPS. She gave me the address of the church 'right across the street,' but never mentioned that the office was not open today.

When we arrived at the RV Park, we, indeed, found that there was no one at the office.  There was a box on the side wall with maps and envelopes and instructions to put our money in the envelope and put it through the slot in the bottom of the office door.  The map showed a couple of X'd out sites that "had electrical issues," but stated that all of the sites had 30 & 50 amp electricity, water and sewer. We drove into the park, found a nice drive-through site and got ourselves parked and settled. It was so wonderfully warm that we actually had all the windows open and the fans on until it got dark.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting Ready to Move On

Preventive maintenance isn't Forry's favorite thing, but today he was out checking the air pressure in the tires on the Toad --

 We're planning to leave here in the morning and start heading on down towards the Gulf Coast:

While he had his air compressor out, Forry checked all of the tires -- and added a bit of air to a couple -- on Auntie Violet as well --

I spent most of the day doing laundry, that never-ending task. I made a pot of chili for supper that I served along with biscuits.

I have been chatting with my friend Cathi in Spokane off and on since last night about the three inches of snow at her place in Spokane. The conversation widened to Sharla near Menno and Mary in Warden. Sounds like it is snowing or trying to snow all over that portion of eastern Washington. I was gritching about the wind here in Mississippi, but at least it's in the seventies.

I want to give a "shout-out" to my great-neice Ellie today -- she's celebrating her second birthday! Happy Birthday Ellie Jane!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two States -- To Get Groceries?!

This morning we watched Juni and Tom go down the road --

and leave the RV Park here in Tunica are their way to Red Bay, Alabama and the Allegro Bay factory where they are going to have some warranty work done.

We were out of orange juice, so went into the Piggly-Wiggly in Tunica. I wanted to re-stock some staples for the kitchen as well as pick up a few things for next week. The prices were extremely high; the vegetables all looked wilted; and the meat department area smelled bad. I decided that I'd much drive the extra twenty miles to the Krogers that the GPS had shown.

I always forget that the GPS shows mileage as the crow flies... It was more like 30-35 miles! It was a nice drive through what they call the North Delta country. We saw this line-up of what looked like round bales.  But, when we got closer, we realized

that they were actually tightly packed bales of cotton. Quite a bit different looking then the boxcar-sized rectangles of cotton we saw in fields in Arizona last winter.

Not much later we found ourselves crossing this narrow two-lane bridge over the mighty Mississippi River into the State of Arkansas. The store in Helena, Arkansas that the GPS said was a Kroger, no longer was. It still wasn't great, but it was a lot better than the one in Tunica.

We got back to Mid-South RV Park just as the sun was setting --

These first two pictures were taken facing east --

While this one was towards the west --

Sunsets in Mississippi are gorgeous!