It was time for our annual trek to Red Bay, Alabama, home of our Tiffin Motorhome, named Tiffany after our precious tween dachshund (1982-2006). We had a few pressing things Bill wanted to get done and if the weather cooperated, we would go this winter in March, rather than May. We didn’t set any winter travel expectations – it depended on the weather. And it looked like the weather would cooperate. As with most full time RVers, we avoid snow and freezing weather. But we never thought we had to consider tornados in March!!! This post will be in three parts: 1) RV repairs/maintenance/remodeling; 2) Hiking in Tishomingo State Park; 3) Weather issues such as a tornado!
On February 26, 2018, we drove from Gunter Hill US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) Campground to Foscue Creek Park COE, Demopolis, Alabama. It was an ideal distance, just under 100 miles and only took two hours 15 minutes. It was ideal, State Highway 80 in rural Alabama.
Friends had highly recommended it since it has full hook ups and is only $13/night with our America the Beautiful pass. (NOTE: the price went up $1 on March 1 and they expect another price increase soon.) Bill took a look at the map and decided it would help get us in a better position to drive up to Red Bay, Alabama. See our map in our last post here to see our route. Continue Reading
Last winter, we discovered Gunter Hill Park, Montgomery, Alabama, an US Army Corps of Engineers Campground (COE). It met all of our basic requirements for a long stay, so it was tentatively penciled in for this winter. It depended on the weather and our hopes to make it up to Red Bay, Alabama. The weather turned out to be good enough for us to make it happen. We’re glad we have been “winterized” as we’ve adapted to a cooler winter than most “snowbirds” seek when they head to Florida or Arizona for the winter.
We departed Ft. Pickens on 1/16 and stayed at Gunter Hill Park for 10 days until 1/26. Friends highly recommended Fescue Creek Park, it fit our route nicely. We were there from 1/26-3/1/2018. The distances and times are in the caption of the map, which were all about perfect for how Bill prefers to drive. And it’s really about all my body can stand as well! We both have the common age-related lower back aches but it seems to bother me more than Bill – or else I just am more vocal. I can at least get up and move around a little while he is driving. Continue Reading
Wow, it’s been a month since we last updated our winter travelogue! As we said in an earlier post, click here if you missed it, we really weren’t sure what our travels plans would look like this winter – so we’re glad we didn’t set any expectations. This past month has been a whirlwind.
We love the beach and knew we wanted to spend a month on the beautiful beaches off of the Gulf of Mexico. This much we knew and planned back in July. My mom lives in the panhandle with my oldest sister so we knew this was a primary destination in January. To get good sites for the two weeks in each location, you have to reserve six months ahead. First stop is Topsail Hill State Preserve Park Gregory E. Moore RV Campground.
This year, we arrived on January 16 and stayed until January 30, 2018. Two weeks is allowed per camper in the Florida State Parks. Once I get as old as Bill, we can stay for a month here, two weeks under his driver’s license (proof of Florida Residency and our age) and two under mine. But no rush! LOL
Here is a slide show to put things in perspective a bit:
So now you may see why this is a favorite destination for us! We fell in love with it our first visit in March 2015. We talked to a couple there who were work campers. It sounded like something we would like to do. My mom would only be an hour or so away so we could spend a month or two or three here! We interviewed for the job and it looked like we were in….but then the Ranger who “hired” us (it’s a volunteer job with free “rent” in exchange) ended up changing jobs before we could cinch the deal. We’ve pretty much decided it probably wouldn’t have worked out for us….😢
This year, we had a real treat – something we have wanted for a while, to bring a grandson on another road trip! We had our oldest grandson, Colin, with us for ten days in Myrtle Beach soon after his brother, Bryce was born. We wrote a little about that wonderful time here, in case you missed it. We cherished that time with him and look forward to another journey with him. Our decision to go get our youngest, he’s nearly 2 1/2 years old now, was a bit spontaneous. We had to have a luxury car just for situations like this. So the biggest downside of Topsail for us is it’s a LONG way from our grandsons (and their beloved parents)! So this month, we drove our car 2,300 miles to get him and return him, taking us 36 hours of driving time! But it was so worth it. Both of our grandsons also love the beach so we look forward to many more fun travel days ahead!
We really weren’t sure how Bryce would travel. Thankfully, he did great as long as we let him out to stretch his legs every few hours. He’s potty trained so it helped us make sure he got his exercise. He is also a GREAT sleeper, needing 2 to 3 hour naps and he sleeps 10 to 12 hours a night. So we got the rest we needed as well.
Bryce was actually only at this location for one week. Bill and I had a week here by ourselves when we decided to go get him. Then it was time to move closer to see my mom and sister, only about 65 miles away, still on the Gulf of Mexico.
On January 30, 2018, we moved onto Fort Pickens Campground on the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park. We stayed here last year, but didn’t discover it until near the end of my time with my mom. We wrote about our time in the Florida Panhandle – when we discovered this treasure – written about here.
I drove Bryce in the car and we left ahead of Bill so he could disconnect everything without a little “helper.” If you know what we mean! Bryce and I stopped in to see my mom, sister and her dog Ruby before we met Bill at the campground. Bryce is my mom’s 7th great grand child. It was time she met him.
We arrived here in Fort Pickens on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Our reservation was for two weeks, ending on February 13. My mom saw Bryce twice, but fortunately it was before she was contagious. Mom wasn’t feeling very good our third day there, so I went to see her alone. Sadly, my mom had contracted the flu and was hospitalized that night. The hospital was close by, so I spent two days visiting her there – and then I came down with it! What a miracle neither Bill, Bryce nor my sister caught it.
So how did I get sick while Bill and Bryce were OK? As soon as my symptoms started, I saw a doctor and was put on Tamiflu – was told to rest for a week and wear a mask. It was recommended Bill get on it as well, so his doctor got him started. And then I wore a surgical mask to keep the germs to myself. I also wore it in the hospital, but I must have contracted it before she was in the hospital. (Do you think I rested? Oh how I wanted to….)
We arrived here in Fort Pickens on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Our reservation was for two weeks, ending on February 13. She had two days to see Bryce, but fortunately it was before she was contagious. Mom wasn’t feeling very good our third day there, so I went to see her alone. Sadly, my mom had contracted the flu and was hospitalized for five days. The hospital was close by, so I spent two days visiting her – and then I came down with it! What a miracle neither Bill, Bryce nor my sister caught it.
Using FaceTime, Bryce spoke to and saw his mom, dad, brother and his doggie, Ollie, every night. He especially was excited to talk to Ollie and kissed him good night! He really loves dogs. All good things had to come to an end, so it was time to get him home. Since I was still sick, our daughter decided to fly to Atlanta and we meet her there to return him. Bryce enjoyed the airport and was so happy to see his mom. He wouldn’t let go of her for a minute – except to hug us good bye! We loved our time with him in spite of me being sick.
We knew we needed to extend our time here so I could see my mom more. Sadly, this very popular campground was booked, but miraculously we found a really good site back in Campground A – where we stayed last year. At first, only two nights were available – then we checked it the next day and managed to get three nights in a row on the same site.
There are a few of downsides to Fort Pickens. Mainly, it only has water and electric, no sewer. Last year in Campground A, we were close to the dump station, so Bill just carried a five pound bucket of gray water over each day. And we were right by the showers. But in Campground E, we were as far as you could be from the dump station. So he broke down and bought a blue tote tank. Sadly, the weather was so cold here our first week or so, we didn’t use the bathhouse – besides it wasn’t that close to us either.
This is a National Park, so they honor the “America the Beautiful” Passes. We didn’t mind only paying $10/night last year, but the price doubled this year. And it’s really a drive to go to the grocery store. But there are a few restaurants nearby. We haven’t tried them, but others said they were good. Here is the link to the campground for more information and reservations: Recreation.gov< strong>After that whirlwind of a month, we headed Montgomery, Alabama. We stayed here last year and decided we would return for 10 days on our way to the Tiffin Service Center for a few minor repairs to our home.
Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly….Proverbs 17:6
In our last post, we said we may talk some about what is ahead for us for 2018. We only dropped a hint or two and to be honest, we don’t really know what is ahead for us! I recently read the blogs of two couples we have been following since we began on the road: The Lowe’s – what we love about their blog is their details about all of their hikes – which we also love to do; and, Wheelin’ It – they give such practical advice and great tips for the full – time RV lifestyle. The Lowe’s just posted their 2018 travel map and plans – which we all know is always subject to change, but at least they know their general direction. As for Wheelin’ It – they usually do the same! But their current blog tells us why they are not this year and that they are selling their motor home, car and all that goes with it – to move to Europe and travel there. If you want a fully decked out rig with all the latest and greatest plus a car and hitch, check out their blog! Be sure to mention you learned about it from us and we can split the $150 “referral fee.” LOL
So it is with a little envy we read others exciting travel plans. It seems we are now in a routine and so far, our travels aren’t changing much from last winter. We enjoyed our time this year (January 1 – 15, 2018) in Hanna Park and Campground, we planned to write a post about it. But never had time! We did write a bit about it some last winter, first here where we discovered it, and then here, when we stayed for a week last March. We (Debbie) vowed to return! Bill, not so much since he’s the one who drives the motor home and was concerned about taking a tree down – or it taking us out. Anyway, there isn’t much to add to the two posts, except one thing. And it is still that slice of heaven we found last year! The only difference is the sustained freezing cold weather here – but then the whole east coast and probably the midwest are in the same freezing boat. 😱 That wasn’t the one thing, btw.
The year 2017 was a game changer for us. Bill had to learn how to live with heart disease. He has done exceptionally well and his doctor is his biggest fan (next to me, of course) and knows he can continue on. What it has meant in addition to how he eats and exercises is how he manages stress. Now that’s been a battle, especially when things happen he can’t control like two flat tires on Interstate 95 (one of the busiest highways on the east coast). Actually, he did much better than he did with our first blowout on a state road in Florida – but also a busy highway. And now with sustained freezing cold weather – since we LEFT Virginia on December 26 – when we thought we were fleeing freezing cold weather. Actually it just hitched up to our bumper and has followed us. ❄️❄️
This new life style has meant we had to change how we travel – more or less! We had decided before hand, we prefer to only drive the motor home roughly 200 miles between stays and to stay about two weeks. This is most desirable. But there are times it isn’t feasible. We have to balance our travels with our budget and still try to keep our nightly stays around $20. We learned if you stay a week or two, you get a good discount – thus our desire for that as well as we want to get to know the area and see all we can see.
But this past year, we seemed to be consumed with our exercise routine and cooking fresh. So we aren’t sightseeing as much as we once did – although we hit a home run in Wisconsin this past summer. It’s ideal to be able to get in his “mandated” walk of five miles a day straight out our door. We did that beautifully in Hanna Park – and we do that at Pirateland. And then we still remember how disappointed that Wilmington, NC won’t be our future home when it is time to get off the road. We continue to obsess a bit over it….so that means while at Hanna Park, we had a revelation.
The beach at Hanna Park is every bit as good if not better than Myrtle Beach! And like we did at Myrtle Beach, we decided to look up the beach to see if there isn’t a place we could call home. We did look down to the south and decided that lifestyle wouldn’t fit us. So what beach is up the coast? Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island:
Fernandina Beach is on Amelia Island at Florida’s northeast border. Fernandina Beach hosts the popular Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival and is known for great golf. Downtown Fernandina Beach also offers boutique shopping and a range of scrumptious restaurants. With 13 miles of pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and clear, calm waters, Amelia Island with its quaint charm has been a beloved destination for generations. Its upscale resorts and world-class spas combine with a charming collection of bed and breakfasts, historic sites and captivating festivals for an experience that’s uniquely Floridian. Come experience why Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island have consistently been among Florida’s highest-ranked island destinations.
It was love at first sight – or actually a re-look. We did visit Amelia Island years ago. It didn’t really strike us as a future home. For whatever reason, this time, after we really checked out the beach, did we see the potential. GRANTED, it is way too far from our daughter and her family. We do still hope and dream they will see the light and move to Florida….
I won’t elaborate any more except to say, we are now going to look at more places up and down the east coast, in South Carolina and Georgia, as potential places to eventually settle. We think we have now ruled out North Carolina. While it will be farther than I would prefer, Bill just can’t handle continuous freezing weather. We’ve acclimated but it’s just been one miserable winter.
And now, back to our plans for 2018? Not that we feel we need to have that exit plan in place should we need to get off the road, let’s just say it has a less stressful feel to it to think about it. For now, we just hope to enjoy each place we visit – which now seems to be more for a purpose than just “adventure” – although we still think life is nothing but full of adventure!
Next up, we’re back in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park!
“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6
It’s that time of the year, so Happy New Year! We enjoy reading a snapshot of others’ year end blogs so hope others enjoy ours as well. And writing ours helps us keep our travels in perspective. We are still enjoying our lifestyle in spite of the challenges we’ve had this year. But that’s why it’s even more important to look back.
First, it helped us to look at what we wrote last year (click here if you missed it).WOW, our start this is is the same as last year. Once again, we started the New Year fleeing freezing cold temperatures in Virginia. We forgot how bad it was last year when we tried to close our slides to leave Fredericksburg. The slide toppers were frozen with a sheet of ice! This year, we had the slides pulled in for over two weeks to stay warm which we have never had to do before. The winter storm Benji arrived ahead of any other storms we’ve fled from in these four years of traveling. Continue Reading
It’s hard to believe it was a year ago when Bill received devastating news: He was at risk for a massive heart attack and/or had heart disease. WOW, what a shock since he was asymptomatic. I guess that’s why it’s called the silent killer. We’ve written a number of posts about the diagnosis and how he’s learned to live and THRIVE with it. The “Table of Contents” is found here if you missed the posts. I wrote about it in my personal blog as we tried to keep this one for our travel adventures….but then, this was an adventure, just a different type!
I decided to “interview” Bill for this post – after he said he didn’t want to write it!
What’s the first thing you thought of as you approached your one year anniversary? “I’m alive!”
Hallelujah! That was our goal and he’s hit a home run!
But maybe he didn’t understand exactly where I was coming from. I asked him, “Remember when we started this journey and I asked if you could do this (eat a heart healthy diet, exercise more vigorously, and manage his stress) for the rest of your life? You replied, “Ask me in six months.” I did ask him at six months and he said there was no turning back. But now at a year, I wanted to know more.
It was an ordeal to drastically change how we lived, ate, worked out, managed stress – while not thinking you could drop dead any minute! But he did it and is THRIVING! Continue Reading