Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Visit With The New Twins

Our granddaughter Stephanie & husband Shawn had identical twin girls on April 19, 2017.  Aubrey Raye and Penny Rose recently celebrated their 3 month birthdays.

I haven't written about them since I wanted to let the proud parents notify all the family and friends of their arrival.  Now they all know about it and it is my turn to introduce them to our friends.  We have seen them a number of times and taken many photos, but very few of me holding them.  For some reason I shy away from holding the small babies and let Gerry have my share of time doing that.  Plus, she is much better at it than me.

Aubrey or Penny & Me

Penny or Aubrey & Me

Gerry & ?

Gerry & Barbara feeding the twins with Gabby keeping a close eye on them.

We spent a couple hours visiting this time and Gerry was in seventh heaven around the twins.  Barbara also loves to take care of them and quit her job to be there for them while Stephanie works.

We sure enjoyed meeting the girls and look forward to seeing them again in October. They are great grandchildren 6 & 7 with two sets of twin girls.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Phone Connection On The Road 1997

We didn't have a cellphone back in 1997 and traveled all over the country without one.  This was how we stayed in contact with our three children while we were down in the Florida Keys. 

Gerry would call the children and have them call us back at the pay phone to avoid the high cost of long distance calls on the pay phone.  At that time the phones were installed at Long Key State Park and numerous other places.  When was the last time you saw a pay phone at a campground?

 We camped at Long Key SP, Bahia Honda SP and alternated between the two parks when our 14 days were up.  It was necessary to reserve a space 11 months ahead of time due to the popularity of the parks in Jan-April timeframe.  We managed to get sites in the Keys from 1996-2006.  It finally got to be such a headache reserving sites there that we gave up after 2006 and have spent the last 11 years camping in Tucson, AZ.  Now that is another story.

Larry sitting in the shade by our 1995 Flair RV at Long Key SP

Our campsite on the beach at Long Key SP

Jared, Sean, Stephanie & Ryan at Bahia Honda SP after the Easter egg hunt.

Bahia Honda SP Gulf side beach

The end of a perfect day in Paradise
Now we each have cell phones and can't get into the Florida Keys state parks since they are even busier than ever.  I think I would like to give up the cell phones and spend Jan-April back in those state parks.   

Where were you in 1997?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sights Around The Charlotte Motor Speedway Campground -

We spent ten days mooch docking in Larry & Jane's driveway where we took care of their dog and cat.  They took advantage of us being in the area and Grant attending a Boy Scout camping week to visit Asheville, NC.  They rented an AIRBNB house for 4 days and had a great time visiting the Biltmore Mansion, tubing in a river (funny story associated with this, but not enough space to write about it), hiking and just having a great time.

Grant had a great time at the Boy Scout camp except for when his kayak overturned and he hit his head on some rocks.  He is fine, but it was a scary moment for him.  Must be something about them being on the water.

When we returned to the campground (black tank was full) the entrance was blocked due to a rainwater pipe being broken.  We had this problem when we left but it took them a while to get a repair crew in there.  The pipe was about 4ft across and split in half.  They brought in some heavy duty equipment and have been working on the repair for the past week or so.

Entrance to campground and broken pipe

 We had to talk them into letting us go back to our favorite spot at the end of the row on the right side.  The  campsites to the right of this row are not level and slope downhill.  While we have leveling jacks, I don't like to have one side extended so much more than the other side.

Normally this row is full.  We are at the end on the right side.

Repair almost finished.

There has been racing every Tuesday night for the past 5 weeks or so at the main racetrack.  Since we have been visiting family, we haven't been bothered by all the noise.  We usually are returning about the time the races are over.  It would have been nice to attend one of the races but it didn't work out this time.

Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Dirt Track

Z-Max Dragway

Entrance to drag way and campground

There is one other camper in this area and he lives here full time.  As he said, he got the camper and she got the house in their divorce.  Nice guy and seems to be taking it all in stride.

Right across the street there are hundreds of vehicles for sale including pickups, cars, cheery pickers, huge diesel generators, large and small trucks and lots of other construction equipment.  There is a public auction starting on July 27 and it looks like it will be a huge one.  Wish we could stay for it but I'd probably buy something I couldn't use or get to the cabin.

Need a cherry picker?

More equipment

We are in the middle of these photos and I have some interesting sights to see all day long.

It's been very hot these last few days with some afternoon thunderstorms.  The temp has been up around 97 with high humidity to go along with it.  I think I prefer the dry heat rather than humidity.

That is what we've been up to lately.  What about you?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lets see, where was I

My last post was May 24 and we were in Alabama at the Gunther COE park.  Rain was the word of the week while we were there.

After that we headed to Gulf Shores, Alabama and spent a week there checking out the sights.  We found a nice Passport America park. When setting up was completed, we explored around the area.  We've been to Gulf Shores 3-4 times and always have enjoyed our visit there.  We managed to be seated right away at Lamberts Restaurant one night, then found a couple other eclectic  restaurants including the Tin Roof .  It was an interesting, out of the way place and very busy.  

We had a check engine light come on the motorhome and had a mechanic check it out.  He said it was something to do with our super charger on the diesel engine.  Oh Oh!   The local (Mobile, AL) Cummins repair shop was booked out 3 weeks so we set sail for Charlotte, NC.  I plotted out a course on less traveled roads and saw a lot of rural Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  It was actually nice to see the small towns and farms along the way.

We pulled into the campground at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and contacted the local Cummins garage.  They managed to squeeze me in an appointment and checked out the problem.  The service manager came out a few hours later and showed us an estimate of the repair cost.  $5,500 was his price if all the parts were needed, including a new super charger for $3800.  Ouch!  I said to go with it and hoped the super charger replacement wasn't necessary.  Thankfully, ours was fine and we got out of there for a very reasonable price with only one part being replaced.  

We've been visiting with our daughter Barbara & family along with son Larry Jr and family.  We've had the addition of twin great grand daugters and have gotten to see them a number of times, plus spending time with our other great grandchildren.  

Barbara decided to retire and Henry threw her a big retirement party with over 60 people in attendance, mostly relatives.  Cassie, Jack and Belle made the trip along with Cassie and Barbara's friend Lee.  We had a great time seeing everyone at the party and catching up on their lives.

We've been looking for a house in the Charlotte, NC area the last 3-4 weeks and haven't found one that we both like.  South Carolina is very close and we have checked out a number of homes there.  Gerry's found a couple, but I didn't like them and she didn't care for the one that I liked. We don't want to just buy one and settle for something close since this will probably be our last house purchase.

If we can't find something we both like we may check out North Florida on the Atlantic coast near Fernandina Beach.  Then again we may also look for a place on the Gulf Coast south of Sarasota.  Lots of options open for us.

I will write more later when things settle down.  We are both in good health and still enjoying the Rv lifestyle but think it is better to buy a house a year early than a year late.  

That is what we've been doing the last 2 months.  Lots of visiting family and checking out houses.  We are heading back to the cabin later this week and hopefully will relax up there for a couple months.



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Gunter Hill COE, Montgomery, AL

May 19 - 24 Gunter Hill COE

We were up early for the drive down to Montgomery, AL and Gunter Hill COE.  It was only 210 miles but it seemed like it took forever.  There was a long traffic delay on I-65 that lasted for 10-12 miles.  Not sure what the problem was since we didn't see any accidents or construction.  Odd!

The directions to the campground had us wondering if we were going the right way.  It seemed like we had to make a right or left turn constantly and the roads progressively were worse.  We did drive down Old Selma Highway for 4-5 miles and finally turned into the COE park.

Our campsite was very long and we could have parked two motorhomes the size of ours in the driveway along with the tow vehicles.  It was a nice level concrete pad for the mh and grass between the sites.  Full hookup sites like this for $13/night with pass.  One of the nicer campsites we've had in a long time.

Our cellphone and wifi service were terrible since we were so far out in the boondocks, plus due to the trees we had a difficult time setting up our Dish Playmaker.  I did mange to get it working finally and we were able to watch a few of our favorite shows.

Just as we arrived at the park it began to rain and it rained every day we were there.  Sometimes lightly and others torrential downpours.  I think we received over 8" of rain total for the 5 days.  Our campsite was flooded more than once. 😕

The creek down the road from us was at flood stage very quickly and stayed high for the duration of our visit.  Our campsite was just off the Alabama River and was high enough that there wasn't any danger to us. 

Boat launching area

Flood stage
 There are two camping sections at Gunter Hill and we were in the newer part with great campsites.  The older section is sort of a rustic type, with narrow interior roads and the sites tended to be unlevel.  They are rock parking sections for the RV/Trailer, etc and the heavy rains washed out a number of the sites.

The campground is used very heavily by locals and many of them expressed that they preferred to be in the old section since it was right on the water.  The light areas between the trees, in the background, showing in these two photos are the river.

Due to all the rain we didn't get out and do a lot of touring in the area.  We've been to Montgomery before and our friends John & Ann Duncan showed us around to all the interesting places to visit.

The telephone pole takes away from this photo but the large trees and pretty pasture with the horse perked Gerry up so I've included it here.

 The cattle sure do have some nice grass to munch on.  We saw cattle in Tucson eating cactus and I'm sure they would trade places with this group.  Part of the pasture was underwater and a few young ones were playing in the flooded area.

 We ran across some old plantation homes and stopped to get some shots of them.  This one below was beautiful and looked very stately.

I think this is a newer home but it fit into the area very nicely.

We did go grocery shopping at the nearest Public's that was 19 miles away and very expensive.  We took advantage of being near some restaurants (none near us) and had lunch at a Chappy's.  We hadn't been to one before and were pleasantly surprised when our waitress asked us what kind of ice cream we wanted.  We each enjoyed our complimentary cone before leaving.  It was crowded, however we had a nice meal and great service.  

That was our exciting 5 days at Gunter Hill.   No, I do not like thunder and lighting all night and getting weather alerts 4-5 times a day.


Friday, May 19, 2017

LaGrange College 1830-1855

I always check out what there is to see when we get to an area we've never been to before.  A simple google search will bring up the more popular sites.  Looking for geocaches take us to areas that we wouldn't usually travel to and we've run across great finds that way.  There are two geocaches near the LaGrange College site and we made it there and found a cache in the old cemetery.  The other cache was on the grounds of the old college where they have a number of old buildings from the era when the college was founded.  

The grounds were closed for the night and right across the street was the home of a deputy sheriff with his official vehicle parked in plain sight.  We decided it wasn't a good idea to jump the split rail fence and search for the cache.

Here is a history of the LaGrange College taken from the historical society homepage. 

LaGrange College 1830 – 1855

In the early 1820’s, LaGrange was established on the crest of a mountain near Leighton, AL. Initially there were about 400 inhabitants. In the late 1820s, the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church solicited proposals for a site and subscription of $10,000. On December 4, 1828, the Methodist Church accepted the LaGrange proposition. Later that month, the Mississippi Conference joined in the efforts to establish a college. Representatives from the two conferences met at LaGrange on January 10, 1829, and selected a site for the college. On January 11, 1830, “LaGrange College” opened with an enrollment of 70 students, becoming the first state chartered college in Alabama. Rev. Robert Paine was the first president (1830-1846).

The enrollment peaked at 139 in 1845. Dr. Richard H. Rivers became president in 1854, when the college faced serious financial problems. In response to an offer of better support, Rivers moved the college to Florence, Alabama in January 1855. Over 150 graduates received degrees during its 25-year history. The establishment of LaGrange College in 1830 should  be considered the birth of collegiate education in Alabama. The move to Florence was controversial, some students and faculty remained at the former campus, and the Florence institution was denied permission to use the name of LaGrange College. It was chartered as Florence Wesleyan University on February 14, 1856, and is known today as the University of North Alabama.

LaGrange Military Academy 1857-1862

After LaGrange College moved to Florence in January 1855, a group of LaGrange citizens reorganized the college in the vacant buildings under the old name. Rev. Felix Johnson was elected president. To increase the patronage, a military feature was introduced in 1857. Major J.W. Robertson became superintendent, and classes were suspended while a third major building was erected for the cadets. The college reopened in February 1858, as LaGrange College and Military Academy. The new institution’s financial situation was dismal until the State of Alabama provided military equipment and scholarships. The Academy soon flourished and became known as the “West Point of the South.” In 1860, the name was changed to LaGrange Military Academy. By 1861, the enrollment was almost 200 cadets. During its existence, 259 cadets from nine states attended the Academy.
In 1861, many LaGrange cadets left to join the Confederate Army. Consequently, the Academy was forced to suspend classes on March 1, 1862. Only two cadets had graduated. Major Robertson was authorized to organize the 35th Alabama Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. He was elected colonel and the remaining cadets formed part of one company. The regiment was mustered into the Confederate Army on March 12, 1862, for three years. On April 28, 1863, the 10th Missouri Calvary of the Union Army, known as the “Destroying Angels,” commanded by Col. Florence M. Cornyn, burned the Military Academy, the nearby La Fayette Female Academy, many businesses, and homes. The village of LaGrange dwindled away. In 1995, LaGrange Park was transferred from the Alabama Historical Commission to the LaGrange Living Historical Association. Thereafter, the site of Alabama’s first chartered college was enhanced and stands today as a historical landmark.

Listed on Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 1976.

We were too late arriving at the area to be able to tour the old buildings but managed to get some photos of them.  Many of the buildings have been brought here from other places in the area and look like they are quite old.

Visitors Center & Museum
Servant Quarters


Guess what!

Church & School

Barber Shop

One of two B&B cabins for nightly rental.

Blacksmith Shop

Country Store

We continued to geocache in the area and found two more caches before it became too late to search for more.  I was using my smartphone for caching and we were out in the country and turned around a number of times.  To find our way back we entered a cache we had found and followed the direction to it and then on back to the motorhome.

One thing we have observed is that there must be a country church for every 50 people in the area.  We've driven on roads where there is a church every mile or so and open fields between them.  I wonder where all the church members live.  The churches look to be in good shape and are in current use.

That was our day, how was yours?


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tuscumbia Big Spring Park & Helen Keller Birthplace

 Interesting places pop up all over if you are curious and keep your eyes open.  Gerry and I were returning from dinner and spotted this old cabin sitting alongside of the road.  It sat there by itself and we thought it looked great, so we pulled over to get some photos of it.  Behind the cabin was a small pool of water and then we saw a waterfall there, also.  Right away our antennas went up and we had to find out what all this was about.

Paddle Wheels on the pond.

 We searched for the entrance to the waterfalls and this is what we found.  The Big Spring has a daily flow of 35,000,000 gallons a day of crystal clear water.  The park setting is very pretty and relaxing so we got out and walked around the area.

 Picture perfect view of the waterfalls with the nice bridge over them.  The coolness from the water was very refreshing on this hot day.

Gerry enjoying the cool falls.

 The tallest water fountain is over 40ft tall and the fountains were working while we were there.  They have a lighted show each night of the fountains which are set to synchronize with music, and it's free to watch them.

The waterfalls are man made and are the largest known ones in existence.  They look natural and blend in with the park very well.  

Now it was my turn to cool off.

Paddle wheels
 There are some amusement park rides including this old carousal and a nice train ride around the grounds.  A band concert stage is alongside of the pool.  South of this area is a 9 hole golf course that looked great from the road.  We were both very impressed with the park and would love to have one like it wherever we settle down.  Beautiful!

 Tuscumbia is well known and very proud of being the birthplace of Helen Keller.  When she was 18 months old she went blind and deaf, but she was a very intelligent young girl and overcame the odds to become famous.

Heller Keller was born in this home in Tuscumbia, AL.  Unfortunately, we arrived just as they were closing for the day.  I guess we will have to put that on our list for another trip here.

Helen Keller birthplace 

 As we were leaving Tuscumbia I noticed this neat old street clock and then noticed the famous name at the bottom of the base.

The downtown area of Tuscumbia was very nice to see.  There were many shops open along with other businesses including the County Courthouse that stood out very well.  Nice to see small towns that are still viable and functioning.  I wish we had more of them in the U.S.

We had dinner at an old restaurant just up the road from the park.  It had two entrances on the street with an entrance to an apartment section between the entrances.  We walked in the right entrance and it looked like it was an old bar with two tables and then a young girl popped out of an archway and directed us to another seating area.  Service and food were good and I actually was able to order a beer in Alabama.  

Our waitress looked a lot like my grandniece Hannah and I asked if she minded me taking a picture of her.  She was fine with that and I sent it to my niece Vonda and said I found Hannah's twin.  Vonda sent back a photo of Hannah and I showed it to the waitress and she was surprised how much alike they looked.  Hmmmm!

That was our day, how was yours?