Sunday, June 27, 2010

Monte Sano State Park in Alabama

Okay, I know I'm skipping ahead a little from other posts, but I wanted to show you what happened to me as I headed up the mountain in Huntsville, Alabama to Monte Sano State Park.

I keyed in the address into my trusty Stella (gps.) No problem I thought! So when I got off I565 I followed the commands of Stella. All of a sudden I'm facing this narrow curvy road. Sign said length restricted but didn't say what the length was. Keep in mind I was already at the point of no return with my 35' rig and a tow vehicle on the back. I couldn't turn around. I certainly couldn't back up and there was no place for me to pull over to unhook and back up. Now, are you beginning to get the picture? So I forge forward. The first few curves, no problem. Then all of a sudden here is this kiss your azz switchback and I was just praying that there were no cars coming down as I had to take the whole road to get around the curve. Oh and I have 4 miles of this road ahead of me. I made it around the first switchback and up, up, up I continue. Oh boy, I'm excited, here comes another. By this point I'm thinking, I'm gonna have to hire someone to take this rig off this mountain because I'm surely not gonna try to get down. I've got white knuckles and tense shoulders going on. At last civilization, a park entrance I have made it. I pulled up to the entrance house and the nice lady tells me I have a little ways to go to check in. I asked her if she knew someone who could drive my rig down that road. She laughed and said "oh, honey, did you come up the back way?" I said I don't know if it's the back way but it sure was curvy and steep. She said to get the Ranger to show me the better way to go back down.

Stella, I could throw you out the window. Now my confidence in her is not what it used to be.

So I get to the camper check-in and tell them my harrowing experience and he said, "happens all the time, shouldn't have followed my gps!" WHAT? I said then you should put something on your website stating that!

Anyway I made it and I'm better for it. The park is 1,600 feet above sea level and it's a beautiful park and has great vistas. But, you could not have proved that to me on the way up.

To put this in perspective for my TN readers and those of you who have been up to Fall Creek Falls State Park in TN, if you have ever been up to the park via Hwy 30 or "the old way" vs Hwy 111, then you know what I'm talking about.

My friend, Sarah, was kind enough to take me back down that way so I could take some pictures. Now mind you these pictures are going down and not up but you will get the idea.

It was so worth it. I have met some of the women rv forum ladies. Beth is the person who designed and developed and administers the women rv forum. She has been a full-timer for five years and has no plans to quit. She loves the lifestyle.

Jean is a fiesty woman who has been full-timing for a long time. Unfortunately Jean has the big C so she is staying in the campground while she received treatments to fight "Gilbert." That is what she has named her tumor. Jean and Beth travel a lot together and they were coming out of Mexico where they had been for two months on the Baja when Jean began getting ill. They were both scheduled to work on a whale sighting boat in Alaska this year. Beth accompanied Jean to the campground to be her caretaker. What a friend! Jean is doing better but she apparently has lost a lot of weight. She still has that Scottish brogue and was able to come over to the rig and eat supper with us.

Sarah is a wanna be. She has attended some get togethers with the forum ladies and she lives in Huntsville. She has been the perfect hostess. Yesterday we went to some RV places and looked at rigs. She has a beautiful home. It's a park in and of itself. I enjoy Sarah each time I'm around her. She is looking for her perfect rig but I don't think she will become a full timer. It's just not for everyone.

Vickie came down from Nashville. Come to find out we know a lot of the same people and her best friend is also my bff Debbie's friend. It's a small world. Vickie is looking for her perfect rig and will probably be going full time as soon as she can retire. It's fun shopping for new/used rigs. Vickie is an interesting person who has done some interesting things in her young life.

It's so much fun putting names with faces. Here we are in my rig for dinner. We had to have refuge in Somewhere as the rains kept us from eating outside and a campfire.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Verizon Aircard - Ugh!

This is the first time I've had such trouble with the aircard. I'm not in a good place to post so I'll bring you all up to date as soon as I can get better reception. I'm at St George Island, FL. Having a great time and the weather is hot but nice. Bugs are not too nice. That's what I'll be taking with me, bug bites!


Monday, June 21, 2010

While at Nan's...

...she got a little creative for me in showing me how her wonderful machines work. I picked out a design and she pulled it up on her computer, edited it to fit, and then I decided what to put the design on and the machine did the rest. I chose a purple hand towel I had in my rig and of course, the flamingo was going on it. Nan had fixed another sun screen for me. She said she didn't like the way the other one was done and if her name was going to be attached, it had to look better. So the design on my towel is a modification of the one on the sunscreen.

Also while at Nan's, we celebrated her birthday. Won't tell you which one but I was very surprised, she is very young looking. Anyway, her son and his sister-in-law had a cookout for her before we left. While they were preparing the food, Nan and I floated around in the pool. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NAN.

Nan introduced me to a new product or at least new to me. Individual serving size mashed potatoes. Nice for when one person to cook up as a nice side. Later...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alachua, FL

Yesterday I left Margie's place in Davenport and headed 135 miles North to Nan's place. Nan is a friend I met through the womenrv forum about a year ago and we hit it off instantly. You know how you just click with someone you meet, that happened with Nan and I. Anyway she had offered for me to stop by and stay in her "yard" while I did my exchange with Taylor.

Jonathan picked up Taylor yesterday and I miss her already. She is a great traveler. She watched what I did in getting ready to leave and then she took over. I didn't have to tell her what to do from the first time.

Anyway back to Nan's. She has a lovely park-like yard as you will see from the pictures. A dream for an RVer with lots of room to turn around and shade trees to park under to keep the rig cooler, a big plus being in FL. Her house is beautiful and she has a terrific pool with a screen around it to keep the bugs out. I feel like I'm at my own RV resort. Her front yard is huge.

Nan had to work today and then on Sunday we will head out to St George Island State Park for a few days. Nan's birthday is Sunday so we will definitely have to celebrate.

Nan, Eddie (son), and I went to eat at Brown's yesterday and had a wonderful buffet. Then the bottom dropped out while we were inside eating and I mean it was a deluge. So we just sat there and ate and visited until the rain had let up a little.

It was a great day.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I have arrived at Davenport FL

My friend, Margie, offered the use of her lot at Davenport FL just outside Orlando while I was heading North. She and hubby, Roger, purchased this nice lot and had the park model moved. Once all that was done they went Westward Ho and will not be back until the fall sometime. Their site is very nice and they have a nice view of the lake. This will be where they will spend their winter.

And, a few spaces from them is where I'll spend my winter. Yep we will be neighbors and I don't know if that is good or bad for Roger. He will have to get his bartending skills up to speed. LOL Anyway here are some shots of my site and I'm right next door to my own laundry. Not too bad unless people decide to do laundry after midnight. Oh, that just might be me! The guy I'm renting from said he would have the concrete pressure washed before I get there so I should be fun. Right around the corner is the clubhouse with a pool and spa. Should be a good winter. Oh and my bike is here so it will be hitching a ride in Somewhere and start it's travels with me.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yes, Walmart's Still Exist

Came out of the Keys today after 10 weeks and by golly, there are still Walmarts. I passed two on my way to the Okeechobee. I know it sounds funny but you have to consider that The Keys don't have Walmart. I don't know if that is something that the people of the Keys decided they would never have or if Walmart didn't even know they exist. Actually The Keys are so laid back that there are not many places to shop. It's okay, there was a Kmart and three grocery stores what more could a person need/want. Oh, yes there was a Sears and Champs store.

Any way my point is one can do without a Walmart, well for at least 10 weeks. I know that my sister Shirley would have been ga ga if she had been without a Walmart for 10 weeks.

Somewhere started up at the first crank. Pretty good after 10 weeks. I put a bottle of Stabil in right after I got there and I guess that did the trick.

I was a little sad to leave. Didn't think I would be but when I was saying my good byes to everyone I got a little misty eyed, in other words my eyes leaked. I was happy Taylor was with me as I could refocus my energies on her, so off we went. I got the Grey Goose hooked up with no problem and where I'm staying even made a pull through for me. They could do that considering there are NO other RVs in this campground. They said it was just not their season.

Tomorrow I'm heading up to Davenport FL. My friend, Margie, is allowing me to stay in their lot. I'm excited because it a few doors down from where I'll be staying in the winter.

I've got another couple of posts of Taylor and I while in the Keys. I won't forget.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rest, Ft Zachary Taylor State Park and the KW Cemetary

Tuesday was a rest day for us. We hung around the campsite, swam a little, kayaked a little and I taught Taylor how to make virgin daiquiris.

Wednesday we went to Ft Zachary Taylor State Park and after the tour of the fort, found us a good place at the beach. This beach is about the best one in the KW area. Smathers Beach is another good one but it is man made.

The Ranger who provided our tour was very knowledgeable and added a little color to his presentation. He was able to tie this forts significance's to Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortuga's. Fort Taylor has many cannons on display that came from the excavation of them out of the walls of the fort. After the Civil War, the cannons were put into the walls and then covered over with cement and brick and other debris they could get their hands on to get rid of them.

The Fort was then taken over by the Navy and it was used as a firing range for many years. When I first saw the bullet holes in the brick I thought it must have been from muskets but as it turns out; the Navy personnel were the culprits. The Fort has a 10 person latrine and the waste was supposed to be washed out by the tides but as it turned out the latrines were built in the wrong place and didn't work properly. The waste built up and then diseases from them caused many of the soldiers to die.

If you take the tour there are only 2 during the day; 12 and 2.

After the tour it was beach and water time. I took my float with me and Taylor and I headed for the water. We stayed until about three in the afternoon and then headed over to the Key West Cemetery.

It was a hot day to be hoofing it around the cemetery. We were able to see all the graves that Taylor had researched. We also saw some of the chickens in the area. Notice in the pictures the popular sayings such as: I told them I was sick and I'm just resting my eyes. I really liked the one about resting my eyes because whenever we would catch my Mama taking a snooze, she would wake up and say, "oh, I was just resting my eyes." You will notice that the graves are above ground and that's because of sea level.

Enjoy the slide show: Later...

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Museums

Monday was the day for museums. First on the list was the Pirate Soul museum on Front Street in Key West. Rich in history and folk lore, the Florida Keys are a bed of all things pirate. No pictures were allowed inside the museum. Here is an excerpt from the website:

The Florida Keys were home to Pirates long before Pat Croce founded Pirate Soul. In fact, the seafaring history of southern Florida is one of the oldest in the United States.

After Ponce de León searched Florida for its elusive fountain of youth in 1513, Protestant French Huguenots, acting in defiance of the Roman Catholic Spaniards, built a base of operations in Florida as early as 1564.

The Spanish settlement of St. Augustine had already been there for some years, but the foreign presence divided the attention of the Spanish and made it easier for other forces to gain a stronghold.

In 1586, Britain's Sir Francis Drake voyaged the Caribbean as a privateer, bearing a letter of marque bidding him to challenge Spanish dominance in the region. There, he captured the settlements of Santo Domingo, Cartagena and St. Augustine. But when the Spanish military might threatened his homeland, Drake was forced to abandon the captured land. The next expedition would have to wait until Britain built up its maritime defenses for this new era of warfare.

Later, the pirate Black Caesar chose the area as his home hunting grounds—preying on boats throughout the Florida Keys, as well as Cuba, the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico.

Taylor and I both agree this was one of the best museums we visited. They have a couple of very intriguing exhibits.

Don't worry, I won't quote many websites but hopefully it will peak your interest enough for you to follow the link to the Pirate Soul.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the chickens of Key West but they are all over the place in the Old Town area. If you plan to eat at the many outside establishments be prepared to eat with chickens pecking at your feet. There was a little family of chickens as we were waiting on the tour for the next museum.

Shipwreck Museum was next on Taylor's list. This museum was about all the shipwrecks in the keys and all the goods brought into the ports to sell. The museum has a tower to walk up and see the different areas of Key West from above. At the top of the tower is a webcam that you can see the folks who are at the tower. As it happened, no one was home for me to call to say, "go to the website and see me on the webcam." The characters giving the tour were fun and very informative.

Ah, but we are not finished with our museum day, the famous Mel Fisher Museum would be next. If you have been interested in ship salvages any at all, this name should be familiar to you. Mel Fisher found the Atocha off the Marqueses Keys and has brought up millions of dollars of booty from the wreckage. To this day, if you are a diver you can join up with the crew for a certain $$ figure and then dive with the crew. You get to keep the treasures you find. From my perspective, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a treasure and a rock so I don't think I would do much good finding the treasures most talk about.

I have always enjoyed the Discovery stories about Mel Fisher and I'm proud to say I own a little piece of the Atocha that I wear around my neck every once in a while. It's a nice piece surrounded by gold dolphin holding the coin in place.

The Customs House museum is part of the Key West Art and History Society. Because of all the shipping entering the US through the KW ports this building was crucial to the government to ensure all goods were checked properly and the appropriate tariffs were imposed.

The Customs House is now a terrific museum to Key West. Many artists are portrayed, they devote a large space to Ernest Hemingway and the impact he had on the area. They are building a new display showing the impact the Flagler Railroad had on the area. Taylor and I saw a little of it being built and it will be an awesome display when completed.

Whew, what a day! We certainly marked several of the 15 items on Taylor's list to visit.

Enjoy the slide show: Later...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taylor Arrived

Jonathan brought Taylor down on the weekend and she will be spending about 10 days here in Paradise and then she will ride back up Central FL with me and Jonathan will pick her up.

Dena is Jonathan's significant other and she came with them. Dena has two children, Josh is 17 and Meghan is 7. The kids didn't come down so it was a quick turn around for Jonathan and Dena.

Dena had never been to Key West so we walked around Paradise (Bluewater Key RV Resort) and they had an opportunity to ooohhh & ahhhhh about my site and then hit the water in the canal for a dip in the good old salty water and a ride down the canal in the kayak. Taylor decided she would swim the distance alongside the kayak. If you will recall, Taylor is my swimmer and she competes with the Camden County Boomers. I'm a proud Gran and I think she does an outstanding job.

Jonathan & Taylor took me out for a belated Mother's Day dinner and I chose to go to Turtle Kraals. A new (new to me) singer was there, Raven, and I was hoping they could hear her but we were too early. So after dinner we headed on over to the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square. Not so many acts were there, guess they have dwindled since the season has slacked off. The entertaining cats were not there. Plenty of artists though.

Then we went to watch the sunset from the Sunset Pier and walked down Duval and did some shopping. It was a quick tour of KW but Dena got a feel for it. Of course no tour of KW would be complete without a photo op at the Southernmost Point, which is 90 miles from Cuba. We took out pictures at night, during the day the lines are so long and the wait too hot. So Taylor and I got to mark that off our list of things to do.

Enjoy the slide show, you know the drill; click to enlarge. Later...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nothin' Much

I've spent most of the day getting ready for Taylor's visit which will begin tomorrow and last until I leave. In fact I'll meet her Daddy somewhere up North for him to pick her up. I'm excited. I think she will have a good time visiting with Gran. Hope so anyway, you know it's so hard for a 13 yo, will be 14 next month, let's just hope we don't kill each other.

I did the laundry and just about sweated every oz of liquid out of my body. I have to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate like crazy. It's not for the fact that I'm drinking adult beverages to hydrate either. It's just a fact. It is now oppressively hot in paradise.

It stormed last night and the wind was vicious so I thought today would be pleasant. Wrong! The humidity is something else. The temperature is not that hot, around 87 degrees but it's the humidity, dahling.

I went to have my oil changed and that took about 3 hours at Sears. Hey, gas prices has dropped down here. It's $2.82 gal. That's pretty good considering when I got here it was $3.07. Can't imagine what it is on the mainland. Like the way I said that "mainland?" Yep, just rolled right off the ole tongue.

I love my Crocs but I wear them out so easily. I walk everywhere in them and they just get thin on the bottoms. Well I found a pair of Dawgs that have a Firestone tread sole that should last longer than the Crocs. With the 3-strap shoe I can take the back strap off and wear it as a slip on sandal. I can wear them with my cute socks in the winter too.

Well, it's about time for me to go do my water aerobics. Just heard from the kids and they are in Key Largo for the night and will be on down early in the morning. I just love it when a plan comes together.

Oh, you have got to see Margie's blog that has her dog Annie's movie of when Margie leaves her motor home. She is talking. Funny thing was when I was listening to it, Sedona was sitting beside me, her ears perked up and she started talking to Annie. It was just a little funny. When I Skype people or talk on the phone with the speaker on, Sedona talks to Theda or Sandra or Debbie. She doesn't talk to Shirley because she knows my dear sister is not a dog person. The little fur babies know these things. LOL