What Goes Up Must Come Down

High Time In The Rockies

High Time In The Rockies

We’ll apologize up front for the length of this entry but it does cover  5 weeks and almost 2,000 miles!

After our week in Durango we began our travels eastward. We began in the Rockies from a high point of 12,126′ at Cottonwood Pass on the Continental Divide while taking a day hike. For comparison that’s 42% up Mount Everest. From there it was all downhill to Charlotte, NC at approximately 750′. We spent 3 relaxing days at Elk Creek CG in Blue Mesa NRA before moving on to Boyd’s Lake SP in Loveland, Colorado

Our stop in Loveland was primarily for RV warranty work on our slides and stabilizing the refrigerator. We also wanted to see why our batteries were not charging while we are driving. That turned out to be a problem with the truck so off to the Chevy dealer. We are finding getting anything but emergency items addressed under the manufacture’s warranty while on the road difficult. Everyone is “too busy”. Maybe I’m getting cynical in my old age but I think it’s really because they don’t get paid for it. More work needs to be done but we’ll wait until this winter in Arkansas. Next was Opal’s overdue visit to Banfield for her yearly checkup. She’s doing great for a 12 year old dog. The visit was a pleasure for both Opal and the vet… NOT! Then there was laundry, groceries and Walmart. All work and no play? Not us! We took in The Bensen Sculpture Garden, enjoyed a 10 mile bike ride on the bike trail at the park and ate at 2 Triple D spots. The restaurants were 451 in Fort Collins and Foolish Craig’s in Boulder. 451 was an upscale spot with good food but more pricey than the usual Triple D places. Foolish Craig’s was an eclectic spot with delicious crepes and other main dishes.

We drove to Rocky Mountain NP twice hoping the pass was open but had to settle for short hikes around Bear Lake and enjoy the elk bugling. On our second trip we stopped at the Colorado Cherry Company and fell in love with their tart cherry juice. We found spots in the RV to carry four gallons with us. We also took a long drive around to the south entrance to RMNP through the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. We stopped at the Forest Office and as luck would have it talked with the lead ranger who is also the volunteer coordinator. Turns out that his wife is the volunteer coordinator for RMNP too. We exchanged cards for a possible future work camp position.

Traveling East Fall 2016

Traveling East Fall 2016

Bear Lake At RMNP

Bear Lake At RMNP

Girls Day Out

Girls Day Out

Can you Hear Me Now?

Can you Hear Me Now?

Wanna Play?

Wanna Play?

Moving into eastern Colorado we left the beautiful mountains for the open plains. A dramatic contrast to be sure. Here we stayed at John Martin State Park on the Arkansas River. This park has the longest pull through sites we’d ever seen. There is electricity at the site but common water. Steve devised an easy way of refilling our water tank by immersing a marine bilge pump in a 10 gallon container then plugging it into the truck cigarette lighter port. BAM! Only 50 seconds to transfer water. We took time to select photos for our annual gift calendar and relaxed. We did visit 2 National Park sites: Sand Creek Massacre and Bent’s Old Fort. Both were very interesting. Sand Creek Massacre is a relatively new park and in the early stages of development. They have just received funding for a Visitor Center. We were fortunate to arrive just in time for a ranger talk about the event. He was one of the best interpreters we have heard. I wish more people would visit these smaller parks. They are hidden gems. Having been raised on the east coast we never studied or read about these formative events in our country’s history. Bent’s Old Fort was the first permanent settlement in the area and served as trading post and social gathering place in the first half of the 19th century. The building today is a recreation of the fort from plans sketched by a visitor. The rangers are not in the trademark uniform but wear period costumes and give informal talks. The two sites contrast each other: one a site of Manifest Destiny and military might overpowering native people and the other a thriving settlement where traders, mountain men and Native Americans coexisted peacefully.

Sand Creek Massacre Location

Sand Creek Massacre Location

Native American Monument At Sand Creek

Native American Monument At Sand Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View Of Bent's Old Fort NHS

View Of Bent’s Old Fort NHS

A Demonstration Of Knife Making

A Demonstration Of Knife Making

Trading Post At Bent's Old Fort

Trading Post At Bent’s Old Fort

Now we move on to Kansas. We found a fabulous place to stay at Cedar Bluff SP. Some sites offer full hookups for $19/night. It is a busy park in the summer however in late October only lightly used. For most of our stay we were the only RV in our loop. Opal enjoyed her off leash walks. Now, being the only dog in the park is the way I like it! (Opal) Many folks simply rush across Kansas. This is our third visit to the state and we have found interesting things to do each time. The closest town of any size is Hays, KS. On our way there for errands we noticed a sign for the Walter P. Chrysler Home Museum. We stopped in Ellis on our way back to see it. Turned out to be a great small town museum to their most famous son. We didn’t know much about him but after touring his boyhood home and learning about him we’d like to read a biography. Two of the most interesting displays were his own car (#6 off the line) complete with wooden wheels and his desk.  Another “self made man” story. 

Museum In Ellis, Kansas

Museum In Ellis, Kansas

Chrysler's Car

Chrysler’s Car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desk Used By Chrysler

Desk Used By Chrysler

One More For The Reading List

One More For The Reading List

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in the central western area of Kansas we also visited the Santa Fe Trail Museum, Fort Larned NHS and Nicodemus NHS. The SFT Museum detailed travels of pioneer families during the westward migration of the mid to late 1800s plus those who used the trail before them. Well worth stop. Fort Larned is another of the NPS sites dedicated to the series of forts built as protection and evidence of ownership as what was thought of as “The West” moved onward. At first you look at all the names carved into the buildings as graffiti but later realize this is an archive of those who passed through here. Before the NPS took over and restored the site locals came here often to picnic so many names are post fort and early to mid 1900s. The site is large and beautifully equipped with all the items one would find at an active post of its day. Nicodemus is a relatively new NPS site about former slaves who formed settlements in the midwest and west post Civil War. There are 5 remaining buildings of which 2 are open to the public.

Fort Larned Architecture

Fort Larned Architecture

Graffiti Or History

Graffiti Or History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larned Harness Shop

Larned Harness Shop

Fort Larned Hospital

Fort Larned Hospital

Quarter Master's Office

Quarter Master’s Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Commissary

Post Commissary

nicodemus-vc

Nicodemus NHS

Our final stop was for dinner in Hays. The area was originally settled by German immigrants and still has strong ties to its heritage. We decided to try a local micro-brewery/restaurant called Gella’s Diner. Steve had sauerkraut soup and a bratwurst platter while I enjoyed a potato soup and local specialty called a bierock. What’s a bierock, you ask? It is a meat, cabbage and onion mixture in a pastry. It is served with a sharp cheddar/ale sauce. MMMmmm good! We certainly do a good job of traveling on our stomachs!

Gella's Diner In Hays, KS

Gella’s Diner In Hays, KS

Next stop: Oologah, Oklahoma. This is our first trip to the state of Oklahoma. Now we only have 4 states left in the lower 48 to have the RV. Our reason for coming here was to visit two of Steve’s cousins. Unfortunately one of them was in the process of moving and not able to come. We had planned to stay closer to Tulsa at a USACE park but at the last minute noted on the website a comment about low branches. Oh no! Been there, done that. So we chose Hawthorn Bluff USACE CG on Lake Oologah. We’d hoped to stay a week but the campground was closing down for the year on 10/31. So we quickly booked three nights at another USACE park on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas. Besides seeing relatives we visited two sites about Oologah’s most famous son, Will Rogers. The first was his birthplace and the other was the Will Rogers Museum. I know who Will Rogers was but didn’t know much about him other than his witty sayings.  He began as a trick roper and later added his trademark humor and wit at the suggestion of his wife. He was always very proud of his Cherokee heritage. He progressed on to lectures and newspaper columns until perishing in an airplane crash in Alaska with Wily Post. The museum is huge and has some fantastic videos of his roping tricks. You can easily see why he “never met a man he didn’t like”.

He Never Met A Man He Didn't Like

He Never Met A Man He Didn’t Like

Will Rogers Birthplace

Will Rogers Birthplace

Will Rogers Statue

Will Rogers Statue

Will Rogers Museum

Will Rogers Museum

 

 

Extensive Exhibits Can Be Found Inside

Extensive Exhibits Can Be Found Inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we had to go when we found there was a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives spot nearby called Clanton’s. The owners are the fourth generation to run this Route 66 cafe since 1947. Known for their fried chicken and chicken fried steak, you best go early or plan on waiting in line. On our way home I spotted a sign for a Folk Art site. Steve asked “Do you REALLY want to go? He was hoping Chari would say no (meanwhile thinking of Lucas, KS). Yes she said. So off we went. The “artwork” by Ed Galloway was several concrete sculptures including the world’s biggest totem pole. The totem pole is 90′ tall, 18′ in diameter and displays 200 carved images. It took eleven years to build. We were there only a few minutes when the caretaker had to leave on a family emergency. Steve was VERY relieved!

Clanton"s Cafe On Route 66

Clanton”s Cafe On Route 66

This Is Triple D All The Way!

This Is Triple D All The Way!

He Liked It!

He Liked It!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World's Largest Totem Pole

The World’s Largest Totem Pole

More Ed Galloway Art

More Ed Galloway Art

In The Eye Of The Beholder

In The Eye Of The Beholder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Corinth, MS we finally caught up with our reservations made before leaving Utah. We were there visiting Chari’s relatives. Previously we had stayed at J. P. Coleman SP. However, knowing the park we felt our new trailer would have difficulty maneuvering into the sites even though they were technically long enough. So we chose Piney Grove CG, a USACE park on Bay Springs Lake. The lake is part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Canal project built during the late 70s for barge traffic. While it has never seen the volume of traffic hoped for it does provide a wonderful recreation area. 700 acres of my first husband’s family farm was purchased for what is now called Crow’s Neck. There is an environmental Education facility there.  The RV sites at Piney Grove are large. The only downside is the thick tree cover making TV reception minimal.

We were lucky enough to have arrived for the Grand Illumination Celebration. This used to be an annual event in Corinth but with budget cutbacks it had not been held for three years. The Grand Illumination acknowledges casualties from the Battle of Shiloh and both Battles of Corinth for control of the railroad by placing 6,000 luminaries around town and at the NPS Civil War Interpretation Center. Each luminary is a casualty of the conflict. This year the Interpretation Center had a speaker on the topic of “The Role of Camels in the Civil War”. That’s right… camels. So here is the tale of Old Douglas. Old Douglas arrived by ship from the middle east in the 1850s. He was purchased to work on a plantation. When his master joined the Confederacy so did Old Douglas. Don’t get the idea he swept into battle Lawrence of Arabia style. His job was to carry the regimental band instruments. Old Douglas was in Vicksburg when he was shot and killed. Vicksburg had been under siege and soldiers were reduced to eating their boots. Let it be known Old Douglas did not die in vain. One thousand pounds of meat was a blessing to soldiers and civilians alike. We also visited two of the five Civil War era homes that remain in Corinth.

luminaries

Then we had the last two long driving days to get to the Charlotte, NC area. Our overnight stop just north of Atlanta was a very nice USACE park named McKinney CG on Allatoona Lake. We’ll remember this one for a future visit to the Peachtree state. Likewise our stay at Ebenezer County Park near Rock Hill, SC was great. We cleared out our storage unit. All of our worldly possessions now fit either in the RV, truck or a 3’x3′ storage cube.

Lastly we headed to Chambersburg, PA for Thanksgiving with Steve’s family. Our only non family activity was a visit to Gettysburg Military Park and the Eisenhower Farm. We didn’t know that this was a special weekend celebrating the anniversary of the declaration of Emancipation. The park had several authors of historical fiction on hand. Steve met one of his favorite authors, Jeff Shara. The town of Gettysburg had a parade with over 500 re-enactors dressed in a variety of uniforms and period dress.

Gettysburg Diorama Scene

Gettysburg Diorama Scene

Abe, Mary and Winfield Scott

Abe, Mary and Winfield Scott

Drummer Boy

Drummer Boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Long Parade

A Long Parade

Union Troops

Union Troops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Confederates

The Confederates

women-in-parade

Women Marchers

Zouave Unit

Zouave Unit

 

We packed a lot into our trip east and hope you have enjoyed this leg of our travels as we visit the icons and hidden gems across the USA.

A Jump Down To Boise

Our next stop on this quick tour through Idaho was the capital, Boise, about 6 hours from Lewiston. Once again we disregarded the suggested route from the GPS as it was over seven hours. We headed back through Spaulding and turned south on US 95. Very quickly we realized the GPS had been trying to keep us off steep grades. We were committed now (or maybe that should read we should be committed) to drive what is called White Bird Hill,. It was named after a Nez Pearce chief and a battle in 1877. The present road took ten years to build and opened in 1975 with an elevation change of 2700 feet and average grade of 7% in seven miles. The pass is the dividing line between the Salmon river and the Camas Prairie. An older road by the same name still exists as a National Backcountry Byway. there are a few You Tube videos showing the drive. While not particularly good clips they will give you an idea of the road. Now imagine you have a 16,000 pound trailer pushing you along so you are using your lowest gear to slow down, a heavily loaded truck is in front of you going 15 mph and you can’t pass, runaway truck ramp signs are all over the place and the GPS says the road has a 48 foot limit and you are 54 feet!  We made it down without incident. Now we know why all the other RVs we saw were going up, not down.  I was nervous and my hands were sweaty as I hoped our brakes or engine wouldn’t overheat.  Later I asked Steve if he was nervous. No. I knew we were fine. I married a man with nerves of steel!

Lucky Peak Lake, Idaho, Boise

Lucky Peak Lake

US 95 followed the Salmon River through the Sawtooth Mountains. We’d heard how beautiful this area was and it didn’t disappoint us. All along we made notes of where to stay and made plans to return taking a week or more to travel this route. We arrived in late afternoon to Lucky Peak Reservoir CG just northeast of Boise. This is a COE park but with no facilities. When they say a 35 foot limit they mean it. We just fit. We had to park the truck elsewhere.  It is a pack in-pack out park for trash but we did find a dumpster at a day use state park just down the road.

Our time in Boise would be three nights and split between errands and sightseeing. We had to return to a Chevy dealer due to a containing problem caused by the side mirror repair. The dealer in Montana had to remove the plastic panel on the door and didn’t get it back in place properly. It would catch when you tried to open or close the door. With brute force you could force the door to work but we were afraid either the door wouldn’t work in an emergency or the plastic panel would break. The dealer in Montana agreed to pay for repairs and we located a dealer in Boise. Once the repair was made we needed to do shopping, laundry and haircuts. Right next to the Chevy dealer we found a fresh fruit stand, beauty shop, butcher and bakery. We decided to have lunch at the bakery. During lunch Steve said Your hair is getting lighter.” I replied “No. It’s turning gray.” Remember this when you read the end of this post. With all of our chores done we had a day to play.

Peregrine Fund Logo

Peregrine Fund Logo

Looking at area points of interest we noted The Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. This turned out to be the World Headquarters for The Peregrine Fund. They have birds from all over the world who cannot be released into the wild on display for educational use. It was very hard to photograph the birds through double wire cages but a few photos are worth posting here. The Center is a primary breeding location for the California Condor Release program. In fact, the birds we saw in the wild in 2010 at Navajo Bridge in Arizona most likely came from this facility. A volunteer gave a short talk after a film and brought out Wilbur the western screech owl. Then you could go with here for a tour of the archives. I’m glad we went as this was the best part of the visit. We learned that falconry used for hunting came from the middle east and is still popular there. Beautiful wildlife art and photography is on display. The star of the visit though is a display of desert Arab life with falconry, a gift from the family of Sheikh Zayed a lifelong falconer and conservationist. To read more about the archives go to http://www.peregrinefund.org/heritage-wing.

bald eagle

American Bald Eagle

Batelur Eagle, birds of prey, Peregrine Fund

Batelur Eagle

Gyrfalcon

Gyrfalcon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Aplomado Falcon

Northern Aplomado Falcon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Breasted Falcon

Orange Breasted Falcon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornate Hawk Eagle

Ornate Hawk Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

owl

Wilbur, The Western Screech Owl

tour, birds

Displays At The Peregrine Fund Archives

falconry

Falconry In The Middle East

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basque Restaurant In Boise

Basque Restaurant In Boise

We didn’t have time to explore Boise but learned that this area has a strong Basque heritage. So we dined at a Basque restaurant called Bar Gernika which was a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives establishment too. Gernika was immortalized by the Picasso painting of the massacre during the Spanish Civil War. Neither of us had ever had Basque food. We started out with a cheese and sausage plate. There was enough for six people so we took home the extra and made two more appetizers from it. Our main dishes were equally good and filling. This is a very small place with about eight tables and bar seating inside supplemented with patio dining in good weather.

Basque culture

Mural Depicting Basque Culture

Now I’ll turn the blog over to Steve.

“If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you have to do it too?” What mother hasn’t said that to her kids? In my case, it was a very specific bridge in the question, the Brooklyn Bridge, my mother had in mind, but I’m sure any bridge would do. I must have heard it hundreds of times between the ages of eight and eighteen!

Twice in the past week that question came to mind, and the answer was a big fat YES! 

While out for a ride in the Boise area, we decided to check out camping facilities for future reference at Centennial Park. There is an old bridge there, probably originally a railroad bridge, now used by pedestrians. It’s at least fifty feet over the Snake River. There were two guys with ropes and other paraphernalia out in the middle of the bridge, a third was on the shore looking up at them. I was walking out there to take a few pictures while Chari was taking a few shots from the shoreline.

“What are you guys doing?” Are you going to bungee jump?”

“No, we’re setting up a swing.” 

One fellow explained the procedure… tying one end of the rope to the bridge, setting it to just short of the drop to the water, attaching the other end to a harness worn around his waist, walking out along the edge until the rope is taut, and jumping off. What you have is a swing, except unlike a playground swing that starts from ground level and you swing up, this starts from the top! 

“Have you done this often?”

“Just heard about it yesterday.”

“But you have to be careful the rope isn’t too long, or all you do is splash into the water, as I just found out!” the other one, the one preparing the rope, commented. (Apparently, this one had some experience!)

“Do you mind if I take a few pictures?” I said, wondering if I was about to record a suicide jump.

“Not at all… go ahead.”

bridge swing

Swinging From The Bridge

“WOWEEEEE!!!”

A friend on shore was taking pictures with his telephone. 

Chari didn’t know what was going on until she saw this guy swinging over the water.

Is This A Good Idea?

Is This A Good Idea?

I had walked down to the river’s edge with Opal to take pictures and to look at some of the boulders deposited when ancient Bonneville Lake caused a massive flood. I heard this whoop, turned and saw someone dangling above the water. Not to miss out, I left to join Steve on the bridge.

Snake River Near Centennial Park

Snake River Near Centennial Park

As the second jumper was getting ready we talked. He was from Florida visiting his brother. He had never done anything like this before. He made his way across the bride framework until the rope grew taut. I was positioned to take pictures through the fence. I could feel his tension, his indecision and his fear. then he stepped off….

That's A Hell Of A Step!

That’s A Hell Of A Step!

YOW!!!!!

YOW!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOW!!!! echoed off the banks.

We watched the third jumper from shore then exchanged e-mail addresses promising to send photos which we did.

A couple of days later, we were driving through Twin Falls, Idaho and stopped at the bridge over the Snake River Canyon, not far from the spot where Evel Knievil made his motorcycle jump. We had been told it was an impressive sight, and not to miss stopping at the scenic overlook. The bridge was about four-hundred feet over the water. While we were there, first one, then another, a third, and finally a fourth jumped off the bridge! No ropes! But, they were wearing parachutes, and we managed to get a few shots of them gliding down to the far shore. 

“Yeah, Mom. Maybe I would!”

On the morning we were to leave I was walking Opal near the tent sites. A mother and her daughter who I’m guessing was about three were walking to the latrine. In that clear voice child’s voice that carries a long way I heard “Oh look, it’s a grandma.” Well, sometimes there is no denying the truth. I was the only other person around. I couldn’t help but laugh much to the mother’s relief. Kids, you’ve got to love them for their honesty!

All Packed Up And Nowhere To Go

As my mother used to say, it’s OK to make plans just don’t plan the results”. We’d gotten everything packed up and secured for the trip from Natchez to Spanish Fort near Mobile, Alabama. The last thing to do before heading out was to pull in the slides. We have 3 slides: one for the bed, one for a small desk and the main slide with the table, dining chairs and sofa. We can operate the slides from either 30/50 amp service or off of the battery. Since it is a big drain on the battery we usually keep plugged in until the slides are retracted. We also have a remote that can do this from the outside. The slides come in according to a set pattern and go out the same way so you can’t just move a single slide by itself. Opal was already in the truck sitting on her raised platform so she can look out the window. She knows the routine and knew we were getting ready to leave.

Bedroom slide in. Desk slide in. Main slide …… WHOA! What’s happening? The main slide stopped about halfway and the bottom started lifting. Back up and try again. Same thing. Try again. Same thing. And again. Isn’t that the definition of insanity when you do the same thing over knowing the outcome? Steve goes out and looks around. We try again. Now this is where Steve and I have a definite Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus thing going. I’m all for calling for help when something needs fixing if I don’t know how to do it. We have 3 roadside assistance plans: Good Sam, Coachnet and later we find one through the warranty on the trailer with Assurance. We’re paying for them, why not use them. Steve is of the opinion that you don’t call until you’ve completely exhausted every possibility of fixing it yourself. So in and out of the trailer, under and out at least a half dozen times with no improvement. Now the slide is not only raising up but moving in more on one side than the other. We finally call Coachnet. We talk to a technician. I’m holding the phone while Steve climbs under then relaying what the tech says and what Steve says in return. Steve has to cut into the undercarriage barrier to see what type of mechanism we have for the slide, electric or hydraulic. Finally  almost an hour later it is decided we need a roadside mechanic. Meanwhile, Opal won’t get out of the truck even when I put her lease on. So I leave her in there. I know we’re getting ready to leave. There’s no way I’m getting out and have them take off without me! The mechanic is 90 minutes away. We don’t want to unpack anything so we sit at the picnic table. Steve crawls under the RV some more and finally sees what’s wrong. A bolt from one of the shock absorbers has become lodged against the slide and won’t let it move correctly. This causes one side to move and not the other. The mechanic comes. Over an hour of trying. The only way to get the slide closed so we can travel is to cut the bolt. With the slide out of alignment some moulding had to be removed to allow the slide to clear the cabinets. Steve had to stand with a piece of cardboard against the cabinet while I pushed the slide retract button. That’s how close it was. Normally there is about 2 inches of clearance. We’ll be alright for travel but must go to a Dutchmen dealer so it can be repaired under warranty. Everyone thinks it’s a manufacturer’s defect.

We get out the MiFi internet and look up Dutchmen dealers to find who is the closest. We’re in luck. There are two in the Mobile area. We’ve used Camping World before with our old trailer so we call them. This is Saturday about 3pm. Yes, they can get us in on Monday.  Steve asks about a mobile mechanic coming to the campground. No, they don’t have one but they do have electric and water hookups in their lot and we are welcome to use them. By now it’s past our checkout time and we decide to spend one more night in Natchez. When Steve goes to pay we find out that all this time we could have gotten the senior discount rate! It’s available to non-residents as well as residents. Oh well, live and learn. One more thing to do, we must cancel our reservation in Alabama for tonight. No answer at the park but we leave a message. So we unpack as little as possible. Opal finally gets out of the car. This is really confusing. I’m sticking close to Mom and Dad tonight!

The next morning we finally get on the road for the 5 1/2 hour drive to Mobile. We find Camping World and there are 6 parking spots with hookups. We pull in and get set up. Not wanting to cook we check the iPhone App for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. There are 3 places in the area. We choose the Gumbo Shack in Fairhope, Alabama. This sports bar setting offers creole dishes as well as regular offerings. This is the first time we’ve been in an area to try one of the restaurants since we left Charlotte. I ordered gumbo (excellent) and a shrimp panini. I had jambalaya (also excellent). Then we ordered cajun oysters. Oysters on the half shell with parmesan cheese, tobasco sauce and a slice of jalepeno. No leftovers! What about the dog?  While we were eating a local man came in with his Weimaraner. The dog obviously knew everyone and stood up on his back legs with his front feet on the bar just like he was ordering a drink. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get a picture but if you’ve ever seen those photos of Weimaraners dressed up and placed in human like situations you can picture this. A friendly, quirky place with good food.

The next day the trailer was packed up and taken to the shop. We were in luck. The warranty paid all but $136 of an almost $800 bill. Since we were here it seemed like a good time to have some routine maintenance done, tires rotated , a problem with premature wear on one tire resolved, an interior light replaced and 2 shades fixed. Since not all of the work could be completed in one day the trailer was moved back to the campsite for our second night in the parking lot. Again we call Meaher State Park where we were to stay and this time we tell them to cancel the whole reservation. They only accept cash or check so we didn’t have any money to loose. We weren’t alone. There were 5 other vehicles there. To kill time while we were waiting we drove around stopping at local businesses. Then we decided to drive down to Gulf Shores State Park. We’d tried to get reservations here back in August and we were surprised when they told us it was full all winter. After talking to the volunteer at the gate we now know why. Most state parks limit you to 14 days. Between November 1 and March 31 Gulf Shores allows continuous camping and only charges $450/month including water and electric. Reservations need to be made a year in advance. It looked like a beautiful park. One to remember for the future. We were hungry and stopped at one of the many seafood restaurants along the beach. When I looked at the menu I saw that today’s special was popcorn shrimp but Tuesday’s was crab cakes. I teasingly asked the waitress if she could pretend it was Tuesday. She said she’d have to ask. I really didn’t expect them to say yes since the special was half price. They did! The special was supposed to be a smaller portion but I had 2 large crab cakes.

Fort Conde, Mobile

Fort Conde in Mobile

Mobile, Alabama

View Of Mobile From Fort Conde

Mobile, Fort Conde

View Of Old Mobile Home From Fort Conde

Mobile, Carnival, Alabama

Mobile Carnival Museum

While we waited on Tuesday for the trailer to be finished we drove down to Mobile and stopped at the Visitors Center which is housed in a 4/5 recreation of the original Fort Conde that founded Mobile. As with many cities in this area Mobile has been under French, British, Spanish and American governments. We took a tour of Fort Conde then walked over to the Carnival Museum (closed). Mobile has a Carnival at the same time as New Orleans Mardi Gras. By then we received a call that the trailer was done. Now to find a place for tonight. After 2 nights in a parking lot we decided to move on. There was Plantation Escapees Rainbow Park not far away so we checked in there. Escapees Club members receive a discount on site rates but the park is open to general RVers too. Laundry had mounted up so this was a priority. We drove around while the clothes were drying and saw that there were homes with RV garages, permanent sites with storage buildings and the temporary lots. While we’re not ready to stay in one place for a long time yet, this did give us an insight into options available to us. Like many RV parks with lot owners and long term residents they have a lot of activities. Tonight they were having a community dinner for $5/person. So we went. It was nice to talk with people who had been doing what we’re doing for many years. One couple at our table had been RVers for 15 years. They all nodded knowingly at our tale of woe. Yes, they had similar experiences.

Wednesday morning after a quick breakfast and we’re off to Florida. Bedroom slide in. Desk slide in. Main slide in but what’s this? It’s not closed on the left and it’s not lined up correctly. We call Camping World to tell them we need to come back. “Just an adjustment” they say. Two hours later we really do get on the road. With this unexpected delay we don’t know if we’ll make it before dark. We stick to the interstate instead of the scenic routes we prefer.

To be continued in our next post Paddles, Peddles and Playas On St. George Island. OK so you caught Chari’s brain slipping a gear. Let’s try again. Make that Paddles, Pedals and Playas.