November 2009

We enjoyed a short stay in Huntsville, Alabama before heading to Rincon, Georgia for a week and then on to the Mobile, Alabama area for a month of fun with Habitat for Humanity.  Total distance towing was 945 miles.

After an enjoyable ten-day stay in Huntsville and getting in as many visits with friends as time allowed, it was time to head back to Rincon, Georgia.  We wanted to get an early start to ensure we’d get to ‘Camp Carr’ before dark – we were dealing not only with the change from Central to Eastern Time zones, but the change from Daylight Savings to Standard time.  Thanks to heading out at 5:45 am from Huntsville and minimal Sunday traffic on I-75 and through Atlanta, we got to Rincon mid-afternoon, just in time to get set up and then join Yvette and gang for happy hour and supper.

Rincon is where we now take care of most of our annual medical and dental appointments, which we started doing the next day and throughout that week.  Good reports this year except for one hiccup.  Lucille had had a crown replaced last year.  While we were in Utah, it fell out so we found a local dentist to re-cement it.  During her dental exam, the darned thing came out again – what’s up with that???  Because it had been less than a year since being replaced and because the replacement had been done in this same clinic, they replaced the crown (again!) at no additional charge.  Let’s hope this one stays put this time!

The rest of our stay went quickly.  Lucille and Yvette took their mother to a new doctor – one who not only specializes in geriatrics but will also be her primary care physician and cardiologist – almost one-stop shopping.  We were quite impressed with Dr. Rahimi and his staff and his attentiveness to his patients and their families.  The skilled nursing facility where Lucille’s father is now residing had a family care plan meeting during which they discussed his progress and answered any questions.  Luckily, he has adjusted as well as can be expected.  

Yvette’s friend Karin had been visiting from Germany for the past month.  We got to spend several days with her (and enjoyed some wonderful German dishes she prepared) before she left to go back home.  

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These photos taken from the museum web site show the brickworks that contained the water at the locks.

Some of the sightseeing we got in while in the area:  The Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center.  Built between 1825 and 1831, the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal travels a distance of 16-1/2 miles from the Savannah River to the Ogeechee River with six locks helping to navigate elevation changes.  Labor to build the canal was provided by slaves from neighboring plantations and immigrant Irish laborers.  Its primary purpose was to bring goods to Savannah from neighboring inland counties.    By 1890 and the advent of the railroad, it was no longer used as a barge canal but still transported logs to various sawmills along the Canal banks.

The one-room museum is packed with canal pictures and other memorabilia.  We then walked the trails alongside the canal and saw what was left of Locks # 5 and #6.  Several short trails meander through the Nature Center’s grounds.  Great day for a walk and learn something more about the area.

Another day, after visiting with Lucille’s parents in Richmond Hill, we enjoyed a picnic lunch at nearby J. F. Gregory Park then walked the three-mile nature trail.   Another great day for a walk on a level path through former rice fields.

Time to hit the road for Mobile, Alabama, where our Habitat friends Dave and Mary were waiting for us to join the rest of the gang already there.  Because it was over 500 miles from Rincon to Mobile, we broke the trip up over two days, spending the night at Sam’s Club in Dothan, Alabama.  Sam’s has become our favorite and most frequent dry camping overnight stop.  We always check with the manager first for permission to park as well as where we should park, with a promise to spend money in the store – very easy to do at Sam’s.

The Mobile Habitat affiliate made arrangements for the RV Care-A-Vanners to stay at Chickasabogue Park in nearby Eight Mile.  Wotta deal – 50 amp service, full hookups – life will be good during our five weeks’ stay here.  We met the entire team that evening at Pintoli’s Italian Café – we’ll be working with Tom and Chris, Ron and Jean, and Ron and Barb.  Dave and Mary will be here till early April but there will be a steady flow of Care-A-Vanners coming and going during that time.  By the end of the month, we also met Gary and Sandy and Jon and Joanne.

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The area behind the houses has been designated a flood plain.  For that reason the houses are being built on raised walls; and because the wood was donated by the American Plywood Association, the raised walls are wood rather than concrete.  Wood walls are a lot more labor intensive but since we are all volunteers...

The Mobile Habitat affiliate assigned two houses, side-by-side, for the Care-A-Vanners to have as our own to build, along with occasional local volunteers, with Dave and Mary acting as both leaders and construction supervisors.  When we arrived both houses had their foundations poured.  House #1 already had its floor when we arrived and House #2 not too far behind.  But we’ll concentrate on House #1 first, with a small team splitting off to do some prep work on #2.  

Both houses have presented challenges already.  Although the concrete company used a laser level when pouring the foundations, something wasn’t right – neither foundation is level.  One of our Rons is a civil engineer and has spent hours calculating how to correct some of the measurements so that when we put the floor on House #2, the walls will have already been adjusted to correct the uneven foundation.  The walls themselves have also been a challenge. Built in one day at the Habitat warehouse by a bunch of volunteers not properly supervised, almost all the walls had to be fixed before they could be permanently attached to the house.  It would have been faster to have built our own walls, which we will do for House #2.  But we’re all having fun working together and have seen a lot of progress in the time we’ve been here so far.  We’ve also enjoyed meeting the owners of both houses and working alongside them.

On our first day, we lucked out and were here in time to attend a dedication of the Fleming Family’s home – a very moving and emotional ceremony.  Before it started, we were able to take a tour of the interior to see what ‘our’ houses will look like – what a neat floor plan – lots of open space, thanks to a lot of angled walls.

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The weather was great for Thanksgiving dinner at the campground.  We had turkey and all the trimmings including pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert.

Thanksgiving was spent here at Chickasabogue with our Habitat family of friends – Mary and Lucille volunteered to bake the turkeys.  The others in our Care-A-Vanner group provided delicious traditional dishes and desserts.  The weather cooperated that day so we all (eleven of us) enjoyed our meal outdoors at Mary and Dave’s oversized picnic table.  The food was great and the fellowship wonderful.  Chris asked for the turkey carcasses so she could make soup, which we all enjoyed the following night at a campfire at our site.    

That Saturday, as if we hadn’t eaten enough over the past couple of days, we all went to The Brick Pit, a restaurant known for its ribs and pulled pork.   We compare rib places to our favorite – Corky’s.  Alas, The Brick Pit fell short of our expectations but their homemade banana pudding was spectacular.

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Joaquin got us in to the model train exhibit at the Mobile Museum of Art.

On Sundays, we attended the Church of the Good Shepherd, an Episcopal church that Mary and Dave had located.  Coincidentally, the pastor had attended the same medical school Mary had but a few years earlier – small world.  Good Shepherd is a small church but their parishioners are some of the friendliest we’ve met.  One Sunday, we met Joaquin Holloway and his family in the fellowship hall after the service.  Joaquin, a PHD and retired professor, is a model railroad fan, as is Dave.  The local model railroad club was setting up a display at the Mobile Museum of Art.  Joaquin was able to get us in for a sneak preview that afternoon.  He also took us on a tour of the beautiful campus of Alabama Southern University and the former train depot in downtown Mobile.  By this time, we’d all worked up an appetite which we satisfied with lunch at the Mellow Mushroom.

Lastly, Lucille celebrated a significant birthday at the end of the month and Yvette sent the perfect gift – a donation to the Mobile Habitat affiliate for every year of this significant birthday – very thoughtful.

Coming up:  We’ll continue to work here in Mobile till just before Christmas when we’ll head back to Rincon, Georgia to celebrate the holidays; on to Fort Lauderdale for a week; Palmdale for a few weeks, before we report for our volunteer work at Wakulla Springs State Park, south of Tallahassee, for the months of February and March.


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