The last week of November was the start of our Habitat RV Care-A-Vanner build in Tuscaloosa, Alabama - rebuilding homes lost in the 2011 tornadoes that devastated that area. Because most of the build fell in December, we opted to talk about it this month.
Our first day was quite interesting, and a short work day. We had no sooner gotten to the jobsite and met some of our supervisors and coworkers that we all carpooled over to another Habitat site for the groundbreaking ceremony. David Robertson, one of the Yankees' pitchers, and his wife Erin were there. David started the charity High Socks for Hope http://www.highsocksforhope.com/ which raises money to either fully or partially furnish the Habitat houses being built since 2011 tornadoes. David is from the area but is often out either pitching a game during the season, or at spring training elsewhere. His schedule permitted him to meet the future homeowner and participate in the groundbreaking.
Afterwards, we were invited to a volunteer appreciation potluck lunch put on by First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa. The lunch was very good but the best part was getting a personal tour of the church - lots of history there, including two stained glass panels dating before Christopher Columbus' era as well as an old tapestry going back hundreds of years, a baptismal font, and other old pieces donated by church members. We even got a private concert by the church's organist - we all hung over his shoulder and watched him push and pull knobs and pedals.
Surprisingly, we did get a pretty good day's work on the Key house. Antonio, the owner's grandson who would be living there with her, joined us on several days, learning new building skills. Coming into a Habitat build at the finishing stage was a new experience for us - we are usually there for the framing, siding, etc...Larry joined the guys working on baseboards, laying down ceramic tiles, and laying down the bamboo flooring. Lucille joined Helen and Barb with caulking, spreading grout on all the tiled rooms, and some painting.
Two of the days we were re-routed to help with Project Ryan, finishing up a shed and starting and building an addition to the house for the owner's son who has spina bifida. Ryan's family's church was paying for all materials with Habitat providing the labor. The shed will hold all his medical supplies and the addition will hold a special bathroom for him, with the roof supports reinforced for a future ceiling track to help bring him to the bathtub.
On our last day, we met our small group of Care-A-Vanners for breakfast at a local IHOP for one last get together. It was fun working with our Canadian friends and we look forward to seeing them in the future.
Time to head to Americus, Georgia for Lucille's laptop to get a tune up and to meet with the two of the folks in the IT Department about customizing parts of our registration program. Dave and Mary welcomed us, as did fellow Habitat friends Joyce and Jay - they had prepared a wonderful lasagna dinner - who needs restaurants! While in Americus, we did a road trip to Albany, Georgia, to meet the local Habitat affiliate there, stop by one of their homes under construction, enjoy lunch at the Mellow Mushroom, and tour the Flint RiverQuarium. It was pretty quiet during the middle of the week - we practically had the place to ourselves. We enjoyed going through the exhibits at Discovery Caverns - lots of tanks of cool-looking fish and other critters as well as several interactive displays. Mary, being the competitive soul she is, won at one of the 'games' available for kids of all ages to play.
Gord and Helen pulled into the Habitat RV Park the day before we left. We'd just enjoyed working with them in Tuscaloosa so it was a bonus to see them again so soon. The six of us went out to the Forsyth Bar and Grill for a good meal and fellowship.
The next day, we hit the road after stopping to fuel up the motor home at a local gas station, then headed to George L. Smith State Park near Twin City, Georgia, where we met up with Pat and Yvette. They surprised us when they pulled in with their new travel trailer - Yvette admitted it was one of the hardest secrets to keep from us. The weather was chilly while there but that didn't stop us from enjoying a couple of nice hikes, snagging a couple of geocaches, and some great meals and a campfire. One of the trails is called Squirrel Run and for good reason. Overlooking the boardwalk is a box inhabited by not one but two squirrels. We'd walk by and see one head poking out, still as a statue, looking like it was wall mounted. We couldn't snag a picture when there were two of them - they spooked too easily that time. Down by the park entrance is Parrish Mill and Pond - a combination gristmill and saw mill with a covered bridge and dam built in 1880. From here you can access a well maintained trail. This is a beautiful state park with most of the sites overlooking the cypress swamp.
Time to head to Camp Carr for the rest of the year. We hit the ground running that first weekday with medical appointments. We also spent time doing mundane activities like laundry, cleaning, minor maintenance issues of our home on wheels.
The Christmas decorations came out and within 15 minutes, the motor home was decorated - a benefit to having a small space! Lucille's aunt Lorraine flew up from Fort Lauderdale to join the rest of the family for Christmas. So that she wouldn't have to change planes, she flew into Jacksonville, a direct flight, so we made the trip to pick her up and later to return her to the airport. Pat joined us on the way to pick her up, with a lunch stop for what we think is the best fried shrimp around at B & J's in Darien. After we dropped Lorraine off for her return trip home, we timed our arrival to have dinner at Fox's Pizza Den in Brunswick - we know how to travel, and stay nourished!
Speaking of staying nourished, Pat and Yvette and Pat's family put on another holiday feast - if you can't find something to eat with all the prepared dishes, you probably aren't hungry!
New Year's Eve was a quiet celebration - watching a rented movie and listening to fireworks the neighbors were shooting off. And so ends 2013 and our tenth year of full-time RVing. Hard to believe it's been ten years since we hit the road. No plans to stop anytime soon - we continue to enjoy every day, every experience, making new friends and reconnecting with old friends.
Coming up: A short stay in Savannah to finish up a couple more medical appointments; a few days' stop at Saint George Island State Park in the Florida Panhandle; and continuing to head west to Summerdale, Alabama and the Escapees' Rainbow Plantation where we'll park till the end of March.