March through August 2014

 

In case you thought we have been sitting in Alabama since February, let it be known that we have travelled about 2,300 miles with the motor home to Otis, Massachusetts plus another 2,100 miles from Otis to Savannah, Georgia and back in June.

Because we are so behind in our updates and summer is almost over with, we will give you the Readers’ Digest Condensed version of what we’ve been up to since we last updated our web page in February.

March found us still at Rainbow Plantation, the Escapees’ park in Summerdale, Alabama.  We continued to enjoy hanging out with Karen and Galen, attending the weekly dulcimer jam sessions, and eating out at several favorite local restaurants – Big Daddy’s Grill, Panini Pete’s, Gift Horse Restaurant for their buffet, Fish River Grill (lucked out and were there for their shrimp special – good shrimp but we still prefer B & J’s Steak and Seafood in Darien, Georgia), l.a. (lower Alabama) barbeque (best squash casserole Lucille ever ate), and Grover’s Fingers and Wings in Pensacola.

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This model railroad was once in someone's house.  It became too big; it was moved to the Foley Train Museum.

The Model Train Exhibit in Foley is not to be missed - awesome.  In the same building as the Foley Railroad Museum, we spent over an hour there.  We watched the movie about the founder of this exhibit and got the tail end of the docent’s talk describing the various buildings and such on the display.  Well worth a repeat visit – there is so much to see.  Check with the museum to see what days the train exhibit is open and bring binoculars.

One evening, we attended a concert by the McPhersons at nearby Wales West Campground – the $5 per person entrance fee included the entertainment as well as refreshments during their break.  The McPhersons are a very talented family singing folk and gospel music.

We got in some geocaching in Pensacola as well as finding one at the Weeks Bay Pitcher Plant Bog.  We’d hoped to see pitcher plants but it was still a bit early for them to be blooming – we still enjoyed the boardwalk over the bog.

Poor Daisy was having digestive problems – somewhere in her past, prior to our getting her, she had chewed up and swallowed a large fabric dog collar.  Parts of it kept showing up so we brought her to Advanced Animal Care in Foley where Dr. Gunter gave her a thorough exam, including an x-ray to make sure she hadn’t also swallowed the buckle.   Dr. Gunter had an interesting career path - a former mechanical engineer who worked for a defense company in Huntsville, he switched to veterinary medicine when his job got eliminated.  He prescribed a couple of meds and home remedies and Daisy was soon back to normal.  We did learn that if she is going to be tied up for any reason, it should be with something that can’t be chewed.  In record time, she managed to get through the restraint we used to keep her from flying through the windshield of the motor home when we are on the road.  Vinyl wrapped metal tie-out cables from now on. 

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Returning to the Ozark RV Park is like returning to family.  In fact Lu's brother Roger met us at the park and enjoyed getting up close with the dulcimer crowd.  We saw this double rainbow after a brief shower.

April – we left Summerdale, and after a quick detour to Huntsville to meet up with our family doctor, we went west towards Mountain View, Arkansas, meeting back up with Karen and Galen in Memphis at the Agricenter RV Park.  Of course, a stop in Memphis means a stop at Corky’s Ribs and BBQ – great as always.  We got our dulcimer music fix in Mountain View, staying at the Ozark RV Park.  Roger and Kathie arrived a few days after we did and got to practice their dulcimers with us.  It was good seeing them, though the visit was too short.  

Our ride to Springfield, Missouri, to attend Habitat for Humanity’s RV Care-A-Vanners 25th Anniversary Build and Rally was a mere 150 miles but quite twisty and hilly but quite scenic.  Our two weeks there went by so quickly.  Once again, we thank all who supported this event with your donations.  

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Kit set the mood for arriving participants with a little clowning around.

Thanks to Joe and Jane Gano’s excellent organization, parking and registration that first day went smoothly, despite the occasional rain.  Folks were first greeted by Kit, dressed in his clown costume, welcoming the RVers to the fairgrounds (his ultimate purpose was to make sure they came in the correct gate).  Kelly then checked them off as they got to the first station, alerting Joe (giving him a heads up for parking) and Mary.  As head of the CAV program, Mary personally greeted each attendee.  At this point, the RVs were staged until they were accompanied by the parking crew to their assigned site.  After they were parked and set up, they then proceeded to the registration tables to pick up their welcome packets – all the pre-planning paid off.  The only hiccups encountered were occasional power issues which the fairgrounds staff quickly remedied.

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The registration crew made sure everyone was signed up and then escorted to their assigned parking spot. 

There were close to 100 RVs parked in the fairgrounds, with approximately 190 RV Care-A-Vanners (CAVers) participating.  Devotions on the first day of the build were held at the fairgrounds with two of the partner families joining us – it was a very moving and emotional moment for all.

During the course of the two weeks, thirty-eight families were helped – there was one new home construction, a couple of rehabs, and several Brush with Kindness as well as neighborhood cleanup.  We were all kept busy working half days with the other half day dedicated to either training or free time to visit the area.  

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Jonathon Reckford, head of Habitat for Humanity International, recognized some of those that made the Care-A-Vanner program what it is today; Dave and Mary, head of the Care-A-Vanner program; Tony and Mary, whose guiding hands rescued the faltering Care-A-Vanner program and made it mobile; and Joe and Jane who coordinated the 25th anniversary event.

The rally, held during the weekend in between the two weeks of the build, was both entertaining and informative, and again, very well organized.  We had speakers from Habitat International as well as the executive directors from the Leland, Mississippi Habitat affliate.  The attendees were ‘treated’ to a sing along, led by Tony Campbell – all of us on the RV CAV desk, as well as our spouses, were encouraged to participate on stage.  Singing is not our forte - we do better swinging hammers!  Jeff Gordon entertained us one evening and the last evening, we were honored to have Jonathan Reckford, head of Habitat for Humanity International, speak.

Lucille’s favorite part of the entire event was getting to actually meet the folks whose online registrations for upcoming CAV builds she has been processing for the past several years and put faces to names.

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We supported the local economy with visits to the Bass Pro Shops, Andy's Frozen Custard and local restaurants.

While in the area, we visited the flagship store for Bass Pro Shops and its neighboring outlet – found

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A Jeep-pulled tram brought us through Missouri's Fantastic Caverns.

 some bargains we just couldn’t pass up.  We also visited Fantastic Caverns, the only cavern in the US where you drive through on a Jeep-pulled tram.  Thanks to the eagle eyes of some of the riders, we spotted several bats very close.  We were also introduced to Andy’s Frozen Custard – yum!  We would have a serious weight problem if we stayed in the area too long.

May – We left Springfield and headed towards the St. Louis area to attend niece Ashley’s college graduation.  We stayed at 370 Lakeside Park in St. Peters – a very nice park, level sites and with 3.5 mile loop walking/biking trail around the lake.  

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We met up with our neice, Ashley, and her fiance' Joe, in St. Louis, Missouri.  Both graduated from the St. Louis Christian College.  Of course, a luncheon was required to help celebrate.

Ashley graduated from the St. Louis Christian College in Florissant.  She was as excited to see us as we her.  We also met her fiancé Joe, whom she’d be marrying the following month in Illinois.  Getting to see them both then worked out well for all as we would be at our place in Massachusetts by the time of the wedding.  Her parents weren’t able to attend the graduation but would be at the wedding so we gladly represented the family.    Joe’s family was very welcoming – we all met for a celebration lunch afterwards at the Pasta House.

Dave and Mary, whom we’d just left in Springfield, were on their way home and stopped in the St. Louis for a night.  We met for dinner at the St. Louis Bread Company (aka Panera Bread).  Even though we’d just spent two weeks with them, it was all Habitat, all the time, so this was a pleasant evening of unwinding.  Another night, Habitat friends Jim and Linda live nearby and met us for dinner at Tucano’s Brazilian Grill – what an unusual and entertaining evening – and great food.  Check out their link to see what the Tucano’s experience is all about.

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The Gateway Arch is a must see when visiting St. Louis.  A tram-train hauls you up to the top.  Note the cramped space that seats five.

A visit to St. Louis isn’t complete without a visit to the Gateway Arch.  It seems every road leading to the Arch was under construction with detours.  We kept circling it and after forty minutes, finally found the entrance to the parking lot.  It seems most everyone else had the same idea – even with reservations for a specific time, we had to wait almost ninety minutes before we finally made it to the top, only to have to rush through it because it was so crowded.  But the view was fabulous.  If you have never been there and are claustrophobic, the tram cars will set you in a tizzy – very small, very crowded, yet they manage to cram five folks in at a time, no matter what size you are.  We couldn’t even get a good picture because we were all so close to each other.

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At the top of the arch you can get a view of the Mississippi River and the Eads Bridge completed in 1874.

Facts from the National Park: "The stainless-steel-faced Arch spans 630 feet between the outer faces of its triangular legs at ground level, and its top soars 630 feet into the sky. 

Each leg is an equilateral triangle with sides 54 feet long at ground level, tapering to 17 feet at the top. The legs have double walls of steel 3 feet apart at ground level and 7-3/4 inches apart above the 400-foot level.  The Arch has no real structural skeleton. Its inner and outer steel skins, joined to form a composite structure, give it its strength and permanence.

Visitors are carried from the lobby level below the arch to the observation platform at the top of the Arch by a 40-passenger train made up of eight five-passenger capsules in each leg. Operating at the rate of 340 feet per min., the ride takes 10 minutes for the round trip. The observation platform is 65 feet by 7 feet, with plate-glass windows providing views in the east and west directions." 

Time to head towards Klondike Resort in Otis, Massachusetts where we hoped to spend summer and part of fall.  En route, we stopped for an overnight in Fairlawn, Ohio and visited with Linda for the evening.    The rest of the month was spent getting our site ready for the season, as well as helping Scott, Klondike’s caretaker, get Klondike spiffied up and ready for the season opening Memorial Day weekend.  We ended the month with dinner at Arizona Pizza in Lenox, celebrating our 43rd wedding anniversary.

June – Our home has wheels, allowing us to go where we are needed.  We made a last minute decision to head back south for the month to the Savannah, Georgia area.  Lucille’s mother had been in the hospital late May and had several follow up appointments coming up.  Yvette was juggling handling that as well as running her travel agency business and at the same time, trying to get everything caught up to make an out of the country trip the last two weeks of June.  Our plan was to take over Mom-duties during our stay.  We got reservations for the month at the Savannah South KOA in Richmond Hill, less than ten minutes from Lucille’s mother’s apartment.  We won’t bore you with the details of our Georgia trip – we were kept busy with all the follow up medical appointments.  We are glad we were able to help out but the heat and humidity reminded us why we like being up in the Berkshire Mountains that time of the year.  Our air conditioners ran non-stop.

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The Midway Congregational Church traces it roots to the earliest settlers in Massachusetts.

While in the area, we made a quick down to enjoy shrimp at our all-time favorite shrimp restaurant – B & J’s Steak and Seafood in Darien.  We also stopped at the Midway Museum (named because it was midway between Savannah and Darien, when Darien used to be quite the town).  Our docent was so knowledgeable, we wonder how she remembers so many of the facts she passed on, as well as how all these families were related.  She also gave us a tour of the nearby meeting house, still being used occasionally.

July and August – We returned to Klondike early July – not too much exciting going on for these two months.  Larry did the weekly mowing of the Klondike lawns, we visited with family and friends, and we did a thorough cleaning of the gazebo and re-stained all the wood – it looks fabulous and hopefully will last several more years before needing to be redone.  The best part of this summer was the cooler than normal temperatures – days were pleasant and nights great for sleeping.  And surprisingly, no bears sighted in Klondike this year – especially after seeing them so much last year.  

Next up:  Still at Klondike through the middle of October; a quick trip east to the Boston area for a week; a few days in Baltimore, Maryland visiting relatives; leaf peeping near the Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas; and finally Huntsville, Alabama to start the round of our annual medical, dental, and now veterinary visits.

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