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T-Time: Little Darlin'

Monday 3/26/2012

Montgomery South RV Park

Hope Hull, AL

We've said it before, and it remains true, that one of the many perks of this lifestyle is the wonderful friendships we’ve been fortunate enough to make along the way. And speaking of friendships, have you ever met someone that was so bubbly, outgoing, full of charm, and seemed like they could barely contain their excitement of seeing you the very first time you met that you instantly knew you’d become fast friends? Well meet our newest friend, Darlin’.  (Yes, that’s really her name.)
Darlin’ lives on the horse farm next door, but we’ve noticed that she seems to be a common fixture around here. According to the camp hosts, she’s the self-appointed mascot/welcome waggin' (pun intended). She delights in welcoming new guests while also keeping tabs on the residents that have been here for awhile. Darlin’ is so well loved here that long-term residents frequently invite her inside for a snack and a visit,
and guests that have stopped here in their travels will call the campground just to ask how she’s doing. She’s a breath of fresh air and certainly someone that I could learn a few nicety tips from. Sadly, Darlin’ isn’t someone that we’ll be able to meet up with down the road, but you can be sure that if we ever come back to this campground again, we’ll be ecstatic to pick up our friendship right where we left off!

Back to Alabama… headin’ west soon

Sunday 3/25/2012

Montgomery South RV Park

Hope Hull, AL

After extensive consideration, we decided to change our plans again.  We had planned to venture further south and check out an RV park near Hahira, GA, called Cain’s Creekside RV Park, and then on down to the Tampa area for a few days.  But due to time constraints, we’ve decided to begin our trek westward with a layover near Montgomery.

We’re currently at Montgomery South RV Park just southwest of Montgomery near Hope Hull, AL.  We left Cotton Hill Campground just north of Fort Gaines, GA, on Monday.  We had a successful trip that took just under three hours, including a stop along the highway while a crew cut down a dead tree along side the road.
This is a small RV park right off of I65.  Upon our arrival, I received a very friendly greeting from Jim, the owner, and Nancy, the office clerk/bookkeeper here at the office.
  We paid for Monday night at the Passport America rate of $21.  This rate is only good Sunday through Thursday.  Then on Tuesday, we decided to stay a week for $125.  The traffic noise isn’t too bad.  Of course, just beyond the interstate is a very active rail line.  The campground is rather small, but we do have a nice pull-through site with 50 amp electric, sewer, and water.  There is also WIFI, and that has worked well for us too.
They have DISH Network available here too, but not cable.  If you don’t have a DISH receiver, Jim can supply one.  I chose not to take advantage of that though.  I put up the antenna, and we can get all the major networks.  They’re not real busy here.  So much so that Jim told me to park the Honda in the site next door.  They’ve had only just a few overnighters since we’ve been here.  There are a number of long-term residents here, and they’re quiet and respectful.  This is a good place for a night or two stop.

There’s a clear view of the southern sky here, so I tried to set up my DirecTV dish but was unable to get a signal.  I determined that my dish is pretty well “used up.”  The wind blew it over several months ago, and as a result the LNB arm is loose and the bracket is bent.  So Tuesday we drove up to Calera, AL, to the Camping World and bought a new dish.  (No, not a “UFO”, just a single LNB round dish.)  We can receive the signal now, and I’m a happy camper… and Terri is happy too because Mike is a happy camper.

Except for the Camping World visit and a trip to Walmart, we’ve just stayed close to home.  We thought about doing some sightseeing, but that just didn’t happen either.  Hopefully, we’ll be heading west on Tuesday… unless our plans change again. Winking smile

We’ve moved… Finally !!!

Sunday 3/18/2012

Cotton Hill Campground, COE

Fort Gaines, GA

We finally left Deer Run RV Park near Troy, AL, on Thursday, March 15th.  We drove about 78 miles southeast to Cotton Hill Campground,
located about six miles north of Fort Gaines, GA.  It’s one of four Corps of Engineer campgrounds located near Walter F. George Lake.  The other three are located in Alabama.

Considering we hadn’t moved for about four and a half months, the trip went well.  It’s amazing how “out of practice” we can get when we don’t travel.  We took our time getting ready to go.  The slides went in without any problems.  (We had run the slides in and back out about two weeks ago just to make sure they worked.)  The landing gear went up without any problems too.  (Again, I operated them about two months ago.)  Just when I thought we were ready to go,  I realized I had forgotten to fuel up the truck.  No problem though, we just stopped at the place right down the road.  Luckily the diesel pumps were vacant, and I could just pull right in with the rig.  Unfortunately, they were out of diesel!!  So we headed into Troy, and I fueled up in town on the way through.  Other than the fuel issue and a late start, the trip went well. 

Earlier in the day, I checked online to see how many sites were available at the campground.  There were at least twelve available, so I wasn’t too worried about getting one.  When we arrived at the park, there were nine still available.  We left the rig at the gatehouse and drove the Honda in to check out the available sites.  We settled for site number 47.  All of the sites in the campground have water, 50/30/20 electric, and sewer hookups.  The roads are paved, and each site has a level concrete pad to park on.  Instead of a view of the lake, we had a view of a narrow inlet.
Another view of the inlet from our site.
Here’s a closer look at that yellow sign in the shot above.
I looked several times, but never did see any gators.  This is the inlet looking north…
and looking south toward the lake.
A view of our site from the inlet…
and a closer look.
A view of our site from the road…
looking north from our site…
and looking south.
Also, because of the trees, we couldn’t get a satellite signal or any OTA channels with our antenna.  So, no TV for four days.  That’s a long time for us to go without TV!!  This is our first COE campground, and we both agreed that we should have probably arrived earlier in the week to get a nicer (to us) site.  It’s very peaceful here.  The campground did fill up for the weekend, but everyone around us was fairly quiet and respectful.

On Sunday we drove north along the east side of the lake to Eufaula, AL.  We saw some beautiful old houses.  I read that many of them survived the Civil War because just before the town was to be burned down by the Union soldiers, the war came to an end.  Also while we were in town, we stopped in at one of the cemeteries.
This one had a very old section, but many of the headstones were hard to read.  Also, the condition of the cemetery itself was rather run down and was in need of some major cleaning up, mowing, and landscaping.  On the way out of town, we saw this sign.
We didn’t stop in, but it was very tempting.

We decided to head back home, so we headed south on the western side of the lake.  By going back this way, we ended up driving around the southern portion of the lake.  On the way back, we stopped in and checked out the two COE campgrounds that were closed when we drove over here in January.  White Oak Creek Campground had some really nice lakefront sites with electric and water.  The other one, Hardridge Creek Campground, had more wooded sites than lake view.  Hardridge Creek had several full hookup sites, but none with a lake view.

We both liked our first COE experience, but it would have been much better for us if we would have been able to use our TV.

Breakfast, Car maintenance, and a UFO sighting???

Wednesday 3/14/2012

Deer Run RV Park

Troy, AL

Yesterday we went to breakfast with Robert and Becky.  They recommended Waffle House.  They go there enough that they actually know many of the employees.  We used to go to Waffle House quite often when we were traveling just by car, so that was a good choice for us.  It had been a long time since we had been to one.  The food was great and the company even better.

Later, Terri and I headed north up to Montgomery.  After quick stops at the recycle bins and Family Dollar, we went to the local Honda dealer.
We had the oil and filter changed in the Element.  They also did a tire rotation and a four wheel alignment.  After all that, we headed home.
Disappointed smileDisappointed smileDisappointed smile
As we approached our campground site, we spied this “UFO” that had landed behind our rig!!! 
At first it was located right next to our site, but during the night it “moved” completely into our site.  Normally we park one of our vehicles in that spot, but not now.  It had an interesting “tether” attached to it.  I could see that it led over to the “mother ship” TWO sites away!!  If you look closely, you can see the “tether” leading to the “mother ship” beyond our fifth wheel in this photo.
Luckily, the “aliens” decided to take off today and we got our parking spot back.Smile  I wanted to mention that I thought the “aliens” were rather bold and inconsiderate, but I decided to keep this post more positive and upbeat.Who me?

Lunch with friends in Opp, AL

Monday 3/12/2012

Deer Run RV Park

Troy, AL

Today we met our friends, John and Ginny, for lunch.
We originally met them at the 2010 RV-Dreams Rally in SC and have kept in touch since then.  They’ve acquired a Hitch Hiker 5th wheel and a GMC truck.  Right now they’re on an extended trip and are really enjoying themselves.
John and Ginny are presently staying at a park in northwest Florida, so we decided to meet at a Subway in Opp, AL, which is sort of halfway between.  We had lunch and enjoyed getting caught up on everything.  The time flew by as we talked and laughed and just had a great time with them.  Too soon it was time to head home, even though we could have probably sat and talked for several more hours.  It was really great seeing them again, even if it was for only a couple of hours.  Thanks again John and Ginny for lunch.
Time didn’t allow us to check out Opp, but I did read that the town’s slogan is “The City of OPPortunity”.  Perhaps some other time we can check out Opp as well as Andalusia, which is just west of Opp.
One of the many great things about this lifestyle is making new friends, and then meeting up with them again somewhere on down the road.

Lunches, Truck Repair, and Changes of Plans

Saturday 3/10/2012

Deer Run RV Park

Troy, AL

Tuesday, the 28th, we went out for lunch with our friends, Robert and Becky.
They’ve been fulltime RV’ers since 2007 and are workamping here at Deer Run for the winter.  They’ve traveled all across the country including Alaska.  We went out for lunch with them to Hook’s Barbeque last month.  This time we went to Rodeo Mexican Restaurant in Troy.
The food was delicious, and we all had a good time talking and enjoying each other’s company.  Again, I forgot to take pictures of our food.Disappointed smile

Wednesday, the 29th, Terri and I went to Lee’s China Buffet in Troy.
We wanted to compare the Troy location to the Ozark location that we visited last month.  I thought the two were just about the same, and Terri thought the food tasted better at the Ozark location.  We think that maybe the food was just a bit tastier at Ozark because we ate there closer to the lunch time rush, about an hour earlier.  Some of the food at the Troy buffet had probably been sitting a bit longer and may not have been quite as fresh.
Nevertheless, we both enjoyed our lunch.

Like many fulltime RV’ers, our plans are written in pencil.  That’s a good thing because recently a few slight problems developed which caused us to make some changes.  Originally, our plan was to leave here on Thursday, March 1st.  The first problem was with our truck.  Sometimes when I would insert the ignition key an “idiot” light on the dash would display a quickly flashing padlock image, and the truck would NOT start.  I didn’t think too much of this the first time it happened, as I thought it might have to do with the fact that the truck had been sitting for quite some time AND was left unlocked for a period of time.  I fiddled with the keyless remote and hit the power locks a few times.  It seemed to reset, and it did start up.  But then the other day when we went to lunch with Robert and Becky, it started acting up again.  Once again I fiddled with the remote and the power locks, and again it reset and we were able to get home.  I was really worried we were going to be stranded .Baring teeth smile

So on the morning of departure - Thursday, March 1st - I went out to the truck to check tire air pressures.  I topped off a couple of them successfully, but was having trouble with the left rear outer tire.  I had to have that valve stem replaced last year, and it just has never worked right since.  I couldn’t get it fully inflated this time.  It was about ten pounds under inflated, and I wasn’t comfortable with that at all.  I decided to run into town and get the valve stem replaced.  So I got in the truck, and it wouldn’t start again!  Same “reset” procedure as before, luckily it finally started, and off to the tire store I went.  I went in and talked to the guy, and he said he could get to it in about ten minutes.  I gave him the key, and he headed out to the truck.  I followed him out because I knew what was next… no start.  We went through the “reset” ritual and …no start !!  I volunteered to try starting it for him, and he went back inside.  It started right up for me on the first attempt.  So I just left the engine running, and I told the guy inside that it had started and was running.  Well, he instructed his technician to not shut it off, so it idled for about forty-five minutes while he changed out the valve stem.  I just kept thinking about that expensive diesel fuel just burning away.Crying face 

While I was waiting, I decided to stop at the Ford dealership, which is on the way back to the campground, to have this starting issue checked out.  Of course, they couldn’t look at it right then on Thursday, but they could look at it first thing in the morning… on MONDAY!  I went ahead and set up the appointment with them.  I didn’t want to get stranded somewhere and not be able to move the rig.  We went ahead and paid for another week at the campground with hopes of leaving on Thursday, March 8th.

Fast forward to Monday morning, March 5th.  I got in the truck, and guess what happened…. it started on the first try.  I stopped for some diesel on the way in to Ford, and guess what…  it started on the first try.  I got to Ford, shut it off, and gave it another try, and it fired right up.  Sooooo, I went in and talked to the service manager and told him that it now was NOT acting up and that I understood that if they couldn’t duplicate it, they might not be able to diagnose the problem.  I went ahead and left it with him and headed home.  Later Monday afternoon the service manager called and said they couldn’t duplicate the problem, but they did pull a code which indicated a Passive Anti Theft System (PATS) transceiver fault.  He also said that they don’t stock the replacement part (the transceiver), and it would have to be ordered with arrival on Wednesday.  Once the part arrived, they would be able to get it replaced in about an hour and a half.  I told him to go ahead and order it.  Since the truck was there, I asked him to also perform an oil and filter service on it.  Fast forward again to Wednesday, March 7th.  Mid morning the service manger called and told me the truck was ready.  We went and picked it up, and brought it home.  It appears the problem has been resolved.Smile

In the meantime, Robert and Becky and Terri and I went out for lunch on Tuesday to a place called Sisters’ Restaurant.  I forgot, again, to take pictures.Disappointed smile  We all enjoyed our lunch and time together.  Also on Tuesday, we received an email from our friends, John and Ginny.  We met them at the RV-Dreams Rally in SC in 2010, and we’ve kept in touch with each other since then.  They’re in northwest Florida right now, so we decided to meet for lunch on Thursday.  That worked out well since in the meantime we had already decided to extend our stay until Friday. 

Unfortunately, by late Tuesday it was obvious that Terri had come down with a stomach virus or something.  Sooooo, we decided to extend – again - our stay until at least Tuesday of next week to give her time to recover.  Thursday morning we made arrangements with John and Ginny to postpone lunch until Monday, the 12th.  Terri  didn’t feel well at all Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  She slept quite a bit and finally started feeling better today.  (Thanks Robert and Becky for stopping by to check on her status.)

Again, our plans are written in pencil and, like many, we have a big eraser so to speak.  That’s one of the many benefits of this lifestyle.  So now the plan is to leave here either Tuesday or Thursday.  I wonder if that will happen or if we’ll come up with a new plan… again.  Stay tuned!!

Fireplace repair, Sundaes, and visits to Montgomery, Enterprise, and Dothan.

Friday, 2/24/2012

Deer Run RV Park

Troy, AL

Wow, it’s been almost two weeks since I last posted an entry.  Where does the time go so quickly?  The last couple weeks we actually came out of hibernation and went exploring a bit.

Wednesday, the 15th, we headed north up to Montgomery.  We needed to turn in a bunch of recyclables.
Then we went downtown and checked out the Montgomery Visitor Center.  It’s located in the old railroad station.  The building is beautiful inside and out.
The balcony and supports…
beautiful stained glass windows and woodwork…
and the beautiful floor.
There were displays to see..
and a short film to watch.  We got some information on a few sites that we wanted to check out.  Unfortunately, it was getting late and we needed to head home.  We’ll have to come back and visit those sites another time.

On Friday, the 17th, we went to the Oakwood Cemetery here in Troy.
I had seen a comment on Facebook about a monument located in Troy, AL, “memorializing” John Wilkes Booth and his assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  How appalling!  I did some simple research and found out that it did FORMERLY exist.  It was not erected by the city, county, or state, but was actually commissioned by an individual, Joseph Pinkney “Pink” Parker.  Exercising his First Amendment rights, he erected it in his own front yard.  It stood there for several years, obviously causing much controversy.  Upon his death, Parker’s sons had the inscription “honoring” Booth removed and had it recarved so it could be used as Parker’s tombstone.
After finding this “historic” marker, we explored the cemetery for about two hours or so.  It contains some very old grave markers, many of which have deteriorated and fallen apart.
Many of the graves had no marker at all.  Perhaps the missing grave markers were made of wood like this one.
A few more pics of the cemetery.

On Wednesday, the 21st, we drove south to Enterprise and Dothan.  Enterprise has a monument honoring the boll weevil.  Many years ago, the primary crop for the area was cotton.  The boll weevil moved in and devastated the industry and forced farmers to find an alternative.  That alternative was peanuts.  Because of the boll weevil, the area farmers learned to diversify and prosper.  They honor the boll weevil with this monument.
We tried to go to the visitor center located in the old depot, but it was closed.
Here’s a sign for a local establishment, again honoring the boll weevil.
After our tour of downtown Enterprise, we drove east to Dothan, AL.  First stop was the visitor center.  Dothan, also, is heavily reliant on the peanut industry and claims to be the “Peanut Capital of the World.”  In appreciation of peanuts, they have this monument located at the Visitor Center.
Also at the Visitor Center were these beautiful flowers.
After our stop at the Visitor Center, we headed toward the downtown area.  First stop was this monument commemorating the naming of Dothan.
The story of the naming of Dothan was located nearby.
Just up the street, we found what is proclaimed to be the “World’s Smallest City Block.”  It’s a small triangle containing a stop sign, yield sign, street sign, and a granite marker.
Next stop was the Wiregrass Armed Forces Memorial.
We appreciate these memorials and what they represent.  “Thank you” to all those who have served throughout the history of this fine country.  We’ve been to a couple of these memorials now, and I believe there cannot be too many of them.

On Friday, the 24th, we endured some strong storms in the morning.  After the weather had cleared up, we headed out for a “nourishing” lunch at a place called Milky Moo’s.
We had eaten lunch here back in January with a bunch of folks from here at the campground.  However, we didn’t try the ice cream at that time.  Our friends, Mike and Sue, gave us a discount card that they weren’t going to be able to use before they left for Georgia, and today was the day to take advantage of it.  Terri had a small hot caramel sundae.
And I had a large hot fudge sundae.
We both enjoyed our “lunch” (thanks Mike and Sue!) and then headed over to Walmart for some grocery shopping.

Later in the afternoon, I decided it was time to attempt a repair to our fireplace.  A while back the blower motor stopped working.  I called Dimplex and they sent out a replacement blower/heating unit.  It arrived earlier in the week.  They said that because it was still under warranty, there was no charge.  And, if I wanted, they would have someone come out and install it for us.  After looking at the new assembly, I decided to try and replace it myself.  First, I removed the anchor screws and pulled the fireplace unit out of the cubby hole.  I unplugged the unit and then removed the screws from the top cover and carefully flipped it over without pulling any wires loose.
Then I took a few pictures of the wiring before I started the disassembly.
I disconnected the wires, removed the old unit, transferred the shroud and mounting hardware over to the new unit, connected the wires and double checked to the pictures I had taken, and then tried to attach the new unit to the lid.  The screw holes on the new unit didn’t match up to the holes on the lid.  I compared the new unit to the old unit and realized I had missed a couple of mounting brackets when I was transferring everything over.  So I disconnected all of the wires (again), attached the two small mounting brackets, reconnected all the wires (again), and double checked everything to the pictures (again).  Now I was able to successfully attach the new unit to the lid.
I reinstalled the lid and returned/secured the fireplace back into its cubby hole.  I plugged the cord back in and turned on the fireplace, and everything seems to be working just fine.
It’s really nice having the use of the fireplace again.  It still gets chilly at night here, and we’re looking forward to using it.