Saturday, October 27, 2012

Held up in Red Bay. . .

We left Florida some time ago. We had breakfast with Brandon and Megan and we took off and headed north. We played leap frog with the kids as they were headed up to Tallahassee for the FSU game. They left later than we did and we stopped for fuel. After we got back on the road, they passed us. Hah!

Phaeton Place had a few items that needed attention so we quickly made our way over here to Red Bay. When we arrived, there were no campsites available anywhere and we boondocked on the property out of the way of all the traffic. There were several of us over there, but we only had to spend one night there. The next day we were able to move to a campsite.

Since we arrived a day before our appointment, we went to see Terry's Uncle Bob. He is the last survivor of 18 brothers and sisters. Ma and Pa Pace were each married before. I think Pa Pace had 8 children and Ma Pace had 5. They were both widowed and then married each other and had 5 more children. Uncle Bob is the last one of his generation. He is doing well and it was great to see him. He had a bit of a scare, but he is doing well. He has some memory problems, but he was glad we were able to stop in to see him.

We had an appointment for our service work, but for the first time ever, we had to wait a day to get in for our appointment. I was a bit disappointed that even though I had submitted a request for the window we need, it had not been ordered and it would be a couple days before it was ready. We had a couple minor items done, but discovered that they were going to have to replace our wet bay again (second time) and also needed the main slide floor replaced. We had not planned either of these items, but we wanted them done. The slide has given us trouble since it was new, so hopefully that will be fixed. The big problem was that everything had to be emptied from the cupboards in that slide. We had replaced the couch with a credenza and my custom file cabinet, so that all had to be emptied and actually removed. We got that all done last weekend, THEN they told us they were doing the wet bay FIRST! Oh joy! But we managed. I was really tired of moving boxes just to get to the bathroom though. LOL Both of those jobs are now complete and we are waiting yet for the window and some touch up paint from where they kept pulling the inspection panel for the wet bay.

So Monday it will be two weeks since we got here. Not real happy about that, but am happy Tiffin is replacing defective, expensive items at their cost, so I won't complain. The service center has been super busy with 20-30 rigs arriving daily and no place to put them. This week, however, they seem to be catching up a bit and we had more people pull out today. Hopefully we will get finished early in the week and we will be out of here and rolling toward Texas. Not a moment too soon, either, because our beautiful fall weather has turned cold on us and we are having to run heat now. Mom and Dad arrived in Texas last week, so we are glad they are there safe and sound.

Today we took a break and went to Florence, Alabama, so I could get some prescription refills. We took a look at some RV lots on Wheeler Lake, but they weren't anything we were interested in. They were at the end of a development and we saw a sign in a yard saying, "NO Motorhomes, RV's not welcome." Nice friendly place, don't you think?

On the way back to Red Bay, we passed a sign on the highway for Bell Mont Mansion. Hey, we are always up for some spooky old haunt, so we drove down the road. We drove all around the area and couldn't find it, so got back out on the road only to see a sign, just a couple hundred feet from where we turned onto the road. Hah! We drove back down the lane and there was an OPEN sign in the window. We walked to the front and the door opened! A very nice tour guide welcomed us and talked to us about the house and the history of the families who lived there. The house is in the possession of the Alabama Historical Commission. It was built between 1828 to 1832 by a Scottish doctor named Mitchell and is Alabama’s finest expression of Jefferson Palladian architecture. It is brick, and is U-shaped with a courtyard in the middle and was one of state’s first great plantation houses. We had a very nice tour and I would recommend taking the tour if you are in the area. It has not been restored. It had fallen into disrepair for years and was heavily vandalized. Once acquired by the Commission, they set about repairing the structure which they have completed. Now they are starting on cosmetic work like wallpapers, carpets, etc. A very interesting and informative stop.

We are back in Red Bay now and will spend tomorrow relaxing. I found this little guy at the hardware store. He is solar powered and pretty bright once the sun goes down. LOL

Till next time. . .


Friday, October 12, 2012

A bit unusual . . .

While in Melbourne this past week, we've been treated to several things you don't see every day. I probably look crazy to the residents here running outside with my camera. No matter.

The park here, Camelot, is going through a transition. It is a nicely kept 40-year old park, half park models and half RV's. The park models are separated from the RV section by a fence, but it doesn't go all the way back through the park and as a resident or renter here, you have access to the entire park. Last year when we were here, they were breaking ground for a swimming pool. It has taken a year  because of all the permits and licenses, etc., but it looks like they are nearly finished. The owner told us that they hope to fill it by the end of the month. It looks like the work may be finished, but the surface may have to dry/cure. Too late for us this year, but it is a lovely pool which is up front, so you have a view of the Indian River. They are also adding more RV sites. As the park models are pulled out due to age or perhaps the owners have passed on, they are restoring them to RV sites. They are putting in nice, long, large concrete drives with pads. They said that is what is in demand right now and so they are trying to accommodate that.

As I was going back through my pictures, I found another that I took up on Amelia Island. This is a morning shot with clouds moving in. I just really thought it was a beautiful shot.

We were sitting in the motorhome one afternoon and we heard the drone of an aircraft overhead. As it got louder, we wondered if it was a military plane of some type. I peeked out my window up into the gondola of the Good Year blimp. Hah! We rushed outside to get a better look and to snap a picture. Not sure where it was coming from, but it was headed south.

We've been spending a lot of time at Brandon and Megan's this week. Megan is working long hours so we don't see much of her. We do get to spend time with Brandon every day and we are getting our granddog fix. Jax is a great dog and he loves attention. We enjoy being around him. He's become rather fixated on catching the little skenks, aka lizards, that run around the pool deck. He is quite the hunter.

We took a drive this morning down to Sebastian, then we came north on A1A. We've done this many times, but we really love the ocean and it was really windy today. The waves were really pounding and although you cannot really tell in this photo, you certainly would not want to be out there. The waves just looked so strong. There were small craft advisories today so the little boats did not venture out. . . not even on the river.

While we were running errands today up by the mall, I saw a really large plane in the air. Terry remarked that he didn't understand why it was so low and slow because he was certain it was too big to fly into the Melbourne Airport, although it appeared to be on the flight path. Later we asked Brandon about it. He said, "Oh, you must have seen the Doomsday plane." It's a large plane that can be used by the President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, etc., in the effect of a nuclear attack, etc. It keeps those people safe and ready to act in the event of war. I read where it was put into service after the 9/11 attacks. Anyway, I asked Brandon if he had seen it. He said, "Yes, it was parked right outside my office." LOL His office is at Patrick AFB and although it looked like the giant behemoth was landing in Melbourne, it was actually landing at Patrick. That is where they work on the electronics on the plane. I thought that was pretty neat to see one. I think there are actually four and I don't think they are based here, but this one must have flown in for some maintenance.

Shortly after that, we saw four red and white planes which Terry identified as Canadian Snowbirds. They are acrobatic planes much like the Blue Angels but these appear to be smaller planes. I got a picture of those as well, but it's very difficult to see them in the picture.

Tomorrow we leave and head to Red Bay, Alabama, for some coach work. Hopefully we will be done there in short order and we can head to the Rio Grande Valley.

Till next time. . .


Friday, October 05, 2012

Fort Clinch and St. Augustine

Savannah was a great time for us. We enjoyed visiting and seeing sites we hadn't seen before. It's likely we will return some day.

We moved on Wednesday and traveled down to Fernandino Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. Interestingly, we met a woman from Florida in the New Lisbon Family Camp in Indiana, who told us about Fort Clinch State Park. She said that the park sits at the entrance to a river where the nuclear submarines enter to go to the base. I had never heard of such a thing, so we decided to come and see for ourselves.

It is true, although we didn't see any subs. They do come into the river and right by the campground. The only problem is that there are two campgrounds. One is the beach camp and the other is the river camp. The subs cannot be seen from the oceanside camp unless you walk out on the dunes walkway and onto the beach. And since 9/11, they do not announce or advertise when a sub is coming in.

We did go visit the fort which is in remarkably good condition. Many of the buildings at Fort Clinch are still standing. Construction on the fort began in 1847 as a masonry fort. The fort was built at the mouth of the St. Mary's River to protect the natural deep-water port of Fernandina. Although it was never fully completed, it still served as a military post during the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War II. It was quite impressive and the admission fee was only $2.

We've been walking every day as usual, but yesterday we walked on the beach waiting for the sunrise. We weren't disappointed either. We see quite a lot of wildlife, including dozens of horseshoe crabs. Unfortunately they are all dead. I don't know if they died of natural causes or if a storm washed them up. They are all sizes, but quite a few are the size of a dinner plate. We have had a lot of rain since we have been here, but we are still able to get out at times. On one of our trips out, we saw this tortoise in the road. I got out and helped another visitor move him over off the road. He didn't like that much and hissed at us. LOL This morning we walked out on the half-mile long fishing pier. It seemed to go on forever. We talked to one of the fishermen out at the end. He was very nice and answered all our questions about fishing on the pier.

The beach campground here is very nice. It is a single loop with 21 sites, all back-ins. Only 30 Amp service is available and water, but they have an extremely nice bathhouse. You do have to walk to the beach, but it is a newly constructed pier. The other camp is also very nice, but it would be very difficult to maneuver Phaeton Place around the trees to back into a site. It is totally forested, so no satellite systems would work either. We liked the beach area, but if you are in a smaller rig, the river camp would be good.

We broke camp after our morning walk and came south to St. Augustine. We wanted to do some shopping at the factory shops. Sites are getting pretty pricey the further down we come in Florida.  Tomorrow we plan to be in Melbourne to see Brandon and Megan. We've seen Brandon a couple times since their wedding a year ago, but we've only seen Megan once and we are ready for a visit!

Till next time. . .


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Heading south . . .

We left Tab and Deanna's on Saturday. We had a great time visiting with them and eating out. We will not see them again until next spring when we start our three-month trip to Alaska! What fun that will be!

Leaving St. Paris, Ohio, we traveled on to Heiskell, Tennessee, to camp in the Escapees park there. We know what to expect from Escapees parks and we have been to Raccoon Valley before, so we weren't disappointed. But it sure seems that there could be a lot of improvements made. I know they recently spent a lot of money upgrading this park, but it is hard to see where the money went. The electric was very good and the boxes look new, so that was nice. They need to do a lot of work on the sites themselves, adding gravel and leveling the pads. In addition, there was a Jayco Class C a couple sites down that was in such bad condition. The overhead bunk area was duct taped around the entire curved part and the lower bunk area was sagging. On the other side the entire outer wall area was duct taped from the window forward and down. And it too was sagging and had to be leaking during any rain. I don't think the overhead box would stay together going down the road. It all looked incredibly soft and mushy. I could imagine chunks dislodging and flying off. It certainly was not road worthy. I know some parks would not allow an RV in such bad condition to enter.

We are now parked in Hardeeville, South Carolina, at a no-frills park. It accepts Passport America, so the camping is $21 a night for 50A, full hook-up. The sites are spacious and while the roads are gravel, there is ample room to maneuver.

Yesterday afternoon after setting up camp, we drove into Savannah, Georgia, just 15 miles away and took a bus tour of the city. Dave was our narrator and he did a good job and was knowledgeable when questions were asked. When the tour was over, we drove out to Tybee Island to do some sightseeing on the island. We ate at the Crabshack (not to be confused with Joe's) and had a delicious meal. Mine was seafood and Terry had BBQ. We chose to eat outside and while we were eating we noticed little fiddler crabs. There came up over the edge of the deck from the marsh area and would skittle across the deck. If you looked at them, the would rush away and hide. Hah! I really didn't care for them because they really just look like a big spider, but they are kind of comical. There are several cats that hang out at the restaurant and they would chase them. After awhile, they would creep back up over the deck boards. What an interesting little animal they are.

We returned today to the Visitor's Center which is housed in the old railroad repair facility. It has a roundhouse still operating today, but as a museum. Many of the buildings are in disrepair and some are gone, long since torn down. But now there is an effort to preserve what is left. There was a machine shop, where tools and train parts were fashioned and forged. There were many support businesses so that when steam locomotives and railroad cars were in need of repair, they could be brought here, taken into the roundhouse and any repair that was needed could be done right here. Many of the support businesses grew in order to serve the workers and their families. There are some cars restored for you to see and others being worked on. We also toured the Savannah History Museum which had a nice display on Juliette Gordon Low, who was the founder of Girl Scouts in the US. When we were here years ago with the kids, we toured her birthplace home because Jocelyn was in Girl Scouts at the time.

Later we parked close to Bay Street and walked over to River Street. River Street is down on the level of the harbor itself. Many of the buildings there were built during the heyday of cotton and were businesses and warehouses associated with trade. The buildings are two story with the bottom level on the river and the top level is the level of Bay Street behind the row of building. There are ramps to drive up to the upper level, along with stairs in various places. There is an alleyway of sorts behind the buildings known as "Factor's Walk." Factors is the name applied to what we would call (cotton) brokers today. It is interesting architecture and has been left much as it was back the those days.

We visited a lot of the shops along River Street and had lunch at Dockside. It was okay, but not as good as the Crabshack last night. It did give us a nice dry spot to sit while it poured rain outside. We did a lot of walking today, not even utilizing the second day bus passes we had bought, but we try to walk whenever we can. We were both tired when we got back and it started to rain again, so it was nice to be here inside. I did manage to get a picture of the double rainbow though!

Till next time. . .