Thanksgiving – Twice

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

We’re back in Alabama, but let’s look back a few days to when we were still in Panama City. Last Sunday, we went to church in Panama City then had lunch out. We spent the rest of the day relaxing.

On Monday and Tuesday, Malcolm had to work. He was originally supposed to be off during the week, but they had customer testing going on and Malcolm volunteered to get online and watch. Since he is hourly, we got extra income from that, so we’re not complaining too much.

On Wednesday afternoon and mid-day Thursday, we headed over to David’s house so that he and Val could prepare items for Thanksgiving dinner. On Thursday afternoon, we headed over to the Parkhurst’s house to share Thanksgiving dinner with them and several other Air Force families and friends. It was a great time. We had about 20 people there.


Thanksgiving Dinner

After dinner, many of us played games. It was a great time and there was plenty of food, as usual. On Friday, we headed over to David’s house in the afternoon for more games. We bought pizza for the guys and brought some soft drinks to share. We said our goodbyes before it got too late, as we needed to finish packing up the trailer to leave.

Saturday morning, we packed up and drove back to Wetumpka. We set up the trailer in the site next to the one we usually get since it had someone in it already. We like this site just as well, so no problem. The trailer will remain here now until the first week of January when we head down to Florida.


All set up.

Saturday afternoon, after setting up and getting some lunch in our stomachs, we headed to Montgomery to do a little shopping, then back to our storage unit to get out the Christmas items and our winter coats. Saturday night’s forecast low was 32 degrees. Brr.


The Christmas Tree all set up.

Today we headed to church. We both sang in the choir during the service. Afterwards, we picked up mail and packages from our friends, the Miltons and ate dinner out. Once back at the trailer, we changed clothes and drove out to get the car washed and pick up some items at the grocery. The regulars at the campground here wanted to do a post-Thanksgiving pitch-in dinner this evening, so Val agreed to bring dessert.

While Val cooked desserts, Malcolm took the truck to the car wash and cleaned it up (both vehicles were covered with dust from the drought conditions down here, as well as pine sap from the campground in Panama City Beach). He also took a bunch of totes back to the storage unit to get them out of the way.

This evening, we shared our post-Thanksgiving meal with the folks here at the campground. We’re so blessed to have a great group of people that we can trust to watch our stuff when we are away. We truly have a nice bunch of neighbors here. I guess that’s why we end up here quite a bit when we’re not traveling.


Campground Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s back to work for Malcolm (at the trailer) the next few weeks. The only planned trip before Christmas is a weekend trip up to Nashville for Malcolm’s company’s Christmas party. We’ll leave the truck and trailer here and drive the car up. Malcolm’s already gotten hotel reservations lined up.


Thanksgiving Trip

Current Location: Pineglen RV Park, Panama City Beach, Florida

The first part of this last week was spent packing up stuff and putting it in storage or putting it away in the trailer. We also loaded up a dining room table and four chairs that a friend was giving away. David indicated he could use the furniture, so we agreed to haul it down to Panama City for him.

We headed out from Wetumpka this past Wednesday. Malcolm drove the truck pulling the trailer and Val followed behind in the new car. After clearing the tanks, we headed out to Panama City Beach, where we decided to stay at Pineglen RV Park. Though it is a little more expensive than the park in Mexico Beach, we really like the park here much better.


All set up at Pineglen

After getting set up Wednesday afternoon, we loaded the table and chairs in the back of the truckĀ  and went over to drop them off at David’s house. We visited with him for a bit then took he and one of his housemates out to dinner at Sonny’s Bar-B-Que.

Thursday was a work day for Malcolm, though he took a long lunch to go meet David at a pizza place then go shopping at Target with him. We headed back to the trailer afterwards.


Malcolm’s Office View

On Friday Malcolm was working in the morning, helping his co-workers fix some software problems as they were preparing for a customer acceptance test. We headed over to pick up David at his house so he could get us onto the base at Tyndall. We were there for his annual squadron Thanksgiving luncheon. We had a lot of great holiday food.

When we got back to his house, Malcolm finished up his work for the day and we used David’s internet connection to update our devices. Later that evening, David came over to the trailer and we took him over to Culver’s for dinner and ice cream treats.

Today we headed back over to the base, picking up one of David’s housemates so he could get us on base since David was working. One of David’s co-workers was taking holiday photos of friends and their families. We’ll get a copy to use for our Christmas cards this year. Our pictures were taken with an F-22 in the background. Since David was at work, he was wearing his BDUs. We’re excited to see how the pictures came out.

We had lunch back at the trailer and did a little shopping this afternoon, including groceries for Thanksgiving. Tomorrow we’ll head over to church in the morning and relax the rest of the day.


Frontier Days and Regular Days

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Our son, David, came up on Tuesday, November 1st and stayed with us through the week. He helped out here at the park with the Frontier Days event that started on Wednesday. He and Malcolm directed traffic and parked cars all four days of the event. Val helped with the school buses, loading and unloading children on Wednesday through Friday and worked at the entrance booth on Saturday.


Vests and shirts ready for traffic duty

The weather was hot and dry for the entire event. Unfortunately, Alabama enacted a burn ban just before the event week, so none of the re-enacters could cook over fires or use them for heat. Fires in the campground were prohibited, as well. We’ve only had 1/10th of an inch of rain here since we arrived on October 6th. It is terribly dry and dusty.


Vendor tents set up and ready

The Frontier Days event here is a reenactment event held each year at the two forts here – Fort Toulouse and Fort Jackson. There is a contingent of British and French re-enacters who come in each year. There is also a group of Creek Indians that come in and set up camp, as well.


British drums and pipes

School children from across the state visit the event on the three weekdays (Wednesday through Friday). Most of them are fourth graders since that is the grade when Alabama history is taught. We also get local homeschool groups and private school groups as well. Between the three weekdays, there are usually around 10,000 schoolchildren and usually a lot of parents and teachers, as well.


Waiting for the final ceremonies at Fort Jackson


One of the several groups heading to the final ceremony

All in all, it is a fun but tiring week. The extreme drought conditions took their toll a bit with all the dust kicked up by vehicles and busses. We had scratchy throats the last several days, but that’s pretty much gone away.

In other news, we finally found a replacement for our family physician that retired three years ago. We’ve tried off and on to find another medical practice that is taking new patients and takes our insurance. In the interim, we’ve fallen behind on things such as physical exams and such.

This Wednesday, we both went in and met our new nurse practitioner who gave us both exams and caught up with our medical histories. We’ll both be getting various catch-up tests, scans, etc. over the coming weeks.

After discussions over the last year or more, and with our travel schedule settling down to where we are stationary here in Alabama more and more, we decided to pick up a more fuel efficient second vehicle to drive around on a regular basis. Malcolm found a really nice 2012 Ford Escape Limited nearby at a small used car dealer. It only has 32,000 miles on it and literally was driven by a “little old lady” who bought it locally and had it serviced regularly.


“New” car

The hope is that we can help offset the wear, tear and advanced depreciation on the truck due to the number of miles we put on it (it’s a little over a year old and is already over 41,000 miles), not to mention save some money on fuel (the car got 26 mpg this evening on a round trip to church and back, the truck has been averaging 14-15 mpg around town).

We’re hoping to drive the car instead of the truck when we’re in the area and might drive it along on some trips. We won’t take the car all the way out west when we travel out there, as it wouldn’t make sense to do so. We’ll leave it with friends here while we are away.

We’ll be here another few days, then we’re heading down to visit David for Thanksgiving before heading back here for the remainder of the year.



Gearing Up for Frontier Days

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Frontier Days, the big yearly re-enactment event here at Fort Toulouse – Fort Jackson, starts on Wednesday of this week and runs through Saturday. As we have the past four years, we’re volunteering again this year. David is even coming up from Panama City to help out and stay with us here at the campground.

We’ve had a busy week or so here. The replacement wheel for our trailer arrived at our friends’ house (where we have all our shipments sent) within a couple days after filling out the warranty claim. Great service.


The replacement wheel.

We picked up our wheel and other packages from our friends after church on Sunday. This morning, Malcolm ran the new wheel and old tire and wheel to the tire store to have them remount the tire on the new wheel. He installed it on the trailer when he got back. He also fixed the leaf springs on the left-rear of the trailer as the middle leaves had shifted in the spring pack at some point. They’re all lined up, tight and straight now.


New wheel and straight springs

On Wednesday, Malcolm went in to get one of his teeth fixed. A filling had fallen out right before our Hawaii trip and the dentist filled it temporarily at that time and indicated that eventually, the tooth would need a crown on it. Since the temporary filling finally fell out again recently, Malcolm went in and got it fixed for good this time. He was at the dentist’s office for a total of an hour and a half. In that time they made the crown and installed it on his tooth.


New crown

On Wednesday evening, we loaded up and went to our church’s annual chili cook-off. It was a great evening with a beautiful sunset.


Sunset at the chili cook-off

Speaking of sunsets, we’ve been enjoying several of them here. The weather has been hot, dry and clear in Alabama. Montgomery has broken temperature records several days in the last week alone, with daytime temperatures hovering around 90 degrees. Malcolm captured this sunset afterglow down by the Tallapoosa River at the boat dock here.


RIver Sunset

Early this summer, we found out that our trailer had a hydraulic leak in the underbelly. Malcolm narrowed it down to the door-side slideout ram and more specifically to the inner hydraulic connection. He ordered a couple replacement fittings and a roll of Flex-Mend tape to close up the underbelly after cutting an access hole in it for prior investigation and recent fix.

The factory fitting had a bad o-ring which was letting hydraulic fluid seep past and collect in the trailer’s belly. We think we have most of it drained out and Malcolm verified that there is no more leak when the slide is run in and out.


Ready to repair our leak

Since we have started staying here at Ft. Toulouse for most of the fall and spring, we decided to purchase a golf cart to putt around in. It’s a five year old Yamaha electric cart with rear seats and fairly new batteries. We got a pretty good deal on it from a cart dealer in Montgomery. It looks like brand new.

We were given the OK to leave it here while we are on the road and we purchased a “shed-in-a-box” to store it in to protect it from the elements. Good friends of ours who stay full-time here at the park will watch it for us and keep the battery maintained while we are away. The shed is set up next to their trailer.


Our other “ride”

The cart will be very handy this week at Frontier Days. We’ve already been enjoying riding around the park area in it. We added a trailer ball to the rear deck to allow us to pull our sewer tote to the dump station, as well.


Toting the sewage in style

We don’t have plans to carry the cart around with us as we travel. We’ve looked at various means of moving it around and none are inexpensive. So, we decided to just leave it here under good care.


Daily Life in Alabama

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Since we last wrote, we’ve basically been settled in here at Fort Toulouse so that Malcolm can work and we can go about a more normal routine. Here are some highlights from the past two weeks.


Fall leaf

It is dry here in Alabama. Not only low humidity dry, but drought dry. It hadn’t rained here for a couple weeks before we arrived earlier in the month, and in the last 15 days, it only rained briefly one morning. The whole campground is dusty and covered in fall leaves. Also, besides the dryness, the temperatures have consistently been in the mid- to upper 80’s during the day and in the upper 50’s to 60 at night. The 10 day forecast shows more of the same into next week.


Sewing and Work

We’re really enjoying our workspaces. Val has the sewing machine out and is catching up on projects. Malcolm has been working daytime hours sitting at his desk.


View from Malcolm’s “corner office”

The desk makes it nice to differentiate between work and relaxing with the computer sitting on his recliner. The active noise cancelling headphones help to complete the isolation necessary to focus on the task at hand – like having his own little private office space.


Breakfast of Champions

Wetumpka has a new Dunkin’ Donuts store. It opened just before we rolled into town earlier this month. We’ve taken advantage of the proximity to the campground on more occasions then we probably should have.



The day after we decided not to drive all the way up to Indiana for our free warranty check, Malcolm decided to put some blocks under the jacks on the off-door side of our trailer. He used the leveling system control to raise the left-hand jacks and found it odd that the trailer seemed to keep leaning over more and more – especially since we are on a pretty level site.

When the controller beeped and stopped, saying that the trailer was leaning too far, Malcolm looked underneath and saw that one of the tires on that side of the rig was flat. Good thing we didn’t decide to take that trip.

We managed to get the jacks to raise by putting the front of the trailer on the truck hitch and manipulate the side jacks appropriately. With the blocks under the left side jacks, Malcolm leveled the rig back up manually after we pulled the truck back out from under the hitch. He decided to take the tire off and take it to a tire shop later on when he was ready to do the bearing maintenance.


The leaking wheel

This past Saturday, Malcolm took the flat off the trailer and took the spare with him as well, dropping the flat off at a local tire shop for them to look at. If they found a hole, he was going to have them patch it and swap it onto the spare rim so that the patched tire would be the spare. What the tire store found out, instead, was that the rim was leaking along the inside of the rim behind one of the spokes (see bubbles in picture, above).

Malcolm brought everything back home and on Monday called Tredit Tire and Wheel – the suppliers of wheels and tires to our RV manufacturer. Tredit carries a lifetime warranty on their wheels. After contacting them, they referred us to their online warranty claim procedure which Malcolm filled out, uploading pictures as requested. Within the hour, we had an email indicating they’ll ship us a new rim free of charge and to simply dispose of the failed rim – no need to ship it back.


The outdoor setup

Since we were staying here for a little more than a month (we’ll head to the Panama City area to visit David mid-November through Thanksgiving), we decided to go ahead and set up all the outdoor items, including putting our screen walls on our EZ Up.


New Mickey Lights

We replaced our aging and dim colored LED light strands with these neat Mickey Mouse lights and hung them inside our EZ Up.


A little different service

The weekend before last, several of the re-enacters that come to Fort Toulouse/Jackson park during various events were here, including “Ken the Cannon Guy”. Turns out one of the re-enacters had passed away this past year and asked that some of his ashes be shot out over the river from a cannon. His widow and quite a bit of his family and friends were present for the ceremony. It was a fitting tribute.


“Spike” the buck and friend

The camp hosts across from our site have been putting out corn for the local deer population. There are usually two or three deer (sometimes more) that come over every evening for their treat. They’re fairly brave and will approach fairly close to you, but still are pretty wary. It’s fun to see them come over for their daily treat.

Today we took the truck over to the Ford dealer as we’ve been having some vibration in the front-end and the left front tire was wearing funny. Ford verified the suspension was fine and said that the tire was bad.

We picked up the truck from them (no charge for the check – gotta love small town dealers) and ran it down to the tire place where we used to get all our work done when we lived in the area. They put six new Michelin tires on the truck and aligned it for us. It was ready to pick up by 4:30 this afternoon. We rented a car yesterday to run around in while the truck was busy with its spa day.

Malcolm has the rest of his year planned out as far as working hours. He has to keep the yearly average below the 30 hour per week threshold and we are close to that now. To keep his average, he will be completely off work Thanksgiving week, and from mid-week before Christmas until late in the week after New Year’s Day (when we’ll be in Washington state visiting with the grandchildren).

Still trying to sell our previous trailer. The dealer had a prospect this past weekend, but they were offering too little for the trailer. The dealer advised us that we should probably hold our line and wait for a better offer to come along. We went ahead and lowered our minimum price by a couple thousand dollars to see if we can move it soon.