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.


Well, One More Catch-Up Post

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

We got busy and had fun traveling and visiting folks and let our blogging lapse once again. We’re sure it won’t be the last time. So, what have we been up to since we left our friends in Burleson, Texas?

From there, we headed back down to Lake Conroe and stayed at the Lake Conroe KOA for an evening. From there, we headed back down to the Houston area then across I-10, stopping in Scott, Louisiana for two nights.

While in Scott, we had dinner out with our friends Nick and Sheila. We dropped by their place and give them some anniversary gifts that we had found through the year while traveling. The next day we drove down to meet Nick and Sheila for lunch near Nick’s office. From there, we headed down to New Iberia and the Conrad Rice Company to pick up some rice and other items. We went to Nick and Sheila’s for dinner before heading back to the trailer to get ready to head out early in the morning.

On Thursday, we were on the road by 7:00 am. We drove the entire 446 miles from Scott, Louisiana to Wetumpka, Alabama, arriving around 4:00 pm. We would have been close to an hour earlier except for a couple of long backups on the interstate.

Our plan was to stay here in Alabama through tonight and head out tomorrow morning towards Clarksville, Indiana to our trailer’s selling dealer. We were scheduled for a wheel bearing and brake check as part of the (free) “Warranty Forever” program included with our trailer. We had also purchased another aftermarket extended warranty when we purchased the trailer, as well.

When Malcolm called our dealer today to verify that we had an appointment on Thursday and that they would be able to get us in and out in a day, he didn’t get any warm fuzzy feelings from the service person on the phone, who indicated they’d “do their best” but he couldn’t guarantee anything since they only had two technicians scheduled to work that day and that they were pretty backed up.

We made the decision to forgo the “free” warranty by not having the service done at the dealer. After looking at the costs to drive up to Clarksville and back, along with campground costs and the cost of the service, we would be out about $700-800. Definitely not a free warranty at that cost. So, we’re staying here in Wetumpka probably until mid-November. Malcolm will do the brake and bearing service on the trailer himself.

So, now that we’re here for a while, we’ll be settling down so that Malcolm can work more or less full-time for most of the rest of the year. We will probably only travel from here to see David around Thanksgiving, then back here for the remainder of the year.


Catch-Up Post – Texas Campout

Current Location: North Texas Jellystone, Burleson, Texas

We’ve been so busy having fun and traveling, and Malcolm has been busy working in-between, so our blog has not gotten a lot of attention lately. This should be the third and last of a few posts to catch up.

We left Chattanooga on Sunday, September 25th and headed down to Wetumpka, Alabama to our old stand-by, the Fort Toulouse campground. We were stopping in to town to go to a baby shower for the daughter of some of our good friends in the area. We had a nice time at the shower, then headed back to the trailer for the evening.

On Monday, we left Wetumpka and headed south, stopping at another old stand-by, Cajun RV Park in Biloxi, Mississippi. On Tuesday we headed west and stopped in Westlake, Louisiana (near Lake Charles) and visited with our good friends Andy and Joanna Grimes. We went out to dinner with them and with another Heartland Owners Club member – Marti Camp.

On Wednesday, we moved from Westlake to the KOA near Conroe, Texas. After getting checked in there, we drove over to Livingston, Texas to get our mail, then returned back to the trailer. On Thursday, we left Conroe and headed to Lake Brownwood State Park near Brownwood, Texas. We were meeting up with three other couples from the Heartland Owners Club for a campout for the weekend.


The group photo

We had a great time getting to know each other, sharing meals and campfire stories, checking out each others’ rigs and the modifications we’ve done and generally just having a relaxing weekend. There was no set agenda except for lunch out on Saturday at Underwood’s BBQ and Cafeteria.


Underwood’s BBQ

The campground at Lake Brownwood was really nice. It was great being out so remote. The sky was just full of stars each evening. The Milky Way was also very visible out there every night. Malcolm took advantage of it and grabbed some photos one night.


Milky Way

We even had some great sunsets.


Lake sunset

This morning we all said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. We headed east to Burleson, Texas, just south of Fort Worth, to meet some friends that Val had gotten to know through an online bible study. We had started sending their boys postcards some time back and it was fun to get to meet them in person. We all went out to Olive Garden for dinner, then they followed us over to the campground to see our trailer and how we travel around.

Tomorrow we head back down south the way we came from and will end up back in Alabama by the weekend.


Catch-up Post – Chattanooga

We’ve been so busy having fun and traveling, and Malcolm has been busy working in-between, so our blog has not gotten a lot of attention lately. This is the second of a few posts to catch up.

Location: Holiday Travel Park, Rossville, Georgia

After we left Lexington on Monday (Sept. 19), we headed to Chattanooga, Tennessee for a Heartland Owners Club rally. We were there from Monday, September 19 through Sunday, September 26. We were joined throughout the week by around 30 rigs at the venue. We had a great time catching up with Heartland friends while there.

We did a little sightseeing while in the area. On Tuesday, we went to the Chattanooga Aquarium. As part of a package deal, we rode on their boat up river to view the gorge area. It was a fun and interesting ride. We’ve been through the aquarium before, but it was a nice visit to go back again with friends.


Our site at the Tennessee rally

Malcolm worked during the daytime hours and we attended the various evening functions related to the rally. On Thursday evening, the club sponsored a cookout with hamburgers and hotdogs. On Friday, the first official day of the rally, we had a pitch-in get-together with finger foods and desserts.

On Saturday evening, we enjoyed a freshly cooked catered meal. Prizes were given away and many were auctioned off in a silent auction. Proceeds from the auction and other giveaways during the weekend went to a local charity that helps homeless women get back on their feet.

On Saturday, we did some other sightseeing with our neighbors, the Funderbergs. The four of us  headed up to Rock City to visit and to eat lunch at their restaurant overlooking the Chattanooga valley, below. We drove back down the mountain and rode the incline railway up and back down, as well.


Overlook view from Rock City

On Sunday morning, we got everything all hitched up and headed to the rally breakfast to grab some food and coffee and to say our goodbyes. We headed down to Alabama since we had been invited to a baby shower on Sunday evening.


Catch-up Post – Kentucky

We’ve been so busy having fun and traveling, and Malcolm has been busy working in-between, so our blog has not gotten a lot of attention lately. This is the first of a few posts to catch up.

We were in Kentucky from Thursday, September 15th through Monday the 18th. On Friday we headed over to the Horse Park to visit and to go horseback riding. We picked the first horseback ride of the day (11:00) since it was supposed to be pretty hot in the afternoon.


Let’s go horseback riding!


Val is saddled up and ready.


A group of horses watches us ride by.


It may be “nose to tail”, but still fun.


Still back there?

Before and after the ride, we wandered around the Horse Park. It’s not an uncommon sight to see folks (typically volunteers) sitting or riding around the park on horses.


A couple of costumed riders outside the main building.

We wandered through a couple of indoor exhibits since it was pretty hot outside and there weren’t many horses outside.


Full-size diorama in the history of horse museum.


Exhibit in the Arabian Horse exhibit

On Saturday, we headed to Paris, Kentucky to take in the annual Secretariat Festival. The festival celebrates the famed racehorse, Secretariat. A good friend of ours – Patrick the Miniature Horse – is the official mascot. We hung around with he and his owner, Sarah, and her mother.


Patrick, Sarah and her mother talking to Val.

Each year, they usually have a few people show up to sign autographs. This year, Secretariat’s jockey, Ron Turcotte, and his exercise rider, Charlie Davis, were in attendance. Last year, Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, was also there. She didn’t make it this year.


Charlie David, Secretariat’s warmup rider, gives Patrick the Mini Horse a peppermint.


Charlie gives Patrick a kiss.

After the downtown festivities, we followed Patrick, Sarah and her mother out to the fairground where Patrick was giving a demonstration of his jumping abilities. It ended up starting to rain just as his turn came. He did his best, though.

We said our goodbyes to Patrick, Sarah and her mother and headed on back to the trailer where we entertained Val’s sister Anne and our niece, Jasmine, for dinner. We visited for a while until they had to leave.

Sunday morning we drove down to Nicholasville and attended church with Malcolm’s Aunt Margaret and Uncle Jerry. After church, we went to Margaret and Jerry’s house for lunch. We were joined by cousins Lary and Dale. We visited most of the afternoon.

When we left Nicholasville, we headed to Columbia’s Steak House in Lexington to have dinner with some friends, then back to the trailer to start packing up for our move on Monday.

On Monday, we packed up, hitched up and headed down to Chattanooga, Tennessee for a Heartland Owners Club rally. We’ll cover that in the next catch-up post.