Back to Work

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Dates: Jan. 1 – 14, 2018

Once we got back home from visiting out in Washington, it was back to work in more ways than one. Of course, Malcolm was back to work (in the trailer, of course) for his employer. He also got back to work on our shed, working hard to finish our conversion. First up was getting all the drywall finished in the front living section.

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Drywall almost complete (a little bit of ceiling work to go)

Once the drywall was complete, it was time for paint. We decided on a light, neutral beige for the walls and ceiling (ceiling not yet painted in the pictures). The ceiling paint was mixed with a light, sand-type texture.

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Time to Paint

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Paint complete and wall plates re-installed

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More completed walls

With the walls painted, it was time to trim out the windows.

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Window trim complete

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More window trim and the “closet”

With the walls, ceiling and trim pretty much complete in the front room, it was time to move everything out of the back room so work could continue back there. Malcolm started on the drain plumbing for the washer and the sink that will be back there.

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Plumbing moving forward

We also picked up flooring for the shed (vinyl wood laminate). While shopping for the flooring, we talked to the helpful associate at Lowes and explained to him about our current plywood floor and the fact that there was a fairly bad high spot in the back, right in the middle of the back room. He suggested using a leveling filler, so we bought some of that.

The first step was sealing all of the places that the filler might flow around the perimeter and the joints between floor boards. Malcolm also removed the sewer cover and screwed down a piece of plywood, marking the center and where to cut through it later on to mount the toilet base.

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Floor ready to level

With everything ready, Malcolm rolled on the required sealer/primer for the leveling work. He did that on Saturday morning (Jan. 13) before we headed to breakfast at the clubhouse for our neighborhood.

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Primer applied

After lunch the same day, it was time to mix up the leveling compound. We used three 50 lb. bags. The leveling compound is essentially a really thin, runny cement.

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Mixing

With the stuff mixed up, you just pour it on the flooring and let it seek it’s own level (it doesn’t hurt to take a big trowel, or in Malcolm’s case, a small board, and push it around to cover everything).

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Partially poured

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All done. Now time to dry.

The flooring will have plenty of time to set, as you’ll see shortly.

We tried a couple different new restaurants the last couple weeks. The first one is literally new as we ate there the second day they were open. The Edison is over in Disney Springs and is a mix of 1920’s industrial and nightclub.

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The Edison – “Smokestack”

The restaurant theme was taken from The Edison in Los Angeles. We ate downstairs in the “speakeasy”.

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The Speakeasy downstairs at The Edison

Another place we ate that was new to us is a British restaurant near our home. The Proper Pie Company had excellent pastry pies – Val had the Chicken and Broccoli one – and excellent fish and chips (which Malcolm had).

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Pie and Chips

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Fish and Chips (and slaw)

As mentioned earlier, the leveling compound in our shed will have a full week to dry since we left on our first trip of the year today (Sunday the 14th). Even though we live just 17 miles from Disney World, we were going to miss our annual Disney trip to Fort Wilderness Campground. So, we decided to keep with tradition and spend a week in January over there.

On Saturday afternoon, Malcolm took our car and picked up a small trailer at U-Haul to take our golf cart with us. On Sunday, at noon, we hooked up the trailer to the truck and headed out on our 30 minute trip to Fort Wilderness campground.

Location: Fort Wilderness Campground, Orlando, Florida

Dates: Jan. 14, 2018

Once we got to Fort Wilderness, Val took the car, trailer and golf cart and parked it in the overflow lot and walked over to meet Malcolm at the RV check-in. We took the RV back and got it set up on site. We drove the truck up front, grabbed the car and took it back to the site to drop off the golf cart.

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Moved in at Fort Wilderness

Malcolm took the car and dropped the trailer off at U-Haul, then met Val at our RV lot. We left the car there and drove the truck back to the campground. This evening we had dinner at Trail’s End restaurant at the back of the campground.

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Christmas and New Year

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Dates: Dec. 20 – 21, 2017

We spent Wednesday, the 20th, getting ready for our trip on the 21st. We got everything all packed up and ready to go as well as checking in, printing boarding passes and luggage tags (yay for Alaska Airlines). Malcolm even had time to get in a pretty full day of work.

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Callie supervising Malcolm’s work

We also met our neighbors who would be watching Callie while we were gone. They came by to meet Callie and grab a key for the trailer. They ended up doing a super job of watching Callie. We would have been happy just having someone pop in once a day to feed her and clean out her litter box. They stopped by twice a day, often staying for a while and brushing her fur and loving on her.

Our flight on the 21st was scheduled to leave Orlando at 5:20 PM. We decided to leave the trailer around noon, catch some lunch and wander over to the airport around 2:00 or so. We ended up at Disney Springs for lunch. Malcolm realized the only warm clothing he brought was his very heavy winter jacket and nothing in between that and a couple light long sleeve shirts, so he picked up a sweatshirt.

Malcolm happened to check his Alaska Airlines app and found out that the flight had been delayed another hour or so and was now scheduled to leave at 6:37 PM. We took our time at Disney Springs since we were now in no rush. We ended up at the car park around 4:00 or so, parked and rode the shuttle to the airport. When we checked in at the Alaska counter, the agent reprinted our boarding passes with the new, further delayed departure time of 7:42 PM. He also handed us two meal vouchers so we could grab dinner in the airport.

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Val’s Build-a-bear got its own seat on the plane

We breezed through security thanks to our new TSA PreCheck privileges and found our gate. With a few hours to waste now, we went ahead and ate dinner at a nicer sit-down restaurant. The meal vouchers covered about half of our meal and drinks ($12 a person maximum). While eating dinner, we found that our flight had yet again been delayed to a 9:00 PM departure. We spent a lot of time at the gate sitting around, reading, etc.

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Our flight ended up landing in Seattle after midnight their time. Elizabeth came out to pick us up and we gladly plopped down in our bed at almost 1:00 AM Pacific Time (around 4:00 AM our time). The granddaughters had expertly prepared our sleeping arrangements for us, including some nice chocolates (that we ate later).

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Our luxury accomodations

Location: Edgewood, Washington

Dates: Dec. 22, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2018

Friday and Saturday involved a lot of family time, running to the store for groceries and so forth.

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Story time with Nana

On Sunday morning, we all went to church. Val’s sister, Anne, was there, as well. She came over to visit for a while afterwards before heading on home. On Sunday evening, we went over to Cole’s parents’ house for Christmas Eve dinner and visiting. It started snowing right as we were leaving to go their house Sunday afternoon.

On Christmas day, we awoke to a pretty decent amount of snow. It started snowing again pretty heavily all morning. By late morning, there was about 3-4 inches of snow on the ground.

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But first, it was time to see what Santa brought everyone.

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Santa was here!

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Mid-opening of presents

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Still opening presents

After all the presents were opened and the wrapping paper cleaned up, it was time for lunch and then an afternoon of playing in the snow. Elizabeth and Scarlet made a small snowman out front before lunch. This was before the snow really accumulated a bunch more.

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Mini snowman

Of course, the requisite snow angels needed to be made.

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Violet making a snow angel

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Scarlet making her own snow angel (who needs a hat?)

The horses across the street got their Christmas treats as well.

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After it snowed some more, Pa showed the girls how to roll up larger snow balls for making a snowman. It started out as a snow unicorn.

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Snow unicorn?

Later on, we found proper attire for the snowman and put the finishing touches on him.

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Pa and the girls showing off their work

After all the snow fun, we all cleaned up and headed over to Cole’s parents’ house again, this time for their traditional Christmas dinner, followed by the gift exchange. It was a fun time, as usual.

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On Tuesday and Wednesday, we hung around the house and did family stuff. Violet baked some cupcakes up for all of us. Scarlet helped decorate them.

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On Wednesday evening, Malcolm, Elizabeth and Cole headed out to see the new Star Wars movie. Nana and the girls had a girls night planned. It started out with a trip to DQ for ice cream treats.

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After Malcolm, Cole and Elizabeth got to the movie theater, they found that all the shows were pretty much sold out, so they bought tickets for Thursday night. After finding out that the grandchildren got ice cream, a stop by Wendys for Frosties and Fries was in order.

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On Thursday, Val and Elizabeth headed out for some shopping and lunch while Malcolm and Cole watched the children. That evening Malcolm, Cole and Elizabeth headed back to the movies. Nana and the girls had their own little party at home. On Friday, it was more of the same as we hung around the house. Elizabeth babysits a couple children on Fridays and they were over for the day, so we mainly stayed home.

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On Saturday, Elizabeth headed out to the airport to pick up our son, David, at the airport. He flew in to visit for several days. It was fun having the entire family together in one place.

On Sunday morning, we all went to church. Anne was there, too and came home with us all to enjoy Sunday dinner. Malcolm and Elizabeth whipped up the now-traditional stir fry dinner. It was yummy.

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After an afternoon of football watching, we all decided to have game night. There was plenty of popcorn and lots of fun. Before we went to bed, we said our goodbyes to everyone since we had an early flight out the next morning.

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On Monday, the 1st, Cole took us to the airport for our 7:50 AM flight back home. While we were waiting at the gate, our flight’s pilot walked around talking to everyone. He talked with the children and gave a few of them some pilot wings. He also provided the pre-flight announcement once we were all on board the plane.

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Our flight left Seattle on time and made good time across the country. We arrived a few minutes early in Orlando, close to dinner time. Since we didn’t have any groceries at home, we stopped on the way and ate dinner, then headed on home.

 

 

 

 

Out of Town Travel

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Dates: Dec. 10 – 15, 2017

The early part of the week was a mix of work, relaxing and getting ready for upcoming trips out of town. The weather slowly warmed up through the week. The cool weather managed to help us finish off a propane tank over the weekend. Malcolm drove it over to a nearby Love’s truck stop and had it filled. There is a service that comes around our neighborhood to fill tanks, but we missed the cut-off on that (plus, Love’s is cheaper).

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Callie, taking the relaxing part seriously

One area we were having problems was finding a cat sitter (as mentioned at the end of our last blog entry). Fortunately, we had some folks step up to the plate after a second plea for help on our neighborhood’s Facebook page. We’ll have one lady covering the Nashville trip and another covering our Seattle trip.

Our last big thing to do before heading out for Nashville was to attend the Candlelight Processional at Disney’s Epcot. We bought a lunch package at the Biergarten Restaurant at Epcot which included preferred seating at the processional later in the afternoon.

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Entertainment at the Biergarten

Val hooked us both up with some fancy duds to wear for the day. We stopped on the way to Epcot to pick up a hat for Malcolm to go with his outfit.

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Fancy Duds

The service was exceptional. Choirs from local schools join together with a full orchestra and a guest narrator to put on a fantastic musical performance. The guest narrator for our evening there was Warwick Davis, who read the story of the birth of Jesus from the bible in between various Christmas song selections.

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Candlelight Processional

We left a little bit after the show to get home in preparation for our early morning departure for the airport. We had a 7:50 am flight and Orlando airport recommends arriving between 2 and 3 hours before your flight. We were through security pretty quick due to our new PreCheck numbers and were at our gate two hours before the flight.

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Sunrise at the Orlando Airport

We had an uneventful flight, with a short layover in Atlanta. Fortunately our first flight arrived, and our second flight departed from the same concourse. We just walked from one end to the other.

Location: Marriott Nashville Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee

Dates: Dec. 15 – 18, 2017

We arrived in Nashville around noon, rented our car and tossed our stuff inside. We drove downtown, parked in a garage and had lunch at Demos’ Steak & Spaghetti restaurant downtown. After lunch, we headed up to Malcolm’s office and said our hellos and handed out Christmas cards and gifts to various employees. From there, we went on to our hotel and checked in. We left the car in the garage and walked over to a nearby P.F. Chang’s restaurant for dinner.

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Cool wallpaper in our hotel room

On Saturday, we headed out early to the Opry Mills Mall to pick up a couple things, the Kroger’s to get a couple items we needed there. From there, we headed across town and had lunch and shopped around at McKay’s Used Books. We headed on back to the hotel to get ready for the company Christmas Party that evening.

The party was fun. Malcolm got to see a lot of co-workers he hadn’t seen in a while and met at least one that had started working since we were in the office last (this spring). Everyone won a gift at the party. We got a big basket of things to make martinis with, including a big ice pail. This presented a problem of where we might stow the items to fly back home.

On Sunday morning, we were too lazy to even head downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, so we ordered room service. It was actually cheaper than having the breakfast buffet in the restaurant at the hotel (which we did Saturday morning).

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Room Service breakfast

After debating different methods of getting our new martini set home, we decided we would look at luggage at Target. We only checked on bag coming up and the airline allows us to check one bag per person, so another bag going home wouldn’t cost any extra. Plus, we could use another good suitcase. We ended up finding one on clearance that was also marked another 10% off. We stopped by McNamara’s Irish Pub to have lunch, then headed back to the hotel to begin the task of packing stuff in two suitcases.

Val had just read a news story about a massive power failure at the Atlanta airport on Sunday when Malcolm received the bad news message from Delta airlines – our flight out of Nashville on Monday was cancelled. They were working on a replacement flight for us. Malcolm checked online and found that the next available flight would leave on Tuesday and get in to Orlando very late Tuesday night.

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Oops. Bad news.

We looked at various options. Staying another day would be fairly costly at the hotel we were in in Nashville. Flying one-way on another airline would have been around $500 or so. We called Enterprise car rental, where we had rented the car we had there in Nashville and asked about keeping the car and driving it back to Orlando, but they wanted nearly $500 extra to do that. Malcolm finally found a deal on a one-way rental through Avis for around $150 and booked a car for Monday morning to drop off in Orlando on Tuesday afternoon.

Monday morning, we packed up our rental car and headed over to the Nashville airport to drop it off at Enterprise. We headed into the terminal to complete the registration on our Avis rental car, then back out to Avis to pick up our car and head on our way south. We drove as far as Valdosta, Georgia (about 2/3 of the way home) on Monday.

Location: Country Inn & Suites, Valdosta, Georgia

Dates: Dec. 18 – 19, 2017

We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites overnight on Monday after eating dinner at a nearby Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant. We were up early, had breakfast downstairs and hopped in the car by around 8:00 am to head on towards Orlando.

We arrived at the Orlando airport around noon and checked in our rental car. We rode the shuttle out to the parking lot and picked up our own car and headed towards home. Malcolm called Delta Airlines on the shuttle and arranged for a callback in a couple hours. We stopped by Panera Bread for lunch on the way.

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Dates: Dec. 19, 2017

Once home, Delta Airlines returned Malcolm’s call. Malcolm told them that we had rented a car instead of flying back home. The representative was nice and said he would process a refund to the credit card on which we had bought the tickets. Not sure how much of a refund that will be, but it was a nice gesture.

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Callie was glad we were home

We paid our cat sitter and Malcolm sat down to do some work while Val headed up to the laundry room to catch up laundry. We headed to fill up the car with gas later in the afternoon and picked up some groceries at Target before enjoying dinner at home and relaxing.

Tomorrow is pack-up day for our upcoming trip to Seattle on Thursday. That flight leaves in the afternoon, so no early departures this time. Plus, it is a direct flight from Orlando to Seattle, so no worries about Atlanta airport either way.

 

Daily Life – Early December

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Dates: Nov. 27 – Dec. 9, 2017

The last couple weeks have been generally spent with Malcolm working during the day and Val working on various craft projects. Just daily life as usual. We finished all our holiday shopping and just this past week mailed everything out, including several boxes of stuff to our daughter’s house in Washington state (where we will be during Christmas and New Year’s holidays).

Before we left for Thanksgiving, we had ordered some items for our golf cart, including a full light and horn kit and a nice side curtain enclosure for it. Malcolm installed the light kit just before Thanksgiving and the enclosure arrived right after we got back into town, so we installed that once we were back. Malcolm also got a 12V converter for the cart to run the light kit with and installed it.

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Now we’re all “high falutin'”. Though not required to be able to drive the cart around the neighborhood or the street along the shopping center out front, the light kit will be nice. It includes brake lights and turn signals to help with signaling intentions.

We have decorated up the inside of our RV with our small Christmas tree and a few other trappings. While taking trash to the dumpster one evening, Malcolm found this older three candle light set someone had discarded, bulbs and all. It works fine. We don’t leave it running while we’re away, though, since it has regular incandescent bulbs which get a bit warm.

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On December 1st, we went over to Disney’s Magic Kingdom to spend the evening there for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Similar to the halloween party we attended back in October, this party was a separate paid event. We ate an early dinner mid-afternoon and stayed around until about 10:00 or so in the evening.

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Christmas Tree on Main Street

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Christmas Couple

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The Castle at Sunset

The place really comes alive after dark. Disney has spared no expense in Christmas lights. Cinderella’s castle, in particular, is draped with literally tens of thousands of lights.

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The Train Station

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Cinderella’s Castle at Night

We stayed long enough to see the fireworks show, which was typical Disney spectacular.

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The Finale

We did head over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios one afternoon, ate dinner there and took in some of their holiday decorations. They have a huge tree all decorated up there. You feel more like you are in California with all the palms and the art deco buildings.

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Christmas Tree at Hollywood Studios

Nighttime was more fun. This year, they’ve started projecting images on the Hollywood Tower Hotel building (the Tower of Terror ride). We watched it cycle through its various themes and grabbed several pictures. Here is the “Toy Story” theme.

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The Hollywood Tower, er, Toy Hotel

We have all our Christmas cards printed up. We have yet to mail them out. Probably will do that this weekend and drop them at the post office on Monday. We have received a couple cards so far (from people that have our Florida address, at least).

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Today, the temperature has dropped all day. At midnight last night, the temperature was still in the 70’s. By mid-day, it was in the low 50’s. This evening it is in the 40’s with an expected low of around 38. Same for tomorrow night. These temperatures are from the same front that dropped snow all across the South the last couple of days. We’ve turned on the fireplace and dug out a space heater for the bedroom.

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The Fireplace Keeping the Place Warm

A little more of the same the first part of this week. We’re flying up to Nashville on Friday to attend Malcolm’s company’s Christmas party, returning the following Monday. Later that week, we’ll fly up to Seattle for Christmas. We’re still working on finding someone to watch Callie while we are away. We miss our Alabama cat-sitters.

Thanksgiving Visit

Location: Pineglen RV Park, Panama City Beach, Florida

Dates: Nov. 16 to 26, 2017

On Friday, November 17th, we met David at the Tyndall Air Force Base visitor center parking lot where he jumped in the truck with us. We drove onto the base and parked near where he works. We enjoyed the squadron Thanksgiving luncheon in the building where he works and saw a lot of his co-workers and their families. There was lots of great food. We dropped David off at his car so he could go back to work and we headed back home.

On Saturday, the 18th, David and his friends were heading out of town to an Airsoft gun tournament. We hung around the trailer and did some light shopping to pass the time. On Sunday, we met David for lunch and spent the afternoon with him.

On Monday, we headed out at lunchtime to meet David and some of his co-workers and families for lunch at Red Robin. After lunch, Malcolm, David and the guys went to the theater to watch a movie (Thor). The girls and kids went shopping at Pier Park. After the movie we all drove to a restaurant and had dinner together.

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David with his buddy Patrick at dinner

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Malcolm worked most of the day. On Wednesday afternoon, we went grocery shopping with David and sent all the food home with him so we could cook at his house on Thanksgiving.

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Relaxing with David and his roomate’s dog, Mater

On Thursday, we had 20+ airmen and families over to David’s house for Thanksgiving meal. We purchased the meat and everyone else pitched something in. Most of the guests played games the rest of the evening. We left later in the evening after helping clean up.

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Most of the crew at Thanksgiving dinner

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Thanksgiving Spread

David was off work Friday, so we went out to the base to find a place to take our annual Christmas picture. While we were on base, we stopped by the Base Exchange and Malcolm ended up buying himself an early Christmas present – an Xbox.

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We stopped at David’s house to set it up and download the game that it came with. We ended up leaving it overnight since the downloads were taking quite a while.

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Random picture of David’s cat – Maui

On Saturday, David came over, bringing the Xbox and a couple other items we had left at his house. He and Malcolm set up the Xbox, then Val and David made buckeyes (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate) for David to take to work with him on Monday.  Malcolm and David played Xbox for a while after we went out to dinner.

David headed home after we said goodbyes and we got the trailer ready for travel. We wanted to get an early start on Sunday traveling back to our home base. On Sunday morning, we rolled out at around 6:30 AM central time. It was a good thing we started early (for a 400 mile drive) as traffic on I-75 was crazy with all the holiday travelers (in both directions).

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I-75 south near Ocala

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Dates: Nov. 26, 2017

We finally got home around 3:30 or so and got set up just enough to be able to relax the rest of the evening.

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Back home in time for sunset

Our trailer will be here into mid-January. We’ll be out for a couple trips in December (Nashville and Seattle), but will be flying.