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.

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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.

 

Home and Away Again

Location: Casey Jones RV Park, Lake City, Florida

Dates: Nov. 6 to 7, 2017

We left Wetumpka with our little convoy on the morning of November 6th. We decided to drive until we were tired of driving. The trip from Wetumpka to our lot in Florida is fairly long – about 480 miles – so we figured we wouldn’t want to pull the whole trip in one day. Especially since Val was pulling the golf cart behind the car.

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Taking a break along US 231

All trips towing a trailer just take longer, in some part due to slower speeds. We were rolling along at 60 MPH max since that’s as fast as Val felt comfortable pulling the U-Haul. Considering the fender on the trailer had a speed limit 55 sign on it (for liability purposes, I’m sure), that worked out well for us. We ended up staying the night at Casey Jones RV Park in Lake City, Florida, just after turning south on I-75 from I-10.

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

Dates: Nov. 7 to 16, 2017

The next morning we were rolling fairly early. We had left both vehicles connected to their respective trailers overnight, so pulling up stakes and moving on was fairly easy. We arrived home before lunch. After setting up the RV and unloading the golf cart from the trailer, we set out to take care of some errands and eat lunch.

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Home Sweet Home

We dropped the U-Haul trailer off first. The storage place where we returned it was about 3 miles down US 27 from our neighborhood. After dropping the trailer, we stopped by the post office and picked up our held mail. With the mail picked up, we headed to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the trailer to set up the rest of our outdoor stuff.

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Since we fly commercially two to three times a year, we decided to go ahead and sign up for TSA Pre-Check. We filled out forms online, then headed to the Orlando airport to finish up the sign-up process. It was $85 for each of us and that is good for five years. Since Orlando is such a vacation capital, we figured it would be a good investment for flying out of here.

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Local news reports recently started suggesting that people flying out of Orlando get to the airport up to three hours before their flights due to increased security checks and just the sheer number of holiday tourists.

On Saturday, the 11th, our neighborhood held a breakfast in honor of our veterans. We had a very nice breakfast and talked with a few of our neighbors. We’re still learning names and trying to put them to faces. Of course with winter approaching, more of our neighbors are returning to Florida.

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Time for Breakfast

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Mugs for our veterans, complete with dog tags with their names on them

After breakfast, it was time for a golf cart parade around all the neighborhoods in the community. The parade ended at our main clubhouse where they had a small ceremony honoring all our veterans (including some Canadian and at least one British veteran).

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Jeep on display

One of our neighbors had brought and old military jeep he owns along with a huge display of older military uniforms and other items.

On Sunday, we decided to head over to Fort Wilderness at Disney and go on a horseback ride. After that, we rode the boat over to Magic Kingdom and wandered around for an hour or two, then rode another boat back to Wilderness Lodge to have dinner at Whispering Canyon. A boat and bus ride from there took us back to the front of Fort Wilderness where we had left our car parked and it was on back home after a busy weekend.

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Val ready to ride

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Malcolm and his trusty steed

Malcolm worked several days over the nine days we were home. After suffering with seasonal allergies from the time we left to go to Alabama, he finally decided to go to a doctor to have something done. He had bronchitis and probably a sinus infection from all the sniffles and sneezing.

Malcolm went to what he thought was just a walk-in clinic, but turned out to be more or less a full-service doctors’ office. The doctor was really nice and gave Malcolm a prescription to get a full panel blood test done to test for various allergies and to check up on his cholesterol levels. She also wanted to follow up on his acid reflux at some point. It’s nice finding a new doctor that easily, especially considering the amount of time it took to find someone in Alabama.

Before leaving home to go visit with David, we spent an evening over at Disney Springs to see the various Christmas decorations and to pick up a couple Christmas gifts. They have a Christmas Tree walk that has several snow machines set up making real snow. Of course it didn’t accumulate on the ground, but it makes for a fun way to experience snow all the way down South.

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Christmas Tree at Disney Springs

On Wednesday, the 15th, we packed up all our outdoor stuff along with the golf cart so we could head out early Thursday morning for the trip to Panama City Beach. The trip is just under 400 miles, so a full travel day.

Location: Pineglen RV Park, Panama City Beach, Florida

Dates: Nov. 16 to 17, 2017

We made good time (we left the car at home) heading from home to Panama City Beach and checked into the RV park here around mid-afternoon.

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David worked until late afternoon and just headed home for the evening. We ended up picking up some items at Target and ate dinner at the trailer. Malcolm got a little work done during the afternoon.

This morning (Friday the 17th), we headed over to Tyndall Air Force Base and met David at the visitor center. He rode back onto the base in the truck with us. We attended the airman’s Thanksgiving lunch on base, enjoying our food and the company of the various airmen at the squadron break room where David works.

David was working today, so he took off just long enough to ride back out to his car and drive back to work. He came over to the trailer after work and we went out to eat dinner together. He came back to the trailer and visited for a bit before heading home.

We’ll be here all through the coming week, celebrating Thanksgiving with David and quite a few of his airman friends and families. Our last count was that there will be around 25 people at David’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Frontier Days

Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Dates: Oct. 30 to Nov. 6, 2017

The beginning of the week was spent in preparation for being busy the rest of the week with our volunteer duties at Frontier Days. Malcolm made sure that the RV tanks were emptied and, after having several evenings of cool weather, getting one of our propane tanks refilled.

After returning with the filled propane tank, Malcolm hooked it up to the trailer and found that the connection was leaking propane. After checking nearby at Lowe’s to see if they had anything (not really), Malcolm ordered a replacement on Amazon for next day delivery and fixed it on Wednesday after the piece arrived.

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Waiting for the new hose to arrive.

On Wednesday, we all headed out to take care of our volunteer duties for Frontier Days. Malcolm and David directed traffic and parked cars. Val worked with herding the school buses full of children in and out.

Thursday morning, Malcolm woke up feeling fairly bad (fall allergies) and stayed in while David and Val headed out for traffic and bus duty. It probably was good that Malcolm stayed in as there were light rain showers off and on during the day.

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Maui watching people outside the trailer

On Friday, Malcolm was back outside working with the traffic crew. Val was back with her bus crew. This is the only picture Malcolm took at Frontier Days from his vantage point in the middle of the road.

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Saturday was fairly hectic, parking-wise. We have a smaller number of people working parking duties. There were no buses to take care of, so Val spent part of her time sitting in the Friends of the Fort tent and handing out information while wearing some of her new period costuming. She also took our golf cart and offered rides to people.

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Photo Op with Davey Crockett

This morning (Sunday), we loaded up our sewer tote and took it with us to donate to some friends. We went to church and met a friend of David’s after church for lunch at Cracker Barrel. Once we were back home, we started the process of breaking everything down to travel back to Florida. David packed up his stuff, along with Maui, and headed back home this afternoon.

On Saturday, Malcolm had run out for a bit to pick up a U-Haul trailer so that we can take our golf cart with us back to Florida. Today, Val drove it around the park for a bit to get used to having a trailer behind her. After running around for a bit with the trailer empty, we loaded up the cart, strapped it down and went out again for a practice run. We also stopped by the gas station and filled up the car.

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Loaded and ready to go

We realized that the golf cart really was the last thing of ours still here in Alabama, so taking it with us more or less finalizes our move away from Alabama as a sort of home base. Of course, we’ll still stop by from time to time since we still have so many friends here.

Speaking of “friends”, this week also ended up being ladybug swarming season. We’ve found a few flying around inside the trailer, but not near as many as we’ve seen in years past. We think we may have eliminated more entry points over time.

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Please – let us in!

Tomorrow (Monday) morning, we’ll hitch up the trailer to the truck and, with Val following along with the car and golf cart on the U-Haul trailer, we’ll head back down towards home. It will probably be a two-day trip there.

Hanging Out Up North

Location: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, Madison, Florida

Dates: Oct. 24 to 25, 2017

We stopped for the evening in Madison, Florida at the Jellystone RV Park. It helped break the trip up since it is 480 miles from Davenport to Wetumpka. We unhooked the truck and took both vehicles to fill them up with fuel, then relaxed in the trailer after fixing dinner. We were up the next morning, hooked up and rolled on out to Wetumpka.

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Our site at Jellystone

Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Dates: Oct. 25 to 29, 2017

We arrived at Fort Toulouse around 2:00 in the afternoon and set up in our usual site. We went over and retrieved our golf cart and our sewer tote and settled in for a several day stay. Malcolm worked on Thursday and Friday. Val did some running around, shopping and picking up items we had delivered to friends.

David came up to stay with us on Saturday. He will be with us for about a week. He also brought his cat, Maui, with whom Callie is not impressed.

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Maui “helping” Malcolm

Today, the three of us went to church and caught up with old friends while we were there. We had lunch out and headed back to the trailer. David and Val relaxed while Malcolm took care of emptying tanks and filling the golf cart batteries with water.

We have a couple more days to relax (or work, in Malcolm’s case) this week before Frontier Days starts (on Wednesday). We will all be volunteering for various parking duties during the week (Frontier days runs from Wednesday through Saturday).