January through March

With a new year came new laziness in updating our blog (you probably noticed). We’ve been in Florida the entire time, or at least the RV has. Well, you’ll see below. There will be a lot of pictures and some accompanying text just to catch you up.

Dishwasher Installation

We installed our countertop dishwasher in a more permanent fashion in the trailer. We cut a hole through the kitchen wall and used a difficult-to-reach bathroom cabinet to contain the dishwasher. It just fit in the space. Malcolm had to move one shelf up a couple inches in the top bathroom cabinet.

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Construction Starts

We took out some of the decorative woodwork around the opening in the kitchen and put a shelf above the dishwasher. That more than made up for the slight loss of counter space in front of the dishwasher.

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First Test Fit

With everything trimmed up, we’re happy with the results. We’ve been using the dishwasher quite regularly since (and using less paper plates and bowls).

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Malcolm’s (First) Trip to Houston

In mid-January, Malcolm flew out to Houston for a week for work. It was a pretty non-descript trip. The hotel was nice and served a hot breakfast, and on most evenings, a hot dinner. United Airlines is the primary airline flying direct from Orlando to Houston. Malcolm said he liked it OK, but the seats were a little more cramped than Delta or Alaska airlines, so he upgraded his seat coming back home.

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Camping at Fort Wilderness

At the end of January, we pulled the trailer the 15 miles to Disney’s Fort Wilderness for our annual camping trip there (our first trip in 2013 was to Fort Wilderness and it has since become a tradition).

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Our buddy Bullseye is excited to be checking in

David came down and joined us for the majority of the trip. He left his kitties home with his roommates. We visited Disney parks a couple days.

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We also took a trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa one day. David got all of us free tickets with his military pass.

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Malcolm went horseback riding at Fort Wilderness while we were there – another tradition. (Val can’t ride anymore due to knee issues).

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We took advantage of our Disney Vacation Club privileges to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the top floor outdoor balcony at Bay Lake Tower (next to the Contemporary lodge). It tried to sprinkle rain on us, but we braved the chilly drizzle to see the fireworks from a fun vantage point.

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Other Goings-Ons

We also took advantage of our Disney Vacation Club privileges and attended the Moonlight Magic event at Magic Kingdom. At these events, the park closes to the general public around 8:00 PM but stays open until midnight for Disney Vacation Club members that reserved admission ahead of time. The entire evening is free and they even fed us dinner. There was also all the Mickey ice cream bars you could eat. Not to mention, all the rides were open with the longest wait at 10 minutes.

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We both entered chili in a chili cook-off at our neighborhood club house. Neither of us won but all the chili was good.

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The theme was Western Night. As you can see, there were very few cowboys and cowgirls there. Malcolm wore his entire outfit, complete with hat and boots. If they had a costume contest, he probably would have won.

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Malcolm’s Second Trip to Houston

Malcolm had a second trip to Houston at the end of February to complete the project he traveled there in January for. He was happy to find that Hertz had a Ford pickup truck for rent. As a Hertz Gold member, Malcolm gets to pick out any vehicle in the Gold parking lot at Houston airport, so we picked something familiar.

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Visiting Friends at Disney

Right after Malcolm got back from Houston, some friends of ours who attended church with us in Alabama were in town with some of their family. We met up with them all one day and visited both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. It was a whirlwind day, but we all had fun and it was great seeing the Huffmans again.

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Tim and Debby Huffman

Anniversary Time

We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary on March 8th by staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for two nights. We had a savanna view room. There were wild animals outside our balcony. It was fun seeing all the different animals just steps away from our room (all the rooms are at least 15 feet above ground level).

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Our Room

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Wildebeest Outside Our Room

Malcolm took his good camera setup with him and had a great time photographing a lot of the wildlife around the facility. He posted quite a few pictures in his gallery here: [LINK].

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David’s Graduation

The Thursday after our anniversary trip, we headed up to stay at David’s house in Panama City, Florida. He was graduating from ACS and was officially becoming a Staff Sergeant (ranking up from Senior Airman). He asked if we would “pin on his stripes” and we, of course, said “yes!”

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Some of the Graduates (David 2nd from left)

There was a nice presentation ceremony. They typically do a complete banquet, but this class was much smaller due to displacement of many of the troops after hurricane Michael severely damaged David’s Air Force base (Tyndall). Instead, it was a short ceremony with certificates handed out and a couple of the higher-ups speaking.

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After the ceremony, we pinned on David’s stripes while one of his roommates took our picture for us.

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Finally…

Other than those events, we’ve pretty much settled into a routine here. Yes, we are still going to be traveling and continue to live in our fifth wheel RV on our lot here in Florida. Most of our trips this year will be shorter “staycations” as seen in this post. Our only big trip this year is our annual trip out to Washington state this summer to visit the grandchildren and family.

Part of the decision to stay “close to home” for the most part is financial. Over the past few years, we’ve lived like tourists and now it is time to catch back up while Malcolm still has a good income. We’re back on a budget and working on paying off everything over the next couple years. All of this will help us later blend into a retirement income down the road.

 

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Christmas and New Year

Dates: December 23, 2018 to January 2, 2019

Location: Our daughter and son-in-law’s home near Tacoma, Washington

We headed into Christmas with Malcolm catching yet another cold after our flight back from Hawaii. That ended up turning into a full-fledged sinus infection on Christmas Eve afternoon. Of course, nothing could be done until the day after Christmas (aside from an emergency room visit), so he soldiered on through Christmas festivities as best he could.

We had a really nice evening service at church on Sunday, the 23rd. The evening service had the children singing and presenting the Christmas message. Elizabeth played the flute and Scarlet and Violet were up on stage. Violet had a speaking role, as well.

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Children’s Choir

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Violet Speaking Her Part

After the choir presentation, the children came down to sit with their families and the remainder of the service was a candlelight service as we sang a couple of familiar hymns.

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Val and Scarlet

On Christmas Eve, we headed over to Cole’s parents’ house for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. A lot of the family and some friends stopped by. Malcolm relaxed with one of his friends.

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Malcolm and King

On Christmas morning, we all opened gifts. Our son David joined us via FaceTime since he had to stay home and work on getting insurance matters straightened out in getting his house fixed.

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Malcolm got a set of socks, one pair for each day of the week and an extra pair for “laundry day”. Since Christmas was on Tuesday…

Later on Christmas Day, we headed over to Cole’s parents’ home again for Christmas dinner and to do the annual gift exchange.

The day after Christmas, Val drove Malcolm to the doctor’s office to get checked on. He was prescribed antibiotics and nasal spray to relieve the symptoms. He was feeling better after a couple days on medication.

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After Christmas, Malcolm stayed home and the rest of the crew headed out to the mall. The girls had gift cards for lunch and for Build-A-Bear.

We didn’t do a lot of activities, but did end up going to the zoo on the Saturday after Christmas. Bullseye the horse left clues around the house and in the car for the girls to figure out where we were going.

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It was cold and started raining while we were at the zoo, but we had a good time anyway. Many of the animals and exhibits were inside, so we enjoyed those. Malcolm took his camera with him and captured quite a few pictures and put them in his gallery: [Click Here].

We let the girls stay up for a while to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve, but found out it was delayed two hours so it would be 11:00 before they could see it, so it was off to bed when they got really tired.

Our flight home left late in the evening on Wednesday, January 2nd, so we got to spend most of the day with the girls and Elizabeth (Cole had gone back to work). Scarlet had woken up that morning sick, so we took Violet out to lunch while Elizabeth and Scarlet stayed home. It was Violet’s choice and we ended up at McDonalds.

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Scarlet was feeling well enough to eat part of a kids meal, so we picked on up on the way out the door and took it home to her.

On Wednesday evening we said our goodbyes to the girls and Elizabeth a little early to avoid disrupting bedtime too much. Cole took us to the airport and dropped us off. We were more than 3 hours early and the lines for security were really light (plus we have PreCheck, which helped as well). Our plane left a little late, about 11:15 PM and got to Orlando a little late, around 8:00 AM eastern time.

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Sunrise Over North Florida

Dates: January 3 to 7, 2019

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

Our neighbor, Jim Lee, picked us up at the airport and brought us home. We dropped all our suitcases in the guest house (to sort through later) and ended up napping the rest of the morning until past noon. We headed out and grabbed some lunch, then picked up our mail from the post office. Malcolm got a little bit of work in during the afternoon and again on Thursday.

On Friday, Malcolm didn’t have any work assigned to him, so he decided to tackle the dishwasher installation in the trailer. He worked on that Friday afternoon and most of Saturday. We’re pleased with the installation. Malcolm will detail that install in an upcoming blog post.

For now, it’s just back to work for Malcolm and the usual life around here for both of us.

 

 

 

Rolling Through to December

Still with us? Yeah, it’s been a while. Quite a few things going on around here since we last posted in (gasp!) October.

Dates: Oct. 21 to Nov. 2, 2018

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

Here’s our latest RV project – a dishwasher. We had looked at small built-in units, but they run around $600-800. After thinking about it for a while, we found a spot where we can install one. After shopping around again, we found that countertop units are $200-300 and are roughly the same size as the built-in units.

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It holds a decent amount of dishes for its size. For now we are running it as a countertop unit, but eventually will install it through the wall next to the refrigerator and into the bottom of the bathroom cabinet on the other side of the wall (very top-right part of the above picture).

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Since the installation is going to take a bit of work and we were getting ready to travel, we decided to hold off on installation until a later date.

Dates: Nov. 2 to 3, 2018

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

On November 2, we hit the road heading north for our annual volunteer effort at Fort Toulouse.

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We decided to split the trip in half on the way up and stopped for the night in Madison, Florida (east of Tallahassee). It was a cool, yucky day, but the rain held off when we arrived. We decided to just keep the truck hitched up overnight.

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Dates: Nov. 3 to 11, 2018

Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

On November 3rd, we left Jellystone and stopped at the Love’s Travel Center at I-10 and US 231. David drove up from Panama City to grab some supplies from us. We brought him extra bedding (in case any of his Air Force friends needed a place to sleep) and our MiFi unit so he will have unlimited Internet at home (he had tapped out his phone’s limit).

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Note in the above picture how many trees were blown over. This is about 60 miles inland, north of Panama City. We saw quite a few blown down trees across the panhandle on I-10 and for several miles up US 231 to just north of the Alabama state line.

After having lunch with David, we headed on north to Wetumpka and set up the trailer in our usual spot at Fort Toulouse.

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Most of our time spent in Wetumpka was helping out at the annual Frontier Days re-enactment event they put on in November. Malcolm parked cars as usual and Val helped direct the busses full of school children. We did this on Wednesday through Friday.

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Malcolm parked cars on Saturday and Val wandered around in period dress, visiting with friends we’ve met. Malcolm took some time Saturday afternoon to get some photos. They are all in our photo album at this link: [Click Here].

We left on Sunday morning with plans on stopping on the way home whenever we got tired of driving. We ended up making the whole trip home in one day (around 500 miles), arriving back to our spot around 5:00 PM. We got the trailer all set up before it got too dark.

Dates: Nov. 11 to Dec. 6, 2018

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

Shortly after we returned from Fort Toulouse, Malcolm had a Dermatologist appointment to remove a spot on his back. Part of that procedure involved stitches and Malcolm was told to not do anything strenuous (including trying to install a dishwasher). The return appointment for removing the stitches was two weeks later (near the end of November).

Shortly after the surgery, the main air conditioner on the trailer started making a lot of noise. Since Malcolm couldn’t climb up on the roof of the trailer, we called in a mobile repair person. He did a great job of cleaning out a bunch of dirt and debris from the fans in the unit, but the motor was pretty well needing a replacement (it was badly out of balance and the shaft had lots of play in it). We decided that we would order a replacement motor off Amazon and call him back out when the motor arrived.

We’ve been slowly adding some re-decorating touches to the trailer in a more mid-century modern style. One thing we recently added was this vintage “radio”. It was an inexpensive eBay find by Val. It was non-working, so Malcolm gutted it and it now houses a Bluetooth speaker. It also coordinates pretty well with the other items on the table.

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While perusing Facebook, we found out that a high school classmate of Malcolm was in town with his wife. We met up with them for lunch one day at Disney Springs and walked around with them for a few hours of shopping and chatting.

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David decided to come visit us for Thanksgiving as both of his roommates had gone home for the holiday and most of his co-workers were scattered about due to continuing rebuilding efforts from hurricane Michael. We readied the guest house for his arrival.

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David arrived with both of his kitties. This one is Siren. She is less than a year old and recently learned how to fetch a ball and bring it back to you. It turns out she loves it so much that she will keep bringing you a ball until you stop what you are doing and actually play. She will chase the ball for a half hour or more.

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This is Maui. His favorite activities include eating and lounging about the place. He also likes to hide behind our theater seating unit when it is time to go to the guest house for the evening. He ended up spending the night in the trailer with us most every night.

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On Thanksgiving, we ate our dinner at The Wave bar and restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. They had a great buffet along with a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

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Dinner with David.

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After dinner, we rode the monorail around to the Grand Floridian resort to check out the life-size gingerbread house they have in their lobby. It was pretty awesome.

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We also played a round of miniature golf one day and visited a couple of the Disney parks.

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Morning breakfast line.

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Our air conditioner motor arrived right after Thanksgiving over the weekend. We called the RV guy the following Monday to set up an appointment for him to replace it.

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On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Malcolm had his stitches removed. The spot that was removed was benign, so we’re glad for that.

While we were out one day, we decided to get our flu shots (we missed getting them last year). The local Publix grocery store offered a $10 store card for each person getting a flu shot. Insurance paid the bill for the shots, so we picked up some needed groceries for next to nothing.

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The RV repair guy came out and replaced our motor for us. The air conditioner runs better than it did before. On the day he was working on it, we had a cold snap the night before so it was only in the 40s that morning. A couple days later, we had temperatures back in the 80s and got to test everything out pretty well.

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On the 29th of November, we headed to Disney’s Magic Kingdom for the Very Merry Christmas party. We collected lots of goodies and treats and we got to ride several rides with minimal wait. We stayed until the park closed at midnight and came home with very tired feet.

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We went back to the miniature golf the other day for another round.

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The last couple of days we’ve been busy packing for our upcoming Christmas trip out west. We fly out this Friday, December 7th to Seattle. It’s earlier than we usually head out but we’re doing things a bit different this year. More on that coming up soon!

 

Catching Up Again

Hi. Long time, no see. Yes, it’s been over a month (closer to two) since we last updated the blog. Here’s a capsule summary of life since we left North Carolina just after Labor Day weekend.

Dates: Sept. 4 to 5, 2018

Location: Point South / Yemassee KOA, Yemassee, South Carolina

David rode back home with us in the RV from North Carolina. Our halfway point stop to his house was the Yemassee KOA in South Carolina. Since we stayed in North Carolina until after lunch time to see Elizabeth and the girls off to the airport, we arrived in South Carolina very much after dark. We just extended jacks and headed to bed.

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Dates: Sept. 5 to 7, 2018

Location: Rustic Sands RV Resort, Mexico Beach, Florida

The next morning, we drove on down to Panama City, Florida, where our son lives.

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We were initially going to try to park our trailer next to our son’s new house that he moved into in July. There is space next to it, but traversing the front yard with the various trees turned into quite the challenge. That, and it decided to start pouring rain just as we arrived. We finally gave up and parked at Rustic Sands RV Park in Mexico Beach, Florida (yes, that Mexico Beach – more on that in a while).

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After getting the trailer set up, we headed back to David’s house. We went with him to PetSmart to pick up his new kitty that he adopted. Her name is Siren and she was about 9 months old.

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We got the grand tour of his new home and visited for a couple days before heading on towards our own home location.

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

Dates: Sept. 7 to Oct. 20, 2018

Back at our own place, we settled in pretty quickly and started back in to the normal day-to-day non-travel activities that we do. Malcolm works most every weekday and Val works on various projects.

One project we weren’t prepared for, though, was having to gut and re-do the walls in our recently renovated guest house. It seems the air conditioner just blew all that humid air around in the back part of the house and mold started growing on the paneling (and on the underlying sheetrock).

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Yuck!

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Starting demolition

Yes, we probably should have purchased a dehumidifier for the guest house, but didn’t and now we were going to pay the price. Malcolm took several days to fully tear down all the wall material in the back room (fortunately, the fully drywalled front room didn’t sustain any mold damage).

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Back to bare walls

We found some nice shiplap boards at Lowe’s and ended up using that to re-do the walls. We wish we had done that in the first place as we could tell right away that it was going to looks much better than cheap paneling.

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Work in progress

We put shiplap on all four walls and the ceiling and trimmed out the corners, baseboards and edges. The bathroom side shows how well it came out.

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Sink area.

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Toilet area

We painted the walls a light gray color and left the trim white. We think it looks great. Oh, and yes, we now have a dehumidifier in the room. The first 24 hours it was in the room, it pulled about 8 gallons of water out of the air! It has since been plumbed to expel the water outside through a hose.

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Dehumidifier

Aside from rebuilding our remodeled area, there were no other major things to take care of after we got back. Typical activities such as trimming all the palm trees and pressure washing all the concrete (a downside of living near busy US 27 is all the black dirt/soot/tire dust that collects on everything).

We took a “vacation day” on October 4th and stayed for one night in a room at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. We managed to find the room available on the same day we went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

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Saratoga Springs Resort

We went swimming for a while, then relaxed in our room until it was time to put on our costumes (yes, adults get to dress up for Halloween at Disney).

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Val Relaxing in the Room

We headed over to Magic Kingdom in our costumes and enjoyed a fun evening trick-or-treating (we brought back a huge sack of candy), riding a couple rides and just enjoying the evening.

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Malcolm as Goofy (and Bullseye as Pegasus)

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Val as Merida (from the movie “Brave”)

Other “excitement” this month was hurricane Michael. While the only effects we got in the Orlando area was a breezy, rainy day, our son had a more direct exposure. He lives near Tyndall Air Force Base (where he is stationed) and was ordered to evacuate the area by the Tuesday before the storm hit his area.

David and his roommates boarded up windows and doors at his house and they all headed north to the Montgomery, Alabama area to wait out the evacuation order. Literally today, a week and a half after the hurricane hit, David was allowed to travel back to town to check on his house. He was very fortunate.

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There are trees down everywhere. A couple fell against the side of his house and slightly onto the roof, but just the tops of the trees. It doesn’t appear the roof was damaged by the trees at all.

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David’s back yard was previously heavily shaded by a lot of tall pine trees. As you can see in the photo, above, they are mostly all blown down. Fortunately, the largest tree that fell near the house fell in the back yard.

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The trees on the house were pretty light. Most of David’s damage will be the trim and panels under the eaves. He walked around inside his house and didn’t note any water marks on the ceiling. He also stuck his head up inside the attic area and couldn’t really see much there, either. All in all, he came out pretty well.

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As soon as power is restored to his area, he and his roommates will move back in and start the cleanup process. Water is already running, cell service is good (he FaceTimed with us from his house earlier today) and he even had some mail delivered a couple days ago (an Amazon order).

We’ll still plan on having Thanksgiving dinner at his house unless anything changes from the storm.

 

Travels and Travails on the Road

Location: Tallahassee RV Park, Tallahassee, Florida

Dates: June 7 to 8, 2018

Our first day on the road ended at the Tallahassee RV Park in, you guessed it, Tallahassee, Florida. This was a really nice park. We’ve never stayed here before but really liked the place. We even spent a while in the swimming pool relaxing and meeting new friends.

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Nice, wooded site

Location: Cajun RV Park, Biloxi, Mississippi

Dates: June 8 to 9, 2018

We left Tallahassee with the intention of staying near Mobile, Alabama, since it would have been 2/3rds of the way to Lafayette, Louisiana where we planned on visiting friends. However, between an early start and gaining an hour from changing from Eastern to Central time zones, we decided to drive on and stop another hour or so later in Biloxi, Mississippi.

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Nice, unwooded site

We’ve stayed at Cajun RV Park before, but this was the first time we’ve been in the area with the other longer-term trailers and not in the front part of the park near the road (and the go-kart track next door).

We did a little bit of “touristing” and browsed the local beach shop (buying some postcards). We also decided to eat at our favorite BBQ place in Biloxi – Slap Ya Momma’s. They had moved to a new place (used to be next door to the campground) just down the road.

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Location: Lafayette KOA, Scott, Louisiana

Dates: June 9, 2018

Today was an eventful day. The first event occurred when we were driving through Baton Rouge, Louisiana on I-10. A local police car was pulling over a speeding vehicle across several lanes of traffic. When the police car got into our lane, he slowed way down to almost a stop directly in front of us. We avoided rear-ending him and locked up our tires trying to slow down quick enough.

Shortly after that fun incident, while descending the hill on the far side of the bridge over the Mississippi River, we heard a really loud bang. Malcolm looked in his side mirror to see a pickup truck that was passing us on that side swerving away from our trailer. Shortly after that, our tire pressure monitor started beeping and showed 0 PSI on the front, left tire on the trailer. We coasted the rest of the way off the bridge and pulled over to the side to assess damage.

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Flat tire

Fortunately, the tire held up well after blowing out a chunk of the sidewall. The tread stayed intact and we suffered no damage to the trailer. Malcolm set about changing the tire when a local roadside assist truck appeared.

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Though Malcolm had all the tools and everything he needed to change the tire, he did ask if the roadside truck driver would leave the truck there with his flashing sign on. He did and also set out cones to direct traffic away from us (we were at the end of an entrance ramp merge area). He also helped Malcolm with changing the tire and airing up the spare a bit.

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The blowout

We drove on west to our scheduled stop in the Lafayette, Louisiana area. Part way between our roadside incident and our stop for the evening, we hit a milestone of traveling 100,000 miles with an RV since we started full-timing.

This evening, we visited with our friends Nick and Sheila, taking them out to dinner for Sheila’s birthday.

Our plan is to wait here until Monday morning. We hope to be able to get some new tires sometime on Monday. We may or may not be able to roll on down the road Monday, but hope to on Tuesday morning at the latest. The KOA here has reserved our spot for us (they are not full, surprisingly) through Tuesday at least. We’ll play it by ear depending on how the tire thing goes.