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.

 

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Heading North

Current Location: Camp Pedro – South of the Border, Hamer, South Carolina

Yesterday our friends Jeremy and Becky picked us up at the trailer and took us on a tour of Moody AFB. Jeremy is a search and rescue pilot on the C-130 aircraft. He showed us the airstrip and we saw a plane taking off. Later, we hear the plane firing at the practice range. It was a fun and informative tour.

After the tour, we stopped by the Base Exchange and Malcolm got a haircut, as did Jeremy and Becky’s son. We headed from there over to Family Pizza, a nice little mom and pop pizza place just outside the base. We dropped Jeremy back off on the base and headed to their daughter’s school to pick up Arco, their adopted bomb sniffing dog. He gets to “sniff for bombs” at the elementary school a couple mornings a week along with a local Sheriff’s deputy.

Arco with Val

Arco with Val

After picking up Arco, Becky dropped us off at the trailer for a couple hours while she ran some errands. We did the same, dropping by the post office, the grocery store and the gas station to fill up the truck. We headed back to the trailer and waited until someone came to pick us up. Becky stopped by with both the children as their daughter, Morgan, wanted to see the kitty cat. After a short visit, we headed over to their house for the evening. Malcolm and Jeremy grilled steaks and chicken and we had a great dinner. We visited until fairly late in the evening then said our goodbyes and Jeremy dropped us off at the trailer.

This morning we hooked up and headed out a little after 8AM. The goal was to drive as far as Florence, South Carolina on I-95. We had picked out a campground in the area, but kept seeing billboards for a place called “South of the Border“. Val looked them up on her iPad and found they had a campground along with several restaurants and other attractions. It is a very touristy spot, indeed. We decided to push on another 30 minutes and stay there.

Dark setup shot

Dark setup shot

Main attraction sign

Main attraction sign

We arrived just as the sun was setting and ended up setting up the trailer in the dark, though it wasn’t too bad. We unhitched, leveled, hooked up the power cord, ran the slides out and dumped the cat inside then headed to dinner at one of the local restaurants. We had pretty good Mexican food, walked around three of their shops and picked up a couple items then headed to fill up the truck with fuel. After that, it was back to the trailer to relax and unwind.

License plates today reflected the fact that we were traveling on I-95. We got 34 of 51 plates, mostly from the eastern seaboard and midwest.

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Waiting on the Truck

Current Location: Spartanburg NE/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina

We went over to the laundry room this morning to finish up our laundry. Later in the morning, the Ford dealer called and indicated that we needed a new fan clutch which has been ordered. They were fairly confident we should have the truck back tomorrow by around noon. If so, we can hook up and head on towards Alabama, or at least as far as we feel like traveling.

With the truck news in, we decided to drive over to Spartansburg and visit the Camping World there. We had a couple items on our list that we needed to pick up. First was a 15 foot extension cord for our fairly short 50 amp hookup cord. There have been a couple times we could have used a longer cord but instead chose a different site, or parked way forward on the site so our cord would reach.

We also picked up a new set of Magma stackable cookware that is compatible with our new single burner countertop induction stove. Val lucked out and found the 10 piece set (like we have now, but Teflon coated) over in the clearance section. We saved a bit of money on the pans.

After shopping, we stopped by Cracker Barrel for lunch, then headed back to the trailer. We also picked up a couple of screw-in spikes for tethering our ratchet straps when we use them to hold down the awning. We got to check out how well that works when an unexpected but brief thundershower rolled through the campground. We took the straps off and rolled up the awning when we saw more severe weather approaching (fortunately, it passed us).

We didn’t do much the rest of the evening. We scrounged around the kitchen for dinner and took it easy. Malcolm posted some travel pictures to his website. Val retired to bed early.

Yorktown, Williamsburg and On The Road

Current Location: Spartanburg NE/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina

On Monday, we drove around and did quite a bit of sightseeing. First, we drove to the information center at the main entrance to Newport News Park and picked up some literature and pointers on visiting Yorktown. We drove up the road to find a post office but it didn’t open until noon, so we drove on to the visitor center outside of Yorktown and found that it wasn’t what we were looking for. They pointed us in the right direction.

We ended up eating a slightly early lunch in Yorktown and then headed across the street to a gift shop. Several people mentioned that a ship was coming through the nearby drawbridge, so we joined the gathering crowd to see the drawbridge open and a naval ship passing through. It was fun watching the bridge close up afterwards. We headed on up the street and stopped by the Yorktown post office to take care of our mail.

We headed on to the National Park Service building at the nearby battlefields and paid our admission. We watched the introductory movie, picked up a CD for the self-guided driving tour and briefly looked through the small museum that had on site. The driving tour was neat. We didn’t get out of the car and walk up to any of the sites, but you could see enough from the parking areas to get a feel for the history of the battlefield.

From there, we drove on into Williamsburg and walked up and down the main drag, stopping into several shops to look around. We didn’t do any of the paid tour since it was late in the afternoon, and we have both been there before. After that, we headed back to the trailer and had leftovers for dinner. After dinner, we headed over to Malcolm’s Aunt Mary and Uncle Charles house to visit with them for a bit and drop off a pair of sunglasses that Aunt Mary left at the trailer. Aunt Margaret and Uncle Jerry were there, as well.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to the campground, stopping on the way to fill up the truck with fuel. We had most everything packed up to head out in the morning.

We got up this morning fairly early and were pulling out of Newport News Park about 7:45 AM. We had a fairly long drive (410 miles) to Gaffney, South Carolina which is roughly the halfway point to Wetumpka, where we planned to driving to on Wednesday. However, when we pulled into the KOA, Malcolm left the truck running to let things cool down while we checked in at the office. When he went to pull around to our space, the air conditioner was blowing warm air. That wasn’t a good sign.

Once in our spot, Val went to raise the trailer off the truck with the switch on the front of the trailer and it no longer works. We ended up using the remote control. Now we had two broken things. It was only about 4:30, so Malcolm found a nearby Ford dealer to drop the truck off with after verifying we could stay in the campground another day. We paid for Wednesday night and headed over to the Ford dealer. The air conditioner was working fine all the way there. They are going to check it for us in the morning, anyway. We found a nearby Olive Garden and had dinner there since the trailer was still cooling down (it was 95 degrees when we arrived).

Back at the campground, Malcolm had the foot pedal for the toilet fall off when he went to flush. It had turned on the water but had not opened the drain, so Malcolm found himself with a non-functioning pedal and a bowl quickly filling with water. He ran outside and turned off the main water supply just in time. He worked on the toilet while Val took some laundry over to start it. Malcolm got the toilet back together but we’re not sure the pedal might not jump off again. The pedal is retained in a fairly poor fashion once you have removed it one time. Not the best design.

Once things settled down, Malcolm and our granddaughters did a FaceTime call on the phone. Malcolm walked down to the pen where they keep the goats and chickens in the campground. He had a small bag of carrots to feed to them (which is OK per the sign on the fence). The girls enjoyed seeing the goats and chickens as well as their “Pa”.

After all the excitement of the day, we were just glad to relax. We’ll be here another day, so we might catch up on laundry and just relax.

 

 

On the Road in South Carolina

Current Location: Spartanburg NE/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina

We were up at 6:00 AM this morning to the sound of distant thunder. After a check out the windows, we could see our neighbors were up, as well, so we went ahead and finished breaking down and pulled out of our spot around 7:00 AM. We stopped to dump the tanks and hit the road.

Today was the first day we tried using our iPhone GPS program (MotionX Drive) via the interface to the new truck stereo. It took a bit of getting used to, but it worked rather well. We might just get used to it instead of our TomTom unit (which is stowed in the console). You can make menu selections on the phone and the map continues to update on the stereo screen. Pretty neat. The voice prompts come in over the stereo speakers and it automatically reduces the music level for each announcement. We’ll see how it works out long term.

GPS software running on phone and on stereo.

GPS software running on phone and on stereo.

We stopped at a truck stop northeast of Atlanta to eat lunch. We used our new outdoor kitchen counter to prepare the meal then ate inside the truck. While we were there, we went ahead and filled up with fuel. Had we known that fuel was so inexpensive in South Carolina ($3.39 versus the $3.72 we paid), we would have waited. Such is life.

Lunch.

Lunch.

We stopped at a really nice rest area inside of South Carolina (not the welcome center) that overlooked a lake. The picnic area was spread out down the hill to the lake, making for a very scenic view. Had we not eaten lunch earlier, we would have eaten here.

Lake near rest area.

Lake near rest area.

We arrived at the KOA here around 4:30. The staff is great, the park is very nice. They took Malcolm around in the golf cart to look at spots before we paid. He selected one and came back to the office to settle up. KOA gives value card members an additional discount if they reserve their spot ahead of time. Since we just drove in, they were nice enough to set up a reservation for us first, then checked us in, saving us a couple more dollars. This KOA is highly recommended if you are heading up I-85 through South Carolina.

KOA store award.

KOA store award.

Our spot.

Our spot.

We cooked dinner once we were set up. After dinner, we walked around and checked out the facilities. We ran across three goats that you can feed and pet. They were super friendly. The grey one has a stick taped to its horns to keep it from getting its head stuck in the fence.

Goats!

Goats!

We stopped by the camp store and picked up some postcards to mail out. Once back to the trailer, we decided to go ahead and do a couple loads of laundry since they have a really nice laundry facility and nobody was using it.

Malcolm wrote out postcards while we waited, then worked on a spreadsheet of our travels along with mileages. Starting today, he is tracking our travel miles (pulling the trailer) more accurately by taking a picture of the odometer at the beginning and end of the day. Prior to today, he has estimated the miles by entering stuff into Google Maps and getting the route mileage. As of the end of today, we have pulled our trailer 6,826 miles.