Starting Our Summer Travels

Current Location: Seven Points Campground, Hermitage, Tennessee

This morning we packed up, cleaned out our tanks and headed up the road to the Nashville area. Malcolm is going to work in the office here for a week before we head on up to Pennsylvania, then out west.

The park here is very scenic. It is an Army Corp of Engineers park and is situated right on Lake Percy Priest, a few miles east of Nashville. Malcolm looked through their reservation system earlier this year and found one spot available for almost an entire week. That was literally the only week-long opening available this summer, or at least through this week, since we’ll be traveling the rest of the summer.

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Our home in the woods

We’re also going to try something a little different this trip. Instead of Malcolm renting a car, he is going to take the commuter train into town. It drops off about 4 blocks from his office and the local station here is about a 10 minute drive away (about 6 miles).

Both the change of venue and change of transportation method will save us quite a bit of money. The site here is $22 a night and a round trip on the train is $10. Compare that to a site at the KOA (where we usually stay) running about $75 a night and a rental car at nearly $40 a day (with fuel).

 

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The Home Office

Current Location: Pineglen RV Park, Panama City Beach, Florida

First of all, a third blog post in as many days (patting ourselves on the back). For most of the day today, Malcolm got in a full day’s work and Val did laundry all day. Have we ever mentioned how much we love our washer/dryer combo? Even with a smaller washer that has to double as a dryer, Val caught up on a week’s worth of laundry in one day. Not bad.

This afternoon, David came over to assist us with our latest plan for the trailer. We decided to remove the couch from the rear of the trailer and replace it with a couple desk chairs and desks. We bought the chairs yesterday afternoon. The desks are ordered from Amazon and are being shipped to friends in Alabama. We will be back there at the end of the month.

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Couch before removal.

While we waited for David to come over after work, Malcolm emptied the truck bed and put most everything inside (the hitch base got locked up outside).

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Cleaning out the bed.

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Stuff staged on the picnic table (including the chairs)

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Couch base ready to move.

When David got to the trailer, we had the couch back and cushions already in the truck. The heavy part – the base – was ready to move. David and Malcolm got it through the door with relative ease and loaded it into the back of the truck. Then, it was off to David’s house to unload it. That just took a few minutes.

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David testing out the couch

While we waited for David’s roommate to take a shower so we could all go to dinner, we visited with Callie for a few minutes. She told us all about her stay at David’s house (David claims some of the complaints weren’t valid).

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Callie

We all loaded up in the truck (except for Callie) and headed to Captain D’s for dinner. We dropped the guys back off at home and headed back to the trailer. Malcolm loaded the hitch and totes back in the truck, brought in the bikes for travel and assembled the two office chairs.

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Chairs assembled and ready for service

The leather on the chairs almost exactly matches the leather on our theater seating unit. The wood is a little redder than the other wood in the trailer, but we like the look nonetheless. The desks we’ve ordered are a craftsman style writing desk. The wood should match the chair bases fairly closely. We’re looking forward to having the area all put together.

Tomorrow morning we head out and east to just north of Jacksonville for the night, then on up I-95.

 

Your Bi-weekly Update

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

OK, so we haven’t posted anything again for a while. With our actual travel season starting up in earnest, we’ll try to change that behavior. Part of the reason for the longer updates is that it seems more like we’re just kinda hanging around. Malcolm works more in the trailer now, so it’s easier to just sit still somewhere and fall into an everyday routine.

As a matter of fact, this is the lowest mileage year we’ve had since we started traveling in 2013, at least as of the end of May. In 2013, we had 7920 miles under our belt by May 30. In 2014, 4860 miles (we spent a lot of time in early 2014 sitting still and getting our house ready to sell). In 2015, with a trip out to the west coast and back for winter, we had 7824 miles by this time of the year. This year, we’re currently at 3281 miles.

The first week we were here (after arriving May 16th) was mainly some of that everyday stuff. Malcolm worked remotely from his easy chair, or on occasions, from his outdoor office under our canopy.

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The setup

Val did some various craft projects, including a handmade doll for our youngest granddaughter, Scarlet. The doll is seen here making friends with Bullseye the traveling horse.

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Bullseye’s new friend

Another craft project was started, this time by Malcolm. While rooting through our storage unit, we pulled out a scrapbook that Malcolm’s mother had started and put a lot of his things into. It was showing its age, so we decided to re-do the scrapbook using more modern materials. Malcolm pretty much did all the work and has even typed up some little blurbs for different pages to explain items and to give some historical recollections.

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Page in the scrapbook

Malcolm came down with a sinus infection over the first weekend we were here and ended up at the local “doc in the box” to get looked at. He let them give him a steroid shot while he was there, knowing it typically hypes him up. It gave him that needed boost to finish about 75% of the scrapbook work through the night. Next time, no shots.

Our son David came up this past Thursday and stayed with us until this morning. He invited a few of his friends over on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Memorial Day weekend. We did the same. We cooked out, enjoyed each others’ company, had dessert with some of the other campground folks and some of David’s friends stayed well into the evening chatting with David in the trailer.

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Ready for company

We recently purchased a new “honey wagon” (sewer tote) for when we stay here at this particular campground since they don’t have sewer hookups. Since we are in one of the closest spots to the dump station (it is off in the distance above the picnic table in the picture, above), we decided to just use it more frequently to empty the gray tanks as needed so that we wouldn’t have to conserve our water usage.

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Performing a “download”

That made it particularly nice as we were able to keep up with laundry using the washer/dryer in our trailer. Malcolm made maybe five runs to the dump station (we would have made at least three without running the washer). He uses it as his “exercise” since pulling the tote to the dump and back by hand isn’t too difficult.

Today we said goodbye to David (for a day or so, since we head to Panama City next) and spent part of the day putting all the outside gear away. We dropped off our sewer tote (we only run gray water through it) and some extra items at our storage unit, and brought back a couple boxes of stuff we stored in there to keep them out of the way while we had company this weekend.

Tomorrow morning we head down to Panama City (Beach) for a couple days to drop some things off for David. Then we’ll head east to I-95 and make our way up the eastern seaboard to eventually end up at a Heartland Owners Club rally in the Washington, DC area.

 

Back “Home” Again

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

After a restful night in Fort Payne, Alabama, we headed on down the road towards Wetumpka. We took the slightly longer route by staying on the interstate all the way to Montgomery. On the way, we stopped by Camping World just south of Birmingham and picked up a new sewer tote to replace the one we’ve left at Ft. Toulouse with various camp hosts. The old one is definitely showing its age.

When we pulled into Ft. Toulouse, we were met with a fairly full campground. The re-enacters were here for the French and Indian Encampment weekend. We circled the campground, looking at the various sites that were open and decided on site #3. This site is very shaded and surprisingly, the pad is very long. It’s interesting that very few people choose this site because it is so nice.

We caught up on shopping on Saturday evening and went to our old church in Prattville on Sunday. We had lunch out with our good friends, the Miltons. We also collected up our mail and packages from them. They are our local mail drop while we are in this area. On Sunday afternoon, Val headed back to church for a ladies’ meeting she wanted to attend. Malcolm did a little maintenance on the trailer (cleaned bugs off the front cap) and went for a scenic bike ride around the property.

Malcolm has been working at the trailer this week. It’s been nice for him to be able to relax and get a lot of work done without the distractions of being in an office. We’re hoping this situation can continue so we won’t have to stop in an office very often. The Nashville office, in particular, is rather expensive for us to work from – between renting a car to get downtown and the high prices at the campgrounds near work.

It is mainly for that reason that we are down here in Alabama this week even though we are flying out to Seattle next week from Nashville. After looking at how much it would cost us to have our trailer sitting empty in Nashville while we were away (approximately $70 a night), we decided it would be much cheaper to leave the trailer down here at Ft. Toulouse ($110 a week) and drive up to Nashville and back.

We found out this week that the rear air conditioner on our trailer has stopped cooling. Fortunately, we are on a very shady site and, even though the temperatures outside have been in the low- to mid-80’s, the trailer is staying comfortable using only the front air conditioner. There are no mobile RV technicians in this area, and we hesitate to leave the rig sitting at a repair facility while we are away.

However, Malcolm has found a repair facility in Panama City Beach that also does mobile repair calls. Since we are heading down there in a couple weeks to visit with David, we made reservations at a campground where the repair place makes service calls. They will drop by and look at our air conditioner. The service department indicated that they keep air conditioners in stock, so we shouldn’t have to wait for one if they need to replace ours.

 

Further North

Current Location: Nashville KOA, Nashville, Tennessee

Since we last posted, Malcolm flew out to San Diego the week of March 14th for work. Val stayed behind in Alabama. Once Malcolm got back home, we decided to stay one more week in Alabama so we could attend Easter Services at our home church there.

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Seals on the beach in La Jolla, CA.

Our son, David, moved out of his dorm room at Tyndall AFB and into a house he is sharing with a fellow airman. As part of that process, he and his buddies came up and cleared his stuff out of our 10′ x 15′ storage unit. We moved our stuff to a smaller 10′ x 5′ unit and gave up the larger unit.

After David and his roommate got settled in, they decided having a pet might be nice. We made suggested to them that they could take Callie and they agreed. We drove down on the Saturday before Easter with Callie and all her gear and dropped her off at the house. We visited for a while before heading back to Wetumpka. So, now we are pet-less travelers again. We often miss being greeted at the door by a cat, but we feel she’s probably in a better situation not traveling around so much, especially given her age (almost 13 years old).

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Callie commenting on the new place.

We packed up and left Wetumpka this past Monday and arrived here at the Nashville KOA mid-afternoon.We’ve been having random power problems with our 12V system since mid-winter. When it was colder, we chalked it up to the weather’s effects on the hydraulic system and so forth. We would randomly find the 12V breaker tripped after hooking up the trailer, despite leaving the power cord connected until we were hooked up to the truck.

Our inverter beeped all the way from Alabama to Nashville and refused to power up to keep our residential refrigerator running. Fortunately it was a short enough trip that everything stayed cold or frozen. Once we got set up here in Nashville, Malcolm checked the batteries and found that they were all very low on water. Essentially, the batteries were pretty much ruined.

We picked up one battery and ordered a second from Collum & Massey (the local RV dealer next to Camping World, who was out of batteries). The second one came in on Wednesday, so we now have two new batteries, full of water and that should hold a charge. Malcolm is going to add checking the water in the batteries to a monthly checklist he is going to eventually get around to making up.

We’ve done a couple modifications to the trailer. We painted our bathroom a dark teal color. It was supposed to be a lighter shade, but we didn’t realize the store mixed the wrong color until we had one coat on and it dried. We decided to just stick with that color anyway. Today, we put up some peel-and-stick gel tiles for a backsplash.

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Blue wall and gel tile backsplash.

While we were in Wetumpka, Malcolm found an old stereo receiver at a thrift store for $5. He figured for that price, it wouldn’t hurt to at least try it out to see what condition it was in. It turns out it is in very good condition considering its age (decoding the serial number, we found that it was built in August, 1971).

The only thing done to it so far, other than cleaning, is to shoot some contact cleaner ($12 from Amazon) in all the knobs and switches. That got rid of all the typical scratchy noises and it plays really well. It will eventually need a few parts replaced, but the parts are inexpensive and relatively easy for Malcolm to replace. He figured it would need some tinkering.

Malcolm added a shelf in the overhead cabinet over the TV and put the receiver on the bottom and the other electronic gear up on the shelf. We bought a pair of bookshelf speakers and used Command Strips to attach them to the cabinet top under the TV. Malcolm wired everything up, including pulling the speaker wires for the outside speakers and hooking them up to the “B” output on the receiver. Now we can listen to music inside, outside or both at the same time.

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The new stereo setup.

Another random thing. Before we left for Hawaii, our son came up and brought a present that he and his sister purchased together for our 30th wedding anniversary. Our son-in-law’s cousin’s partner is an artist at Disney. He did a commissioned piece for us based on pictures and information our daughter sent to him. You can see Callie and our traveling horse, Bullseye (above in stereo picture). Val and I are wearing hats/ears relating to our respective favorite Disney characters – Minnie Mouse and Goofy. And, of course, Cinderella’s castle in the background. (The following photo was taken from Instagram. Our copy is framed).

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Our new picture.

Our 2015 travel quilt was delivered while we were in Alabama. It came out great. Callie is modeling it for us here.

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2015 Travel Quilt

We still owe everyone some pictures from Hawaii. We’ll try to get those out here soon. We will be in Nashville until the end of next week. We’re taking a weekend trip up to Kentucky, then we’ll be back here another week.