Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve to everyone.  As 2011 draws to a close, we reflect that it was a pretty good year.  Marilyn and I had a wonderful trip to Alaska with great friends (both previously known, and those that we formed on the trip).  We attended great Escapees rallies at the chapter level and at the national level.  We also were able to attend one of Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal rallies – wonderful.

Then it was back south to FL.  We had decided to spend the winter at Sumter to recoup finances for future trips, and it is working out just fine.  We drove up to Columbus, GA for Christmas with family.  Our son Doug is a great cook, and it was so good to be able to hug our daughter Beverly, Doug’s roommate Harley and her son Gauge.  We hope we can all be together again next year.  Everyone seemed to receive gifts that they wanted and/or had asked for.  All in all a great Christmas.DSC04344

Tonight, New Year’s Eve, we will spend with friends at the clubhouse here at Sumter Oaks.  you will have to wait until tomorrow (or later) for pictures of their activities.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Since the 14th, life just goes on.  We cleaned some more Alaskan dirt out of the Jeep.  We had thought we had gotten all of it off, but I found some more under the tailgate window – it won’t go away before I try again to clean the Jeep.

On the 15th, we drove to Eustis.  My new glasses were not in, but we ordered new frames and lenses for Marilyn.  We spent the rest of the day shopping.

Monday and Tuesday, Marilyn baked cookies and pumpkin bread.

Tuesday, the 20th, I took Larry Jarvis out so he could shop for Carolyn.  His cataract surgery has left his eyes still a little too cloudy for him to drive.  We both shopped.

Wednesday, was get ready to leave for Christmas at Doug’s.  Marilyn did wash, then we delivered some of her pumpkin bread.  In the afternoon,  Marilyn went to a tea and cookie swap at the clubhouse.

Thursday, we drove to Doug’s house in Columbus, GA.  Of course we stopped for Chick-fil-A in Tifton, GA.  Gas at the WalMart in Tifton was $2.91 using the card.  It has been great to see Doug (too long in between visits).  Doug’s friend Harley and her son, Gauge, were there.  We are always happy to see these two.

Today, Marilyn and I did some grocery shopping.  It is starting to look like we will not be able to do a rally in Columbus when we wanted to.  Doug  got out of work early – he was home by 5, and Harley and Gauge returned from visiting their friend in AL.  Marilyn decorated the tree.xmas 2011-12-23

Type at you later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

November and December 1 to 14, 2011

The last time I wrote we were in Defuniak Springs, at the Chapter 26 Escapees Rally.  After leaving that rally, we drove to the Escapees’ Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, FL where we are staying for the winter.  Most of November was taken up by driving back and forth to Eustis, FL (an hour each way) to visit Doctors, Dentist, etcetera.  We did go to the Florida Sun Gators (Chapter 57) rally.  The highlight of the rally is always attending the Veteran’s Day Ceremony at the Florida National Cemetery.  We had a very festive Thanksgiving dinner at the clubhouse here at Sumter Oaks.  The park cooked the turkeys, and each couple brought dishes to share at their table.  Then, the day after Thanksgiving, we had a potluck dinner at the clubhouse to use up all of our leftovers.

I thought that I would include here in the blog, the Christmas letter that we included in the Christmas cards that were put in the mail this week.  Marilyn writes a short one, that still gives a good review of our calendar year.  But first, I think I will write a little about our trip to Cancun, Mexico.  We left on Saturday, the 3rd from Tampa.  It was a long day, because we had to change planes in Miami, where we did meet up with most of the group we would be staying with in Cancun.  The first to arrive at our Miami gate were Roseanne and Jo-Lynn.  Then Marilyn’s high school friend Lynn Holmgren along with her boyfriend arrived in wheel chairs (saves on the walking at airports, plus get you through security faster).  We stayed in Lynn’s time-share two bedroom suite.  They were really nice rooms with windows facing the ocean beach and pool area.DSC01601DSC01603  We did get to walk around Cancun some on Sunday, but Marilyn met up with Montezuma, which limited our activity Monday through Wednesday.  I went fishing on Tuesday with Bill.  We caught barracuda, bonita, and amber jack.  The bonita were used as bait for the amber jack.  We did not send fish home, because the mate said that the amber jack had parasites.  There were only 4 of us paying fishermen on this boat, but the mates did a lot of the work.  They baited and set the hooks, and then gave the poles to us to reel in the fish.IMG_0108IMG_0110IMG_0115

On Friday, Lynn treated Marilyn and I to a bus trip to see the ruins at Chichen Itza, which was very interesting.DSC01605  On the way back to Cancun, we stopped at a Cenote (a sink hole that the Mexicans turned into a swimming pool.DSC01624DSC01626

Saturday was go home day which was marred only by the process of entering the US.  At the Cancun airport, we bought 2 liters of Kahlua at the duty free shop, and were told that they could be brought into the US as carry-on parcels.  Unfortunately that was wrong information.   After arriving in Miami, we found out that they were supposed to tell us on the airplane that any liquids had to be in checked baggage because we would have to go through the security check again.

That brings us up to the Christmas letter.

Merry Christmas 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

What a year we have had!! The year 2010 ended with a nice Christmas at Doug’s.clip_image002 Bev flew in, so we were all together. Once again, we spent the rest of the winter at Haines Creek RV Park, and Larry did his final year of doing tax returns for others. We also kept busy with rallies and park activities. On April 1, we headed out – our destination – Alaska. On the way, we stopped at Doug’s; spent 10 days in Red Bay (our motorhome factory); a few days with Bev, along with service stops at Springfield, MO and Loveland, CO. While in Loveland, we were able to visit Linda & Harold Hills (Larry & Harold served together in Viet Nam).

We met up with Sharon & Don Del Rosario and Dennis & Carol Hill in Ogden UT, and then headed North. We crossed the border into Canada on May 9th at Sweetgrass, MT. And we met up with the other 3 rigs in Dawson Creek, BC. We called ourselves the “Loosey Goosey Last Frontier Gang” and, as many of you know, we had a ball for the next 3 months.

We started up the Alaska Highwayclip_image004 with a detour to Skagway. clip_image006 Larry was popular with the ladies of the evening there. clip_image008 Then we were off to Whitehorse, BC. Again, Larry was selected by the ladies. We continued North to Dawson City, crossed the Yukon River by ferry, and then over the Top of The World Highway to Chicken and Tok, AK. We cleaned the rigs in Tok, and headed to Valdez, AK. We took a glacier tour there and saw whales, sea lions and otters as well.clip_image010clip_image012 Then we were off to Palmer, Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.clip_image014 On the Kenai, we stopped in Ninilchik where we saw hundreds of bald Eagles. Then we stopped in Homer and Seward, where Larry went out on Halibut fishing charters, the highlight of which, was a 99.2 lb. halibut.clip_image016 With the others he caught, we shipped 65 lbs. of halibut fillets to Doug’s freezer in Columbus, GA. Moving North, we stopped in Talkeetna, AK for the 4th of July weekend. They had a nice local parade on the 4th. While there, Larry and 2 other couples took a bush plane to Mt. McKinley and actually landed on a glacier.clip_image018 Next was Healy, AK where we took tours on ATVs and in Jeeps. We spent 3 nights in Denali National Park’s Riley campground. We were fortunate enough to see Mt McKinley from top to bottom.clip_image020 Only 30% of visitors get to see the mountain at all because it creates its own weather and is often in its own clouds. We visited Fairbanks, took a day trip by Jeep to the Arctic Circle for a picture, about 200 miles each wayclip_image022; and then went back to Anchorage for some rig repairs. After repairs, we met back up with the rest of the gang at the end of the Alaska Highway.clip_image024 We had traveled all 1422 miles plus side trips. On our way back to the lower 48, we stopped in Haines, AK, Hyder, AK, and Jasper, BC.

From January 1, 2011 until we reached Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, FL in October, which is where we will spend the winter, we spent $8,300 on diesel fuel and put 15,610 miles (7 mpg) just on the motorhome. Of that 15,600, we drove 7,100 in Canada and Alaska. Along our travels, we saw lots of wildlife – moose, elk, caribou, bison, grizzlies and black bear to name a few. We were fortunate enough to see a glacier calve. We met up with many old and new friends, and really enjoyed the folks we were traveling with.

After crossing back into the lower 48, our leader, Dennis Hill, gave Marilyn a motorhome driving lesson, so now she feels she can drive the big rig when necessary. We have attended several RV rallies, visited Bev and Doug, and several friends on our way back to FL. Now we have settled in to Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, FL for the winter. We will, again, spend Christmas at Doug’s home in Columbus, GA. Our tentative plans for next year are to eat our way through the Maritime Provinces of Canada during the summer – lots of lobster.

Bev and Doug are both doing well. Bev has started her Masters in Archivisim online through Drexel University in Philadelphia, and still lives in southern IL. Doug is still in Columbus, GA working as a Deportation Officer. We are ending the year with another trip. We will join Marilyn’s friend Lynn in Cancun, MX for the first week in December at her time share. We are looking forward to a relaxing week of beach and pool.

We do hope this finds you all well and enjoying family and friends during this Holiday Season, and we hope that 2012 is a good year for you too.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Love and hugs,

Marilyn and Larry                              

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Friday to Thursday, October 21 to 27, 2011

Friday, we drove the Jeep up SR 246 to Highlands, NC.  It is a beautiful, twisty, mountain road (I would not drive the motorhome up it), and the fall colors were great.2011 North GA fall colors2011 North GA fall colors2011 North GA fall colors2011 North GA fall colors2011 North GA fall colors

The fall colors in the GA mountains are as beautiful as can be found anywhere.

On Sunday, the 23rd, we headed south and a little west.  We stopped in Greenville, AL at camp Wally World for the night.  Then on Monday, we continued to Defuniak Springs, FL for the Escapees Chapter 26 Fall Rally.  Here are a couple of picks from the rally social hour.Ch 26 Fall 2011 RallyCh 26 Fall 2011 Rally hostsCh 26 Fall 2011 Rally crafty  Tuesday, we drove over to Crestview, FL to pick up our mail.  On Thursday, we drove to see the highest point in Florida, 345 feet above sea level.  .DSC01579DSC01580

Type at you later.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday-Thursday, October 13-20

We left the Montgomery, AL area and drove to Columbus, GA for a wonderful visit with our son, Doug, his friend, Harley, and her son, Gauge.  Saturday, Doug took us out to Waffle House for breakfast and then to Stone Mountain for the Highland Games.  We watched the caber toss and the pipe bands.


Sunday was my birthday, and we all went to IHOP for breakfast.  Doug and Harley gave Marilyn and I a Sirius radio for our birthdays, and then he took us all to Oscar’s in Ellersly for delicious steaks and scallops.  We will definitely go back to Oscar’s.

Monday night we said our goodbye's to Doug, Harley and Gauge, and Tuesday, Marilyn and I drove to Old Federal COE park on Lake Lanier.  We had planned to do some walking, but only got a short one in Tuesday afternoon because it started raining.  Then Wednesday turned cold, rainy and very windy.  We even pulled in one slide due to the wind.  So we did nothing all day but stayed in the house.

Thursday morning, we packed up the motorhome, and drove to River Vista Mountain Village in Dillard, GA.  Escapees Chapter 16 is a small group.  We had 8 for social at 5pm – it was too cold to have it outside.  Mary made chili for dinner.  It is supposed to get warmer on Friday – a little bit.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday-Wednesday, October 11-12, 2011

On Tuesday, we went back to the Montgomery visitor center , where we took the trolley (thank you Lon) for information, and to not have to pay for parking at the various stops.  We got off the trolley at the Alabama Capitol Building where we took a picture of the front of the capitol, and one down Dexter Ave.


This capitol building is still being used by the Governor and various members of his cabinet.  The House and Senate have moved out of this building.  The House and Senate chambers have been re-decorated to look like they were when the building was first used in 1851.


Note that the house does not have desks like the senate.

The Confederate States of America was formed February 4, 1861 in this House chamber, and Jefferson Davis was elected First President of the Confederacy on February 9, 1861.  On the steps of the capitol is a star marking the spot where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office.


We continued our tour of the Capitol of Alabama by visiting the first White House of the Confederacy.  It is a beautiful house.


Wednesday morning, we fought small ants in the motorhome, and in the afternoon, we took a drive on the rest of the 54 mile walk by Dr. King and everyone else marching for the right to vote.  We saw the church where the march started, and the Edmund Pettus Bridge where so many were beaten by the police.DSC01546DSC01548

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

We went to Water Street in downtown Montgomery today to the Visitor Center in the old Union Railroad Stateion, and then up the street to the Hank Williams Museum. We had our first Chick-fil-A since leaving FL in April, and Marilyn got her first Publix fix since that time also.

There really is a town of Kawliga, AL on Lake Martin, and, according to the Hank Williams Museum, there really was an Indian who stood on the shore of Lake Martin waiting for his Indian Maid to come back to him.  Her father supposedly thought Kawliga was not good enough for her.  Hank Williams heard of this story and wrote his famous song about Kawliga.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday & Saturday, October 7 & 8, 2011

So far, nothing from Direct TV.  I checked this morning, and no credit for my 9/9 payment.  Our neighbors suggested that we push the re-set button to see if we could get Direct in on the King Dome.  It worked.  On Friday, we waited around until 2:00 to hear from Nathan.  He did not call, so I went to the cabinet shop.  He said to bring my rig around to the shop door, and he would install the spindles before close of business, Friday.  We did, and he did.  The cabinets on the passenger side slide sag in the middle.  He put a support between the cabinets and the counter top.  It makes quite a difference, and there was no cost.  We checked out of the repair facility and the campground on Friday afternoon.

Saturday.  We left Red Bay, Tiffin’s repair facility and Allegro Campground, behind us, and headed down I-65 to Montgomery.  We are in Gunter Hill Campground, a Corps of Engineers park, just 15 miles west of Montgomery.  It is a nice park, and we plan to do some sightseeing in the area.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Monday-Thursday, Septemberd 3-6, 2011

Monday.  We left Bowling Green, KY, and continued driving down I-65 to Decatur, AL where we turned right to Red Bay, which is in the northwest corner of Alabama.

Tuesday.  Norris, the service writer, came by in the morning, and we were also assigned a full hook-up site in the campground.  We went through our list of wants during our hoped for 3 hour express service.  He said that the express service would only take about two or three days before we would be going in to a repair bay.

I worked on bills.  Direct TV had written me an email that said I had not paid my last month’s bill.  I checked my Bank of America bill pay, which said that my September payment of 9/7 had been delivered to Direct TV on 9/9,  Of course, their Customer No Service said that they had no record of the payment.  They wanted proof, which I understood, in the form of a copy of my bank statement showing the withdrawal, and a copy of the cancelled check (there is no actual check when you use online bill pay).  I asked if I could attach copies to an email, and was told that all I needed to do was go to their website and send them an email.  Of course there is no way to attach files to one of Direct TV’s Customer No Service emails.  However, I did send am email asking how to send them attached files.  That evening, Direct TV’s Customer No Service sent me a response email saying that I had to fax my information.

Wednesday.  I put together the pages I needed to send  by fax to Direct TV, and went to the Tiffin campground office to fax them.  After several tries and not being able to send the fax, I again called Customer No Service.  They had no solution, and no other fax number.  We went round and round.  Marilyn and I went back to the RV, and I called Direct TV back again, and told them I wanted to cancel my service.  I got a young lady from Tennessee who actually spoke southern which we could understand.  She gave us another fax number to try, so we went back to the campground office where Marsha suggested we try the fax in the store.  The store tried several times, and surprisingly enough, one of them went through.  In addition, we sent a copy by snail mail.  Maybe we will here from them and they will have credited my 9/9 payment.  From now on they can pay the fee for me to use my Discover card.  I will not send another check, nor will I let them automatically charge my credit card.

Thursday.  A few minutes after 7:00, a young man knocked on our door to talk about whether our extended warranty would cover any of the items on our list to get repaired.  He said he would call the company.  Around 10:00, when I was getting ready to clean our windshield, they called and said they were ready to have us come into n express service bay (express means they will do everything on your list that they can get done in three hours).  Bay 32 with Stanley and Jonathan,  they completed everything on our list.  Both living room slides work right (shear pins, new shafts, added fluid, fixed a couple of light switches that were hot, and a few other items).  We still plan to get a new washing machine when we get to FL.  At 2:30 I drove to Bay Diesel to get the chassis lubed.  I decided to pass on the engine oil until next spring  instead of wanting to get it done again within 2K miles.  Tomorrow morning, Nathan is going to install spindles between the passenger side cabinets and the counter top to prevent further sagging.

We are almost done, and will type more later.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Saturday & Sunday, October 1&2, 2011

We had decided not to leave yesterday, because the tires spun on the muddy grass.  So this morning we went to WalMart, and since it was a lot drier after lunch, and I put some boards under the back wheels, we were able to pull out onto one of the roads here in the fairgrounds.  After dumping gray water and adding more fresh, we parked close to a 50 amp pole for the night.

We woke up Sunday morning to frost on the top of the Jeep, and the windshield covered with condensation on the inside.


We were on the road about 8:40am, and then stopped at Wal-Mart for diesel fuel at $3.57 per gallon.  So shortly after 9:00, we really got on the road.  Our final stop for the night is at Sam's Club in Bowling Green, KY.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It is over except for the shouting.  Tomorrow morning will be the final hitches for the 2011 Celina, OH Gypsy Journal Rally.  The Geeks on Tour seminars that I attended were on Facebook, Google Earth, and Smart Phones.  Marilyn came to the Facebook and Smart Phones seminars also, and we both went to Dennis & Carol Hill’s slide show seminar on Alaska.

We have thoroughly enjoyed this rally.  Once again we saw friends that we do not see often, and we made new friends.

Until we meet again down the road.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday-Wednesday, September 27-28, 2011

The 2nd day of  the Gypsy Journal Rally, Tuesday, started with coffee and donuts, and then it was time for educational seminars with the Geeks on Tour.  The first two were about using Google’s Picasa program for organizing digital photographs.  In the afternoon, their seminar was using Microsoft’s Streets and Trips for trip planning.  The last seminar Marilyn and I attended was Nick Russell’s “Bad Things Happen” to RVer’s.  We got to go out with Dennis and Carol to a different Chinese buffet for dinner.  Then the rally had door prizes and I won one of Nick’s books about camping at fairgrounds.  Entertainment for the evening was the McKinney Washtub Two.  They were supplemented by volunteers Miss Terri, Carol and Elaine.


Wednesday morning, after coffee and donuts, I attended the two Geeks on Tour seminars about creating Blogs, and then in the afternoon, they did a seminar about navigating around their web site.  For dinner, we had pizza, but Marilyn and I did not eat together.  She ate in the main hall, and I ate next door where the Buck-Eye Beauties were getting ready.  I was escorting one down the aisle, and the rest of the rally attendees were not allowed to see us.IMAG0448IMAG0450IMAG0453IMAG0455IMAG0456IMAG0457

Of course, after all was readied on stage.DSC04190DSC04191DSC04192

We then had to escort our honey’s down the aisle to the stage where they would be judged.DSC04197DSC04203DSC04209DSC04214DSC04217

Judging took place by applause after Nick talked with each one on stage.DSC04208DSC04210DSC04212DSC04218DSC04222

And, of course, a Queen was finally chosen.DSC04223DSC04225