Moving West – Slowly

I guess I have not had much to write about for the past week or at least time to write.  We took two days to drive from Deer Creek to Rainbow Plantation, the Escapee park in Summerdale, AL.  We stopped at Ochlockonee State Park in the FL Panhandle along the way.  It is a lovely park and if we are in the area we will definitely consider staying there again.  The most interesting sighting there was a white squirrel with a light black stripe on its back, not an albino.  The drive was remarkably without adventure.

At Rainbow Plantation we had a nice site, as they all are, with an oak tree hanging over us.  The sound of falling acorns on the roof was always jolting.  We were stopping there to visit our cousins Ellie and Eddie Holtzman whose daughter and family, Joy and Shaul Antar, live in Fairhope, about 25 minutes from the campground.  Ellie and Eddie were visiting so we planned to make it a family get together for Shabbat and Hanukkah.  We were invited to Shabbat dinner at the house and responded with an invitation to our motorhome followed by Chinese dinner in the traditional Jewish celebration of Christmas.  Hunan’s Chinese buffet was adequate to the occasion. It was not jammed like the Chinese restaurants in Rochester.

While parked in Rainbow Plantation, I noticed that the new LED over the entrance had gone out.  I was quite annoyed as it was expensive and I had been lead to expect 10,000 hours not 10 or 100.  I tried a few things and determined that the LED was fine, but the fixture was broken.  This necessitated a stop at Camping World for a replacement.  While there I picked up a double LED ceiling fixture to replace the ceiling florescent fixture which died last year.  The LED strips that I had been looking for cost $40 to $50 each and it needed two.  This whole fixture was the cost of one LED strip.  This resulted in fun and games as I brought the purchases home and began swapping light fixtures.  The dead fixture, which had been relocated to the driving area, came out to be replaced by a working florescent fixture from the kitchen work area, where I installed the new LED fixture.  That was the easy part.  The exterior fixture was secured with waterproof mastic which had to be carefully scraped off after removing the screws and prying the fixture away from the wall. Fortunately I had thought to buy some mastic for the new unit, I now have enough mastic to redo every fixture on the exterior of the coach.  Other minor maintenance included redoing the silicone seals on a couple of back marker lights that I had made a mess of last winter when I was trying to stop a leak by sealing everything that had an opening, between the rain drops.  As a grand finale, with Carol, I opened the compartment under the refrigerator that houses the major interior wiring harnesses and the converter (converts 120 volt AC to 12 volt DC).  We vacuumed several years of accumulated dust topped by a thick layer of Alaska dust.  I suspect there will be Alaska dust in this coach long after we have sold it.  It is everywhere.

Today we left Rainbow Plantation.  The comment we received more than once was “you’re leaving on Christmas Day?”  Yup, it is also the 6th night of Hanukkah, but few know that.  We decided to stop near Lafayette, LA in Poche Bridge at the Poche Fish ‘N Camp where we have been welcomed a couple of times in the past.  It is not too far off the highway and as a Passport America discount park it is very comfortable with full hookups.  If I haven’t described it in the past, or even if I have, it was originally a fish farm and the grounds are made up of three multi acre fish ponds with campsites around the edges.  It is a shame we are not fisher people as the camping includes fishing rights.  The Poche family have a long history in this region and in addtion to the Fish ‘N Camp they have a restaurant/meat market nearby.  There is nothing there for either of us.  I would really like to try the Boudin, but the main ingredient is pork which is a significant ingredient in all of their products.

Tomorrow we will move on to Livingston TX and the Rainbow’s End Escapee Park where we plan to be through New Years and we are meeting Scott and Deb their for New Years Eve entertainment.

A Week in St Petersburg

We stopped at Paynes Prairie State Park just outside Micanopy Florida. We have been there before and found it to be an excellent spot for birding and relaxing. Roomy sites and very quiet. We took a long walk on Cone Dike trail. There were cautions about not feeding or approaching the bison or the Spanish wild horses that inhabit the prairie. We did not expect that to be a problem for us. As we approached the two mile post on the trail in the distance we saw a group of horses on the trail and decided to hold up to let them clear the area. They did not seem interested in moving on. Using our binoculars we were able to see that one of the horses was down on the trail and another was nuzzling it. This did not seem to be a healthy situation for the horses or for us to get any closer. We decided that a 4 mile round trip, two out and two back, would have to be sufficient. We stopped at the Visitor Center to let the staff know about the horse. The staff person made it clear that there was no likelihood of rescue as it is a wild life area not a zoo. We let her know we understood, but were concerned that other visitor might not like finding a dead or dying horse in the middle of the trail. She then told us a story of a group of walkers that had found a herd of bison on the trail between them and the Visitor Center at the end of a long walk. They were stranded for an hour or more waiting for the bison to move on. With assurance that the rangers would be notified we returned to the car and drove into Micanopy to wander through a few of the antique shops that are the primary feature in the center of town.
The next morning we got back on the road to Fort Desoto Park not too far from Carol’ brother and sister-in-law, Arthur and Natalie.  We spent the week visiting with them and other family ad friends.  Their daughter Ericka got a day off from the Christmas frenzy at Old navy and spent it with us.  We also got in the car drove to Naples, about a 2 1/2 hour drive, where we met Arnie and Peggy and Marilyn and Al , cousins, at the Naples Museum of Art.  This turned out to be a wonderful day in all respects, ignoring the 50 minute hold up on I 75 while they cleared a wreck from the driving lanes.  It was great to get the cousins together.  They figured that Art had not seen them in 26 years.  We spent a couple of hours in the museum and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is in the Naples area.  The Steve Tobin exhibit is a highlight and the recent Mexican artists’ work needs to be seen.  Carol and I were fascinated with a 1918 print of “Steerage” by Stieglitz surrounded by work that he had supported in his galleries.  We went on to dinner at Water Mark which was pleasant if undistinguished in its menu.  We all head a great time and stayed at the table until it was clear we needed to begin the 2 1/2 return to our assorted homes.  They had come over from the east coast.  Wednesday we took it easy and Thursday, as were thinking of moving on Art and Natalie invited Cecil and Doreen who we had met in Calgary to dinner – Papa Johns Pizza and salad by Carol.
As I write I am sitting in Deer Creek RV and Golf Resort, just a few minutes from Disney World.  We are visiting the Topfs who live here and last night the Singers who we last saw in Minot in 2005 rolled in and we all went to dinner at Sweet Tomato.  Today will be a mini CHAI gathering for lunch with two more couples.  They are all preparing for a rally this week.  We will be rolling on to Alabama tomorrow.  Norm, Carol and I took a great hike in Tiger Creek Preserve yesterday.  It felt great to get out and move.

Heading South with stops

After returning Alex to his parents and spending another week at Dan and Malena’s it was time to move on if we were going to keep up the rest of our schedule. Besides Saturday, Dec 3 had been exhausting. We started with Cory at a soccer game followed by a team lunch at a pizza place. We wandered the Charlottesville Main Street Mall and shopped at Alacazam for Chanukah presents. Finally we met Alex at his choral concert at 3. Following that we went back to the soccer pitch to pick up Cory and take both boys home so to the parents could meet cousin Steven Berbeco who was driving in rather unexpectedly to spend the night. We had a great time with the boys and around 10 or so Malena, Dan and Steven appeared. This was not the time to go to sleep, yet, as we needed to catch up. In the morning we had a round of goodbyes and followed Steven down out of the Hollow headed n similar directions.

We went on to Baltimore to see our friends Alan and Bunny Bernstein who had moved into Alan’s late mother’s house four years ago. We had seen them only sporadically in Rochester since their departure. It was great fun to see them on their home turf and to enjoy their guided tour of Jewish Baltimore. We certainly will need to give Baltimore more attention in the future. During the second night there it started to rain and I woke up with nightmares of mud because we were parked on the lawn at their direction. Having slogged through more mud than I care to think about at conventions and on the roads in Alaska, the sound of rain on the roof while parked on lawn was alarming. After a wonderful breakfast and a warm send off, I started the coach and started to back it down to the driveway. As the rear wheels reached pavement I turned the front wheel slightly and applied the brakes gently resulting in a slide sideways of about a foot. No damage to any trees or shrubs nor to the coach, but the lawn will require some attention to repair the ruts.

As we rolled out we knew we had three and a half days to cover 1,000 miles or so. As I write we are 800 miles along after two days, in Brunswick Georgia. We have not decided where we will pause tomorrow night, but we should have made the decision before we start the engine in the morning.

We have added some complications to our travels. We are looking to make a stop in Alabama where cousins Ellie and Eddie Holtzman will be visiting their daughter Joy and family. Eddie is not well and we don’t want to pass up the opportunity to see him. We will then have to make serious tracks across the south to get to LA by 1/10/2012. Still not sure where we will spend New years Eve. Liberty TX is not out of the question (see last years post if you don;t know why that would be fun).