Lowndesboro, Alabama…

AN HISTORIC TOWN NEAR GUNTER HILL. Over the years, I’ve shown you guys some small towns in lots of different “off the beaten path” parts of the country. They were all small, but Lowndesboro, Alabama is really tiny. However, despite its population of only about 140 souls, it’s packed with charm, a colorful history and lots of examples of Southern architecture dating from the 1800’s. Initially incorporated in 1856 by an act of the state legislature, Lowndesboro lapsed and was not reincorporated until 1962. It is one of only two towns in the county with a white majority of residents. We heard about this place last evening from some locals we met and decided this morning to go take a look. Here we go.

This is the road from Gunter Hill to Lownsburo. It’s typical of country roads in the deep South. It’s not uncommon to be slowed by a tractor driving down the road or animals wandering from one place to another. And there are alligators in the ponds and bogs on either side of this and many back-country roads. When we first arrived in the South, this terrified me. But now that we’ve spent so much time here it just seems like an ordinary situation! Just don’t swim without knowing it’s safe. 

Marengo House. Circa 1847. Now used as a Town Hall.

The grounds surrounding Morengo are meticulously maintained. There’s nowhere here to spend one’s tourist dollars so the townsfolk are motivated by a desire to memorialize the history, I suppose, rather to make a buck. Impressive. 

Read more »

Categories: Alabama, Alligators, History | 2 Comments

Gunter Hill Campground…

WHAT A FIND! Our first stop in Alabama is Gunter Hill Campground located near Montgomery. What a find! We have a huge concrete pad, a full hookup with 50 amp electric service and a beautiful forest-like setting where we are surrounded by lakes and rivers. All sites have large well maintained picnic tables, a fire pit, and an outdoor grill. Many of the spaces are more than 50 yards apart and they are staggered for optimal view and privacy. All the roads are paved and it’s as easy as catching fish at a fish farm to navigate around in a big-rig motorhome. And listen to this. With my national pass we’re paying only $13 per night., and this includes electric. Although we’re only staying a little longer than a week, one can take advantage of all this and stay here for a full month before being required to depart. This is the best deal we’ve found in the all the time we’ve been traveling, which at this point is more than four years! Sometimes we’ve  stayed in really high-end RV parks and willingly paid as much as $110 per night. But at that rate it’s too expensive for an every day routine. So we feel really smug about the spot where we are right now.

A delightful spot near our site at Gunter Hill RV Park.

Read more »

Categories: Alabama | 6 Comments

Going home…

IT’S TIME TO GO HOME. We’ve been traveling and living in our motorcoach about four years now, and it’s time to go home. We’ve seen this great country from coast to coast. We’ve been to the beach at the Pacific, the Atlantic and on the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve stayed at beaches, in the mountains, along streams near waterfalls and in desert areas. We’ve gone boating in beautiful lakes and experienced the Fall colors in New England. We’ve met some remarkable folks and many have become friends. We’ve survived some real challenges and had some great celebrations, but it’s time to go home.

BUT THERE’S A CATCH. Where’s home? When we left San Diego four years ago, we sold our home in Deerhorn Valley. For years now, our motorhome has been home. And now we’re ready once again for a more traditional one, as in “house.” As we’ve explored this country we’ve given lots of thought to where we’d ultimately like to retire. There are so many wonderful states and cities, it’s hard to pick. Beach or mountains? Big city or little town? Temperature? Weather? We’re always hard pressed to answer the inevitable question we’re asked, “What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?” But, we’ve pretty much made up our minds. Oregon will become our new home.

Read more »

Categories: Alabama, Oregon | 8 Comments

Goodbye to Pensacola…

IT’S TIME. It’s time for us to move along! We’ve been in Florida, mostly Pensacola, for almost 18 months…far longer than we had planned. I’ve explained to you guys in earlier posts the reasons for our lengthy stay, and I can’t say we ever wanted to spend so much of our Great American Adventure here. But under the circumstances, we couldn’t have found a better place for a lengthy stay. We’ve seen lots of interesting sights, enjoyed the beautiful white sands and sparkling water of the Emerald Coast and met some of the finest people we’ve ever known.

Pensacola Beach at daybreak.

There are miles of beautiful beaches to explore and it’s easy to find one all to yourselves.

Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Mobile Bay on a cloudy day.

WE’VE SEEN LOTS OF SIGHTS. We’ve wandered through the world famous Naval Air Museum more than once and been impressed on each visit with the wealth of information and wonderful interactive exhibits. The young Marines who were our docents had stories to tell and made us proud to be Americans. The little beach town of Destin with its fishing boats and waterfront restaurants was a great day trip as was the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We visited a parrot sanctuary, saw more seafood on display at a fish market than anywhere else in the world, won a lot of money at the Wind Creek Casino in Atmore, took some cooking classes, saw the Blue Angels streak across the sky on several occasions, had brunch with CeeLo Green, and enjoyed lots of local restaurants “off the beaten path.”

Colorful parrots in Pensacola.

National Naval Air Museum.

Barrancas National Cemetery at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Pensacola is home to the Navy’s Blue Angels and we enjoyed seeing them many times during our stay.

These Hornet Jets fly at speeds up to 500 miles per hour, so it takes a pretty experienced photographer to get nice clear photos. But even though these aren’t as I’d like them, I’m posting so you can get an idea of how impressive the show is.

A TURKEY SHOOT? HURRICANES? HUH? I never dreamed I’d participate in a turkey shoot, eat real legitimate Southern barbeque, or be glued to the weather channel for hours on end as several hurricanes and tornadoes passed close-by. And last but not least, Pensacola is where we welcomed our little puppy Molly to the family when we picked her up at the airport after she made her trip to us from the breeder in Oklahoma. She’s been a delight ever since day one and, looking back, we’re hard-pressed to remember what we did with ourselves all day before she arrived!

This is Molly on the day we picked her up at the airport. She weighed only two pounds when we got her.

Florence takes aim with a shotgun at the turkey shoot.

Joe Patti’s Seafood Market has every imaginable kind of fish and shellfish. It’s by far the largest display of fresh fish I’ve ever seen under one roof. If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t live in the ocean. 

PENSACOLA RV PARK. We met lots of southern folks, up close and personal, and came to appreciate their respectful manners and gracious hospitality. The Williams family, who hosted our lengthy stay at Pensacola RV Park, is truly the epitome of all that’s good about the South. We will always feel blessed that we met and were able to get to know them. Hopefully our paths will cross again someday.

If you’re ever in the area, call this park for reservations. The park itself and the people who own and operate it are top notch! Thanks, you guys, for a wonderful stay and lots of memories!

 

The spaces are large and well maintained at Pensacola RV Park.

 

WE’LL LEAVE IN A COUPLE DAYS. Stay tuned, as we’ll announce our travel plans soon. We hope you’ll continue to join us on the next leg of our Great American Adventure.

I’ll continue my story next time.

Categories: Florida, History | 8 Comments

Here comes Cindy!

10 PM, JUNE 20, 2017

FIRST AN UPDATE: For those of you who follow my blog, I’m happy to report that my surgery is complete as is the biopsy. No malignancy! My doctor wants to monitor me for a couple more weeks and then we’ll be on the road again. Thank goodness! We’ll head to Georgia, then to South Carolina to visit my friend Jackie in Greenville. After that stop we will explore North Carolina, with a stop to spend some time with our dear friend Julie who lives in Charlotte. We’ll also take another look at Tennessee, Arkansas and Virginia. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

HURRICANE SEASON HAS ARRIVED.  The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1st and will last until the end of November. And the season is off to a quick start with tropical storm Cindy now threatening the Gulf coast. A tornado watch has just been issued for Pensacola and the National Weather Service is warning of imminent torrential rain, flash flooding, rip currents, high surf advisory and beach closures. Cindy will likely become a hurricane shortly. Great! Despite having been in the path of some very threatening weather in the past and being spared a direct hit, we’re concerned. These kinds of weather events are still pretty new to us and we’ll be glad when they’re just a distant memory.

This is the way things look right now! Pensacola is in the center of the screen. 

HERE COMES CINDY. At this moment, tropical storm Cindy is a huge and very messy weather system approaching the Gulf Coast and the Florida Panhandle, where we’re staying. Short of leaving the area, we’ve taken all the precautions we can at the moment. The awnings are retracted, the patio umbrella is secured as is the American flag, and the satellite dish has been closed down to present as little wind resistance as possible. We’ve emptied our tanks and taken on a supply of fresh water. Now we wait, but it looks like this storm is going to be a bad mamba jamba which will threaten us for at least the next five days. And we may have to evacuate sooner! Stay tuned.

UPDATE: JUNE 21, 2017: Tornado watches and warnings all day long. Severe flooding on roadways. Heavy rain, but we are safe. Storm continues.

UPDATE: JUNE 22, 2017: The rain is so heavy that it sounds like we’re inside a snare drum! Tornado watch in effect today until 3 PM, Central Time. Wind is picking up speed.

JUNE 24, 2017: The storm has passed, skies are sunny and but for the humidity all is well.

I’ll continue my story next time.

Categories: Florida | Leave a comment

Christ on a bicycle!

IT’S HARD TO WRITE A TRAVEL BLOG. Christ on a bicycle! When you’re not traveling, it’s darn-near impossible to write a travel blog. That’s been my frustration for more than a year while we remained in Pensacola on my doctors’ orders after the “brush with death” I had in November of 2015. Even though I’ll be forever grateful for the miraculous recovery I enjoyed and all your prayers and support, our Great American Adventure has not for quite a while been what we’d anticipated. And now, of all places, we’re  back in Pensacola!

Read more »

Categories: Brush With Death, Florida, People | 10 Comments

North America’s Oldest City, Part 2…

PLAN FOR THE DAY. It was bright and beautiful this morning, but there was also a brisk, chilly wind. We decided to visit a national monument in the colonial district and then take a look at Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Park. I was pretty sure that if I could consume a pint of that Fountain of Youth elixir I’d be good to go for another fifty years. That didn’t really work out, but at least I tried. And after that we hoped the weather would be a little warmer so we could introduce Molly to the ocean.

CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS NATIONAL MONUMENT. The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It’s located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine. Construction began in 1672, 107 years after the city’s founding by Spanish Admiral and conquistador Pedro Menendez de Aviles when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. This Spanish fort stood firm against English attacks and helped Spain to hold Florida for many years. During the American Revolution it was a British stronghold. Later it became a battery in the U.S. coastal defense system.

Read more »

Categories: Animals, Florida, History, National Parks | 2 Comments

North America’s Oldest City, Part 1…

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA. As we prepare to leave Florida after so much time in the state, our last stop is St. Augustine, located on the Atlantic coast of eastern Florida. It’s the oldest city in North America. In fact it predates Jamestown and Plymouth by decades. It was founded in 1565 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro Mendez de Aviles. And nowhere else in the world can you taste the waters of the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park where Ponce de Leon may have landed. Who knows, if I can drink enough of that water, this may turn out to be the best stop of our entire Great American Adventure! Read more »

Categories: Florida, History, People | 2 Comments

Kennedy Space Center…

WE TOOK A TOUR BUS. From Orlando, it’s just over an hour’s drive to the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast, adjacent to Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Ocean. We left “home” early with our friends Ben and Suzanne and arrived at KSC on schedule in about an hour. The Space Center is huge, with lots of buildings and exhibits spread over a very large area, far too large to explore on foot. But we took a NASA bus took on a narrated tour to even the most remote facilities and it was a pretty special trip. It’s awe-inspiring to get an up close view of the facilities that have actually constructed the launch vehicles, pads and even NASA’s Atlantis, one of the actual space shuttles. It’s on display in the Visitor Complex, suspended with its payload bay doors opened such that it appears to be back in orbit around the Earth. A multi-story digital projection of Earth rotates behind the orbiter. Atlantis returned to Earth for the last time on July 21, 2011. By the end of its final mission, Atlantis had orbited the Earth a total of 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 miles.

Read more »

Categories: Florida, History, Museums | 4 Comments

Disney Springs…

A MALL, NOT A THEME PARK. More theme parks are located in Orlando than in any other city in the world. Disney World, Epcot Center, Sea World, Legoland to name just a few. But we’ve already been to these parks years ago and frankly didn’t have any interest in fighting the crowds to spend lots of money to see them for a second or third time. So today, we went to Disney Springs…a huge outdoor mall, not a theme park. Read more »

Categories: Florida, People | 4 Comments

Bok Tower Gardens and Pinewood Estate…


A GOOD DAY FOR A PICNIC. 
Yesterday would have been a good day for a picnic in central Florida. The skies were clear and a gentle breeze softened the upper 70’s temperature in the afternoon. The problem is that we hadn’t thought about a picnic when we began a drive down Highway 27…we were just “looking around.” But next time we’ll know to pack a lunch and stop for the afternoon at Bok Tower Gardens where after lunch we can get a second look at the Pinewood Estate and listen to the carillon concert at the Singing Tower.

Read more »

Categories: Florida, History, Museums | 2 Comments

Tiffany Art in Orlando…

A RAINY DAY. Today was overcast and drizzly, so it seemed like a good day for an outing we could enjoy indoors. We had read about a large collection of Tiffany art on display in the nearby suburb of of Winter Park, so we decided to pack up for the day and take a look. We’re glad we did.

Read more »

Categories: Florida, History | 2 Comments

Orlando, Florida…

WE’VE ARRIVED IN ORLANDO. We’ll be in Orlando for the next few months, enjoying the sun and beach weather as we wait for the rest of the country to get warmer. We’ve learned that motorhome travel is severely limited during the winter months as it’s just too cold to do much or go many places. Having lived in Southern California all our lives, and being spoiled by the year-round temperate weather, it’s taken some time for us to accept this reality. On those occasions in the last few years when we’ve decided to brave the weather so we could continue our Adventure, we’ve been reined in by freezing temperatures, violent thunderstorms, tornado threats, black ice and close-calls! So, we’re no longer trying to “keep things going” at this time of year. As soon as it warms up enough to travel again, we’ll head north in search of destinations we’ve yet to explore.

Read more »

Categories: Florida | 2 Comments

Fairhope, Alabama…

GREETED BY A STORM. We arrived in Fairhope, Alabama on Monday afternoon and were met a few hours later by a potent thunderstorm, high winds and tornado warnings. That’s “warnings,” not “watches.” There’s a difference! Severe weather caused widespread damage to lower Alabama and by Tuesday morning the National Weather Service reported that 12 tornadoes had occurred in the area. Even though I’ve become more accustomed to severe weather conditions than we ever encountered back home in San Diego, this storm caused me to become alarmed. The lightening was so bright that the entire area looked like an overexposed black and white photo all night long. Our friend Dylan, who lives in Mobile, was concerned enough that she offered us shelter in her home, but we decided to  ride out the storm in our motorhome. As it turned out, that was a sound decision. By morning, the sky was clear and although the temperature was only in the thirties the sun was shining brightly.

On Monday we drove from Pensacola to Fairhope, located on Mobile Bay in Alabama.

WE’LL BE HERE JUST A WEEK. We’ll be in Fairhope for just a week. The locals say the village is located in LA, meaning “lower Alabama.” It appears that cold weather will prevent us from exploring as much as we’d like. It’s chilly, overcast and breezy, hardly weather for a couple of tourists to stroll around town taking in the sights.

 

Read more »

Categories: Alabama | 2 Comments

Another change of plans…

leaving

We’ll depart Pensacola on January 2nd.

WE’VE DONE IT AGAIN. We’ll remain in Pensacola through January 2nd, and then we’ll take off and put Pensacola RV Park in our rear view mirror. We’ve loved staying here and feel a real attachment to our park hosts and others we’ve met here, but it’s time to go. You may recall that last October I announced our plans, but they’ve changed. One of the nice things about RV travel is that we’re not tied to an itinerary and are free to change plans whenever we wish. So, we’ve decided that until Spring it will just be too cold to go where we’d planned. Being life-long southern Californians, we’re not used to cold weather and don’t really want to learn to live with it. So here goes with our revised plan…in a nutshell, we’re headed south. Read more »

Categories: Alabama, Alligators, Animals, Florida | 4 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving…

THANKSGIVING, 2016. This Thanksgiving Day I am grateful more than ever before during my lifetime! I am thankful for my wife, my health and forgivethanks friends at my side and many others who prayed for me and offered their support last year at this time. Because last year at Thanksgiving, I lay in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Foley, Alabama, unconscious, 2,500 miles from home, on what appeared to be my deathbed. Today, I am healthy and able to enjoy the day. I have learned that every day of life truly is a gift from God.

Read more »

Categories: Armed Forces, Florida, Miracles Happen, People, Special occasions | 8 Comments

Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow…

NOVEMBER 11, 2016

VETERANS DAY WEEKEND. What better way to celebrate Veterans Day Weekend than to attend the Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The show celebrates not only the holiday weekend, but the 70th Anniversary of the Blue Angels team as well.

angels12

Veterans, I salute you!

Read more »

Categories: Armed Forces, Florida, History, Holidays, People, Special occasions, World War II | 2 Comments