Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ozark, AL to Pensacola Naval Air Station, FL

Our next stop is the Oak Grove RV Park on Pensacola Naval Air Station (NAS). It is about 200 miles from Ozark, AL and took 4 hours. A very easy drive and our arrival sparked fond memories of past visits to this park. So far this is our favorite place to stay. We're to be here for three weeks and plan to enjoy every minute of it. As you can see in the picture below (we're located at the red arrow) we are very close to the amazingly white-sand beach which is common to the Gulf Coast.  An added benefit is the O'Doodle Brothers are allowed off leash on the beach .  They love this place.

One of the main attractions of Pensacola is the Naval Aviation Museum on the NAS.  It is located close to the RV park and we will visit it several times while here.  This is also the home of the Blue Angels, the Navy's precision flying team.  They practice often and, since we are next to the runway, we get front row seats each time they take to the sky.

The city of Pensacola is steeped in history and has many museums relating to it.  The city and the area is a favorite winter tourist destination so there is a lot going on all the time.  Never a shortage of things to do or places to see.  We've seen a lot during our past visits here, but there are always sights we have not seen.  Always good to be here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Doodles at Play

We are at the Ozark Travel Plaza in Ozark, Alabama near Ft. Rucker. This is a very nice RV park and they have a great dog park. Here is a clip of Guinness and Rosco playing their favorite game in the park.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Big Decision

Early October 2011-

Having finished with the house we had a big decision to make.  We had plans, before we retired, to tour this country in an RV.  Those plans were laid out in 2003, almost ten years ago.  Needless to say we were ten years younger then.  We laid the foundation for those plans after we had acquired Berry Oaks near Savannah, Georgia.  We continued those plans with the procurement of our pickup truck and fifth wheel trailer.  We were set.  All we had to do was retire and sell our house in Maryland.

In 1786, the great Robert Burns wrote the poem, To a Mouse:

               But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren't alone]
               In proving foresight may be vain:
               The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
               Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
               An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
               For promised joy.

This simple observation should always be considered when making any plans of any sort.  I am sure Murphy's Law was inspired by this poem.  Murphy's number one rule is "if anything can go wrong it will."

We retired in early May of 2007 and placed our house on the market shortly after.  A lot of people say "timing is everything."  In our case it surely applied.  The housing market had just started to decline and, very quickly, crashed.  We continued with our plans however and moved most of our household goods into storage in Savannah. We were confident we still could sell the house, but maybe not as quickly as before. This, also, proved to be incorrect.

Our plans had all hinged on the sale of the house in Maryland.  This was not happening.  The posts in this blog from May 2007 to now recap everything we have experienced.

All of that is history. The big decision we had to make now was whether or not we were able to continue with our original plans and did we want to. This was not easy since we both are feeling the ten years that have accrued upon us since our original plans were formulated. It took several days of researching, discussions and a lot of deep thinking to realize we did want to go ahead with them. Once this decision was made it was easy to lay out our future.

With the rest of our household goods placed into storage in Savannah, we hit the road south. Our first stop was to visit our cousin Ben in Raleigh, North Carolina. We spent several days with Ben and Jean with good visitation, good genealogy research and a visit to our ancestor's family burial site on what was the Fiddleton Plantation in Orange County, North Carolina.

Moving slowly south we arrived in Savannah in late October. We decided to stay at the Hunter Army Airfield's RV park since it is in close proximity to our doctors and other places we had to deal with. We both had complete physicals resulting in a complete healthy status and a green light by both our doctors to continue with our plans. Next we had the RV worked on and upgraded so we would feel comfortable starting our journeys without worry of problems. With all of this accomplished we moved on down the road to Holbrook Pond Recreation Area RV Park at Ft. Stewart to spend Thanksgiving with our RV family.

Thanksgiving dinner was taken with the troops in a mess hall of the 3rd Infantry Division. This is a tradition we having been doing for the past three years. It is so awe inspiring to sit with these young soldiers and their families. It makes us proud to be part of this extended family.

Our next stop was Ft. Benning near Columbus, Georgia. This and the next stop, Ft. Rucker near Dothan, Alabama, were planned so we could explore the areas and determine if we would consider settling in one or the other instead of the Savannah area. We stayed a week at each and did make the decision we would not reconsider leaving Berry Oaks near Savannah.

This brings us up-to-date as of today. We are staying at the Ozark Travel Park just outside of Ft. Rucker and are going to be hitting the road again on Wednesday (14th) for Pensacola Naval Air Station's RV Park for the Christmas Holidays. We have spent Christmas there before (2007) and loved it. It is, at this point, our favorite RV park.

So what are our plans after Pensacola? Head west. Tentative plans are for us to be on the road for a minimum of a year with our first leg exploring the southwest to the Pacific. From there it is up in the air. You'll have to stay tuned to see the rest.

From an old southern spiritual:

"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

September 2011

It was now September as we sadly said goodbye to our children and headed west to Springfield, Massachusetts. Our final destination was Ft. Drum RV Park in Upstate New York.  We decided to use the park as a base while we explored the Thousand Lakes region of Upstate New York. 

Our one day layover in Springfield was with purpose.  When we made the big decision to bring Guinness into our family, we researched a lot of dog training websites so we could be ready for his arrival in December of 2008.  We found a particular website run by a man by the name of Eric Letendre who had been training dogs for over 20 years.  He calls himself the Amazing Dog Training Man.

Eric had a philosophy on dog training we liked, positive re-enforcement.  He, also, explains his methods in down-to-earth terms and, usually, backed up with videos.  You can see for yourself at his website.  Just click on this link: The Amazing Dog Training Man.  Or just click on the picture in the left column.  If there is a dog in your family and if you really care for him/her, then this is the place you need to go.

We had contacted Eric over the years and he had been very quick to respond to all of our concerns.  Before we left on this current journey, we contacted Eric again and invited him and his wife, Rachael, to do an RV lunch with us.  He accepted.  We were thrilled.

We arrived at Westover Air Reserve Base, just outside of Springfield, and set up for a short stay.  Eric and Rachael were to lunch with us the next day.  We had noticed the area had been hit pretty hard from the remnants of hurricane Irene.  Lots of flooding mainly.

Eric and Rachael arrived and after our introductions, we introduced them to Guinness and Rosco.  It was almost as if Guinness knew him already.  He loves everyone he meets and it takes a small amount of time to really warm up to someone, but in this case it was immediate.  It was an extremely pleasant lunch and visit and we certainly appreciate Eric and Rachael taking time for us.  They are very good at what they do. Thank you Eric and Rachael.

The next day we had a six hour drive to Ft. Drum. The weather was beautiful and we arrived with great expectations of seeing early fall weather and lots of scenic byways. We were not disappointed, however, the RV site where we were placed in was a bit odd. It was up against an old wooden barracks used for single soldiers. We had everything we needed, though, and it was quite, but still....odd.

We enjoyed exploring this part of the country.  So many beautiful and interesting sights.  The small cities, towns and villages were a photographer's and shopper's dream.  We did little of each.  We did drive a lot, though.  That was a way to maximize our range during the short time we were there.  Actually, shorter than we had planned.  Tropical Storm Lee had been wreaking havoc over the south and was headed up the the eastern side of the Appalachian Mountain Range dumping tens of inches of rain in its path. We decided to head back to Maryland right away.

We departed Ft. Drum hoping we could make it back to Maryland before the deluge.  We drove as far as we could before we had to stop for the night just a bit north of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  We did not unhook from the trailer so we could get going early the next morning, but that proved to be too late.  It started to rain just as we left the campground increasing in intensity very quickly.  Bt the time we made it to Scranton, it was a downpour and it did not ease up until we got to York, Pennsylvania, some 160 miles south of our starting point.  What should have taken us about  three hours took almost seven.  The rain was so hard our speed rarely got over 45 MPH on Interstate I-81.  The rain, however, did not deter many, mostly truckers, from greatly exceeding the speed limit.  I must say, this was one of the most harrowing and dangerous trips I have ever made in this country.  In retrospect, we should have found a Walmart and waited out the storm.

We, finally, arrived back at our Maryland home base, still in the rain, late that afternoon.  We were exhausted and our nerves were a wreck.  We did nothing to unpack saving that for the next day.  We ordered some subs and made it an early bedtime for all of us.

The next morning we unpacked the trailer and put it into storage, this time for a short time for we already had made plans for our next adventure. In the meantime we had a lot of work to do on this house.