Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WOW Nice at Niceville

Hi all,
"WOW" has been our most frequent word the past few days. We made a move a mere 120 miles east to the Destin, Florida area and WOW! What a beautiful place, white sand beaches and clear water, just awesome.
 Wendy had booked us into nearby Rocky Bayou State Park, in Niceville. It is a short hop over a toll bridge to the Destin peninsula and beaches. Rocky Bayou is actually a nice shady hideout after spending a day at the beach.
 The weather has also been blessing us with great temps for just beaching it. Actually today is predicted to be cloudy with some rain and we are almost happy for it.
  We are using this as a vacation before we begin our four month work camp job. We didn't realize this place would be so beautiful. The difference in water and sand is so different from Gulf Shores  it is amazing. Not that Gulf Shores is bad but side by side no comparison.
Gulf Shores
from Henderson Beach State Park(Destin)

 One of the things we wanted to do in the area was tour Fort Pickens. It was a pleasant 50 mile drive along the coast to the fort. As we had previously toured Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines by the Mobile Bay we wanted to add this history lesson. These forts were built by slaves back around 1830's to protect from invasion. Ironically they only saw action when the country was at war with itself.
 The fort is located on an island south of Pensacola and while there we were treated to a Blue Angels practice. There were quite a few people who just turned out for this as a  good viewing area. Very neat and loud.

On the drive home we took a walk and watched a fisherman casting a net. He was quite friendly telling us a little about this. He was also quite successful today netting 13 fish(mullet) on one throw, he threw one more time though we didn't see how many he got then but it was enough to call it a day. He nicely offered us a fish but we weren't prepared for handling it at the time.


It was a nice drive passing some unique beach properties.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gulf Shores Fun

Hi all,
What a great stretch of weather we are having here at Gulf Shores. We have been soaking up the sun along with mixing in some bike rides and walks.
 I tell Wendy that this is a summer vacation and it won't last long. Oh well we will enjoy it while we can our volunteer job starts Nov.1. No more fun and games then')
 We took a nice 10 mile ride through Gulf Shores State Park. They have a very nice trail as long as you don't mind sharing with gators. We did see this one with a couple young ones in the brush.
 After the bike ride we visited the famous Florabama Bar. We had a yummy bushwhacker with a side of nachos. They make the best bushwhacker (think Wendy's frostee with lots of rum). Wendy said she really was feeling it after the one drink.

 Like other vacations we are eating to much. I think they have every restaurant imaginable here. We had a good catfish dinner at Fish River CafĂ©, not much of a place to look at. We also got some fresh shrimp from a market by the docks.
 Today we got in a nice festival in nearby Elberta German Sausage fest. It is a biannual fundraiser for the fire department. It attracts about 30,000 downing 7,000 pounds of german sausage. Also held with a craft fair and music. We had a good time and the sausage was delicious.

50 foot grill

 If anyone needs to find a place with lots to do we strongly suggest a visit here. There are also many outlet stores nearby for the days when the sun isn't shining, or you need a break from it.
 We did get a couple issues resolved that I had talked about in the last post. As our internet provider was bought out we had to make a change. We stopped in a Verizon store and left rather happy, we were able to add some data to our existing phone plan and just buy a jet pack for our router. We left with a $50 bill and our monthly cost will go from $90 to $42. WOW, well we do have a lot less data but we had way more than we used anyhow. (side note: it helps we are on daughters plan and she gets a great discount from her employer- THX Amanda).
 One other note our mail that was lost from September was sent back to our mail handler and will be resent soon. I was a bit miffed at them as they said they would call us if it was returned and no attempt was made. I had to ask them to check our box to find it was just sitting there.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Late Summer

Hi all,
 We left our stay at Gunter Hill on Sunday. We used most of our time there just hanging out in the park. We rode the bikes and walked quite a bit which felt good. We also got the RV and truck thoroughly cleaned and replaced a vent on the roof that had cracked in the South Dakota hail. I spent a little extra time doing this to clean and recaulk the area. Sometimes it is just nice slowing the pace down and watching some leaves fall.
 Another move has put us back at a familiar place. We have returned to Summerdale, Alabama where we are staying at The Rainbow Plantation which is an Escapee park. We stayed here during our first winter as fulltimers.
 It is a short drive to Gulf Shores and we will be spending some quality time at the beach. There are also many other different things to see and do in the area. As a bonus the weather forecast is as good as it could be. We say this will be our summer as cool as it was in most parts this past year.
 So to change the subject a few other things have been giving us some mental turmoil lately.
 First(Grr) our mail which is delivered bimonthly(shipped the 14th and 28th) to us seemed to have been lost for all of September. We were having it delivered to general delivery in Mukwonago. We received one mailing from August then got none in Sept. When I contacted Alternative Resources our mail handler they told me that mail was sent on the 15th and 29th. At Alt. Resources  accumulated mail get put in a manila envelope and first classed to us. We have not seen the need to upgrade We now have received our mail from Oct. 14th but who knows where the other mail went??
 Next( Grrgrr) up we heard our mail handler is changing hands and will be changing its name and location. To us that means we will be moving. All the fun of changing addresses and notifications.
 Luckily we have some time to act on that which is a good thing because there are some issues with getting health care in South Dakota. As they may not allow full timers insurance we may look to move our domicile to Florida or Texas. A lot of things need to be weighed before making a decision.
 And lastly(GrrGrrGrr) our Internet provider Millinicom has been bought out by Verizon. Many fulltimers were using this provider and as of this writing we have no idea what we will have after our monthly term ceases. We received one email from Millinicom and now hear they are completely out of service. 
 Just some frustrations that we all get in one form or another but still no fun.(
 Okay I feel better now thanks for letting me vent a little.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On to Alabama

Hi all,
 We are on the move again. We enjoyed our time around Memphis although the weather put a damper on a couple days.  We headed out early Monday trying to get ahead of some incoming storms. We did pretty well just hitting just a little rain about 40 miles north of our destination.
 Our destination was another Corp of Engineering park outside Montgomery Alabama. Gunter Hill Park is located on the Alabama River. Corp parks are usually a good bet for a nice kept campground and this one was pretty nice. There are two loops with the newer Catoma Loop offering full hookups and concrete pads. The older loop offered decent enough sites but all gravel.
site at Arkabutla Lake

Gunter Hill

Very spacious sites at Gunter Hill
Our view at Gunter Hills( Alabama River)

Eagle at Arkabutla Lake

 We usually have better travel plans but this time we are just following our noses.) We only know we have to be in Suwannee River State Park on Nov. 1. We were really scouring the maps for our next stop. We will hang out here a few days and explore the area.
 The park looks like a nice place to get the rust off the bike chains and some good walks also.
 We had a big oops and had not posted about a gathering we had before we left Wisconsin. This is a group we had went to high school with. We have had annual Xmas parties with them for over 35 years. We then added a summer get together when we were 40, calling us the 40whiners. Now making it a fall get together when we are in town.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Taking in Memphis

Hi all,
Whoopee, we're on the road!!
 Day one found us at the same start off point as in the first two years- a Flying J in Effingham Illinois where we camped in the parking lot. There are always other RVer's there and we see many RV haulers looking to spend the night in a free spot. While not quite all free we hit the accompanying Denny's for a good breakfast before heading out.
 Day two we had planned to stop at Sikeston, MO but after arriving early we opted to continue on to our next destination. We arrived in Arkabutla Lake a Corp of Eng. park. It is on a good size reservoir in northern Mississippi. We headed here as it looked like we could get in some hikes and not be to far for a day trip to Memphis and Beale Street.
  As we had left Wisconsin temps were beginning to dip to the low 40's at night and 60's in the day. Arriving here we immediately felt the Mississippi humidity. What a difference a few miles south can make.)
 So Thursday we took off to play tourist. First we headed where everyone going to Memphis must have been going- Graceland. This was our first visit to the famous property bought by Elvis. We chose the medium priced $37 tour which takes you through all but the planes he owned. We enjoyed it and thought it worth the money. And I guess they have perfected the movements of tons of people touring this place, as waits and the crowds didn't seem to bad.
 After that we programmed the GPS and headed to Beale Street to get some Blues n BBQ. Finding a place to park a big dually can be tricky at times but this time we found a decent spot and only $5.00.
 We walked two short blocks and  were there. As we had time we strolled up and down the three blocks window shopping at first. We finally found a nice outdoor venue with some live blues going on. Then some more walking and menu browsing, we decided on a mixed platter at The Pig. Yeah most revues of the downtown eateries were average and we found The Pig just okay. Oh well we plan to hit a BBQ festival this weekend so hopefully we will get some better there.
 As far as Memphis we thought it looked pretty slummy in some areas and not a place we want to hit at night, but maybe that's just us. Traffic around was pretty low making driving easy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Our RV life after two years

 Hi all,
Hard to believe we have been full time RVing for two full years. While in our planning years it seemed a dream that would never get here.
 What have we learned.
 That we can live in a small place and not want to strangle each other to much.)
 That preplanning even years ahead makes the transition smoother.  A good financial planner that understands your goals is helpful.
 That we really do not miss the old stix n brix house one bit.
 That purging your stuff while may be hard at the time gives you freedom you never had.
  Is it what we thought it would be?
   Yes I believe that because we had done so much planning(dreaming) we have not came across many surprises.  Reading blogs of fulltimers out there and how they do it helped immensely.
 Has any of our thoughts changed?
  No, we have no plans or thoughts to leave the lifestyle in the near future.
 Some of our numbers for the past year.
 We have driven 17,309 total miles- 3700 while towing.
 Our yearly budget has been roughly about $30,000 for the past two years. Camp hosting about 30 weeks greatly helps the numbers.
 We spent $3,200 camping
 Fuel was $4,600.
 If anyone is interested in pursuing this lifestyle and would like more detailed info leave us a message we would be happy to help.
 So ready or not here we go- Year #3               Thanks for following along.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Reflecting on Year Two

Hi all,
This will be the last post---from Mukwonago and end of year two for us as fulltime RVers. Time to hit the road and begin year three of this great adventure.
 Reflecting back on this past year we have had a blast. Visiting Arizona was definitely a high. We had many misconceptions of Arizona mostly thinking it was flat and desert. As we drove around we were constantly surprised of the mountain ranges in view. We also enjoyed seeing the different cactus. It may seem weird but when you are from Wisconsin they are fascinating.
Roper Lake

Hot tub at Roper Lake S.P.
 We don't have a bucket list but do make efforts to check out national parks and collect stamps for Wendy's passport book. We spent time in about 14 of them with the Grand Canyon and Arches leading the list.
 We had  good times at Roper Lake State Park and again at Custer State Park. We met some super nice people at both and believe that is the most rewarding part of this lifestyle.
 Wendy and I both began new hobbies and will continue to spend idle time with these.
 I will put together one more short post to recap the miles and cost of living on the road for those out there that may be thinking of doing this sort of thing.
 Busy getting in some last visits. Wendy had a fish fry get together with the old softball team. I took in the homecoming game with my brother. On Saturday we headed up to spend a couple days at Wendy's parents. About a 3 hour drive. Her mom had been very understanding of our need to be down here with my dad. We definitely will spend more time there next fall.
 On Sunday grandson Alex stopped by with his girlfriend Emily for a nice visit and a bit of Packer watching.
Me and Dad