Except for the weekend following Christmas we spent the month of December at the Escapees Park, Rainbow Plantation, at Summerdale, Alabama. Most of the time was spent in the campgrounds with just a few excursions during the month. The weather all month was one of the warmest Decembers on record and we enjoyed temperatures in the 70s for the entire month. The was also a lot of rain with at least a chance of rain for over half of the month, we even woke up one morning to a tornado warning that was just to the north of our location. The weather was nice enough that I got out twice to play disc golf at a local course in Foley. We also got in the habit of traveling north once a week during the wettest day to the Wind Creek Casino at Atmore. We would get there at lunch time, grab a bite at one of the fast food restaurants and spend 2-3 hours in the casino. The first two time we actually came out ahead, but the last two times we lost around $20, which is still not a bad way to spend a rainy day.
December is also the time for Christmas and many of the RVs in the parks fixed up their RVs with Christmas lights and simple lawn displays. It was nice walking around the park after dark and looking at all the displays. Not having room to store Christmas decorations in our RV, we did not participate in the display ourselves. The only other event we attended was the Christmas Boat Parade between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on December 12. Local boats all congregate at Gulf Shores stringing lights and other decorations all over their boats. They then travel slowly single file up the InterCoastal Waterway, which is just a canal along this stretch, all the way to The Wharf at Orange Beach. We got there before dark, grabbed some sandwiches at Subway, and found a good spot along the canal along the road. We ate dinner while we waited for the sun to set and the show to begin. By the time the show started the shoreline was packed with spectators and we had another family join us beside our truck while they parked across the road. The parade was a “hoot” with all the boats, both large and small, decked out with strings of Christmas lights and yard ornaments!! Some had music and the larger boats were having parties with dancing and singing. There was a lot of shouting of “Merry Christmas” between those on the boats and spectators on the shore.
We spent Christmas day at the RV park where we participated again in their communal dinner in the afternoon. With the temperatures again in the mid-70s, the clubhouse was very warm with over 200 people at dinner. For Christmas the fare was ham instead of turkey and other guests at our table provided a good selection of side dishes from green bean casserole, tossed green salad, jello salad, and potatoes. There was certainly enough to eat and we had a good time visiting with other full-timers that did not have family close by to spend the holiday with.
Our Christmas was delayed until Sunday, so on Saturday we traveled to Birmingham to meet up with Nikki at a motel for two nights. We did spend Saturday evening with Kal’s parents and brother where we caught up with our mail and made final preparations for “Christmas” the next day. We had another Christmas with family, Nikki from Asheville, Mark and Pam from Dallas, Jared and Joy that live in Birmingham, Phil and Shannon with their two children that live with Kal’s parents, Mary Anne and Dennis in Birmingham. After opening up the presents in the early afternoon, we did have our “traditional” Christmas wrapping war, although it was not as good as in the past as the number of large wrapped packages has seriously declined over the years. In fact, Kal and I got only a couple of gifts that were not gift cards, which is our preferred gift since then we can get what we need in our limited space. We had a great family meal and since nobody was having travel any distance, we kept the party going with a game of Charades until 9 in the evening. I hope we did not keep Grandma and Grandpa awake with our noise, as they went to bed around 7:30.
So other than Christmas, life in south Alabama is much slower than our experiences over the past year, mostly by design. The only other excitement we had was going to an extended lunch at Applebees to watch the Auburn-Memphis Bowl Game on December 29. Even New Year’s Eve was spent in the camper watching TV. Our only regret was not having ESPN, since we don’t have cable, and missing all of the college football bowl games, including the playoffs, since only a single bowl game was carried by any other station. We did do a lot of complaining and listened to the two playoff games on the radio, but this is the price we pay for this lifestyle. We are still not convinced we need to invest in satellite TV. We do have a few plans to visit the Gulf Coast over the next month and get up with some friends for dinner that live in the area, but that is about it. Both Kal and I hope that everyone had a relaxing, fulfilling, joyful, and safe holidays. ON TO THE ADVENTURES IN 2016!!!