November, 2016 – Milton, Florida

After leaving Troy, we continued south on US 29, eventually passing right by the entrance to the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center between Andalusia and Brewton where I spent nearly a month of my summers for the past several years before I retired.  I have a lot of fond memories of the Dixon Center and the time I spent there with the new forestry students.  For years I taught them how to measure trees and estimate the volume in mature forests, regeneration success in a new plantation, biomass estimates of trees and understory, and generally how to navigate in the woods.  I enjoyed this time with the students more than the semester I spent with them immediately after their Summer Camp.  Being able to spend 24 hours a day with all of them instead of just 5 hours a week in class was much more fulfilling.  It was a great way to get to know them every summer, which carried over into the fall semester where we went much more in depth on what they learned in the field over the summer.  In any case, we continued on south on US 29 without stopping and turned south on state highways from Brewton.  We had no problem finding Sunburst RV Resort, about 30 minutes south of Brewton and still nearly 30 minutes north of Milton, Florida.  As the staff joked about they are just about halfway to nowhere.  My first impression of Sunburst was not to great since it is nearly 90% seasonal campers and only 3 spots at the entrance for transient guests.  It turned out they had 3 other locations away from the entrance that were nicer and we got the best they had to offer.  It was a back-in site, which no longer bothers me as long as I have enough room to swing the truck around.  However, this site was in the corner which meant I could pull up around the corner and then go nearly straight back onto the concrete pad.  Once we got set up in the site and had a look around, our opinion about Sunburst changed.  The entire Resort circles around a large central area and the number of amenities they had packed into this area was astounding.  They have two swimming pools, one for playing water volleyball with a net across the middle and the other for wading.   There were two clubhouses, one with a full kitchen, and a lot of outdoor seating with rocking chairs under a canopy.  There was also a hot tub, a fenced in fire pit with benches, playground, and wooden walkways connecting them all.  A little distance from this complex was a paved basketball and tennis courts and a grassy area set up for chairs in front of a gazebo.  They had just about anything you could ask for in the way of an amenity, thus in my opinion raising this from a campground to a resort.  Of course, in mid-November there were very few seasonal guests in residence so it was very quiet all week.  We were only there for 4 nights, but I would certainly be willing to stay longer.

campsite

Once again we did have any plans for the rest of the week so we basically just relaxed in the campground.  We did take advantage of the fact that we were within 40 miles of our favorite winter casino at Atmore, Alabama, the Wind Creek Casino.  It was basically along state highways to the northwest of Sunburst, so we have now visited this casino from three different directions.  We had a very enjoyable 3 hours of playing the slots before grabbing a late lunch and heading back to the campground.  Both of us lost money this time, however, in total it was less than $40.  Hoping this is the worst we will see, I look forward to coming back many times over the next two months.

November, 2016 – Troy, Alabama

Our goal was to be in Rainbow Plantation near Foley, Alabama in time for Thanksgiving again, however, we had to time our stay in Auburn around the home football games.  Thus we had just a week to make the trip to the Gulf coast.  We could either stay a week somewhere halfway to the coast or split the week with two shorter stops.  Since we have found that we really prefer traveling 2-3 hours to our next destination, we decided to split the week.  Therefore, our next stop was Troy, Alabama which is less than 2 hours south of Auburn.  You can either travel I-85 to Montgomery and then south on US 231 to Troy which would all be 4-lane highway or you can simply head south on US 29.  The interstate is definitely longer but does not take much more time, however, I was very familiar with US 29 traveling to Forestry Summer Camp near Andalusia every summer for a lot of years.  So we decided to take another trip down memory lane and take US 29, which also missed the traffic through Montgomery.  As expected, the trip took less than 2 hours and we were set up in Deer Run RV Park just north of Troy on US 231.  We found Deer Run to be one of the nicer RV parks we have stayed in, especially since we had a pull-through site with a concrete pad.  There was even a small brick porch off the side of the RV and cable TV.  We opted to stay in the older part of the park which meant we were right alongside the highway, which was noisy at times.  However, we were within easy walking distance of the bathrooms and laundry facilities that had a nice porch with rocking chairs.

campsite

We really did not have plans for the three nights we would be staying here except for doing the laundry and cleaning the RV, which we did on Wednesday.  We did spend a couple of hours on Tuesday driving north towards Montgomery to shop at Sikes and Kohns.  This is a western clothing store that we used to shop frequently when we traveled between Bainbridge, Georgia and Birmingham.  However, since moving to Auburn over 25 years ago, I can’t remember making the trip, although we did talk about it.  It has been a long time and the store has certainly changed a lot, although they still sold jeans, boots, and western style shirts and accessories at good prices.  Kal finally found another pair of Timberland hiking boots to replace hers that are starting to come apart.

November, 2016 – Auburn, Alabama

We had two main reasons for returning to Auburn in the fall.  The first was to visit old friends and the second was to complete our annual physical with our doctor.  In anticipation of this need I had contacted my dermatologist a couple of weeks ago to make an appointment to check the spot on my nose from which they had removed a melanoma two years ago.  There was still a persistent black scab at the spot that had me concerned.  Knowing that I would have to schedule a second visit if it needed to be treated again, I wanted to get as early an appointment as I could.  Initially I tried for some time while we are Wind Creek since it is only 45 minutes away, but the earliest they had was for Monday morning.  I quickly took this appointment and later realized that an 11:45 appointment meant we had to get out early from Wind Creek and hope that they would let us check into Chewacla before noon.  Consequently we were getting ready to close up the RV around 8:30 in the morning when the dermatologist called and had to reschedule my appointment for late afternoon.  Well this took all the pressure off, so we took our time getting the RV ready to go.  The trip south on US 480 and around Auburn to Chewacla is obviously very familiar and as expected took just under an hour.  We were able to set up in our site and take our time before heading into Auburn for my appointment.  Thankfully, the persistent spot on my nose was just that, a persistent scab from the removal due to the fact that I opted not to have plastic surgery to replace the “divit”.  After checking the rest of my body I am good to go!!  What a relief.

Most of you are probably familiar with Chewacla State Park and we have visited multiple times over the years.  The campgrounds were our first stop with the small A-frame pop-up soon after I retired.  We scheduled our trip so we would NOT be in Auburn during a home football game and I was able to reserve one of the few pull-through sites.  As with all state parks in Alabama, the site was spacious and comfortable.  We even had cable TV, which is very rare for state parks, but it meant that they would have all the football games on Saturday.  I was surprised that even during the week the campgrounds was over half full and all the RV sites were occupied over the weekend.  There were even campers in the primitive sites as well.

campsite

On Tuesday we got an early start in order to by at the Doctor’s office at 8:00 when they opened since we had no appointment.  I had forgotten about the traffic in Auburn at this time of day, since for years I had avoided it by going into the office either before 7:30 or after 8:30.  Still we got to the Doctor’s office shortly after 8 and there were only a couple of patients ahead of us.  Consequently, we got in quickly to see the Doctor and have our bloodwork done.  Since this bloodwork requires us not to have eaten breakfast, we were thankful that we were out in about an hour and had breakfast at Waffle House.  This was also voting day, but since our permanent address is now in Birmingham, we decided not to make the 2 hour trip just to vote.  Besides we figured our vote against Donald Trump would mean little he should easily carry the state.  This really bothered the two of us a lot as we had never missed an election in the past.  Unfortunately, by the time we got around to changing our registration it was too late to do an absentee ballot.  In any case, we both stayed up late watching the returns, more than we have ever done in the past.  Hoping the polls were all correct we expected to see Hilary Clinton pull out the election before we went to bed.  As the night progressed we watched as one after another pathways to victory were closed to Hilary and when she lost Pennsylvania it was all over.  As a statistician, I believe strongly in the polls, but they have to be sampling the correct population and applying the correct weights.  In my opinion, they missed the population in two ways and both had to do with those likely to vote.  First, they underweighted Trump supporters since they came from populations in the rural areas that do not generally vote and second they overestimated the turnout of Clinton’s base in the urban areas.  In any case, we are now facing the potential nightmare of a Trump presidency.  It certainly took us the rest of the week to digest and come to terms with the results and I have to say I am cautiously optimistic.  As we suspected, the publicized plans of Trump on all issues are really more an opening position in a negotiation where you should always demand the extreme.  As a successful business man and an expert at deal negotiations, it should not be surprising that Trump would view governing in the same way.  Also, now that the election is over his entire view of the opposition has changed dramatically.  Again, we saw this after the primaries.  At least he no longer wants to spend any energy in further investigations of Clinton’s emails.  I am sure this is going to infuriate his supporters, but it makes me more comfortable.  I will also state in his favor, that he is not a true conservative and if the Republican Party thinks that now they have won the White House and Congress they will be able to make major changes are in for a surprise.  Don’t forget that the party did not support Trump either and most of the Congressmen were trying to get as far away from him as possible.  Especially since he self funded most of the election, he does not owe anyone anything.  His first confrontation with Congress, especially the Republicans, is going to be interesting.  I am afraid we will once again see his bully tactics on social media to force his way.

On Wednesday, we spent the day in the campground doing laundry and cleaning the RV.  In the afternoon we were visited by Patti Staudenmaier, who worked with me and Dr. Lockaby during my years as Associate Dean in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.  She is a very close friend and does not keep up with our travels on Facebook or this blog.  Therefore, we had a lot to talk about of our experiences over the past year and the changes in her life.  It was certainly good to see her again.

patti

Thursday we did not do much either except going in to Niffers for lunch with Maggie Yager, an old friend of Kal’s from days in the lunch program.  It was fun catching up on retired life in Auburn.  After lunch we had planned to drop by the School to see some of my old colleagues, but I decided against it.  I feel a little guilty for not wanting to reconnect with them, but I know that most of the conversation would be about changes in the School and University and truth be known, I could care less!!  That part of my life is over and if we did not have to visit the doctor for our physical…

Friday was another quiet day in the campground.  Kal did got into Auburn to get her haircut and discovered that they are still practicing Tai Chi at Town Creek Park on Friday mornings.  She met some old friends there and got us invited to a Tai Chi session in Auburn on Sunday afternoon.  For supper, we went into our favorite Mexican restaurant in Auburn, Cancun.  Over the past several years we have enjoyed frequented the restaurant, especially when the US Men Soccer team was playing.  This night was the much anticipated meeting of USA and Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match.  Unfortunately, Friday night is very busy at Cancun, so we would not be able to watch the match with the staff that was always a lot of fun.  In addition, our favorite waiter was not working that night, so there were only a few people we recognized.  We did get a good seat in a booth where we could the game and had a good dinner, even though the US Men lost 2-1.  Not good news for our program.

Saturday was another football marathon, however, with cable at the park we did not have to go anywhere to watch the games.  I have to admit that it was not nearly as much fun as the wheels on Auburn’s offense came completely off.  I realize that they were missing one of the premier running backs that is leading the conference, but the fact the receivers could not catch a single pass all game just doesn’t make sense.  This offense, which has rolled over everybody in the pass several weeks, could not even get a single first down in the second half.  Even with this, our defense kept Georgia close and Auburn still had a chance to win right until the end when again they couldn’t catch a pass!!  I admit we have little chance to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl this year, as Alabama looks simply too good, but it would have been fun to at least have the Iron Bowl mean more than just the rivalry.

Sunday was another quiet day in the campground.  We did go to the Tai Chi practice that Kitty Frey invited us to at a Karate gym near the airport.  We could only stay for 1.5 hours of the 3 hour training, but it was great to do Tai Chi again.  Although we never learned the 24 form, which they were in the process of learning, we had learned most of the moves early in the sequence.  So we were not completely lost and it was nice that our bodies still knew how to do most of the moves after two years, although it took our brains a while to catch up at times.  We both really missed Tai Chi and intend to spend some time this winter getting back into it assuming we can figure it out from the on-line videos.  We had to get back to the campground to meet up with our old neighbors, Bruce and Laura Zutter, who dropped by for a visit late in the afternoon.  Their son, Andy, and his 20 month old daughter, Anna Leigh, also came by and we had a very nice visit.  We showed off our RV and talked about the lifestyle, although I don’t believe any of them understood the attraction.  Both Bruce and Laura are still working and the lives are full with family and church.  It was great to see them again.

November, 2016- Alexander City, Alabama

The drive down off the top of Cheaha Mountain was easier then going up the mountain the previous week, but it still made for a slow trip.  Especially since the state highway leading north from the state park was a slow two-lane mountain road for longer then either of us would have thought.  Our trip was less then 70 miles but it took nearly 2 hours to make the trip, which was all along two lane state highways.  Once we got to Alexander City, we were back on familiar ground as we had traveled US 280 from Auburn to Birmingham at least three times a year for over 20 years.  Our destination was Wind Creek State Park, which is about 7 miles south of Alexander City.  For those of you following this blog you may recall that Wind Creek was our second stop with the little pop-up camper three years ago.  This time however, we had a huge 35 foot fifth wheel and choose a site near the lake.  It was a back-in site, as most of them, but I am getting good enough that it did not take long before we were set up in our new site.  I should state that we have been in a lot of campgrounds over the past two years, however, the campground in Wind Creek State Park is one of the largest we have stayed in with over 500 campsites.  The other large commercial campgrounds in the past tended to squeeze everyone together, however, like all state parks we have stayed in, the sites in Wind Creek are large and spacious with plenty of room for a picnic table and fire ring, although there was a burn ban (including barbecue grills) in the state.  I was also surprised with how busy the campground was, especially those sites near the lake.  The campsites near the lake were over half occupied.  While we did not have a waterfront site, we did have an unobstructed view of the lake all week.  Knowing that they drew down Lake Martin over the winter, I expected to see a couple of feet of dry lakebed, however, due to the drought the lake was already down over 6 feet which left over 50 feet of the lakebed dry.  However, the fall colors were at their maximum, as much as they would be due to the drought.

Since we have explored the region around Lake Martin in the past, we had no plans for sightseeing.  Rather our plans were more mundane in nature, visiting with friends and family.  Monday was Halloween and although there were no plans in the campground there were big plans in Alex City and Auburn for “trick or treating”.  Before heading to town with their three sons, Janna and Jep dropped in for a visit.  Janna was a high school friend of Jenny’s and we have stayed in contact through facebook over the years.  Her husband is a full time park ranger at Wind Creek and they all live on the property.  It was great seeing them all and marveling at how old her oldest son is now.  Their middle son had the run of the RV and proceeded to drive his parents to distraction pushing all the buttons that he could reach!!  They could only stay for about an hour as they needed to get to town before dark.

threeboys

Tuesday we spent doing laundry and cleaning the RV, so there is not much to say.  However, on Wednesday Kristin’s parents, Lynn and Doug Hileman drove up from Tuskegee to spend the afternoon with us.  After a nice picnic lunch outside out RV, we drove over to the two mile hike around the shores of Lake Martin on the state park.  The weather was absolutely perfect and we enjoyed the time walking and getting caught up on all their current activities.  After the hike they took us out to dinner at Kowaliga Restaurant, which is on the shores of Lake Martin.   We had a very nice meal sitting out on the deck overlooking the lake which ended up being a 3 hour dinner.

Thursday was spent at the campsite where I worked on the blog.  On Friday, we had a real treat.  Purely by happenstance, Nikki and Chris were also at Lake Martin for a wedding that weekend.  Surprisingly, the wedding was not for one of Nikki’s friends, as you would expect, but for one of Chris’s college friends who are now working in the Birmingham area and choose an outdoor setting at Lake Martin for their wedding!!  Nikki and Chris, along with Adam from the brewery, were staying in Birmingham at an Air B&B on Thursday night.  Chris and Adam had meetings on Friday with local beer distributors exploring the possibility of expanding Hi-Wire to Alabama.  So we drove up to Birmingham, Friday morning to pick up Nikki and visit Kal’s parents.  Unlike our visit a couple of weeks ago, Kal’s mom is doing better and was much more alert and interactive.  We set with them on the porch of the facility for most of the morning having a nice visit.  We left for lunch to allow her mom to take a nap and decided to take in Dreamland Barbecue near the UAB campus in Birmingham.  For those of you not familiar with Dreamland, this is by far the BEST place for barbeque ribs in Alabama.  Their original location in Tuscaloosa is world famous and this location in Birmingham is every bit as good and frankly a better environment.  Chris and Adam were able to join us for lunch in between their meetings, so we had an unexpected treat to see them as well.  After lunch we returned to say visit a while longer with Kal’s parents before leaving to meet Shannon and one of her daughters for dinner.  Unfortunately, Phil and their other daughter had other plans and would not be joining us.  So it goes with high school kids.  We had a couple of hours to kill so we dropped over to Riverchase Galleria, which is still one of the largest malls I have been in.  After wandering around for a while we ended up in Sears looking at their specials.  Before we were finished we managed to buy each other Christmas presents so the time spent shopping was worthwhile.  We then picked up Kal’s dad and met up for a nice dinner at a Mexican restuarant, although after stuffing myself with ribs for lunch and I was not very hungry.  We then drove back to Wind Creek where Nikki spent the night with us.

Saturday was set aside for football, both Auburn and Texas A&M were playing at 11:00 in the morning.  Since we were not going to get either game over the airwaves, we set out for Niffers on the Lake which also opened at 11 in the morning.  Nikki went with us to watch the games which was a great treat.  Since we were there when Niffers opened we had our choice of tables and even got them to show the Auburn game on the main TV (which they would have done obviously anyway) and Texas A&M on another TV we could see from our table.  The Texas A&M game was a disappointment as they lost to Old Miss and even the Auburn game was more competitive then it should have been against Vanderbilt.  It was still a lot of fun spending the early afternoon with Nikki watching the game, eating nachos, and drinking a little beer.  We then dropped Nikki off at the place they were staying on Lake Martin and we retired to the campground for a quiet remainder of the weekend.

October, 2016 – Oxford, Alabama

Since the entire trip from Gadsden to Oxford was along US Highway 431, the trip was easy and quick.  It was another short trip of only about 1.5 hour in length.  The only interesting part of the trip was the last 10 miles as we wound up Alabama 281, the Talladega Scenic Highway as it climbed Cheaha Mountain to Cheaha State Park at the summit.  The state park is located in the center of Talladega National Forest on the highest point in Alabama at 2,407 feet.  I know this may not seem very high, but it is the closest Alabama has to mountains and there were some great views of the surrounding forests.  In particular, the last 3 miles were steep and windy although the highway was in excellent condition.  The truck gave us no problem pulling the RV up the grade, but I am not sure it could have done much beyond the 35 mph allowed by the curves anyway.  We pulled into the campground check-in office located at the top of the mountain near the lodge and was immediately confused with their map.  It turns out there are two campgrounds in the state park, the upper and lower campgrounds.  The upper campground is more heavily used as it sits on the top of the mountain.  However, not realizing this I had reserved a site in the lower campground which is about 4 miles down the mountain at Lake Cheaha.  This meant we had to either turn the RV around or make the 1 mile loop through the lodge and upper campgrounds, which is what we decided to do.  Once we got turned around we were disappointed with how far down the mountain we had to go to our campsite.  Other than being disappointed that we were not on the very top of the mountain, we found our campsite to be excellent.  It was a pull-through site, as all of them are in the lower campground, with full hookups and 50 amp electrical service.  We stepped out of the RV looking straight into the woods with a nice view of the hillside on the other side of the lake.  As you would expect the site was huge with plenty of room and no neighbors all week.  Even during the weekend the campground was less than half full and nobody choose to stay near us, so we just about had the place to ourselves.  The only drawback to the site was there was a streetlight right outside the bedroom window so we had to sleep with the shades drawn.  In addition, while TV reception was alright, meaning we could get all the major stations (especially PBS which broadcasts from the mountain top), phone reception was nearly non-existent which meant no internet access.  So we settled in for a nice quiet week in the Alabama woods.  It would have been better if the temperatures were not once again in the mid to upper 80s all week and no rain in sight.

campsite

As I said, we did not really do anything all week but relax in the campgrounds.  On Wednesday we did get out to find a hiking trail that I saw some information about at the office.  It was suppose to be a 2-mile easy trail around Lake Chinnabee, called the Lake Shore Trail in the Talladega National Forest.  Since it was only a couple of miles further down the mountain from our campgrounds it did not take long to find Lake Chinnabee.  The trail, however, was a bit harder to find as there are no signs for it and you just have to trust you will run into it as we walked nearly a third of a mile around the shores of the lake set up for picnics and fishing.  The trail itself was well marked, but had received minimal maintenance which meant is was quite rough in places, especially below the dam.  We did get a lot of nice views of the lake and surrounding hillsides and enjoyed watching the turtles drop into the lake off of their logs as we approached.  I should note that most of Alabama was now in an exceptional drought with no rain since August and the lake was stagnant with dry creeks entering the lake and no water from the dam.  This made crossing the creeks relatively easy, but it also meant the trail below the dam was not heavily traveled and largely overgrown.  We stumbled our way over the rocks trying to follow the trail for about a quarter of a mile below the dam assuming there would be an accessible way to cross the creek, before we finally gave up (as had everyone that had preceded us for at least the past month) and crossed the creek to trail on the other side.  We also cut off the trail once we got opposite the truck making our way down the steep embankment to the inflowing (dry) stream to cross to the truck.  We then had a nice lunch in the picnic area before we continued on down the mountain in search of a grocery store.  After a half hour of a windy and narrow (although paved) county road we made it to the main highway on the west side of the mountain.  This still left us with another 15 minute drive back to Oxford to the closest Walmart.  We figured out that this was not going to be the way we would leave the campgrounds.  It would certainly be better to pull the RV back up to the top of the mountain and leaving the way we came.

The information for the campground also lists laundry facilities, which we had checked out when we arrived on Monday.  It turned out their facilities consisted of a single washer and dryer that had the appearance of not being used in a long time.  We decided not to try our luck and since Oxford was a 45 minute drive we decided to just wait until next week to do the laundry.  We did travel to Oxford on Saturday evening to watch the Auburn vs Old MIss football game at the local Applebees.  We had a nice dinner while watching the game and even though we won the game, it was a contest until the final quarter so we had to stay for the entire game.  This meant it was nearly 11:00 before we drove back up to the top of the mountain in the dark.  Thankfully the road is well marked and we did not encounter any deer running across the road.  Except for this little excursion we spent the week simply relaxing in the campground.

October, 2016 – Gadsden, Alabama

The entire trip south from Scottsboro to Gadsden was along US highways making the trip uneventful, especially since the highways were all 4 lane. So about 1.5 hours after pulling out we arrived at Noccalula Falls Park and Campground. The Park is located on the outskirts of Gadsden, which meant shopping was very convenient. Nocccalula Park appears to be quite the tourist attraction with shops, picnic tables, and even a train for the kids. It appears to be quite successful although during the week in late October after school has started it was quiet all week. The park sits in between the street and Black Creek and the campground is actually on the other side of the creek, which means you could not even tell you are within the city limits of Gadsden.   Black Creek is a very rocky creek leading up to the falls and along with the falls would be a major attraction in the spring. However, in the fall the creek is often dry and especially since this part of Alabama was under a severe drought, including a burn ban on all campfires. When I walked down to the falls from our campsite it was evident that the huge overhang and 70 foot drop would be spectacular if there was any water. We found the campgrounds to be very nice with sites that were narrow but plenty deep for the RV and truck. It was also nice to have a concrete pad for the RV that was actually level. Kal was especially thrilled with the cable TV and the best free WiFi we have encountered! The hookups for our site were a bit strange since we had to share the water and cable hookups with our neighbor. This meant we had to run the water hose under the RV and use a second hose to reach the hookup. We also had to use our longer coax cable to reach the cable hookup. Not really a problem, just strange as it did not appear to be normal for the campground. I was surprised that the campground was nearly half full during the week and nearly full over the weekend, all with transient visitors. There did not appear to be any seasonal campers in the campground. Especially with the nice amenities, this was one of the nicer campgrounds we have stayed in.

campsite

We spent Tuesday just relaxing in the campsite while we waited for the front to come through later in the week bringing a break from the near 90 degree temperatures. Normal temperatures are suppose to be in the mid-70s! I did spend some time making reservations for after we leave Auburn in a few weeks and getting us set up for a couple of months back near Foley, Alabama at Rainbow Plantation.

Since this was going to be our closest location to Birmingham and with I-59 just a few miles away, we spent Wednesday going to visit Kal’s mom and dad in Birmingham. We drove to the rehab center where Kal’s mom is recovering from her hip injury where we met with both her parents. Kal’s mom is not doing very well and is still bed ridden and not eating well with nothing to do but watch television.   So we spent a couple of hours visiting and after Kal’s dad fed her mom some lunch we took her dad out to a local café for lunch as well. We spent some more time visiting after lunch before heading back to the campground. On the way we stopped by their house to pick up our mail and say hello to Shannon and Shay. It was a good thing we did pick up our mail as there was a bill from the medical lab that did our bloodwork last May in Maryland. It really concerns me that it takes over 6 months for them to deal with Blue Cross and send us a bill. Especially with the health issues of her parents, using their address as the billing address is just not working out. Last year the bill set in the house for months and we were not aware of it until a collection agency contacted us. Although we paid the bill immediately once we had it, we were still dealing with the collection agency for months afterwards. This arrangement is just not working out, so Nikki has agreed to handle our mail in the future, at least the medical. We are also considering paying for the mail service through Escapees, however, then our mailing address would be in Texas and we don’t know what problems this is going to create since our doctor is in Alabama. However, using Nikki in North Carolina would be the same problem. However, the real problem with this bill became evident once we opened them and found they were for over $1000 each!! It would appear that either they never submitted the charges to Blue Cross or Blue Cross denied them, although we should have gotten confirmation by email from Blue Cross.

Thursday was my birthday and I was looking forward to having a special day, however, having to deal with medical bills was not going to be any fun. In addition, to that, but I noticed that the throw rug we use in front of the door was wet on the corner. Upon examining under the cabinet, Kal found a small leak in the connection of the hot water line coming out of the hot water heater. I was able to tighten the screw connection on the line and this stopped much of the leak, however, it was still leaking around the brass fitting and I had no way to tighten it. We had both noticed great water pressure while taking showers and I suspect the pressure is to high in the campground. We had been warned when we bought the RV to always use our water pressure regulator since high water pressure can cause all kinds of problems. We always leave the regulator on the hose and either it is no longer working properly or this was going to happen anyway. We cut the water off and Kal went up to the office to see if they knew of an RV repairman that would fix the problem. They had the business card for an individual and Kal gave him a call. After sending him some pictures of the problem he said it was a simple fix, but he would not be able to get to it until after 5 or on Saturday. We certainly did not wait until Saturday and after he said it would cost only $80 in total to fix, we said come ahead. I figured this would mean I would not even get a birthday dinner out as we had to wait on the repairman. In the meantime, Kal contacted Blue Cross by email and they had no record of a claim from the outfit in Maryland. So she called Blue Cross and got in a conference call with medical lab and between the two of them decided that the claim was likely sent to the wrong address or simply got lost. They would therefore resubmit and we are once again waiting. At least it is not costing us over $2000, yet, but we are going to have to come up with a better way to handle our mail in the future!! As promised the RV repairman showed up around 5:30 with a replacement for the connection. It took him less than 10 minutes to cut the old connection off and install the new on. However, it still took a special tool to the job right and efficiently, so I am still not convinced I will be able to fix a similar problem myself in the future. In any case, it was fixed quickly and cost us only $80 and the best part was it was done with plenty of time to go out to dinner!! Kal and I had a nice dinner at a local Mexican restaurant to celebrate my birthday. One final note, however. On the drive to Birmingham the day before we noticed the air conditioning in the truck is not working. I suspect that the work we had done on the cooling system a couple of weeks ago caused a slow leak of the Freon, but I won’t know for sure until we get it looked at. Theoretically it should be cool enough now that we don’t need the air conditioning, but unless this temperatures start staying out of the 80s we will be suffering. In any case, I hope we can make it to Foley before having this fixed.

The cool front did come through on Thursday night and the temperatures did get back to the normal 70s during the day which was great. However, it would have been nice to get more than a short sprinkle of rain to ease the dry conditions. In any case we spent the rest of our time at Noccalula Falls in the campgrounds finally getting around to doing laundry and cleaning the RV on Sunday to break the monotony, lol. Actually with cable we were able to watch a couple of games of soccer Saturday morning and a full slate of football in the afternoon which was a real treat. Although Texas A&M were not able to stay with Alabama, Auburn looked fantastic against Arkansas. If this continues the Iron Bowl this year could be an epic game.drycreekandfalls