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.


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.


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.

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