December 2016 – Summerdale, Alabama

Once again we traveled to the Escapees Park, Rainbow Plantation, near Foley, Alabama for the holidays and the worst of winter.  This year our plans are to stay for only two months instead of the three months last year.  Since this is our third winter in a row at the same location, this is starting to feel like our “home base.”  It is kind of nice being at a location that we know well for an extended period giving me the time to do some repairs, maintenance, and cleaning of the RV and truck.  We are also at a location long enough to get a post office box in Summerdale so we can receive packages over Christmas.  Rather than giving a day by day synopsis of the month, I will just be hitting the highlights, especially since most days were spent taking it easy at the campground.  For example, we did visit Wind Creek Casino at Atmore every week, mostly on Monday’s once we found out that this was senior day every week which meant we were eligible to win a drawing for “free play” dollars.  While our trips started off with both of us doing poorly, our third visit to the casino turned this around.  Not only did we both do well, but Kal discovered she had $30 free play on her account, which we turned into a big win as well.  We won over $200 in total, which will pay for all our future trips to the casino for the month.  In addition, we won another $80 the next week, although the last two trips have been a bust.  Still we should come out ahead over the next two months.

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Christmas was easy for us, as we decided to buy each other cheap bikes for Christmas and sent our annual calendar and framed pictures of our Niagara Falls anniversary with the family to everyone.  William bought us a hitch mount for the bikes that fits on the back of the RV and with the gift cards we bought a cover for them.  Unfortunately, we bought the bikes from Academy Sports, which meant they had to be adjusted.  This included the brakes, which were not a problem, and the gears, which were a problem.  After spending a couple of afternoons trying to adjust these gears we now have two bikes that are completely unrideable!!  I am afraid we will have to take them into the bike shop, but Kal has yet to give up.

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Thanksgiving was once again a very nice dinner with everyone at the RV park in their clubhouse.  We have really enjoyed this meal the past two years and this year was no exception.  For $2 per person they supply the turkey and gravy and everyone at our table brought a side dish.  We certainly had plenty to eat and while the variety may not be as great as your family dinner, it was still a very good meal with great company.

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The plan for Christmas was to drive to Birmingham on Christmas Eve spending some time with Kal’s parents at the Nursing Home before checking into the motel for the night.  Christmas day was to be spent with Phil’s family in the morning and everyone going to the Nursing home in the afternoon with an additional night in the motel before driving back to Summerdale the day after Christmas.  However, when we stopped for a bathroom break at the reststop on the Interstate just south of Birmingham, I noticed fluid leaking out of the truck!!  After determining it was anti-freeze and not being able to determine where it was coming from, we debated whether we could make it on into Birmingham.  The engine had not yet overheated and there was still anti-freeze in the overflow container.  Since we did not know any diesel mechanics in Birmingham we decided to call Roadside Assistance and have it towed to a local garage.  We were only about a half hour south of Birmingham, near Clanton, so it was no big deal to have Shannon come pick us up.  What followed was a multiple melt down as we discovered we had let the roadside assistance lapse.  We had thought it was part of our truck/RV insurance policy only to discover it was a separate plan with Good Sam!!  Kal used our hot-spot to update our policy, but since it was Christmas Eve we found out it would not be processed until after Christmas!!  We took some time to cool off and Kal had the great idea of checking with the personnel working at the rest stop.  They had a couple of business cards for garages in Clanton and Kal called the one listing diesel repairs.  They got a tow truck on the way and we let Shannon know to come pick us up.  A half hour later we were on the way to the garage with the truck drove up onto the bed of the tow truck.  Obviously, they were not going to even look at it until Monday, so for the next couple of days we were borrowing a car from Kal’s dad or Phil.  Since it was now too late to visit the Nursing home, we went to Kal’s parent’s house for a very nice Christmas dinner with the family.  We took Kal dad’s car for the night.  On Christmas day we got up early and went to her parent’s house for Christmas morning with Phil’s family.  Even though Kal and I had only a couple of gifts from Phil, we enjoyed watching them unwrapping all their gifts.  As normal, Jared and Joy were supposed to come by at 10, but did not make it until after 12 when we again exchanged gifts before all of us going to see grandma and grandpa at the Nursing home.  The weather was beautiful with temperatures in the upper 70s so we all had a great visit sitting on the porch in front of the Nursing home.  Instead of heading back on Monday as planned we had to wait to hear about the truck, which turned out to be the water pump as I expected.  We did have Phil drive us to Clanton late in the afternoon, after saying goodbye to grandma and grandpa at the Nursing home, to check into a motel there to be close to the garage.  We were surprised to get a call at 9:00 on Tuesday that the truck was ready, so we picked it up and drove back to Summerdale, stopping off at the casino on the way.

While most of the other days during the month were spent in the campground, we did manage to do a couple of other things, such as playing a few rounds of disc golf.  We went to dinner twice with Chris Golden, once in Foley and again at his house in Pensacola.  It was great to get caught up and watch another of the Marvel movies that I have not seen yet (he has them all on DVD and has the best TV system you have ever seen).

Before Christmas we attended the Christmas Boat Parade in Gulf Shores, which we enjoyed so much last year.  Unfortunately, the weather this year was very cold and instead of over 30 boats taking nearly an hour to pass our location on the shoreline, there was only about 10 boats and the parade was over in 15 minutes!!  There were a couple of boats really decked out like last year, but in general it was a disappointment.

We also visited Perdido Beach, which is part of the Gulf Island National Seashore on a beautiful day during the middle of the week.  While clear at the campground when we left, it was very cloudy once we got to the beach, but this provided a nice neutral background for some great pictures.  We also got my Senior Pass for the National Parks as I was finally 62 years old catching up once again with Kal.  This is great deal, costing only $10, which pays for all National Parks and, more importantly, getting half off camping fees at any federal campground.  Kal got hers last year on her birthday, but we wanted to get mine before the cost increases to $80 supposedly in the near future.