Coming a day early to Wind Creek State Park was a good decision as it began to rain Sunday night and was wet for the next three days. It was also a good idea to travel through Birmingham on a Sunday morning rather than a Monday. The traffic was not bad and we got south to Alex City in less than two hours. I was especially glad not to be traveling on Monday as it rained off and on all day. We had no plans for Monday, so we just hung out at the campsite all day patting us on the back for our good decision.
Tuesday was still very wet, but it did not matter as we were going to spend all day in doors. Our day started relatively early with a doctor’s appointment for our annual checkups so we drove to Beauregard since our doctor had moved out of Auburn after we started our traveling. The checkup went very well and quickly leaving us with most of the day still ahead of us. So we went to the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University to catch up with everyone there. We had gotten an email from the new Building Manager at the School about some boxes I still had in storage. It was kind of interesting to dig through some of my old stuff, however, most of it was old reprints that I have absolutely no use for. All of it turned out to be stuff I had identified to be thrown out before I retired, but had been lost in the storage room. After taking care of this small detail we spent the next two hours catching up with the faculty and staff that were still around. We also checked on some upcoming retirements that we would actually be around to attend their retirement parties. I could have spent more time there, however, we were both getting hungry since it was now after 1:00, so we headed out to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Acapulco, for a late lunch. We decided we had had enough of visiting and headed back to the campsite.
Wednesday was another early start as we had to head back into Auburn to get our bloodwork done. We got there soon after they opened for the day at 7:30, so they got us right in and took our blood. Since we had to get this done on an empty stomach, we headed directly to breakfast at Waffle House. We also dropped by Walgreens to pick up our medicines and get our flu shots. It was still only mid-morning, however, we decided to call it good and headed back to the campsite.
The weather finally broke on Thursday, however, it was still raw enough that we felt justified in checking out Wind Creek Casino in Wetumpka. Mostly because it is so new, but we found this casino to be one of the nicest we have been to. Of course, having an unusual selection of slot machines that we could play for less than forty cents was also a plus. We both had a good day at the machines and after a couple of hours had managed to win $2 between us. Since most of the time we manage to lose around $40, this was a good day. In the afternoon, old friends of ours, Jeannie and Rodney dropped by the RV to visit. We had a great time getting caught up for the next couple of hours.
We did not do anything on Friday until early in the afternoon when we traveled back to Auburn to attend the retirement party of Brenda Allen. Most of my interactions with Brenda over the years was as Associate Dean and I regret not having the opportunity not working on more special projects. She was certainly surprised to see Kal and I, as it was totally unexpected. Since Brenda was part of the Extension/Teaching Faculty at the School, there were a number of faculty at her retirement that I had not seen since I retired. In fact, we ran into Dale Dickens at her retirement that I worked closely with while he was the Director of Student Services when I was Associate Dean. It was great to get caught up with him, although I wished we could have had more time. While our attendance at Brenda’s retirement party was purely coincidental with our being in the area, I was sure glad we could make it.
Saturday was another trip to Opelika, this time to spend the morning with my old Executive Assistant, Patti Staudenmier. Along with Graeme Lockaby, the other Associate Dean at the School, we made a great team handling all the graduate teaching and research activities at the School for over 10 years. I could not have done the job without Patti as she was the perfect connection with all the graduate students at the School. She certainly handled all the day to day needs of the students, only contacting me when something unusual happened. If fact, there were many times that I was not sure who worked for who and I would not have wanted it any way. I really enjoyed spending a few hours getting caught up and regret that is likely the last opportunity we will have as she is not connected through facebook.
Sunday was just another day in the campground and Monday was laundry and cleaning the RV. For Tuesday we headed back to the Doctor’s office to pick up our bloodwork results which showed we were good to continue our journeys for another year. We also went out to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Cancuns. Wednesday was another quiet day in the campground as Kal got ready for Thanksgiving by making a jello salad. Wednesday evening our former neighbors, Bruce and Laura Zutter, their eldest son, his wife and daughter came to Wind Creek State Park for a couple of nights of camping. They invited us to their campsite to have a hot dog dinner.
Thursday was Thanksgiving and we headed north to Birmingham to spend it with Kal’s family. Along with Grandpa and Phil’s family, Mark’s family joined us from Texas and William, Kristin, and Liam from Maryland. Along with Michelle’s new baby, Danielle, it was great to have small babies in the house. They were certainly the center of attention for the entire day. Of course, Phil and Shannon were busy making a Thanksgiving feast while the rest of us played with the kids and taking pictures. Even Jared made it in time for dinner and we had a very good meal of turkey and trimmings. Nobody wanted to leave the festivities, however, William had two hours to travel to Tuskegee and we had to get back to Alex City.
On Friday it was our turn to travel to Tuskegee for another Thanksgiving celebration with Kristin’s family and friends. Doug and Lynn invited us to come early to help out by watching Liam, which we obviously jumped at the chance. We arrived by 10:00 with the meal planned for 4, so we had a lot of time to spend with Liam. Unfortunately, he was so tired from all the traveling and the previous day in Birmingham that he spent a good bit of this time sleeping. However, we still enjoyed the time with our grandson and took full advantage of the opportunity. I thank both Doug and Lynn for sharing some of their time with their grandson. By the time the other guests arrived we were all ready to sit down to another great meal of turkey, ham, and all the trimmings. We were not happy having to leave much to soon after the meal.
On Saturday we had another opportunity to spend time with William, Kristin, and Liam as we were invited to Allison Chancey’s apartment for chili and the Iron Bowl. While the football game was good through the first half, Alabama took control of the game in the second half and we lost interest. Besides it was much more fun playing with Liam and visiting with everyone who dropped by, which included Doug and Lynn for some pictures with Liam. We left soon after the game, leaving William to watch the Texas A&M vs LSU game. This was too bad as this game was much more exciting then the Iron Bowl since it went to 7 overtimes before A&M finally outlasted LSU!
We had planned on Sunday to be a quiet day in the campground after all the traveling, however, we were invited to join Doug and Lynn for an early birthday dinner for Kristin. One more time we drove to Auburn to Venditoris, an Italian restaurant, that is a favorite of theirs. We had a great meal with their family and friends and even had a chance to spend some time with Liam walking around in their lobby. It was difficult to say goodbye as it will be months before we see them again, however, we certainly got to spend more time with Liam then we had planned. I thank everyone involved for a GREAT Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family.