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Monday, February 27, 2006

Moving On

We are breaking camp tomorrow and heading to Florida. We'll be offline until Wednesday afternoon/evening sometime. It will take a couple of days to get to Palmetto, so we'll be stopping in Perry, Florida on Tuesday night. Should pull into Frog Creek Campground around 3pm on Wednesday. Really looking forward getting there 'cause we'll be reuniting with our friends, Ray & Judy Powers. Ray & Judy were our neighbors last year at Frog Creek and we haven't seen them since they visited Maryland last September.

Take care. Will post a message on Wednesday evening after we get set up.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dressed for the party (no! it's not me!) Posted by Picasa

A full house Posted by Picasa

Celebrating Mardi Gras

The park celebrated the beginning of Mardi Gras tonight. We had a spaghetti dinner and entertainment. Entertainment takes on a whole new dimension when you're retired and living among full-time RVers. It's silly, awkward, and from the heart. We watched folks put on goofy skits and laughed as though they were characters from Saturday Night Live! I've shared a few pictures with you.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Throwing beads at the crowd Posted by Picasa

The King and Queen are chosen Posted by Picasa

Dolphin Cruise

Even though it was an overcast, windy day we decided to brave the elements and hit the open seas! The captain of our boat, the Southern Rose, guaranteed that we would see dolphins during our two hour cruise. I thought this was an awfully ambitious guarantee, but figured he knew what he was doing. So, off we went!

We were first taken into the Gulf. The captain said that he didn't have much luck finding dolphin in the Gulf, but we'd see. We were only about 40 minutes into the cruise when we came upon about six or seven dolphin! One of them was a baby. They teased us quite a bit as they would come close to the surface, but not come up. Then they would go back and forth under the boat, so all of us were racing from side to side - it's a wonder the boat didn't flip! We stayed out in the Gulf for about an hour and then headed back to the bay off of Orange Beach.

Once in the bay, it wasn't long before we saw another pod of dolphin - about eight of them! These were a little more playful, coming right at the boat and up out of the water. None of them ever did a "Flipper" move - you know standing up on its tail - but we did get to see their faces. As we turned to head back to dock, the dolphins raced along side of us. That was cool. A few minutes later, after we thought we had left the dolphins, the captain shouted that they were following us and to go to the back of the boat. There they were - coming so close to the boat we felt we could reach down and touch them! That was a great way to end the day.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a lot of good pictures of the dolphins. They are just too darn fast and my camera wasn't! I did get a bunch of great shots of the water!!!! But, I won't bore you with those. During the cruise we passed a private island called, Ono Island, which consists of million dollar homes. One of them is owned by Kenny Stabler, former quarterback of the Oakland Raiders. The boat houses of these homes is probably worth more than anything we could afford!

We had a great day. Met some new folks and ended up going out to dinner to celebrate one of the guys' birthdays! This life is just wonderful. We are having a ball!

Going to dinner tonight at the clubhouse for the beginning of the park's Mardi Gras festivities.
Won't have a lot to post over the next couple of days as we don't have plans to do much. Take care.

The Southern Rose Posted by Picasa

Enjoying the ride Posted by Picasa

Powerful skyline Posted by Picasa

Dolphin sighting Posted by Picasa

View of Orange Beach coastline Posted by Picasa

Home of Kenny Stabler Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Naval Aviation Museum  Posted by Picasa

Pensacola Naval Air Station

After doing nothing for three days (I have been pretty sick with a bad cold - UGH!!), we finally got to the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Randy really wanted to get there before we left because this is home to the National Museum of Naval Aviation. I've included a few pictures, but couldn't put them all here, so if you want to see more, go to our Webshots website and click on the Southern Alabama album. These pictures start on page 3 of that album.


I must admit, this was not number one on my list of things to do, but being the supportive wife that I am (okay, I hear you all gagging out there!!), I figured Randy should get his way once in awhile! However, once I stepped into the museum, I was amazed. When you walk in the front door, you are greeted with this huge old airplane overhead. Then you look beyond that and there's a sculpure entitled, "Spirit of Aviation" and it has an aviator from each war from World War I to Desert Storm. Pretty impressive. You can then wander through the museum at your leisure or take a guided tour. We opted to wander.

We watched the IMAX movie, "The Magic of Flight." It was narrated by Tom Selleck which was good enough for me! I figured if I didn't like the movie, I could always just close my eyes and listen! hahaha But, the movie was great. It took you through the history of flight and also showed us how the Blue Angels train for the show they perform. Of course, being an IMAX movie, you were right there in the cockpit for all of the dips and rolls - pretty darn cool!

After the movie, we wandered through some more. There was a display called, "The Raft." It chronicled a survival story of three men who ended up lost at sea in the Pacific Ocean in 1942 for about 35 days in a rubber raft! They were found 1200 miles off course, but alive. Phenomenal, huh?

The Skylab module and a replica of Mercury were on display with their histories. A life-sized diorama of an aircraft carrier allowed you to walk through and get a feel for the tight quarters these folks live in. There was a flight deck laid out with planes on it and the Operations Center set up. And throughout the entire museum, there were planes, planes, and MORE planes!! (Imagine that - at an aviation museum!) You cannot begin to realize how many types of planes are in use - at least I was surprised.

A cool display was of Bob Hope and his annual Christmas shows. There was a life-sized Bob Hope wax figure on the "deck" of a ship, with pictures behind him of real Navy personnel. They had an audio loop playing of Bob Hope during one of these shows. That was neat.

There was an area dedicated to the Coast Guard personnel. Of course I had to take pictures there so I could send them to my daddy. Even though he is not involved in the aviation side of the Coast Guard, I know he'll get a kick out of them. I'm pretty proud of Daddy as he takes such an active role in the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Ocean City, MD.

One of the most emotional displays for Randy & me was a Viet Nam POW display. There was a video loop of Oliver North and John McCain speaking of their experiences as POWs. The display included donations of clothing, letters, newspapers, etc., from actual POWs. Even though I was still pretty young when Viet Nam ended, I still remember all of the anger - of the civilians AND the soldiers. I believe that is not a very proud part of our heritage. Randy feels very strongly about this war as it was definitely his era and he lost some buddies to it. Needless to say, this was a powerful display for us - so much so I didn't even realize I took no pictures of it until we got home.

Of course, there was a Blue Angels display. After seeing the IMAX movie, you find yourself staring at this planes and thinking, WHY??? These pilots are just nuts! But they sure love what they do! I have never had the pleasure of seeing them perform in person, but it's gotta be fantastic.

Once we left the museum, we went over to the Pensacola Lighthouse which is on base. Construction on this lighthouse began in 1856 and was lit in 1859 and is still in use today! This particular lighthouse replaced one that was built in 1824 and located on the Gulf Coast. We also got a great shot of the Gulf of Mexico from the lighthouse.

It was a great day. I'm either easily amused or pretty ignorant of our country - probably the latter, or maybe both - because it never ceases to amaze me all of the wonderful things there are to see and do. We are having such a blast finding them. Some of them everyone knows about, like the Aviation Museum. Others, like the town of Gruene, Texas, you can only find out about if you're there. I hope you get a chance to experience this, too!

Spirit of Aviation Posted by Picasa

Blue Angels display Posted by Picasa

"The Raft" survival story of 3 men lost at sea for 35 days in 1942 Posted by Picasa

Pensacola Lighthouse Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 17, 2006

Navy Cove, a small area off of Mobile Bay Posted by Picasa

View of Little Lagoon from the trail Posted by Picasa

What I think Jeff Friend Trail should look like! Posted by Picasa

Jeff Friend Trail and hurricane damage Posted by Picasa

Oil rig in Mobile Bay as seen from Ft. Morgan Posted by Picasa

Fort Morgan Dearborn Battery Posted by Picasa

Gulf of Mexico Posted by Picasa

Another view of the Battery Posted by Picasa

Gulf Shores

It was supposed to be mostly sunny day today, so we decided to venture down to Gulf Shores and the beach area. Well, as it seems to always happen, we were 15 minutes into our drive and the sun went behind a cloud and it began to sprinkle! We persevered and decided to have fun with the drive anyway.

Fort Morgan is on a peninsula in Gulf Shores and we decided that would be fun to see. This fort was the site of the Civil War Battle at Mobile Bay. We thought we could wander the fort grounds without a fee, but of course, that wasn't the case.
And, being too cheap to pay $5 each to do so, we turned around and took pictures from the road! I was somewhat disappointed, though. We probably didn't see a whole lot less than if we had gone in, although we were only able to see some of the perimeter of the grounds.

After Fort Morgan, we started back to the highway, taking our time to stop along the way to take pictures of the coves and the Gulf. Although it wasn't a beautiful day, I like the pictures we got.

We also stopped at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Jeff Friend Trail (JFT). This was the shortest trail in the refuge, so that's the one I picked!! Remember that Gulf Shores and the surrounding area was hit pretty hard by a couple of hurricanes in 2004, then got some of Katrina last year, and this trail still shows some of that damage. We didn't expect to see much wildlife given the time of year, but I wonder if the damage also chased them away. We could see where the park employees are working to restore the trail, but it's gotta be tough when you keep getting hammered! The refuge is found on both sides of the peninsula that Fort Morgan is also on.

As we were leaving the refuge, the rain started again. (It had stopped for a little bit - long enough to get some pictures.) We decided to come on home instead of going on to the beach as we had first thought we'd do. The beach in the rain is not much fun. And I had gotten some pictures of the gulf, so I was happy.

The weather is not supposed to be great this weekend - a cold front with rain is coming through. We'll not be doing much, I'm sure. We do want to go to Pensacola before we leave this area, though. There is an aviation museum there Randy wants to tour. The campground is organizing a dolphin trip for next Thursday and we have signed up to do that. Hope the weather clears for that! I am excited about that one.

Praying for you all at home and hoping you are enjoying life. Please write us and let us know what's going on in your world. We love you!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dinner at the Park

Don't know how YOU spent your Valentine's Day, but I can bet it wasn't as exciting as ours! hehehe As I've talked about before, campgrounds often host dinners for the campers and the cost is very low. Well, Rainbow Plantation had a hamburger dinner last night with a Sweetheart Dance scheduled afterward. Needless to say (as you can see from the pictures!), it was not the hotspot of the year!

The dinner was fine; food was good and plentiful. But, there weren't many people there. We shared a table with a couple from Pennsylvania, Debbie & Al. They actually workamp at Little Drummer Boy Campground in Gettysburg. So, we had a lot to talk about. We also found out that we have a great workamp situation at Ramblin' Pines. Debbie & Al have to work 40 hours/week and one of those days must be Sunday! Vivian is so flexible with us - we only work 3 days a week and that more than covers our site fee, which is all we are concerned about.

As we were finishing eating, a couple came to the microphone and said they would be singing for us. Actually, they were pretty good. They were not a married couple, she is a widow and his wife was sick at home in the park. They sang several old tunes and they sang acappello. They had more nerve than most folks!

Well, right after they were done singing, everyone started leaving! I said something to Debbie & Al about the dance and Debbie didn't even know anything about it! I said to Randy that I guess there wasn't going to be a dance, or much of one anyway. So, we went home and watched American Idol!

Now, aren't you jealous of our Valentine's Day celebration!?!?!?!!! Whatever you did or didn't do, I just hope you are content with who you are, and it doesn't matter who you're with (or not)!

Randy with our table companions Posted by Picasa

After dinner entertainment Posted by Picasa