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Monday, November 28, 2011

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Today was the day. Yesterday was supposed to be the day, but it wasn't. So, today was the day.

The first five years we were “on the road” we did not decorate for Christmas. We always go home to the East Coast for Christmas, so it seemed a bit silly to decorate when we'd be gone for most of the season. Well, last year, for some reason, I was feeling the need for a Christmas tree. Just a small one, nothing fancy. And that's what we got – a small tabletop tree. Perfect.

So, today we put up our Christmas tree!

Christmas 2011

We also put up lights and red bows in our back window.

Pretty lights!

And the Nativity set my mom made years ago is sitting on the coffee table.

Our little Nativity

There are a few cutesy decorations hanging around the living room, too. Everything looks great.

This year we will not be going home for Christmas for the first time in seven years. It was a tough decision, but a necessary one. So, the decorations make me feel a little better about that.

Now, I've got to get presents wrapped and shipped to their various recipients. I hope to get that done by the end of the week.

Hope your week is off to a good start, too!

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Moving Day

We made our big move today – all .2 miles away! :) This was the easiest move we've ever done.

First thing this morning I did laundry as usual. I was back home by 8:30am and Randy was in full breaking-camp mode. He even did a few of my inside chores. By 9:15 I had paid for our electric use and we drove to Don & Eileen's.

It was an easy set-up as all Randy had to was drive into their driveway, onto the boards Don had set up and, voila! We were here, level and ready to get the slides out and the satellite dish set up.

Such a breeze. Wish every move could be this easy!

We'll be here until January 1 when we'll travel to Bonifay, FL for our workamping gig at Florida Springs RV Resort.

It's been a lovely Thanksgiving weekend so far. Very laid back. Yesterday I went to breakfast with Robbin, a friend of mine from church. After breakfast we actually went to the outlet shopping center in town. We needed to walk off our breakfast! I'm also kinda looking for a pretty blouse or something to wear when I sing in church next month. We also made a run to Walmart.

So, I did go out in the Black Friday fray. However, we didn't get to the shopping center until 10:30 or so and by then the frenzy had waned. And Walmart wasn't bad at all!

Tomorrow's church, of course. When we get home, we're going to decorate for Christmas. YAY!

Until the next time . . .

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving . . .

I'm sure many of you have read several blogs today that dedicated their posts to being grateful and thankful. Well, I'm not gonna go against the trend. :)

While life is not always as easy as I'd like it to be, nor do I always get what I want, I still decide to be grateful for what I have been given and content in my circumstances. And yes, it is a conscious decision, not something that always comes naturally or easily. I choose to be grateful because there is no reason not to be. I have so much more than I deserve – in family and friends as well as material things. I try to remember to thank God each day for what He has blessed me with. I never want to take any of it for granted.

I hope that each of you reading this post will (or already have) take a moment to be still and reflect on how you have been given. I bet you'll be filled with gratitude, too. :)

For the first time in years, we did not spend Thanksgiving with any of our family. That is, blood family. Instead, we were invited to the home of one of the members of the Pickers music group that I play with. Kathy and her husband, Mike, have a lovely, serene home next door to the Plantation.

Double D Ranch - Thanksgiving venue Backyard of the ranch

It sits on 10 acres which house two horses; a peacock and peahen; five turkeys, several goats and guineas, and a few dogs.

Dixie & Dunny

Mike & Kathy exude godly hospitality – when they built their home, it was their desire for it to be a place of refuge for anyone who entered. And it certainly is. There is a peace that is almost palpable in their home. The picture below sums up Mike & Kathy perfectly.

Sums up Mike & Kathy Dukes perfectly

We felt honored to be part of their Thanksgiving celebration. Along with us were Dick & Pat, Ron & Ruth, Gayle & Bob (Gayle partners with Kathy in music and a horse tack accessories business), and some family members. As is the case at most dinners where everyone brings a dish to share, there was plenty of good food.

Yum! Dinner's on

Everyone mixed and mingled well.

Enjoying each other's company More mingling

After dinner, we all took a walk around the ranch grounds. Mike & Kathy have recently cleared much of their ten acres so that Gayle & Kathy would have more trails on which to ride their horses. Once we got back to the house, Gayle, Kathy, Ruth, Pat, and I played music for the next hour and a half while the guys chatted and listened.

What a wonderful day we had! Thanks again, Mike & Kathy for opening your home to us.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Little of This, A Little of That

Just more of the same here in Lower Alabama – music, friends, exercise, relaxing.

Randy & I checked out my friend, Robbin's, yard to see if we could park there for the remainder of the time we're here in Alabama. She was so kind to offer to have us there as long as we wanted to stay. Unfortunately, it's not going to work for us. The placement of the utilities is just too scattered for our hoses and electrical cords to reach. It's such a shame, too. Her yard is lovely and quiet, such a tranquil spot to camp. And it would have been fun to have been close to Robbin. I was pretty disappointed when I realized it just couldn't work.

But, as usual, God gave us something else. When we got back to the Plantation, we rode through the residential portion of the park, looking for “RV sites for rent” signs. Our goal was to find someone in the park who would be willing to rent us a site for five or six weeks we have left. And we found it! We'll be “squatting” (that's what it's called when you rent a site on someone's property) at Don & Eileen White's. And their rent is extremely reasonable, so that's a great compromise between Robbin's free yard and the campground's fees. YAY!

We'll be moving this coming Saturday, the 26th – all of .2 miles or so! :)

Tonight we'll be attending the Silverhill Community Thanksgiving Service. Our choir and that of the host church, First Baptist of Silverhill, are combining to sing a couple of songs. I love attending Thanksgiving services – Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so spending time in worship and praise seems very appropriate.

This week we'll be doing more of the same - music, friends, exercise, relaxing. 'Cause that's how we roll down here!

Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Little Discouraged

I am very grateful for the life God has blessed me with – a great husband, fabulous kids, beautiful grandkids, my parents and all of my extended family, as well as being able to travel this wonderful country. Sometimes, however, life throws you a curve and it's a little discouraging.

Randy took the truck into the shop for a minor repair and the mechanic found something else that needed fixing. Oh, it wasn't horrible and the cost was under $500, but we sure didn't plan on this.

We are workamping this winter for four months in order to rebuild our savings! But. I am grateful that we have the workamping gig so that we will be able to pay off the credit card and still put some money away.

Thanks for putting up with my whining. So many folks I know have been hit with unexpected financial issues this year. It's just part of life – there are ups and downs.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Laid-Back Days

The last few days have been a bit quieter than the rest of the week was.

Friday I hit Curves early and then went to the salon to get my hair trimmed and re-permed. Finally. It had been six months since my last perm and three months since the last trim. Now, I am bee-yoo-tee-full again. :)

The rest of the weekend has been spent at home. It's been gorgeous weather, so it was nice to just sit back and enjoy.

This morning we went to church. Oh, it was wonderful to be back with our Alabama church family. How can you not love the people that embrace you and are so excited to see you?

We ended our weekend at the clubhouse. It was “Souper Supper” night. Many, many types of soups are made by folks in the park and, for $3/person, you can sample all that you want for as long as the soup lasts. Not a bad deal. Oh, and The Chenilles made an appearance as well.

Chenilles perform(This is a picture of The Chenilles from a couple of years ago.) 

After the soup was cleaned up, it was time for the weekly Ice Cream Social. Randy got his dessert and we chatted with the folks at our table.

A nice weekend.

Tomorrow begins another busy week. I've got a Pickers' gig tomorrow, the first one I've been to since I've been back. Should be fun.

Until the next time . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hit the Ground Running

It didn't take us long to get back in the swing of life in LA. We are busy. And it has been so good to catch up with everyone.

Both Randy & I have already been to our respective music groups – me to my Tuesday & Thursday dulcimer groups and choir at church and Randy has rejoined the Baldwin Pops.

I have been to Curves twice and will go tomorrow as well. I've also joined a walking group at the clubhouse. This group “walks” to a Leslie Sassone video. It's a good workout. I go Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7am and “walk” for about 30 minutes, or 2 miles. This is a good addition to my Curves routine.

Tonight we went out to dinner with Jim & Ellie Meacham. It was a lovely evening. We first met Jim & Ellie in November 2008 when they stayed here for a few days. Then, we met up again in February 2009 in Rockport, TX. Since then we've kept up with each other via blogs (when Ellie updates theirs!! heehee) or Facebook. Jim & Ellie feel the same way we do about Rainbow Plantation and this area. It is “home.” They are also staying through December, at least. So we're going to have lots of time to play.

Not much on the agenda for the next few days. I've got a hair appointment tomorrow – I need to get this mop under control! And that's about it.

Life is good.

Until the next time . . .

Monday, November 07, 2011

We're BAAAaaaaaccckk!!

We left Tom Sawyer's RV Park at noon on Saturday, just as we planned. Having had breakfast at Denny's prior to leaving, we just made a couple of stops along the way for bathroom breaks. We stopped for the night at Cracker Barrel in Hattiesburg, MS, just about six hours after we'd left.

Sunday morning we were up about 6:30 or so. We had a light breakfast at CB (yes, that is possible!), got Randy's coffee carafe filled and we were on our way about 7:30. It was going to be a relatively short travel day, just three hours to get to Summerdale, AL.

Less than two hours later, we saw a most welcome sign

It's good to be home

Yes, it was good to almost be “home.”

About 10:30 we pulled into Escapees Rainbow Plantation. Thankfully, we had another uneventful trip.

As expected, we got a warm welcome from Gary & Millie, the managers of the Plantation. We were assigned site 90 and went about setting up.

It wasn't long we were saying hello to lots of friends; Darrell & Judy, Jim & Ellie, Paul & Margery, and Ron & Ruth (our former landlords from years past here at the Plantation) and Dick & Pat. Gosh, it's so good to be back!

We needed to get some time in with Darrell & Judy as they were leaving today for a workamping gig with Amazon in Kentucky. So, after Randy & I had set up camp, rested a bit, and cleaned up, the four of us went to The Shrimp Basket for their all-you-can-eat shrimp. As usual it was very good, but being with Darrell & Judy again after more than four months was the best! It's sad that they were leaving, but they'll be back after Christmas so we'll get some time together before we leave January 1.

Sunday nights are Ice Cream Social nights and we don't often miss those. So, once we were back from dinner, we made our way to the clubhouse for Randy to get his ice cream (no, I didn't indulge) and to see who else was in the park.

After the social, we walked over to Dick & Pat's to catch up a bit with them. Isn't nice to just pick up where you left off with friends – no matter how long it's been since you've seen them? Yes, it is.

This morning we woke up to bright sunshine and warm temps – high 50s! Yes, we are definitely in Alabama. :)

I went to Curves, stopped by the hair salon and made an appointment; and then dropped in on Jim & Susan. They didn't know we were coming in this early and I couldn't wait until Sunday to see them. They were so surprised! It was great to see their smiles.

Back home, Randy had a quiet morning while I was running around. He did his “chores” and was computering when I came home.

Well, the calendar is already filling up. I'm getting back to my dulcimer groups twice a week, plus I'm going to join the choir at church while I'm here. Randy's going to Pops rehearsal tomorrow night. And of course there are the myriad activities that go on at the clubhouse each day.

Have I said how glad we are to be back here?? :)

Until the next time . . .

Friday, November 04, 2011

Just a Little Exploration

The weather has taken quite a chilly turn. When we got arrived on Wednesday, I was wearing flipflops and short sleeves. Today? Notsomuch! I'm in sweats.

Yesterday we hibernated. Today we had to go out to fuel up the truck so I figured we really should look around a bit. After all, we are just a few minutes away from Memphis. Since it was chilly and damp, we were just going to do a drive-by of downtown. But, it's tough getting pictures that way! However, I am too cheap to pay $5 to park when all I wanted to do was grab a couple of pictures.

Randy suggested that he drop me off so I could shoot a couple of pictures while he drove around the block. But, we got lucky and found on-street metered parking. So, for 50 cents we were able to walk around Beale Street for a few minutes to get the pictures I wanted. :)

Beale Street, Memphis

When we traveled through Memphis a few years ago, we stopped for a day so we could visit Graceland. We never got to Beale Street and I kinda regretted that. Even though we're not nightlife folks, it's still fun to see the historic area.

So, we walked the couple of blocks of historic Beale Street, got some pictures, and made me a happy camper. :) It's a pretty cool area, actually.

Tribute to Elvis Looking down Beale St BB King's restaurant Looking up Beale St Old-time Trolley Orpheum Theater

Getting to Beale Street from I-55, we drove along Riverside Drive. There are some fabulous homes that sit up on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River. This is the best shot I could get of them.

Big houses overlooking MS River in Memphis

Tomorrow we begin the final leg of our travel southward. We'll drive as far as Randy feels like driving then we'll spend the night on the road, arriving at Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, AL by noon on Sunday.

It's gonna be fanTASTic to see lots of our friends who have already arrived at the Plantation. It's definitely our southern “home.”

Until the next time . . .

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Traveling South

The first of November found us getting ready to travel once again. After going to the bank to get some much needed funds (yay for payday!) and then fueling ourselves at IHOP and the truck at Shell, we headed back to the campground to finish breaking camp.

Typically we try to get on the road no later than 9am. But, we knew we would be spending the night on the road in a parking lot somewhere so there was no need to hurry. We finally pulled out about 12:30pm – very late for us!

And leaving that late made the day seem so very long. We traveled east on I-70 until St. Louis, then we headed south on I-55. Randy really wanted to get past St. Louis before stopping for the night. And it felt like we were never going to get there. We finally stopped about 7:30pm in Arnold, MO at a WalMart. Whew. I was ready and I'm pretty sure Randy was, too.

After a fairly restful night, we were back up about 6:30 and on the road before 7:30. We needed to find somewhere to fill Randy's coffee carafe. For those of you who know Randy well, you know how important this is! Unfortunately, there was nothing to be found in the shopping center where we stayed overnight. So, down the road we went.

Ahhhhh! Just 12 miles down the road, a Cracker Barrel called our names. :) Good! Now we can get Randy's coffee; crisis averted. Oh, and we filled ourselves, too. :)

Just five hours or so later, we were pulling into Tom Sawyer's Mississippi River RV Park. Many of our friends have stayed here and raved about it.

Tom Sawyer RV, West Memphis, AR

I have to admit it's more rustic than I anticipated. Not that that's a bad thing. It's a nice park, right on the Mississippi – I mean RIGHT on the river. And that's the draw. We were fortunate to get a pull-thru site that was on the river, so our view out the back window is all river, all the time.

View out of our back window

And I do love watching water flow. Very peaceful.

Mississippi RiverWhat else would you expect to see!

And it's fun watching the barges float by. Especially at night. It's so cool to look out the window and see lights floating down the river.

This will be home for the next couple of days. Saturday we'll be back on the road, heading to Rainbow Plantation. We'll get there on Sunday.

Today's weather isn't supposed to be so great. It's been very windy since about 2am (and we've been up since 2:30!!) and the rains came in not too long after that. So, it'll probably be a stay-at-home day. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Oh! And we get to put another state on our map. This is our first time camping in Arkansas!

First time in AR

I'll leave you with some Halloween pics of our beautiful grandchildren. Fun, huh? :)

Tommy (12 years old)Tommy - Halloween 2011

Reagan (6 years old)Halloween night

AubreyLynn (2.5 months old)AL's first Halloween

Until the next time . . .