Gut-Check Tour – Day 13

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Thursday, April 19, 2018, The Woods RV Park and Campground, Montgomery, Alabama

It’s moving day again, and we’ve arrived at the last campsite of our journey.

I got up fairly early this morning and fixed some refrigerator oats for our breakfast, giving them time to let the chia seeds gel while I updated my journal. We had breakfast and cleaned up the dishes, then I went to get a shower. This time I used the showers in the newer ADA restrooms. These are cleaner and roomier than the ones in the older bathhouse, but only the handheld shower head really worked. The shower head that was fixed higher on the wall was just barely spitting water. Regardless, I got a good hot shower and felt refreshed for the day.

I started getting the inside of the RV cleaned up and ready to move while Andy got his shower, and then he got things ready to go on the outside. This time we did not have any of the issues we had on the last move–he remembered to raise the stabilizers before moving Lizzy off the leveling blocks, and he made sure to disconnect all the hoses and fittings and put them away.

We pulled out just a little after 10:30, but had to stop at the dump station on the way out to empty the tanks. Then we were on our way. I hated to leave Falling Waters State Park, it was such a beautiful spot!

We headed north from Florida into Alabama, and made our lunch stop at Johnny Henderson Family Park in Enterprise, Alabama. This is a beautiful city park that has numerous baseball and softball fields, a lake with swans and a walking bridge, several playgrounds and a splash pad for kids, and a walking track that goes around the lake.

We got a parking spot near the restrooms and had our lunch of salad and pinto beans. It was a beautiful sunny, breezy day with low humidity, so we opened the windows and the door and were completely comfortable without the air conditioner.

After lunch we took a walk around the park on their walking track, and could not get over how gorgeous it was. This was one of the most beautiful city parks I’ve ever been to, and would love to be able to walk here every day.

After our walk we got back on the road. Andy needed to stop for gas for Lizzy, and Apple Maps wasn’t really cooperating with either of us, but we finally got to a gas station where he pumped $100 worth of gas before the pump shut off (37.894 gallons @ $2.639). He doesn’t think she was completely filled up, but it was close enough.

We came into Montgomery from the southeast side, and the part we drove through did not appear to be the best part of the city, although we haven’t seen the rest of it for comparison yet. We got to the RV park just before 4:00 PM, got checked in and assigned to site #205. It’s a typical RV park, with gravel pads, full hookups, and no shade. It’s near the freeway so there’s the background noise of traffic but it’s not that noticeable inside the RV. There’s a small lake at the rear of the property but it’s not visible from our site. They have three washers and three dryers at $1.50 a load. And, they have GREAT Wi-fi!

After we got hooked up and settled in, we relaxed on our front porch for a bit with some wine and snacks, and then I cooked dinner. I made Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca with Chickpeas and Artichoke Hearts, one of my favorite one-pot dishes. I didn’t have any capers to go in it, so we just spritzed it with lemon juice on the plate. It was a good, warm, filling meal, and there’s enough leftovers for our last night here.

The evening was cool and breezy. We tried taking a walk around the park after sundown but it was uncomfortably cold and windy so we only made one loop. We spent the rest of the evening listening to music and reading. There’s nothing I love better than getting into bed with those speakers right over my head playing some good music, and reading a good book until I can’t keep my eyes open. It’s so relaxing!

There’s a lot to see here in Montgomery related to the Civil Rights movement, and I’m hoping that we can do some exploring tomorrow. This is the city where Rosa Parks inspired the bus boycott, where Martin Luther King, Jr. pastored as a young man, and where the Freedom Riders made history. There’s also the first capitol building of the Confederacy which doesn’t interest me at all. Oh, and there’s the Hank Williams museum and memorial. That’s enough to get us out of the RV for a bit.

I’m sad that this trip is almost over! But it has been amazing, and has given me a small taste of what our future life will be like. It will be AWESOME!!

Gut-Check Tour – Day 12

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 – Falling Waters State Park, Chipley, Florida

What an awesome day!

We started out enjoying a beautiful sunrise in our shady campsite, while having a big plate of fruit and some coffee.

After cleaning up the breakfast dishes and getting dressed, we walked down to the waterfall. I had been there yesterday, but Andy had not gone with me. It was a nice stroll, and such a beautiful setting–I could spend hours just sitting down there listening to the water cascade off the lip of the sinkhole.

We came back to the campsite and rested on our front porch for awhile, and then we had our lunch of chopped salad and black beans. Then it was time for another exploring trip.

We wanted to to visit Panama City Beach since neither of us had been there. Before we left, I checked TripAdvisor.com to see what sites and experiences in the area that others had recommended. One that caught our eye was David’s Sno-Balls, a local shop that makes New Orleans-style beignets and sno-balls, as well as po-boys and other things. We are suckers for beignets, and Andy loves shaved ice desserts, so we decided to make David’s our first stop.

It took us about an hour to get there from the campground. It was an interesting drive through the north Florida countryside and the Pine Log State Forest. We made it to David’s around 1:30 and had an order of a dozen “baby beignets” (regular beignets cut into quarters and then fried), followed by a Dreamsicle sno-ball stuffed with vanilla soft-serve ice cream. It was a totally decadent stop, but worth it.

We left there and drove a couple blocks south to the main beach drag, and were fortunate enough to find free public parking at Half-Hitch MB Miller Pier. We wound up walking about a mile down the beach and then a mile back. It was a gorgeous day, the beaches were not crowded but there were plenty of people there having fun and enjoying the sunshine and just-right breezes. By the time we finished our walk we were wishing we had come prepared to get in the water and spend more time on the beach–and we’re not really “beach people”. It was THAT enjoyable.

My only complaint about PCB is that there aren’t enough (any?) public restrooms available, at least on the part of the beach where we were. We were lucky enough to find a condominium with an unlocked gate to their pool area, and the ladies restroom was unlocked–otherwise we might have had to leave the beach to look for a McDonald’s.

After our beach stroll, we drove further west for several miles, then turned north, stopped for gas, and then headed back to the campground, arriving here about 4:45 PM. We had left the windows open and the fans on in the RV for the kitties, and they were just fine in the shade of all these trees.

We relaxed awhile and then we fixed black bean burgers and chips for dinner before calling it a night. It was another one of those days that makes me even more anxious to start our full-timing lifestyle. The freedom to go new places, see more things, live with a minimum agenda–it’s something that I look forward to and can’t wait to get started!

Tomorrow, sadly, it’s time to leave this beautiful campsite and head north, back toward the sticks and bricks. We’ll be staying in Montgomery for a few days in an RV park with full hookups, and I’m hoping to find some interesting things to see in the area. There’s a rich history of civil rights struggle in Montgomery, and I’d like to check out some of the exhibits or museums associated with that.

Onward bound!

Gut-Check Tour – Day 11

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 – Falling Waters State Park, Chipley, Florida

Today was pretty laid-back. We didn’t do anything exciting, but that’s a nice kind of day as well.

I spent some time in the morning working on creating Google Maps of our route so I can start publishing these daily accounts as blog posts. Trying to figure out Google Maps is a challenge, so I felt good when I got the maps done.

I fixed us some oatmeal for breakfast, then we both got showers at the bathhouse. The facilities are certainly not five-star caliber, but the water was hot and plentiful, and the place was clean. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait for a shower, as there was no one else in the bathroom.

Andy fixed us a big salad for lunch, and I made the cashew dressing and heated up some pinto beans to go with it.

After lunch we drove into the nearby town of Chipley to visit Walmart for groceries and to refill our four drinking water containers. Since we eat so many fresh fruits and vegetables, and our refrigerator is small, we need to restock fairly often.

I knew that most Walmarts have good complimentary wi-fi in their stores, so I had brought along my laptop. After we finished shopping, we pulled the truck around to the back of the store, parking close to the wall, accessed the wi-fi, and from there I was able to research and book us a place to stay after we leave our current location. I’ve learned a lot from watching various nomads’ YouTube channels! LOL

After we got back from town and put the groceries away, I decided to take a walk to the crown jewel of this state park, the waterfall. According to the information I could find online, it’s a 1.1 mile round trip hike (walk), so it didn’t seem that it would be too bad, but Andy didn’t feel like it was something he wanted to tackle. So I did the walk myself, and it was beautiful!

The trail starts from here in the campground, just a couple of sites away from ours. The first part is downhill on hard-packed sand with steps cut into the hill using landscape timbers. There’s a boardwalk section at the bottom of the hill that crosses a wet area full of ferns, and then you emerge from the trees onto the beach and swimming area of the small lake. There are some nice bathrooms there along with a picnic area. There’s also a sign saying that there are alligators in the area.

Crossing the beach, the trail continues on a concrete sidewalk, before turning into boardwalk for the remainder of the walk. And not just any boardwalk–it’s NICE boardwalk with railings and the occasional covered bench for rest and reflection. Along the way there’s a plugged oil well from when there was an unsuccessful drilling attempt (they seem to be inordinately proud of this failure), and not far past the oil well is the waterfall.

The boardwalk turns into steps that descend into a sinkhole, and the waterfall cascades over the lip of the sinkhole into a cave 75 feet below. We were lucky that we had all that rain come through on Saturday night because the waterfall only runs like this after there’s been a good rain. It’s not a huge amount of water, but it’s really beautiful, and the air is nice and cool standing on the observation point halfway down into the sinkhole.

I took some pictures and video and showed them to Andy when I got back, and I told him how easy the hike was, so he’s going to go with me to revisit it tomorrow.

We spent some time reading on our front porch, and then I prepared hobo packs for Andy to cook for dinner. I used onion, small yellow potatoes, peppers (red, yellow and green), garlic, and sliced Morningstar Farm Breakfast “Sausage” (veggie) links. (We usually use Tofurkey Italian Sausage, but Walmart didn’t have those.) I added a generous shake of Mrs. Dash Southwest seasoning and wrapped everything up into big foil packages, one for each of us. Andy cooked them on the grill for an hour and they were delicious! This was the first time we had used the Morningstar Farm sausages, but they weren’t bad, and it’s good to know they work as an alternative to the Tofurkey brand.

After cleaning up the dinner dishes (not many since we cooked in foil packets), we enjoyed the evening sounds of birdsong while reading and chatting, and turned in around 9:00 PM.

It’s interesting that we have not even attempted to use the television or watch a DVD the entire time we’ve been on this trip. We both prefer to read, and the television just seems like an invasion of chaos when you’re parked in such a beautiful peaceful space. I don’t miss the TV at all.

Gut-Check Tour – Day 10

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Monday, April 16, 2018 – Falling Waters State Park, Chipley, Florida

This was easily our most challenging day on the road yet.

We started off the day preparing to check out of the Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park in Summerland, Alabama. Their checkout time is 11:30 AM, which is earlier than most of the places we’ve stayed, but we didn’t anticipate any problem meeting that deadline.

We had a problem with the bottom drawer under the stove, the one we use to store our groceries. It didn’t want to shut all the way, so Andy decided to try to fix it. After unloading the drawer, it took us awhile to figure out how to get the drawer off the sliders. Then Andy spent over an hour and a half trying to figure out how to fix the problem. By 10:15, it still wasn’t fixed, it stuck out further than ever, and we only had an hour to get ready to leave.

I bagged up the groceries and put them on the bed, and I started getting the inside ready to leave while Andy worked on the outside. I made a quick batch of hummus for lunch, and then cleaned up the breakfast dishes. By about 11:00 we were almost ready, and I walked the trash down to the dumpster. When I came back, Andy had already moved the rig off the leveling blocks.

I got in the rig and helped him set up his new windshield mount for his iPhone so he could use it for navigation instead of the Garmin, and I got him connected to Spotify for his Paul Thorn fix. Finally we were ready to go, and I left the rig and got in the Tacoma to leave. Suddenly Andy appeared at my window and told me he had screwed up the stabilizers.

It turns out he had forgotten to raise the stabilizers when he moved the rig off the leveling blocks. They had dug up the ground and gotten bent and twisted when he had backed up. So he tried moving the rig forward, which helped straighten them back up, but they are still somewhat bent. He was able to raise them with some effort, but will likely need to be replaced.

So we were finally able to pull out of our campsite right at 11:30. I was following the rig in the truck, and as we were about to turn onto the highway, I noticed that our brass water spigot was still attached to the city water inlet on the side of the rig. I radioed Andy to let him know, so he stopped and removed it.

We drove a little over an hour on Highway 90 and then I-10 to our first stop, the Santa Rosa County Rest Stop in Florida (mile marker 30). We cut up some veggies to go with the hummus I had fixed earlier, and we had a nice lunch in the rig as it was a little too windy and cool to eat outside. The rest stop was nice, if a  little noisy from the big rigs parked around us. There was a walking path around the perimeter of the property which we took advantage of to stretch our legs.

The second part of the drive was pretty non-eventful. Molly rode under the passenger seat, while Maggie rode in Andy’s lap. We got to Falling Waters State Park near Chipley, Florida around 4:30 PM. Andy pulled up to the gate and got instructions from the ranger. He pulled ahead and left for the campsite while I waited for the ranger to finish a phone call so she could give me the permit tag to hang in the truck. By the time I got to our campsite (#17) Andy was nowhere to be found. He had missed the turn into the camping area. I tried raising him on the walkie talkie but could not, so I turned around to go look for him. I met him coming into the camping area, and then turned around and followed him back in.

We got set up in our campsite (electric/water but no sewer) after using every leveling block we have on board, including the wooden ones that Marty (previous owner) had left us. Andy was even able to get the stabilizers lowered to the ground with some effort and choice words. He met our next door neighbors who seem nice–they have a new-to-them Class B Aspect that they are just getting acquainted with.

Finally we were set up and able to enjoy the surroundings. Our campsite is very wooded and rustic. It’s on the side of the tallest hill in Florida (372 feet) so our cell reception is poor. The bathhouse is decent, with toilets and two showers in each bathroom. They even have a dishwashing station for tent campers (haven’t seen one of those since we camped in Big Bend National Park years ago).

While Andy relaxed on our front porch, I took a walk to the end of the road where we came in, and found that cellphone reception is actually really fast at the top of the hill. We enjoyed our front porch until dinnertime, when I fixed baked sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli/carrots for our evening meal.

We were pretty tired and turned in early. The campground is full but very peaceful.

So we have a couple of maintenance items to take care of–trying to get the pantry drawer to close and replacing the bent stabilizers. Andy was pretty discouraged after such a rough day, but this is not anything we can’t handle, and it’s the type of thing we’re going to encounter on the road when we go full-time. That is the point of this two-week gutcheck cruise, to make sure that both we and the rig are cut out for this lifestyle. We’re learning a lot, sometimes from our mistakes, but we’re definitely enjoying the lifestyle. Today we learned that even when we have a time crunch, it is imperative that we take the time to check EVERYTHING before we move the rig. Checklists are helpful, but only if they are followed.

I haven’t yet made any reservations for our last stop, which will be Thursday-Saturday nights. Most likely it will be in the Montgomery area at an RV park, since the state parks are pretty much booked on the weekends. Andy is not inclined to boondock for three nights. But I need to get some better cellphone service so I can do my research. That will be my task for tomorrow.

Gut-Check Tour – Day 9

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Sunday, April 15, 2018 – Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park, Summerland, Alabama

We survived the rainstorm of the previous night without any lasting damage that we can find. I did find some water in the overhead compartment in the little bin under the window. I think it was due to condensation dripping from the window as I could not find any moisture on the walls or ceiling. We’ve had water in this area before and it’s always been when there was condensation on the windows. Once again, we’ll need to keep an eye on it.

The drip that was coming from the vent hood over the stove stopped during the night when the rain stopped. I guess that could have been condensation inside the vent pipe dripping back onto the counter, but we’ll see. It was still kind of warm outside when that drip started, so the vent pipe may not have been cool enough to cause condensation.

Since it’s Sunday, I fixed cinnamon rolls for breakfast, which is our RVing tradition. After breakfast I took a 35-minute walk around the park. The weather was clear, breezy and cool, with temperatures in the 50’s during my walk.

We decided to do some exploring in Fairhope and Mobile. I found a restaurant on Happy Cow, the Sunflower Cafe in Fairhope, and one reviewer said they had vegan Reubens. That’s Andy’s favorite sandwich, so we decided to go there, and then go to tour the USS Alabama in Mobile.

We found the Sunflower Cafe in a small strip center. It’s a cute place, but unfortunately on Sunday they have a special brunch menu, and the Reuben was not on the menu. We went with the vegan breakfast burrito which came with roasted potatoes, fruit salad and a vegan muffin. It was delicious, probably much better than the Reuben would have been. We also had their blueberry iced tea which was also very good.

After finishing our meal, we drove to Mobile to visit the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. I had no idea it was so large. It cost us $13 each to take the tour (we got the senior rate, regular rate is $16), and the tour included the battleship, the submarine USS Drum, and all the aircraft on the premises.

We spent about two hours just inside the battleship USS Alabama. It was fascinating! They had the tour divided into three separate routes, Yellow, Red and Green, so you could concentrate on a particular area if you were limited in time. Of course, we did all three routes. We climbed stairs, we crawled into gun turrets, Andy tried out one of the bunks, we did everything possible on that ship.

Next we toured the USS Drum, a submarine that is dry-docked next to the Alabama. That was a cool tour as well, as we got to climb up into the conning tower. Definitely tight quarters!

By then we were both pretty tired and it was 4:30. We didn’t get to look at all the aircraft that they have parked around the property, but you can’t get inside those anyway. But we had a great time, and definitely recommend anyone with an interest in history visit this site. By the way, the park is totally privately funded with no tax payer support. I find that both interesting and sad.

We got back home about 5:30 and had a dinner of leftover Wild Rodeo salad, brown rice salad, and I made a fruit salad to go with it. I’m exhausted and going to bed early. Tomorrow is moving day, so I need to rest up for the drive.

Gut-Check Tour – Day 8

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Saturday, April 14, 2018 – Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park, Summerdale, Alabama

Today started out slow with coffee and oatmeal, along with a shower in the rig. This was the first time we’ve used our own shower since we’ve been on this trip, but the two shower rooms they have available here in this park weren’t all that inviting.

After getting all cleaned up and presentable, we drove into Fairhope to Walmart to do a little shopping for groceries and supplies. We bought a few things to furnish the rig:

  • Three light brown towels to cover the dinette benches, replacing the mismatched blankets
  • A shoe organizer to go over the bathroom door
  • Shower curtain hooks (Andy’s plan was to hang the laundry bag from the shower curtain rod where it connects to the wall. The hooks he bought were cheap and wouldn’t work.)
  • A step-stool to make it easier to move things around in the loft, especially on the side by the door. I’m concerned that if we continue to use the back of the dinette as a step-stool it will eventually loosen it from the wall.

We also bought some groceries and got gas for the truck while we were there.

We enjoyed the 15-minute-each-way drive to and from Walmart, although we didn’t really get into Fairhope. When we got back to the rig, we put away all the groceries and then had a lunch of leftovers–Wild Rodeo salad with quinoa, brown rice salad, and the last of the f@cking curry (that’s how it’s spelled in the cookbook, not my spelling!).

After cleaning up the dishes from lunch we loaded up the dirty laundry and drove over to the park clubhouse to the laundry facility. The machines were $1.25 each, so it cost us a total of $7.50 to do three loads. Fortunately no one was there when we got there so we were able to start all three loads at the same time. Other people arrived after we got started, and they had to wait for our loads to finish. But it was nice to be able to do all the laundry simultaneously rather than sequentially.

Before going to the laundry room, I started a pot of soup in the Instant Pot, using the slow cooker feature. I wasn’t sure the soup would be ready in time for dinner at 5:30, and sure enough, it wasn’t. I tried using the Saute function to just cook it normally, but that was too hot and the soup was boiling too fast. So in the end I wound up just pressure cooking it for four minutes and then using the quick release method. Next time, I’ll just skip the whole slow cooking method and go straight to pressure cooking. The soup was good though, we ate the whole pot.

The forecast for the evening was for severe storms, and we were under a tornado watch until 2:00 AM Sunday morning, as well as a flash flood watch. The radar looked ominous with a huge line of bright red moving from west to east. We sat at the dining table and watched the lightning in the west as it got closer and closer. The rain started about 9:15 PM and it came down hard, especially with the wind blowing 30-40 MPH.

Lizzy held up well and didn’t seem to rock with the wind. The only problem we found was a slow drip coming in from the vent hood over the stove. It was soaking the countertop behind the stove and sink. We put a plastic bowl under the drip to catch the water and went to bed.

The electricity blinked off and on, but there were no extended outages.

Maggie and Molly both handled the storm really well. There was one particularly loud clap of thunder that sounded very close by, and we all jumped, but the kitties seemed to shake it off just fine.

Not sure what we’re going to do tomorrow. We were planning to go hear Kyle Brady (Drivin’ and Vibin’) play at a local restaurant, but I checked the restaurant’s webpage to see what time he was playing and they don’t show him on the schedule for this weekend. So we may just do some sight-seeing, depending on what mood strikes us. 🙂

I’m still having a great time, and feel so glad we’re pursuing this lifestyle. I’m starting to understand how people like Caravan Carolyn can totally lose track of what day it is. If I didn’t have to be back to my job on the 23rd, I wouldn’t look at the calendar at all. We’re learning to compromise and deal with the small space, and we’re finding new ways to organize things. I’m trying to let go of my need to “do something”, but it’s hard.

I’m really struggling with whether or not to pursue all the photography and videography projects that I anticipated doing on the road. It just seems like such a hassle to pull out a camera, tripod, gimbal, etc., and try to record something when I ought to be just looking at it and experiencing it. And then there’s the editing that needs to be done.

I don’t want to give up on it yet, not until we actually go full-time and I don’t have these time constraints in the back of my mind. The scenery that I really want to record is all out west anyway. But right now I’m just not that motivated to become a YouTuber.

Gut-Check Tour – Day 7

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Friday, April 13, 2018 – Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park, Summerdale, Alabama

Today was another moving day as we left Biloxi and drove east on I-10, past Mobile, into rural south Alabama. We are staying for the next three nights at the Escapees Rainbow Plantation Park near Summerdale.

Gutcheck Map move to Rainbow Plantation

We didn’t leave the RV park in Biloxi until almost 11:00. Andy wanted to take a shower before leaving, and I took time to do a little house-cleaning. It’s only about a 70 mile drive between the locations, so there was no need to be in a hurry.

We stopped along the way at the Alabama Welcome Center where we parked in the lot with the semi trucks and had lunch of salad and black beans. I picked up some brochures of things to do in the area, mainly because the nice hostess just insisted that I take them. I haven’t even looked at them yet.

We got to Rainbow Plantation about 2:30 and checked in to site #59. The sites are large and pretty level, and they’re mostly grass and sand. We’re right next to a big oak tree that offers a lot of shade, but not directly over the RV. We have full hookups, but no picnic table or fire-ring. But we’re only paying $22/night, so that’s not bad. There are two bars of Verizon service, but it’s on the slow side.

They have a pool and a large clubhouse. There are two separate unisex showers, which seems a little skimpy for such a large campground. However, a lot of the units here are permanent or seasonal residents, and I doubt they have any use for those showers.

We got set up pretty quickly and then just relaxed under the awning with a beer. I fixed a brown rice salad and some baked tofu for dinner (tofu was a little salty), and then we just stayed in for the evening.

The weather is supposed to get pretty nasty with strong thunderstorms tomorrow evening, into Sunday morning. It’s supposed to be really windy all day tomorrow. There’s already a flash flood watch out for this area. We had talked about going in to town to listen to Kyle play, but we’ll have to see what the weather looks like.

Gut-Check Tour – Day 6

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 – Cajun RV Park, Biloxi, Mississippi

We had another fun day today.

For once the cats didn’t wake me up at 4:30 AM like they have been. Instead my phone beeped at 6:30 AM when Mark sent me a text message. Nice to get to sleep a little later.

I had a breakfast of fruit and nuts with coffee. I did some cleaning in the RV and then we took turns taking hot showers in the park’s bathhouses. It was a nice perk for staying here.

We fixed a lunch of chopped salad and pinto beans. After cleaning the dishes we headed out to visit some casinos.

We parked at the Golden Nugget and went to that casino first. We signed up for players’ cards hoping to get some free play, but they require you to accumulate 100 points on your card (spend about $40) to get the $10 free play dollars.

We decided to just find some penny slots to play. Andy found a machine while I was still looking around, and since he didn’t know what he was doing he blew through a dollar in 5 plays (he was playing 20 lines instead of 1). I showed him how to play 1 penny at a time, and on his second dollar he won over $10. Lucky devil!

I played $10 and walked away with $1. But we both got free beers although I did tip the waiter $4.

Next we walked to Harrah’s and played $1 each there, and neither of us won anything. We signed up for their players card but they also did not offer free play.

After that we drove back up Beach Boulevard and parked at Hard Rock Casino. We went inside and immediately found a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop, so we had vegan ice cream.

We decided not to sign up for the players card at Hard Rock but just played our dollar each. We both wound up winning money, Andy more than me. I put in $5 (smallest bill I had) and walked away with $7.22. Andy put in $1 and walked away with over $4.

We came back to the RV and I fixed dinner while Andy sat outside reading. I made Wild Rodeo Salad with quinoa, and we ate it with blue corn chips and flour tortillas. After cleaning up the dinner dishes we walked several loops around the park for exercise.

The rest of the evening was spent in the RV. I did some route planning for tomorrow so we know where we’re going.

It looks like there’s going to be bad weather on Saturday, heavy rain with a risk of tornadoes. Not looking forward to that but glad it’s not a travel day.

Planning to pull out of here around 11 AM tomorrow to head to River Plantation, an Escapees Park in Summerdale, AL.

Gut-Check Tour – Day 5

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 – Cajun RV Park, Biloxi, MS

Yes, I’m still happy!

I was sad, however, to say goodbye to Paul B. Johnson State Park. That place is just beautiful, it’s quiet, well-maintained and a bargain at only $16/night with the senior discount, for full hookups. You can’t find that kind of deal just anywhere.

We got everything packed up and ready to go just before 11:00 A.M. It was easier to pack because we were only moving campsites–just had to make sure everything was secured enough to keep it from sliding around and/or breaking. We let the kitties ride free on this trip as it was just a little over an hour (without stops) from camp to camp.

We stopped in Wiggins so Andy could put gas in the RV. He put in 36.713 gallons at $2.299/gallon, for a total of $84.40. The odometer reading was 13026.1, and when I did the calculations, we found that we got 8.969 MPG on this last tank. That also includes our recent trip to Trace State Park. It’s much better than the mileage on the last tank since we didn’t have to spend fuel running the generator like we did when she was stored in the cold weather for so long.

Gutcheck Map move to Biloxi

We got to our new campground around 12:45 PM, got checked in to site #42, and then got hooked up quickly. The sites at this campground are close together, but right now there’s no one parked around us, and we have the benefit of a large shade tree. We were able to put out our awning over our picnic table for lunch, and it was wonderful! There was a cool breeze blowing, and the humidity is very low–not what we expected for the Gulf Coast. Such a nice surprise.

After we got cleaned up from lunch, we took a walk around the campground to check out the facilities. They have a pool and a guest lounge where there is free coffee and pastries available. Someone had started a jigsaw puzzle, and Andy and I finished it. We found the fire pits, the hammock, the rocking chairs, the beanbag toss, and the other amenities that they offer. Then we set out on a long walk on the beach which is just across the four-lane street from the campground. It’s not the best part of the Biloxi beach, and there aren’t any sidewalks along the beach like there are in Gulfport. But it was still a nice walk, although my feet were hurting by the time we got back from digging into the sand while trying to walk.

After we got back from our walk we rested up for a little bit and then we drove to WalMart Neighborhood Market to pick up some groceries for the next few days. That was the WORST self-checkout line I have ever been in. The machine was super slow and kept telling me that my avocados were “restricted”. But while we were there, we were able to refill our three empty water jugs for 87 cents. So that was worth the trip.

We had a glass of wine for happy hour on our front porch, and then had black bean burgers, baked beans and chips for dinner. The temperatures are very mild, should be some good sleeping weather although it is noisier here in this park. We’ve heard trains and police sirens, things that we haven’t heard in the past few nights in our quieter campground. Hopefully they won’t be too loud tonight.

I’m still loving this trip, and the longer it goes on, the harder I know it’s going to be to go back to work when it’s over. I’m ready to start doing this for real!

Gut-Check Tour – Day 4

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 – Paul B. Johnson State Park, Hattiesburg, MS

It’s been such a beautiful day!

I started out the day early this morning by setting up my GoPro to try and capture a time lapse of the sunrise. It was actually pretty non-eventful, but I did learn how to use the software to stitch almost 3000 photos together into a short video.

I did some research and located our first out-of-Mississippi destination. We have reservations at Rainbow Plantation near Summerdale, Alabama for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. It’s an Escapees park, so we got a rate of $21/night for full hookups, swimming pool, laundry, etc. While we’re in that area, we’re going to try and catch a performance by Kyle of Drivin’ and Vibin’ (YouTube favorites of ours), as he has gigs in the area each of those days.

After spending all that time on the computer, I took a long walk around the campground, and then came back and made homemade hummus for lunch. Andy cut up a bunch of raw veggies and we chowed down on a pretty healthy meal (except for the Nutter Butter cookies that I picked up a Walmart in Wiggins yesterday).

After cleaning up the dishes we spent the afternoon reading and enjoying the outdoor patio. Today’s weather was the best we’ve had since we’ve been on this trip, with highs in the low 70’s and just enough breeze to keep it comfortable. There are still rigs arriving and leaving, but it’s not nearly as crowded as it was over the weekend.

For dinner we had the leftover curry from Saturday night over a baked potato, and it was super yummy. And tonight we’re sitting here in the RV, listening to the geese and the crickets as the day draws to a close.

I’m going to hate leaving this place tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to spending a little time in Biloxi. We need to make a run to the grocery store for a few things (nothing urgent, but just to make sure we have what we need to fix the dishes I have on the menu). I think I’m still over-thinking the meal-planning, but I don’t get to cook very often and I like trying out new dishes with various spices. When Andy cooks for us at home, he keeps things very, very simple, and that’s fine; but I like to be a little more adventurous with my food when I have the opportunity.

So far this trip is only confirming that we definitely want to go full time in our RV, the sooner the better. Nothing has dissuaded us yet. 🙂