Christmas Remembrances, New Toilet Install, Tamales With Friends, Moving to California

We spent a fairly quiet Christmas Day in Glendale, Arizona after almost a week of hustle and bustle. I baked some cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and then around 11:00 AM I started a seitan pot roast in the crock pot for our vegan dinner. (If you’re not familiar with seitan, here a link to find out more.) While dinner was cooking, we took some time to visit the gravesites of Andy’s mom and dad and place some Christmas decorations on their markers.

A Christmas visit to the resting place of Andy’s parents

We also placed flowers on the marker for Andy’s aunt and uncle who are buried in the same cemetery. This was the first time in several years that we have been able to visit these memorials, and it was nice to be able to do so on Christmas Day.

The day after Christmas (Wednesday) was a whirlwind of activity as we were trying to get all our chores done before it was time to leave Glendale. In addition we had been invited to a Christmas party by one of Andy’s former co-workers, so we had to hustle.

The top priority of the day was to get the new toilet installed, but first we wanted to flush the black tank. If you’re not familiar with RV black tanks, they have sensors installed inside them that are connected to the control panel, and they are supposed to let you know how full your tank is getting. But over time, “debris” can accumulate on the sensors, and it can appear that your tank is more full than it is. We used a pressure wand made specifically for flushing black tanks, hooked it up to the water hose, stuck it down through the toilet valve, and cleaned the tank thoroughly.

After cleaning the tank, Andy removed the old toilet with the malfunctioning foot pedal (it would no longer consistently turn off the water flow after flushing, which could have potentially caused a flood in the RV), and then installed our new Thetford toilet. It was actually a pretty quick process, and since the black tank had been flushed, there was no problem with smell.

Removing the old toilet

Once again, we were thankful that the timing of this repair worked out like it did, with us being close to a Camping World store, plus having full hookups with water and sewer, along with a dumpster to dispose of the old toilet. Things really do just work out.

After the toilet installation, I did some more housekeeping in the RV, and then we made a run to the post office to check on our Escapees mail (still had not arrived), and then to the grocery store to stock up on fresh vegetables and fruit (which became a little bit of an issue as you’ll see shortly).

That night, we finally got to have some fun, as we attended a Christmas party in the home of one of Andy’s former co-workers, Angelica, and her son, Devon. Angelica has a tradition of hosting a get-together for her family and friends on the night AFTER Christmas, which I think is brilliant. She served a traditional meal of tamales (both spinach/cheese and red with meat), along with pozole (soup or stew made with pork), rice and beans. Although we don’t usually eat meat, we decided not long ago to make an exception when someone invites us into their home–we eat what they prepare. And the food was all delicious. We enjoyed getting to meet Angelica’s family and friends, catching up on work-related gossip, participating in the Dirty Santa gift exchange, and then being presented with a to-go bag of tamales and homemade fudge. Thanks again, Angelica and Devon, for sharing your Christmas holiday gathering with us. We love you!

Good food, good friends Angelica and Devon

After we got back from the Christmas party, we finally sat down at the computer to figure out where we wanted to go next. We knew we wanted to move toward southwestern Arizona where the weather is warmer for the winter, but the area can get quite crowded with all the snowbirds. (Haha, when we lived in Glendale we used to complain about all the snowbirds tying up traffic and crowding the restaurants, and now we’re part of the “problem”!!) We knew we wanted to boondock to save money, but we are not familiar with the area and didn’t want to risk trying to find an offgrid site on some random gravel road after dark.

We finally decided to take advantage of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs), located in Arizona and California. The BLM has seven winter LTVAs where you can set up camp for an extended length of time by paying one fee. For $180, you can get a permit to use the LTVA from September through the following April, and that includes being able to move from one LTVA to another. Unfortunately, they do NOT prorate the cost of the permit, so even though it’s now the end of December, the permit is still $180. If you’re interested in learning more about LTVA’s here’s a link to a great summary on FreeCampsites.net. Unfortunately, the BLM website is down right now due to the government shut-down, so I can’t direct you to their official information.

We elected to head to the Pilot Knob LTVA which is located just west of Yuma, right across the California state line. We chose this location because of its proximity to good grocery shopping in Yuma as well as a popular border crossing into Mexico at Los Algodones. We love walking across the border for good Mexican food, and Los Agodones is known for its pharmacies, dentists and eye doctors who cater especially to Americans who are tired of paying exorbitant prices for healthcare in the U.S.

So yesterday (Thursday), we broke camp in Glendale, leaving the mobile home park where we had stayed for a week. While Andy drove the RV to Costco to top off the propane, I made one more trip to the post office to check on our mail from Escapees, and unfortunately it still had not arrived. As far as I know, there is nothing urgent or time-sensitive in the packet, so it will eventually be returned to Livingston where our mail service can add it to a future shipment. This was the first time we didn’t use Priority Mail when requesting our mail packet, and with the holidays, it just took too long to arrive. Lesson learned: we will always request Priority Mail on future mail forwarding requests.

Our route from Glendale AZ to Pilot Knob LTVA in Winterhaven, CA

We had a nice drive on our travels, stopping for lunch in Gila Bend in the large parking lot of a Shell station. Honestly, one of my favorite parts of this lifestyle are our lunches in random parking lots–it’s so cool to have our refrigerator, stove, dining table, and kitchen sink right there with us in climate-controlled comfort while we watch the big trucks and other travelers come and go. We prepared our normal lunch, washed the dishes, and then hit the road again.

We made a final stop for gasoline at a Love’s station in Yuma, knowing that the gas prices would be much higher once we crossed the state line into California. We paid $2.54/gallon at Love’s, and the price at the Chevron station just outside our new campsite in California is $4.79/gallon. We will definitely be driving the seven miles back into Yuma when we need to fill up the gas tank.

The next tricky part of the trip was going through the agricultural inspection station right before we got to our campground. When arriving in California, your vehicle can be inspected for fresh fruits and vegetables that might be carrying diseases or pests that can contaminate and possibly cause financial loss to the California farming areas. As I mentioned above, we had just bought groceries before leaving Glendale, and we had plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in the RV. We didn’t want to toss them out without at least trying to see if they would let us keep them.

When we got to the inspection station, they were pretty much just waving the passenger cars through. But when Andy pulled the RV up to the inspector, the guy asked him if he was carrying any fruits or vegetables, and hey, we’re not gonna lie. Andy told him what we had and told him he was welcome to come inside the RV to check it out, which he did. The inspector was especially interested in the oranges, which we had purchased at Walmart and did not have stickers on them showing the origin. However, I guess he didn’t think it was worth the hassle, because he said “Those look like California oranges to me”, and let us go through. Whew!!

The Pilot Knob BLM site is just about a mile past the inspection station, and we pulled in about 3:30 PM PST (we also changed time zones and gained an hour when we hit California). We met the camp host, a nice lady named Joann, who told us that even though the BLM is shut down, they had contacted her and told her that they should still collect the fees. The LTVA is all dispersed camping, meaning there are no designated campsites, you just look for a level area of open space and park your RV. It helps if you can find an area where the previous occupant might have left a fire ring of rocks, indicating that it’s probably a good level place to camp. We found a nice spot, although it took us a little time to position the RV where it was as level as possible, then went back to the entrance to pay our annual $180 fee and get our permit stickers for the vehicles.

Setting up camp at sunset at Pilot Knob LTVA

We can see I-8 from our campsite, but there’s really not a lot of traffic noise. There is also a train track running along the interstate, and we can definitely hear the train horns but after awhile you don’t notice them. Finally, there is a military base near here, so we get some flyovers of helicopters from time to time.

We were afraid the LTVA would be crowded already with snowbirds, but Joann told us that it hasn’t been nearly as crowded this year as it has been in the past. She said that the younger people aren’t coming here like the older ones did. Fine with me, more space for us! There are some beautiful big rigs parked here, as well as some older, smaller trailers and vans. We love the variety of neighbors, especially since there’s plenty of space and privacy around us.

Our new desert campsite by the mountains

So that’s where we are this morning, in the BLM Pilot Knob LTVA located in Winterhaven, California. We have no idea how long we will stay in this one location. We are paid up through April, but will most likely move up closer to Quartzsite, Arizona to the La Posa LTVA once the huge crowds leave at the end of January. One drawback to our current location is that there is no dump station or water spigots in the campground, although there are facilities fairly close by with those amenities, sometimes for a fee. If we move to the LTVA in Quartzsite, they do have those amenities available in the campground itself, included in the permit that we’ve already purchased.

Today we’re going to relax and enjoy our new surroundings. Andy is going to work on getting our solar system up and running now that we’re back in the sunshine.

I want to send a special shout-out to my Dad. Yesterday as we were driving into Yuma, I briefly caught a glimpse of a text message notification that popped up momentarily on my iPhone which was, at the time, being used for navigation. All I saw in that quick glance was “am at the ER in Tupelo with your dad“. As soon as we got stopped at the Love’s station, I checked the text and found that my 82-year-old Daddy was in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. I managed to get in touch with Mom to get details, and long story short, he had a successful surgery and this morning he’s on his way home with very minimal pain or discomfort. Hooray! Love you, Daddy!

This is the one regret I have about this lifestyle–not being close to family for events like this. When we lived in Tupelo, we were able to quickly drive to the hospital to be with family members when they were sick. Fortunately that doesn’t happen very often, and none of us should put our lives on hold just waiting for some catastrophe to happen. But know this–if anyone in either of our families has an emergency and needs us, we will be on the next flight out to get back to them. We will figure it out. We will make it happen. We both love our families and miss them while we’re on the road!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads to keep up with what we’re doing between blog posts. And feel free to share this blog with your family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV life!

Expense Report for September-October 2018

Happy Halloween!

This is the report that several people have requested, and which we had always planned to include on the blog. Today we’re going to talk about what it costs us to live this lifestyle.

First, a couple of caveats. Every RVer is different–different rig, different diet, different interests–so our expenses are unique to us. Also, I’m not going to share every single personal expense that we incur each month, but only the ones that are directly related to our RV life in some way.

Now, a quick recap of where we’ve been for the last two months, as this directly impacts how we spent our money.

On September 1, we pulled in to the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston, Texas, where we spent the entire month. The RV did not move except for one day when we had to drive it into town to get it inspected in order to have it registered in Texas. We paid the monthly rate of $340 for the RV site, rather than the nightly rate, plus a separate charge for electricity which was metered at the site.

Parked in site #60 at Escapees Rainbow’s End

We left Livingston on October 1 and headed to New Mexico, which meant we drove a lot more miles, using more fuel, in both the RV and the truck. Since we’ve been in New Mexico, we’ve moved around several times, mostly staying at state parks. We bought the annual pass for $225 which allows us to stay in any state park campsite for free, plus $4/night if we have electrical hookups which we always opt for if they are available.

That said, here’s how the expenses stacked up.

Camping fees + Electricity

September: $439 (1 location for the entire month)

October: $323 (7 different locations, but primarily in state parks at $4/night.) We bought the $225 annual pass for the New Mexico State Parks which is actually good for 13 months. For purposes of this monthly expense report, we’re pro-rating that cost over 13 months.

Staking our claim to Site #79, best site in the campground.

Fuel for the RV

September: $61 (Drove 302 miles, 7.5 MPG including 10-12 hours of generator use the night before we arrived in Livingston.)

October: $452 (Drove 1,335 miles, 8.3 MPG)

Fuel for the Truck

September: $159 (20.1 MPG)

October: $245 (21.5 MPG)

groceries

September: $444

October: $499

Interesting note: We’re paying less for groceries on the road than we did in our sticks-and-bricks home for a couple of reasons. First, Mississippi charges sales tax on groceries where Texas and New Mexico do not, so that’s a 7.5% savings right off the bat. Second, since we have a lot less storage space, we are a lot more careful about planning our meals and avoiding waste. We primarily eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet so we buy a lot of fresh produce and whole grains, along with wine/beer. We buy very little processed foods in boxes and cans (although we do buy canned beans and tomatoes), and we’ve recently developed a dangerous addiction to the $.50 mini-pies at Walmart!

Typical lunch–homemade hummus with raw veggies for dipping

dining out

September: $217

October: $194

These numbers include coffees and snacks that we buy when we’re really there just to use the wi-fi. 🙂

Black bean veggie burger at Phoenix Saloon in New Braunfels

household / furnishings

September: $72

October: $52

These numbers include things like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, small household items for the kitchen, etc.

petcare

September: $73

October: $45

These numbers include cat food, litter, treats and the occasional toy for our two kitties, Maggie and Molly. Will also include vet visits when needed.

verizon cellphone / internet

September: $245

October: $245

These numbers include a prorated charge for the purchase of our iPhones when we bought them last fall. We both have the iPhone 8+ which we use for internet access as well as hotspot wi-fi for the laptop and the Roku. We are on the unlimited data plan which gets throttled before we get through the month. Once the phones are paid off next fall, the monthly charge should drop significantly unless the plan rates go up.

mail forwarding

September: $0

October: $12

We did not need to have any mail forwarded to us in September because we were staying at the Escapees park in Livingston where our mail service is located, and we could just pick up our mail daily. In October we had one batch of mail forwarded to us in Albuquerque that also included our absentee ballots for the November election, for which there was an extra $10 handling charge.

Main post office in Albuquerque

Laundry

September: $25

October: $7

We had to do laundry more often in September due to the high humidity in Texas–our clothes got smellier faster, and so did the laundry bag. Here in the cooler, drier climate of New Mexico, we can go longer between laundry days.

attractions / entertainment

September: $80

October: $84

These numbers include our subscriptions to Netflix, Audible, and Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited book plan, as well as entrance fees to places we visit.

memberships

September: $0

October: $60 (annual renewal for Costco membership)

Equipment for RV

September: $77 (water hose/nozzle, roll of reflectix, 6-gallon fresh water jug)

October: $207 (new surge protector to replace one that got fried in a thunderstorm, two vent covers for the roof, extra set of leveling blocks, and other miscellaneous items)

Installing covers over our vents and fan

RV Maintenance & REpairs

September: $4

October: $46 (kit to repair leaky toilet, new gasket seal for bathroom roof vent)

truck maintenance & repairs

September: $12 (plate holder for Texas tag on the front bumper)

October: $0

Vehicle insurance

September: $97

October: $97

We have insurance through Progressive and get a multi-vehicle discount. Right now we’re paying $57/mo for the RV and $40/mo for the truck.

VEhicle License and registration

September: $39

October $39

Of course we paid the annual license and registration up front in September but for expense tracking purposes, I’m prorating it across the year. It’s $22/mo for the RV and $17/mo for the truck.

Summary

So those are our RV living expenses for the last two months:

September Total: $2,043

October Total: $2,605

It obviously makes a huge difference whether you’re moving around a lot or staying in one location for an extended length of time. We’re in the process of planning our itinerary for November, and it will likely include more time in New Mexico state parks at $4/night, and then our first forays into dry camping or boondocking as we head toward the warmer weather in the Arizona desert.

We’ll continue to closely monitor our expenses and will report them here on a monthly basis. So if you’re interested, be sure to subscribe to this blog so you get all our updates. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads.

 

Turning 60 in Albuquerque and Santa Fe NM

When we first began talking seriously about becoming full-time RVers, I set a couple of personal goals. I wanted to be on the road full-time by the time I reached 60, and I wanted to spend my 60th birthday in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Both of those goals were accomplished as of Wednesday!

We left the Leasburg Dam State Park on Tuesday morning around 10:30 after stopping to dump the tanks. We drove north on I-25 toward Albuquerque, stopping for lunch at a rest stop near Fort Craig. The rest stop itself wasn’t much to look at, but it just happened to be near a historic site on the El Camino Real trail (for my friends in Mississippi, the El Camino Real is similar to the old historic Natchez Trace). There was a huge metal and glass sculpture standing on a small hill out in the desert, so in spite of the cold wind, I just had to hike out to see it.

Camino de Sueños (Road of Dreams) by Greg E. Reiche, 2005

The sculpture is made of metal and turquoise-colored glass. Based on its orientation, I would assume that both the sunrise and the sunset would shine through the glass, giving it a beautiful glow. Unfortunately we were there in the middle of an overcast day, so I have no way of verifying that.

We arrived at our destination, Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post in Albuquerque, just after 4:00 PM. It was cold, overcast and windy, and the site wasn’t exactly level, but we got set up as quickly as possible and hunkered down inside the RV.  We turned on our little electric space heater (why run our propane furnace when we’re already paying for electricity, right?), and we were able to stay toasty warm.

On Wednesday, I hit the big 6-0, and we made a day-trip to Santa Fe to celebrate. Our birthday celebrations tend to be pretty low-key by most standards–I was just happy to get to view the beautiful scenery on the hour-long drive north.

Our first stop in Santa Fe was lunch at a vegetarian restaurant that I found on the Happy Cow app. It’s called Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe, and it specializes in South Indian vegetarian and vegan dishes, along with vegan desserts. It’s located in a little strip center and doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this place was packed for lunch.

Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe in Santa Fe, NM

The inside of the cafe was very colorful and comfortable, as well as being a great place for people-watching. Their clientele is very diverse and obviously very loyal, so we saw some interesting characters while we dined there.

Inside Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe in Santa Fe, NM, just before the crowd arrived

I had a sampler platter of Indian dishes for lunch that was very tasty. Andy had the Mediterranean platter that included hummus and falafel, and declared it was some of the best he had ever tasted. For dessert, we split a slice of their homemade vegan coconut pie–this was not a cream pie, it was pure coconut and was delicious!

Vegan coconut pie at Annapurna’s

After lunch we drove into Old Town Santa Fe to do a little exploring and sight-seeing. Of course we visited the Palace of Governors where the Native Americans sell their jewelry on the sidewalk. Our first visit here was about 20 years ago when Andy was just getting started with his silversmithing hobby, and it was one of the sources of his inspiration. Now 20 years later, he was able to discuss techniques and materials with the artists as we admired their handiwork.

Andy (@silverlap) admiring a heavy copper bracelet with the artist

We walked around downtown a little longer, visiting the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and more of the little shops. NOTE #1: Living in a small RV helps remove the temptation to spend money on needless “stuff” because there’s nowhere to put it!

Inside the Cathedral of St. Francis

For our final stop, we went to Starbucks so I could get my free birthday drink, and also  so that we could use their wi-fi to run back-ups on our iPhones and download updates to some of the software on my laptop. Well, that didn’t work out so well. We used the Starbucks app to find the nearest location, but when we arrived there we found that it only had outdoor seating. Nice concept, but it was very cool and windy, so we decided to try another location.

We got to the second location which was right back downtown where we had started from. When we went to the counter to order, we were told that they don’t honor the Starbucks rewards because they aren’t a regular licensed Starbucks, but are more like the Starbucks in the Barnes and Nobles stores. We went ahead and ordered anyway, but I missed out on my free drink. And their wi-fi was pitifully slow, so we were there for a couple of hours before all my downloads finished. NOTE #2: Living on the road makes you really appreciate high-speed internet, if you can find it.

But I really enjoyed my day in Santa Fe, especially getting to chat with Mom and Dad by phone while at Starbucks.

Yesterday (Thursday) was busy also, but it was mostly errands and chores. After a late breakfast, we did three loads of laundry here at the RV park. While the clothes were tumbling, I enjoyed checking out the vintage trailers and Hudson automobiles that they have on-site here at the RV Park. These trailers are actually available for rent here at the park, and are so cute.

Vintage trailers and Hudson automobiles here at Enchanted Trails RV Park

After lunch we drove in to Albuquerque, and first visited the post office to pick up our first packet of forwarded mail from our Escapees mail service in Livingston, Texas. It was mostly junk mail, but it did include our absentee ballots for the upcoming election, so we’ll be voting in the next couple of days. NOTE #3: It’s easy to get your mail on the road if you have a good mail forwarding service.

Main post office in Albuquerque

After picking up our mail we went to Walmart for grocery shopping, and then to Costco for a few other things, primarily the cats’ dry food. Our last stop was at Camping World to get an extra set of leveling blocks and a couple of maintenance items for Lizzy.  After returning to the rig and putting the groceries away, Andy whipped up one of his huge chopped salads to last us for the next few days. We ate leftovers for dinner and then I turned in about 7:30–I was so tired! NOTE #4–You do tend to get tired more easily at higher altitudes when you’re used to living near sea level.

So today, we’ll be leaving Albuquerque and heading back south. Our destination today is Percha Dam State Park where we have reservations for two nights. I doubt we’ll stay there any longer than that, as we’re leaning toward trying to get into one of the other state parks in the area that have nicer facilities, where we can hopefully snag a first-come, first-served spot near the water. We’ll see how that goes.

Life is good, we’re happy and healthy, and we’re loving New Mexico.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram at Instagram/JustCallUsNomads for updates between our blog posts!

The Cost of Being Texan

Today we made a lot of progress toward getting our Texas domicile established. It wasn’t cheap, and we still have a couple of things left to do, but we got a lot done today.

Our new Texas license plates

We actually took the first steps before we even closed on the sale of the house by obtaining a Texas address through the Escapees mail service. This provided us with a street address to use for forwarding our mail from our old address in Tupelo, Mississippi. Since we’ve been parked in the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park for the past ten days, we’ve been able to pick up our mail every weekday at their headquarters building here at the park.

Since we had obtained a Texas residential address, we were able to start shopping for vehicle insurance to cover the RV and our Tacoma pickup. We had heard that Progressive Insurance was RV-friendly, and they are one of the few insurers who offer policies specifically for people who live full-time in their RVs, sort of a combination vehicle and home-owner policy.

I actually contacted Progressive by phone yesterday (Sunday) after using their website to get a quote. I was prepared to purchase the RV policy, but when the agent entered Andy’s drivers license information, she said it was showing that his license was invalid. Well, that wasn’t good!! She advised us to contact the Mississippi motor vehicles office today to get it cleared up. Needless to say, that was a little worriesome.

After thinking about it last night, I came to the conclusion that the agent had to have entered something incorrectly in her system, so this morning I pulled up the quote that I had saved and went through the purchase process online rather than calling an agent. And there was no problem at all with Andy’s license. After purchasing the policy for the RV, I repeated the process to purchase a policy for the Tacoma and then downloaded all the ID cards and other documents for the policies.

So at this point, we had documentation that our vehicles were insured in Polk County, Texas, at a specific address.

The next step was to get both vehicles inspected. In Texas, a vehicle safety inspection is required before you can obtain a vehicle tag. You have to locate a business that is certified to handle the inspections for the type of vehicle that you own–you can either download the list from the Internet or just look for the sign on the front of the business.

So we headed out of the RV park about 10:30 AM, but first we made a stop at the Livingston Public Library where we printed out paper copies of the insurance documents in case we needed them. Lots of places will now accept documents on your phone, but you never know.

We then took the Tacoma to have it inspected (we decided to have the truck done first just to make sure we understood the process before taking the RV in). We went to the Pennzoil oil change shop in Livingston, where they took the truck for a quick test drive to check the brakes, checked the lights, horn, etc. and then pronounced it safe to drive.

We drove back to the RV park and decided to go ahead and take the RV in for its inspection since the forecast was calling for rain for the rest of the week. Moving the RV means we have to unhook the electricity, water and sewer, stow away anything that can go flying off the countertops or out of the cabinets, and we also stress out two cranky cats; so we don’t move the RV unless it’s necessary. But this was one of those times when we had no choice–the inspection had to be done.

Lizzy in the RV park before we unhooked her

The location where we had taken the Tacoma earlier for inspection had a very small parking lot on a busy street, plus they were closed between noon and 1:00 PM. We wanted to find a place that had more manuevering space for the RV and that was open during the lunch hour. I checked online and found a local Ford dealership that handles Texas vehicle inspections, and they were open at lunchtime so we decided to take it there.

We drove about nine miles to the dealership, only to be told that they did not handle RVs. So we decided to head back into Livingston and return to the Pennzoil shop even if it did have a small parking lot and we would have to wait for them to return from lunch. But on the way over there, we found another place that did inspections.

This was a little shop that specializes in window tinting, but they also handle inspections. Without going into detail, I’ll just say that the process was much less “involved” than getting the Tacoma inspected, and we had our documents in hand in no time flat. Just sayin’.

We drove the RV back to the park and got everything reconnected, and then had a late lunch of salad and black beans. By then it was almost 2:30 PM and some dark clouds were moving in, but we decided to drive back into Livingston and take care of getting the title transfer, registration and tags.

We got to the tax assessor’s office just before the downpour started. We had all our documents in hand–Mississippi titles, proof of insurance, inspection reports, photo ID. For the RV, we had to have a photo of the RV as well as documentation of the vehicle weight. I had a photo of Lizzy on my phone as well as a photo of the sticker inside the driver’s side door that gives the weight information, and we were able to just email those photos to the tax assessor for them to print out.

Door sticker information from our RV

She gave us the application forms to complete, which were pretty straight forward except for that part about the weight. They wanted the “empty weight” of both the RV and the pickup, and we didn’t have that information. We only had the GVWR, which is the total weight that the vehicles are rated for.

We gave them the information that we had, and then they actually got online and tried to find the “empty weight” for the RV–they weren’t able to find it either. So they finally wound up just taking the GVWR instead, since it was all we had. They were very nice and helpful, and we walked out of the office with our Texas license plates and our registration/inspection stickers for the windshield. We haven’t put them on the vehicles yet because of the rain, but we’ll get them installed this week.

So–the big question–what did all this cost?

A lot.

Here’s what we spent today.

Insurance:
$682 – 12 months paid in advance for the RV
$262 – 6 months paid in advance for the truck
(We saved a significant amount of money by paying in advance instead of monthly.)

Inspections:
$14 – $7 each for the two vehicles

License, registration, title transfer:
$252.75 – RV
$193.50 – truck
(Note: Includes $90 each for RV and truck listed as “new resident fee” on the application, but listed as “sales tax fee” on the receipt. Hmmm….)

Add to all that the $2.50 we spent at the library to print our insurance documents, our total spending today to become Texans came to $1,406.75.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, y’all!

Tomorrow, we’ll see what it costs to get our driver’s licenses!

Pancakes with Boogie / Lake Livingston

As you know, we are currently parked at the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston, Texas. One of the advantages of staying at a large RV park are the amenities that you won’t find in most state parks, and certainly not in a boondocking location. For instance, we have enjoyed using the pool almost every morning this week, especially after taking a 3-mile walk in the heat and humidity.

But yesterday we discovered a new perk for staying in this park, and that’s the Saturday morning all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. It’s held in the Care Center dining room and costs $5 per person, which includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, coffee, cereal, etc. It’s a bargain!

It’s served from 7:30-9:00 AM which means Andy has to get up earlier than usual, but for all-you-can-eat pancakes, he’ll gladly make the extra effort.

We got to the Care Center about 8:15, paid our $10 and ordered our pancakes and eggs (of course we skipped the meat). They gave us a choice between plain and blueberry pancakes, and we chose blueberry. The pancakes were large and perfectly griddled, with tons of blueberries. The scrambled eggs were good too, and we added some coffee and grape juice to our meal.

As we were finishing our meal, we were joined at our table by a gentleman named Kevin, who goes by Boogie. I don’t know about you, but when some random person asks if they can join me at my dining table, I’m not exactly enthusiastic about inviting them in, no matter how politely I may respond to them. But in this case, I’m so glad Boogie decided to join us.

As Boogie got seated, he immediately began to recite details of his life story, almost as if he were reading a script, and for good reason. He is paralyzed on the left side of his body with no use of his left arm, although he has trained himself to walk haltingly with supports added to his left leg. He said that he knows people look at him and wonder what’s “wrong” with him, so he wants to just go ahead and tell his story and get it out in the open to put other people at ease.

And what a story!

At age 29 while living in Colorado, he had a motorcycle accident which left him in a coma for 2-1/2 months and resulted in his paralysis. He had a traumatic brain injury, and had to learn to walk, talk and swallow all over again. While he was in a coma, his fiancee left him.

Several years later, while tending a campfire, he stumbled and fell into the fire, landing on his left (paralyzed) side, so he couldn’t move to get himself out of the fire. He received severe burns over 40% of his body, down to the bones and organs. He received skin grafts and was put into a medically induced coma for recovery.

He didn’t let either of these horrific incidents keep him down. He learned to drive, got a 5th wheel travel trailer, and found a spot in the Colorado Rockies where he lived on his own for years. He had (and still has) cats as companions. One evening his cat had jumped up on the stove. He scolded the cat and it jumped back down. The next morning, Boogie stepped outside to “take a piss”, then came back inside the trailer and proceeded to light the stove for breakfast. Unknown to him, the cat had managed to nudge the gas knob on the stove so the trailer had filled with gas, and when he went to light it, he was blown backwards through the door of the trailer into the yard.

Boogie told us that as a result of these and other events, he is on his 8th life now. Despite his handicaps, he remains positive and continues to find ways to survive on his own. His goal is to eventually buy a pontoon boat and return to Lake Powell to live, but right now he’s living in his small RV right next to the Care Center where he can get assistance with things that he’s just not able to do on his own.

Kudos to the Escapees organization for providing a place where full-time RVers can come to live when they are no longer able to live independently on the road. The Care Center is a godsend for these people.

After having a good breakfast and great conversation, I took my morning walk, had a nice shower and a good lunch, and then Andy and I did some exploring. We drove to Lake Livingston State Park, paid our $10 entry fee, and spent about an hour or so checking out the facilities and campgrounds. At some point in our travels over the coming years, I can see us staying at this park on our way through Texas.

After becoming accustomed to the laid-back administration of the Mississippi state parks, it was almost jarring to see how professionally the Texas parks are managed, although that also means that there are a lot more fees for users. There were uniformed park staff in abundance, a park store with a ranger doing a live interactive demonstration of bee-keeping, and lots of people kayaking, canoeing and boating. However, I was surprised at how many open campsites we saw on a Saturday afternoon. There was plenty of availability for both RVs and tent campers.

Water sports on Lake Livingston

Lake Livingston was created by a dam built on the Trinity River. We wanted to get a good look at the dam, and finally found a spot where we could view it by stopping on a highway bridge and pulling off to the shoulder. Needless to say, we got some angry honks from other drivers, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to get the photo.

Lake Livingston dam on the Trinity River

Last night we finally got the rain that they’ve been forecasting for days. It rained heavily for about 90 minutes, and then pretty much stopped by the time we went to bed. No severe weather, just plenty more moisture to raise the humidity levels, but at least the temperatures are supposed to be lower for the next few days.

Have a great week, everyone. And stay positive like Boogie!!

A Good Kind of Mistake

Today I found out I had made a big mistake. And it turns out that things are a lot better than we thought they were.

If you remember from my last post, we had checked the electric meter on our site and found, to our horror, that we had already incurred over $42 of electricity expense in just three days. This was based on the opening meter reading that the front office provided us at check-in, and the current meter reading at the time we checked it three days later.

As I mentioned, I had created a spreadsheet to compute the charges we were accruing at 12.38 cents per kWh used. The spreadsheet works great. My typing, however, not so much.

On the spreadsheet I entered the opening meter reading as 7693.

Today we were discussing some of the activities that take place here at the RV park, and I picked up the printed materials that they gave us at check-in, to which the electric meter form was attached. As I glanced at the form, something about the opening meter reading just caught my eye and alarm bells went off.

The opening meter reading on the form was actually 7963, not 7693. That’s a difference of 270 kWh, or $33.43.

Yes, I had transposed the number when I set up my spreadsheet. What a dork!!

So I corrected the spreadsheet and re-checked the meter. As of this evening, we have actually accrued electricity charges of $16.09 over the past five days and nights.

That, I can live with.

In the past two days of panic, we cut way back on our electricity use. We learned to conserve power, we ran the fans instead of the air conditioner for most of the day until it got up to 90°, and we made use of the pool to cool off.

Once we found out that we weren’t consuming nearly as much electricity as we thought we were, we breathed a sigh of relief and turned the A/C back on. But as a result of this transposition error, we have become much more conscious of our power consumption. Yes, our final bill is going to be much less than we thought, but at the same time we want to keep it as low as possible.

So, we won’t be keeping the RV as cool as we were originally, especially at night. Additionally, we went to Lowe’s today and picked up a roll of Reflectix insulation to put in the windows that face the afternoon sun. Reflectix is a product that almost every RVer uses to reduce the temperature inside their rig. Today we cut pieces to fit both the driver’s and passenger’s side windows in the cab, as well as the big window over our dinette. We could immediately feel the difference as the sun’s heat was blocked by the Reflectix from entering the RV. We plan to cut pieces for additional windows as needed.

Installing Reflectix in the cab windows to reduce heat in the rig

And speaking of the pool, it’s been really nice to have that amenity available to us even if we weren’t trying to conserve electricity. Yesterday I went to take a swim after I finished my morning walk. It was about 9:45 AM, and I didn’t realize that there was a water aerobics class beginning at 10:00. The ladies talked me into sticking around for the class, and it was a hoot! I really enjoyed it, and as it turned out, it was a great workout. This morning I finished my walk a little earlier, and so Andy went with me to the pool so we could enjoy a nice swim before the class started. We’ll definitely be using the pool on a regular basis while we’re here, although we won’t be regular participants in the class. After all, I don’t own a pool noodle. LOL

We’re still trying to get things organized inside the RV. We got the Roku hooked up to the TV so we can watch Netflix and YouTube via the hotspot on our Verizon phones. There is very little TV reception here in the park, so we haven’t even raised our TV antenna. The biggest challenge is when it comes to meal preparation–I have to climb up on the dinette to retrieve things from the overhead compartment storage, sometimes having to shift bins around to reach things like the Instant Pot which are stored further back.

But that hasn’t stopped us from preparing delicious, healthy meals. We’ve been grocery shopping at three different stores in Livingston to find the best produce, and so far we’re sticking to our whole foods, plant based diet, eating lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Our goal is to stay healthy on the road for as long as possible.

We plan to start working on our domicile requirements next week, along with doing some sight-seeing in the area. There’s not much to do or see around Livingston, but we plan to make our way to some of our old stomping grounds around Houston, Galveston, Huntsville State Park, etc. over the next few weeks.

And now we have no problem leaving the A/C running for the kitties while we explore.

Amazing how one little transpositional error can cause so much consternation!

Whew!!

Welcome to Rainy Texas!

It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re snuggled in the RV with the kitties, having a cup of coffee while the rain pours down outside. Welcome to rainy Texas where we’re under a flash flood watch (so much for the Burn Ban signs we saw on the way in).

We left our Harvest Hosts location at Landry Vineyards around 10 AM yesterday morning after enjoying a peaceful morning overlooking the grapevines. Andy took a walk around the property and snapped some great photos.

Look closely to the left of the tan building and you can see Lizzy! Photo cred: Andy

From there we made our way through Shreveport, LA, and then turned southwest toward Livingston, TX. Along the way we stopped at a Love’s Truck Stop where we re-fueled the vehicles and also fixed lunch for ourselves.

We arrived at the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park yesterday just after 4:30, a bit later than expected, but safely nonetheless. We really need to have a talk with Apple about their maps/navigation app. The last five miles of the trip, Siri had us on a little tiny country lane with tiny wooden bridges over little streams. Needless to say, Andy was pretty stressed by the time we got here, and I was stressed from driving behind him, watching him maneuver those little bridges.

Ah well, we wanted adventure, right?

So we got checked in at the campground, got ourselves parked and hooked up, and then had a meal of heated-up, leftover spaghetti and some coleslaw. We were both pretty tired so we turned in early and slept like babies.

Parked in site #60 at Escapees Rainbow’s End

This morning we awoke to overcast skies and humid conditions (what else is new?). We had coffee and a light breakfast of fruit. I went for a long walk around the perimeter of the RV park–it took me almost an hour as it’s larger than it looks on the map. Many of the lots have permanent homes on them with RV garages. There is also a Care Center where full-time RVers can reside when they are too old or ill to travel or live on their own any longer, or even if they just need to stay temporarily to recover from a surgery, for instance. This is also the national headquarters of Escapees, and their mail forwarding service is located here. Any mail that is sent to our new address will come through the facility here and then be forwarded to us at whatever General Delivery location we provide to them.

After I returned from my walk, we both got showers. I used the shower in our rig, but Andy used the campground showers and said they were very nice and clean with plenty of hot water. I prefer to use our own shower just to avoid having to load up a bag with all my stuff to tote around, but since we keep the cats’ litter box in the shower, we always have to move the box and clean up any scattered litter before we can turn on the water. I think it’s worth it, though, as long as we’re in a spot with full hookups.

We decided to drive into Livingston to do some grocery shopping and to also have lunch at the top-rated (on Yelp!) Mexican restaurant in town, Patron Grill. The minute we walked in the place, we felt so at home and remembered why the “Mexican” restaurants in Tupelo just never satisfied us. There were the Christmas lights strung all over the place, the sizzle of the fajita skillets being delivered to the tables. The salsa was warm, not cold, and there was that delicious green sauce to go with it.

Oh, yeah, welcome back to Texas!!

Of course, we don’t eat meat anymore, but they were able to accommodate us with a bowl of delicious guacamole, veggie fajitas, bean burrito, and black beans and rice. There was even a self-serve ice cream machine on the way out. We left stuffed and happy.

From there we went to Walmart to fill up three of our one-gallon water jugs with filtered drinking water (we don’t like to take chances drinking the water at the campsites, although we cook and clean with it). Next we went grocery shopping at HEB, another Texas staple, since they were reputed to have better produce than Walmart. They didn’t disappoint on the produce, but they didn’t have a couple of items that we wanted, so we’ll have to go back to Walmart or possibly try a different grocery in the next few days.

Both Walmart and HEB were packed and busy, and we couldn’t figure out why, since it was a Sunday afternoon, and then we remembered that tomorrow is Labor Day. Everyone is prepping for those holiday cookouts, although it’s looking like they’re going to be a little soggy.

So, we’re enjoying a quiet afternoon at home. I’ve spent some time online submitting address changes to various accounts. Andy’s been watching videos, and the kitties have been sleeping. It’s almost time to get started on dinner–tonight the menu is collard greens, baked sweet potato and corn.

We don’t have any real plans for tomorrow since the weather is pretty iffy. But that’s the way we like it, playing it by ear from now on.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s been a little over four weeks since I turned in my notice at work and started going public with our plans to sell everything and travel full time in our RV.

Everyone is very supportive, a few admit they’re jealous, many say they plan to do the same thing in the future. So far no one has tried to convince us that we’re crazy (we’re not). But we do get some questions, although not really the questions that I expected.

Here are the top three questions that people are asking about our plans:

#3 – Are you going to tow your Prius behind the RV?

Answer: No, we are selling our Prius (sad face) and we are keeping our Tacoma instead. It would have been nice to have the fuel economy of the Prius when we go driving on sight-seeing expeditions, but unfortunately the Prius cannot be towed flat (a.k.a. four-down), and we don’t want to fool with putting it on a trailer. The Tacoma will be used as a chase vehicle which I will drive behind the RV. Since we have a camper shell on the Tacoma, it gives us some additional storage space that will come in very handy as our RV is only 24′ long. It’s all about compromises.

#2 – Do the cats like RVing?

Answer: We have two cats, Maggie Mae and Molly Ann, and yes, they do enjoy RVing AFTER we get to a stopping place and get settled in. They still aren’t that fond of riding in a moving vehicle. But once we get to a campsite, they get a lot more attention and lap-time than they ever get in our sticks-and-bricks home. They are both strictly indoor cats and are very lazy, so we will not be letting them roam around outside the RV. They each have their favorite hiding spots during the day, and at night they tend to pile up in the bed with us (mostly on top of me). In their short lives, they’ve lived in Arizona, Indiana and Mississippi, so they’re not surprised when we decide to shake things up a little.

And the most asked question of all is:

#1 – Do you know what your first destination is going to be?

Answer: Yes we do. As soon as we close on the sale of our house (currently scheduled for August 29), we will be headed for Livingston, Texas where we have reservations at the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park. Once we sell our house we won’t have a physical address, so our first few weeks in Livingston will be devoted to establishing our residency, or “domicile”, as citizens of Texas. We’ll get a new physical address through the Escapees organization, get our vehicles inspected and registered in Texas, get our Texas drivers licenses and insurance, set up new bank accounts, and do a few other things to indicate our intention to make Texas our new “home”. All full time RVers have to go through this process in order to meet legal requirements for the IRS and other government entities. Most choose Texas, South Dakota or Florida as their domicile state because these states  do not have a state income tax, and are generally friendlier to RVers who want to establish residency. We also chose Texas because it’s on the route between Arizona, where we’ll spend a lot of time, and Mississippi, where we’ll be coming back to for family visits.

So those are the answers to our top 3 most frequently asked questions.

Speaking of the sale of our house, the process is continuing along at light speed. The appraiser was here today to look things over and should submit his findings before the end of the week. After that, only the termite inspection will remain.

We’ve been posting furniture for sale on Facebook Marketplace with great success. Last Sunday we sold our huge entertainment center, our leather sofa, and our coffee table,  within hours after posting the ads on FB. Today I posted ads for our dining room furniture and our microwave hutch. It seems like the ads do better on the weekend, but we’ll see what happens (today is Tuesday).

The strange part of all of this is that we aren’t spending any time at all in the RV right now. Lizzy is parked in the storage lot, just biding her time. Andy visits her once or twice a week to fire up the generator and run the engine and the air conditioner for a little while, just to keep things in good operating order. But it seems like years since we made our last trip in April, and I’m getting really antsy to start the move-in process. We still have so much to do in the next few weeks, but we’re definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

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.