Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Friday, December 30, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We left Gulf Shores, Alabama at 5 am on Dec. 21st for the sixteen hour drive to Wisconsin. Our fifth wheel stayed behind, as it is too cold in Wisconsin to bring him along for Christmas. We stayed a few nights at our son Eric's house and a few night's at my mom's house with Korey and Cathryn. The drive was long, but uneventful. We arrived in Wisconsin around 9 pm on Wednesday night and saw plenty of snow on the ground.

Korey and Cathryn drove from Nebraska on Friday, Dec. 23rd. They had a pretty stressful drive with snow most of the way. Luckily, they arrived safely and we all went out for a fish fry on Friday night. The snow sure was pretty. Here's my mom's backyard.

We had a great time visiting with family and friends. Christmas Eve and Day were spent with our kids and my mom and brother and his wife. Lots of laughs and love. Here are a few pictures.

My little brother Ron and his wife Laura, and Kevin and myself.

My side of the family.

There is a house in the town my mom lives in that has gone all out with Christmas decorating for many years. We drove past, and I got a kick out of the neighbor's house.

The week flew by, and before we knew it, it was time to go home again. We left early on the morning of Dec. 28th with a temperature of 14 degrees. By the time we arrived in Gulf Shores at 9 pm, it was 68 degrees with 99% humidity and fog. What an adjustment. We had to turn the air on to dehumidify for a bit. We were very happy to be home, find our fifth wheel in perfect shape, and sleep in our own bed again. It's always nice to visit, but it feels so good to be home again; even if your home is on wheels.

Tomorrow we leave Alabama and head to Fort Pierce, Florida for the month of January. We really enjoyed our stay at Gulf State Park. The park sure filled up while we were away. Lots of snow birds spend the winter here, but it is not warm enough for us. We're heading further south into Florida for the rest of the winter.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We wish you a Happy New Year and a peaceful 2017!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Decorating RV Style

We're in our seventh year of full time RVing, but that doesn't mean we don't decorate for Christmas. It's not as big or elaborate as when we owned a house, but it still makes us happy.  Here are a few pictures of decorations inside our fifth wheel. I have more; this is just a sample.

Here's the outside this year. It was a warm evening with a full moon adding to the Christmas lights.

We've spent Christmas at several different locations in our travels. It seems people in RV resorts do more decorating than at the state park we are at this year. However, there are a few RVs that are really lit up. Here are a few examples.

It's a little dark, but here's Santa in a hammock between two palm trees with presents in front.  Lots of decorations related to camping and RVing.

It was such a beautiful evening when I walked around to take the pictures. The full moon was shining through the huge pine trees. Natures own decoration.

Last Friday we went to a ranger guided walk at Gulf State Park Pier. We learned lots of interesting information about the state park, the pier, shore birds and Gulf fish and mammals.

Quite a few people were fishing off the pier, and plenty of birds were looking for a snack. We learned that this pelican is named Sam. He was rescued by the Nature Center in the park several years ago and treated for a broken wing. The band on his leg lets them know he is the same one. He's chosen to live at the pier since he was released back into the wild. He's very tame and quite the bandit.

He stole a fish right off of the rod of this lady. He's also been known to grab fish right out of the bucket. Here he is stalking her along with another pelican. They are both brown pelicans, but Sam has the white head which means he is at least three years old. Brown heads mean they are younger than three years old.

After he stole the fish off of her rod, he had some trouble getting it down his throat. He worked at it for a few minutes to get it in the right position to go down head first. Very interesting to watch.

There are plenty of alligators along the Gulf. The state park has several long time residents. This is Lefty who has been here for years. She hangs out in the same location year after year. One day we saw her with two babies on her back. We found out the babies were born near the end of August. Another day she was in the water, and her babies were hanging out along the shore. I think there were five babies, but they blend in so well, it was hard to tell. You can click on the pictures to enlarge if you don't see the babies.

We had quite a bit of rain last night. Alabama has been in a severe drought all summer, so this rain is really needed. Wednesday we leave for Wisconsin. I'm so looking forward to spending Christmas with family.  I did some holiday baking yesterday to share with everyone while Kevin watched football,

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

National Museum of Naval Aviation

Yesterday we drove about 30 miles to Pensacola, Florida to tour the National Museum of Naval Aviation. Admission, parking and tours are free. What a great place to learn about the history of aviation for the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. And, it is completely funded by private donations; no tax dollars used here. The plane out front is like the one in the movie Top Gun.

We got there just as a trolley tour was boarding to drive around and show visitors some of the planes parked outside. Unfortunately, the guide was very difficult to understand. We only were able to get less than half of what he was telling us.

Many of the planes have interesting histories. This plane was the only plane allowed to fly after all air traffic was halted on September 11, 2001. It brought firefighters from Georgia to New York to help with the rescue efforts.

Lots of the planes are kind of funny looking because their wings are folded up or back. That's common for many Navy planes so they take up less space on an aircraft carrier.

Many planes here have been rescued and restored. This one was pulled from the bottom of a reservoir in California. It will eventually be restored to like new condition. Hard to believe as its in lots of pieces right now.

After our trolley tour, we joined a walking tour of the museum. Our guide was Bob Thomas, a retired Navy pilot. He guided us through the museum for over 1.5 hours, and was excellent. He told us so much history of the planes. His tour made our visit so much more enjoyable.

The museum chronicles the history of planes from their invention through modern times. I didn't realize that planes were even a part of WWI. This was a WWI German fighter that was the best plane of its time.

This huge "flying boat" plane was the first to cross the Atlantic in 1919. Only ten of them were built. This is the only one left in the world.

The Navy is very proud of its Blue Angels. There are several displays about them. These four are hanging in the atrium. They can be viewed from below and above. Very cool.

Our guide, Bob, served aboard the USS Midway during the Vietnam War. He was part of the evacuation of Saigon. He told us a story we'd never heard before. After the US evacuated the embassy, lots of South Vietnamese helicopters flew out to the Midway with refugees. The Midway had over 4,000 refugees on board when all was said and done. Just before they were going to leave the area, a small Cessna plane flew over. The pilot dropped a note to the deck letting them know he was a South Vietnamese Air Force Major and had his wife and five children on the plane. He had one hour of fuel left and asked that they move the many helicopters on the deck so he could land his small plane.

The commander had his men push some of the choppers into the water to make room for them. This pilot had never landed on an air craft carrier, but he managed to land his plane and save his family. The crew were so moved by the event, that they raised over $10,000 in a day to help them. The family ended up settling in Florida where they opened a restaurant; and all five children attended college. The small plane was shipped to this museum, and has been on display here ever since.

We really enjoyed our visit. Many planes are the last of its kind left in the world. A great look into some of histories amazing moments.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Boat Parade

Last Saturday was Kevin's birthday, so we decided to go out for dinner. Fish River Grill #3 in Gulf Shores was our choice based on an ad I saw and reviews on Yelp. They claim to be the place where the locals eat and had some interesting menu items.

We had a coupon for a free fried green tomatoes appetizer, which we have never eaten before. It was pretty tasteless other than the breading. Their homemade crawfish sauce was very good on the tomatoes.

Kevin ordered a shrimp platter and I had the famous OMG Shrimp Po-boy which was chosen in the top 100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die. Our meals started out with swamp soup. It actually looked quite swampy, but was delicious. It had collard greens, black beans, white beans and a pork base. We also tried fried okra which was also rather bland. Both of us enjoyed our meals, but we weren't blown away by any of it. The picture is of the fried green tomatoes and the swamp soup.

The week before we had lunch at Fiddlefish in Orange Beach. They have a winter special from 11 to 3 on Wednesday and Thursday of all you can eat shrimp and fish for $10 plus half price drinks all day. That meal was outstanding. The breading was light and very tasty. Both the shrimp and fish were delicious. The shrimp was available fried or sauteed in a garlic butter sauce. Both were very good. We would definitely go back. The restaurant was located in a shopping area with this beautiful fountain.

After dinner on Kevin's birthday we went to The Wharf in Orange Beach. It's an entertainment complex with shopping, bars, restaurants, condos and a marina. We walked around for a little while waiting for the boat parade to start. They had some beautiful Christmas decorations.

It was pretty chilly out, about 40 degrees. This area has a Christmas Lighted Boat Parade on the inter coastal canal from Gulf Shores to Orange Beach. There were lots of cars and people lined up all along the canal. We parked at The Wharf and watched from the public viewing area. There were over 30 boats in the parade, some lit much more than others. It was pretty cool. Certainly not something we would ever see in Wisconsin. It was hard to get good pictures of the moving boats, but here are a few of my better efforts.

This one has Snoopy on his dog house being pulled by a group of Woodstock reindeer. On the front was a large Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

This one looked like a sleigh with reindeer at the front and presents on top. Very well done.

This was the last one and had two Santas and a bunch of other characters as well as singers.

We had a bit of a cold snap last week with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s for a few days. This week we're back up to the 70s. This afternoon we plan to golf again. We played last week, and I had one of my better rounds ever. I knew I was doing well, and let my nerves get the best of me on the last hole. Of well, it was still a terrific round.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gulf State Park Pier

On Tuesday we explored the Gulf State Park Pier. Upon check-in at the park, we had received a coupon for free admission to the pier. Otherwise, it's $3 per person to visit, and more to fish from the pier.

The original pier was built in 1968, but was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This new 1,540 foot pier was built a bit east of the old pier in 2008, and is the longest on the Gulf Coast.

We went on a warm and windy day to see the high surf. The tall buildings are part of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

There were several people fishing, and the pelicans were looking for a handout.

We've been keeping busy walking and bike riding. There are lots of trails to explore in the park. The other day we biked the Cotton Bayou Trail and discovered a cute primitive tenting area. The three tents look like the type you see in Civil War era movies with cots inside. Each has a solar panel in back to provide power for lights inside, a porch with chairs and a fire pit.

There is a communal wash station with a sink and hand pump.

A portable toilet is off to one side and there is an outdoor shower. Inside the shower is another hand pump with instructions to pump 100 times to fill the tank on top. I'm guessing the water is pretty cold. It would probably be smart to fill the tank in the morning, and shower later in the day. It looked like a fun place to camp when the nights are not too cold. You have to hike in 1.5 miles on the trail, and the cost is $50 per night.

As we were biking along the trail, two large birds flew up in front of us. One of them landed high up in a nearby pine tree. I couldn't believe I was seeing a great blue heron up in the tree. I've never seen one in a tree, and would have guessed they stay on the ground. I've only ever seen them on the beach or in marshes. The picture isn't the best, as I only had my cell phone camera with me.

Thanksgiving was pleasant, but quiet. I spoke to my mom and both of our boys, and then enjoyed some beautiful beach time while Kevin watched football. It was near 80 degrees that day.

Since then, we've had some much needed rain and it has cooled off a bit.

Last week we also played a round of golf at the course in the state park. It is a nice course, and not too difficult. We're going back tomorrow to play another round.

Today is December 1st, and there has been a steady flow of RVs coming into the park. I think some snowbirds are arriving. We'll be here until the end of the month, but are leaving for about a week to drive back home for Christmas. I'm looking forward to being with family for the holidays this year.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!