Another Gumby Strike!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

When we last wrote of our travels, we had just arrived at Oak Alley RV Resort in Webster, FL.  It was late afternoon on Saturday and as soon as we were minimally set up, we headed out on a walk of the park.  We really needed to stretch our legs after our 450 mile travel day.  We don’t usually like to drive that far in a day, preferring no more than 350-400 miles, but we traded out driving every two hours and were not too terribly tired when we arrived. The park walk was just what we needed.  Toward the back of the park was one of several retention ponds and we saw an eagle diving toward the water.  What a great welcome to the park!  Of course, this was not a photography outing so no camera, no picture.  Wouldn’t you know it.  That was the only time we saw an eagle in the park.  (We walked that area every day after that – with camera – but no eagle.)  As we continued our walk that first evening we also met Jackie and Bruce, two NOMADS friends.  We had a quick little visit with plans to get together later in our stays.  The next morning we also met another NOMADS friend Mary when we were all out for our morning walks and we caught up with her husband Phil at the pickle ball courts.  So great to already have friends at the resort.

Oak Alley is a resort.  One of the things they are known for is their pickleball courts (12) and pickleball instructor.  There are many classes from beginner, to advanced.  Anytime of the day if you pass the courts you will see people playing.  But pickleball is just one of many activities offered.  There are hundreds of activities planned such as ice cream socials, quilting and many more.  They also have different food trucks visit various days along with pot lucks, and other gatherings involving food.  Definitely the most active resort we have visited.  Also of note, was a wonderful community like atmosphere.  Everyone –  employees and RVers all seemed so friendly and nice. 

One of the dangers of staying at Oak Alley is the trail that leads from the park directly to Dough J’s Chicken and Donuts in Webster. In the week we were there we only visited it 3 or 4 times and both the fried chicken and pastries were delicious.

Sunday we of course worship with our home church and then checked out the club house and other amenities.  We attended the ice cream social with Mary and Phil Sunday night and many of us were outside watching another Space X rocket go into space.  This was a secret mission for US Space Force rather than one of the frequent launches of satellites for the Starlink system.  Always love to see the rocket launches.

Monday is flea market day in Webster.  We were told it’s the largest flea market in Florida.  They had everything – new, used, and swap meet items as well as large quantities of beautiful, tasty produce and homemade cookies, etc.  We walked there with our friends and many people from the park drove their golf carts.  It’s a huge event so parking is at a premium.  After the market we attended an excellent “Introduction to 3D printing” class presented by one of our fellow RVers. 

The Florida RV Super Show was this week and we choose to drive over to Tampa on Thursday.  We had a good time looking at new RV features, new designs etc as well as visiting all the vendor booths.  Our only purchase was a new thermostat for our rear AC/heat pump.  We have been to the Tampa show many times and now our favorite thing is meeting up with friends and visiting.  It was a good day.

Friday morning we installed our new thermostat and all is now working flawlessly.  We are so blessed we can take care of some of our RV repairs ourselves.  Friday afternoon we took the bikes about 4.5 miles to one of the trailheads of the Van Fleet trail.  This is a super 29.2 mile bike/hike trail in central Florida.  Almost immediately after beginning our ride we are riding by a swampy area and came upon two river otters playing.  Later we saw several large tortoise sunning on rocks in a lake and then on the way back we spotted smaller ones lounging beside the trail.  The Van Fleet is a great trail.  Flat – always a plus.  Partly to mostly shaded.  Paved in good condition.  Very quiet and peaceful ride.  No we didn’t do the entire 29.2 miles because we would have still had to ride 29.2 miles back.  We did between 6 and 7 miles and then returned to the truck.  Great ride and we intended to do more this week.

This brings us to where we are now.  We are now back at Camp Sumatanga in Alabama.  We left Oak Alley sooner than planned.  Remember RVers must be like Gumby – always flexible.  We drove back the 532 miles Monday so that Max could see our dentist on Tuesday at 8:00am. Thank you, Dr. Mac!  At 1:00 pm he had a root canal and is now on his way to recovery.  So blessed that we are always welcomed at Sumatanga when ever we need to be back in our home area. We will again be flexible for the next few weeks in determining when we will return to Florida to work our next NOMADS project.  Stay tuned to see where we turn up next. 

Our Last Week at Gulf State Park

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Our last week in Gulf State Park was mostly a beautiful week.  The first few days you could not have asked for better weather.  We spent our time on long hikes, walks on the beach, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and great bike rides.  Of course, we visited the eagles again and finally caught another “shift change” by the parents.  We are pretty sure that we have eaglets in the nest because we saw one of the parents bring in a fish and watched what appeared to be feeding of the little ones even though the eaglets are still so small we could not see them above the rim of the nest.  We also made our “required” visit to Foley.  Anne usually makes that visit early in our time at Gulf Shores but she made sure to visit the outlets before we left.  Of course, since we found a new to us shop – Stacey’s Olde Tyme Soda Fountain – while in old town Foley, we had to give it a try.  They make their own waffle cones – so very good.  Don’t think it will be our last visit.  We also had some surprises toward the end of the week.   First, the weather got cold again.  So, we began our time at the park back in December with record low temperatures and then ended our stay again with below freezing temps (not what we were expecting when we scheduled our little vacation.) 

We had an exciting surprise in the form of a message from Anne’s cousin Tom, telling us he was just down the street from us.  He and wife Tammy were at his mother-in-law’s condo.  They live in Indiana, so we don’t get in-person visits very often although we try to have a family zoom meeting about once a month.  We had a great lunch together on Friday before we had to return to Fred to prepare for our Saturday travel day.  It was such a treat to visit with Tom and Tammy and meet Tammy’s sweet mom.  It was a great ending to our Gulf Shores visit.

We pulled out of Gulf State Park Saturday morning at 6:30 since we had a long drive day to Webster, Florida.  Oak Alley RV Resort will be our home for about 17 days.  Wouldn’t you know it.  When we arrived about 5:30 Saturday evening, we were asked to leave the water faucet dripping and use our tank water for the next two nights as the prediction was for low temperatures of 31 degrees.  We are in central FL, not far from Tampa.  We are not supposed to have freezing temperatures in Florida!  Hope our RVing friends are having better luck finding appropriate temperatures this winter.  Oh, well.  The forecast for the week is looking good so we will try not to complain.  We will get some pictures and tell you more about Oak Alley next week, but our initial impression is really good.

Praying you all stay safe, warm and healthy.  Love you all.

Another Great Week at Gulf State Park

Monday, January 9, 2023

Last week was a great weather week in Gulf Shores.  It was cool several mornings but warmed up later in the day so biking, hiking and walking on the beach were on the agenda each day.  It was also Max’s birthday week so we had some good food and good times.

We enjoyed a talk by the naturalists on carnivorous plants.  We were familiar with the white pitcher plants that are common in south Alabama but also learned about some others as well.  We went to the nature center to meet Archimedes, an eastern screech owl.  Unfortunately, Archimedes was hit by a car when he was very young and lost vision in his right eye.  As a result, he could never survive in the wild so he now lives at the nature center.  While at the nature center, we also met Homer the box turtle.  Homer is free to roam the building and seems to want to meet the visitors.  He was very interested in Max’s camera.  Max returned another day to attend a presentation on snakes that inhabit south Alabama.  Anne decided to skip that presentation.

The very best days of the week were Saturday and Sunday because Donna and Barry came for a visit.  We spent the time biking and hiking a lot of the trails in the park, walking on the beach and photographing the eagles, ospreys, alligators and any bird that would let us get a good picture.  We also enjoyed some great seafood and sunsets but mostly we just enjoyed our time with dear friends.  We miss Barry and Donna but hopefully we will be back through Blount County again soon.

Welcome 2023

Sunday, January 1, 2023

WOW, it’s 2023.  How many times will we now write 2022 in error?  A bunch if previous years are an indication.  We are still enjoying our time at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.  Since our NOMADS project for ECHO, a wonderful agency that teaches farming skills to small plot farmers worldwide, had to be canceled due the hurricane damage in the North Fort Myers area we have some extra time here.  The weather has greatly improved and we are having much more normal temperatures. Tuesday we attended another naturalist presentation, this time on turtles.  Of course, we shared with her our story of Aunt Jean’s box turtle who is now 51 years old.  The park has one that is about the same age – they aren’t sure of his exact birthday, so they say it is between 50 and 60.  Friday was a stormy day with heavy rain, but at least it was warm.  We have been enjoying shrimp and other seafood, walks on the beach, hiking and biking along with some great sunsets.  We also met some friends from Blount County while walking around the park, and we met another Blount County couple who saw our Blount tag and just stopped to chat.  Today being January 1, the state park sponsored a “First Day Hike” which we joined.  It was a two mile hike on a flat paved path but it was fun.  We saw an alligator and birds and flora and fauna.  Later while photographing the eagles, we met another couple originally from our area who have retired to Foley. Thanks for checking in on our ramblings.  May God bless you and hold you close during 2023.