We spent last night in a Walmart parking lot in Forrest City, Arkansas. Some people think that it is awful to stay at Walmart. We prefer to stay in a parking lot at Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, Cracker Barrel, etc when we are just doing a quick overnight. We want some place close to our route and don’t need a campground since we carry everything we need – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. We usually try to arrive shortly before or just after dark and are back on the road 6:30-7:00 am or before. We check with the manager and make sure it is OK and ask where they prefer we park. It’s not really all about the cost, although we don’t like to pay $25-30 for a quick overnight stay. It’s more a matter of convenience. It sometimes is more expensive than a campground because we usually shop wherever we stop. In fact, we made at least three shopping trips across the parking lot for groceries for the weekend. The Forrest City Walmart lot has a sign that says “No overnight truck or RV parking” but the manager allows both to stay overnight. Last night there were five RVs and seven 18-wheelers there. It was a quiet night and we rested well. We were back on the road at 6:30. We continued west on I-40, then I-55 in Memphis to US 78/I-22. It was a nice sunny day and an uneventful trip back to Alabama.
We received a call shortly be getting home from the assisted living because Aunt Jean fell out of her wheelchair with a little assistance from another resident. She was not hurt and all is well. After getting FRED home and emptying the tanks, we checked on our other LOL’s. We made veggie soup for lunch tomorrow (and had a sample for supper). Anne’s sister-in-law with ovarian cancer, Marguerite, is not doing well and we would appreciate your prayers. She is having what we think is an adverse reaction to a new cancer medication and she is being admitted to the hospital. This next week is going to be very busy, but we will try to keep you posted on what is going on. Maybe we will remember to take some pictures but…..it may be mundane and boring. Enjoy worship at your church tomorrow. We look forward to returning to our church. We miss Lester Memorial when we are gone.
This morning was our last Oklahoma sunrise. In addition to meeting great people and making what we expect to be life long friends, and working on a great project, by working this Oklahoma disaster rebuild project we also got to add another state to our map. We now have 21 states and 3 Canadian provinces on our map of states where we have spent at least one night in the motorhome. We probably won’t get to add any additional states until we go to Iowa to our annual meeting in September, since we are trying to stay a little closer to home these days. We really enjoyed our stay in Oklahoma and wouldn’t hesitate to go back and work with the folks again.
Hated to leave, but today was a travel day and we enjoy travel. It was in the 40s when we got back from dinner last night but we knew it was going to be in the low 30s again this morning so we went ahead and did most of the outside departure tasks. We also started the inside packup. Everything has to be secured or put away so that we have nothing flying around if we have to stop suddenly or get bounced onto the floor on the rough highways. We both slept well which is always good for the night before travel. Sometimes our brains won’t shut down and we stay awake going over the departure checklists in our heads. We had breakfast, went over to the Badger Den and got some cinnamon rolls for later in the day and then said our goodbyes to all our team. Love them all!! Dennis and Carol will be joining the team in our place tomorrow and they will have another great week. Then next Friday Scot and Pat, Henry and Barb and Gary and Gwen will all be leaving and 3 more couples will join Dennis and Carol.
We departed at 8:10 and drove to I-35 to Oklahoma City, then took I-240 to I-40 East which will take us all the way back to Memphis. There was the usual areas of construction and congestion, but overall not a bad driving day. We noticed what appeared to be several large wildfires in the distance as we came across I-40. It is still very dry there and they continue to be under fire warnings. We made a fuel stop before leaving Oklahoma as fuel was less expensive there. Almost as soon as we crossed in to Arkansas we began noticing how much greener it was than 3 weeks ago. The redbuds and lots of trees along the interstate are blooming and putting on leaves. We stopped at a rest area about 36 miles after entering Arkansas and had lunch – leftovers from last night’s dinner. We then arrived at the Forrest City, Arkansas Walmart about 5:30. We will stay here tonight and it looks like several other RVers have chosen to overnight here too. Tomorrow morning we will continue east back to Alabama. Hope you all have a nice weekend.
It was even COLDER TODAY!!! It wasn’t suppose to be but it was 29 degrees this morning and we had a beautiful frosty sunrise. We were very thankful for the warm clothes we packed.
After a great devotional time when Gary shared his personal testimony we headed back to our job site. We all tried to work inside for the first little while today. You know that those work lights on a tripod can warm a small space up pretty quickly. We had two with two lights each and they can warm your hands quite nicely. We all started back where we left off yesterday, with drywall, electrical and stairs. A little later the VIM coordinator arrived and yea!!! he had the plumbing supplies. He also brought all the other supplies we needed. This is the first DR project we have worked where the coordinators actually work side by side with you. Hal, Chad and Kevin have been really good to work with. The house has really started to come together. The banister on one side of the stairs are complete, but the other side has to wait for the drywall to be installed. The safety rail at the top of the new stairs was completed. About half the downstairs drywall is complete. All but one of the new windows have been installed. The down stairs plumbing is almost complete, the upstairs bath has been insulated, window installed and plumbing and electrical started. We took pictures of our last day here and have been promised updates and final pictures that we will share with you when the job is complete.
On a disaster rebuild project it is tradition that whenever someone is leaving, the team goes out to dinner Thursday evening. Tonight, because we are leaving Oklahoma in the morning, we all ate together next door at the Badger Den. It’s a fairly plain place but the staff is very nice and helpful and the food is good. We had chicken fried steak and hamburger steak both of which were very good and we ate too much (and still have leftovers for lunch tomorrow). The last day with a group of NOMADS is always a little sad. We have made such good friends. We would love to stay. It’s been a great team and we hope to see everyone down the road sometime soon. After dinner it was time to return to FRED and prepare to travel. Tomorrow we will probably be overnighting at a Walmart in Arkansas.
We have been watching the weather in Alabama today and are so thankful that so far we have not seen reports of damage or injury from the storms in Blount County. Everybody be careful. This morning was COLD! It was really only 44 but with the 15-20 mph winds it seemed so much colder than yesterday. The predicted low tonight is 31 so it will be another cold start tomorrow. This is actually more the type of weather we were expecting when we came to Elmore City in February. We brought lots of cold weather clothes but have sure enjoyed the spring like weather. Hopefully it won’t be quite so windy tomorrow.
Today the stair team completed the stairs with the exception of the handrail and they are working on that. The stairs look wonderful. We built them with wider treads and shorter risers so that they would be easier and hopefully safer for our homeowner. Hopefully the handrails will be completed tomorrow because the homeowner came over this afternoon and we couldn’t talk him out of going upstairs without a handrail.
We also continued to install the drywall. The Drywall (formerly Demolition) Divas are getting pretty good at measuring, cutting and installing the drywall. We were excited that Henry was going to be able to do more work on the plumbing today but the VIM folks said that the Home Depot didn’t have all the needed supplies so there was some plumbing done, but Henry moved on to electrical. He had to install some outlets before the drywall was installed. The VIM guys were going to Oklahoma City for a meeting today and hope they can get the things necessary to complete the plumbing. Gary continued to work hard on the exterior of the house.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, so tonight we went to Elmore City UMC for their Ash Wednesday Service. Pastor Caroline had a very good service with the placing of the ashes on our foreheads. At the end of the service, since tomorrow is our last day here, Pastor presented us with a beautiful quilt made by the Peacemakers, the quilting group at the church. It is so pretty and we appreciate it so much. The church has been so nice to us and so welcoming. Hopefully we can stay in touch with them as we have some of the other churches we have visited in our travels.
Today was another fun and productive day for our team. Pat shared a wonderful devotion this morning about peace. Our devotion times are so meaningful and set the foundation for the rest of the day.
Today was not as sunny as yesterday, but was still warm. Several of the team members spent most of the day outside preparing lumber for the new stairs and installing siding. The Volunteers in Mission (VIM) coordinators working with us today put the roof on the new porch and started hanging the drywall. Since the concrete was sawn by a contractor yesterday, Henry was able to prepare the trench for the new plumbing. Hopefully, the plumbing supplies will be delivered tomorrow. More milestones were reached on the new stairs. The first run of steps and the landing were completed and the opening for the second run was cut upstairs.
During lunch some of the team members mentioned a plaque “downtown” about the first tornado warning issued based on a Doppler radar signature, so after work we walked over to get a picture of it. A little Internet research shows that Gary England was a Oklahoma television meteorologist for many years and was the first to have Doppler radar at his station and was the first person to use it to alert his viewers of a possible tornado. And that just happened to be right here in Elmore City. Between that historic event and Footloose, why had we never heard of Elmore City before the NOMADS project?
What a wonderful day it was today. It started off cloudy but then the sun came out and it was warm with a gentle breeze rather than the wind we have been having. Wonderful!!
Gwen led our devotional time this morning which we moved to 7:30 to try to be working by 8:30. Gwen did a great job leading us and we did make it to the job site by 8:30. It seemed everyone felt good about what we accomplished today. We divided up into 3 teams. We were on the porch team along with Gwen and we had a good day. We put up all the hangers for the rafters, the rafters, the roof decking and the felt today. That was more than we thought we would do. All that’s left on the porch is the shingles. Gary and Henry were the plumbing team. However, they were limited in what they could do because the VIM coordinators decided against renting the concrete saw we needed and instead elected to have the professionals come cut/remove the portions of the slab that had to be removed for the drains. So when Gary and Harry completed what they could do on the plumbing they became the demolition team on the stairs while we waited on the concrete guys. The stair team was Pat, Barb and Scott. Before they could start they had to move a lot of stuff that was in the way of the new stairs. The old steps were then removed and the stringers built for the first flight of steps and the first landing framed in. They made a lot of progress. There was also a window installed in the kitchen and additional framing on the back wall of the house. The concrete guys came late this afternoon shortly before we were going to stop work and they ran us out of the house. They are NOISY and MESSY!! Some days you work really hard and don’t see a lot of progress. Today we could see the progress. That felt good.
When we got home we visited with Molly and Gus while they got their exercise. Then we went for a walk since it was still so nice out and we needed the exercise. Then had peach pie and ice cream for supper. Yep, supper. Oh and then we had some chips. We had our big meal of the day for lunch so … life is short – eat dessert first, or instead. See you tomorrow.
It was another cool day in Elmore City. The high was in the mid fifties but with the wind it felt much cooler. And it stayed cloudy all day. However, the gray clouds didn’t put a damper on our worship at Elmore City UMC. The team all went to Sunday School and then worship. Pat even sang a special with the praise team, which we all enjoyed. The pastor’s message was very good and went right along with our Sunday School lesson.
After church we all went to Pauls Valley, about 15 miles away, to Happy Days Diner. It is as one would expect of a 50’s style diner along the lines of the Happy Days TV show. There was a Fonzarella and other menu items from the TV show. They serve breakfast all day plus lunch and dinner entrees. Gwen and Gary had been here earlier in the week and enjoyed the meal so we went back today as a team. There are some poor ratings on Facebook, but our experience was good. Everyone enjoyed the food and our service was good so we can recommend this restaurant.
We rested and did some planning after getting back to the rig this afternoon and then had our usual Sunday evening team meeting in Gary and Gwen’s rig. We got to know our new team members, Barb and Henry from Iowa, a little better and made some plans for tomorrow. Hopefully we will be able to just jump in and start accomplishing some things in the morning without spending time in the planning stage. Oh, and Gwen served us apple pie and ice cream. Good stuff. Thanks, Gwen! Hope everyone has a great week and check back in tomorrow to see what we get done.