Travel Log

January 1 to December 31, 2005

Go back to 2004


1/1/05 and 1/2/05
(Louisa VA)

Not too much of interest to write about.

We finished up getting Jordan's house back to it's "pre-Christmas" condition and, in general, began getting ourselves ready to leave.

Odometer reading = 70,550
Miles for day = 0



(Oxford NC)

This morning we finished up with all the "getting ready to leave" stuff, put air in Jordan's tires, and got off to a leisurely start around 11:am. We don't yet know where we're going, but for now "south" is good enough. When we get to Shaw AFB in Sumter SC we'll stay there until we have a real destination.

In the meanwhile, during the course of the day we stopped three times; once for gas, once for lunch, and once for a blowout. We were traveling south on US-15 at a place where it is a four lane highway and had pulled into the left lane to pass some guy doing 40 mph (one of the few times we ever passed anyone). As our front right wheel came adjacent to his driver's window the tire blew with a loud bang, followed by the flapping about by a lot of loose rubber. Sharyn later said the guy must have thought we shot at him -- it sure did sound that way!

Anyway, we spent the better part of a hour changing the tire. It was not a good place to pull over and we had some difficulty getting the motorhome jacked up high enough so that the tire cleared the ground. Actually, the motorhome's leveling jacks make it easier to change a tire on the motorhome than on the car. Of course the car tires aren't quite as heavy.

The tire that blew was the last of our original tires and, judging from the amount of remaining tread, had spent some time as a spare. When we get to Sumter I suspect we'll be in the market for a new tire..

For now, we're in Wal-Mart's parking lot here in Oxford NC waiting for the six o'clock news on Fox.

Closeup of our blowout

Odometer reading = 70,712
Miles for day = 162



(Sumter SC)

I was tired last night and went to bed at 8:30. As a result I was up this morning at 4:15, had my first coffee, and began getting ready to get an early start (after a night in Wal-Mart's it only takes about 15 minutes to get ready to leave -- there's not too much involved).

When I was otherwise ready I brought in the bedroom slideout, hoping not to wake Sharyn in the process. I have told her many times that she could stay in bed when we start off in the morning, but she wants nothing to do with that. I think she's afraid to let me drive by myself. Anyway, it didn't matter. She woke up and said she wasn't going to stay in bed and let me drive away.

As I poured her a cup of coffee she saw that the time was only 4:45 but didn't seem to be too upset about it. At that point we didn't leave for another hour, instead we had a very pleasant coffee and conversation in the quiet pre-dawn darkness. I even commented about what seemed to be the special nature of the early morning solitude. (Is there any such thing as solitude for two?)

We pulled into the FamCamp at Shaw AFB about 11:am. That's pretty impressive as that's pretty close to our normal departure time.

For only the second time ever we didn't get site #7 (our favorite campsite). I guess the guy there didn't realize that was our site and that we'd be here.

For the rest of the day we just enjoyed the 73° sunshine and the scent of the surrounding pine trees.

Odometer reading = 70,940
Miles for day = 217



1/5/05 and 1/6/05
(Sumter SC)

These two days just confirm how much we enjoy this place. It's just a pleasant place to be where we always feel relaxed and comfortable. It's still our favorite campground and we still can't explain what makes that so. We just like it here!

I finally finished the new water filter installation replacing the one that froze and split open one night several weeks ago when the temperature went down into the lower teens. When the weather was getting so cold I put a 60 watt bulb in the utility bay by the filters and water pump thinking that would be sufficient to prevent damage. Clearly it was not. After that I replaced the 60 watt bulb with an 850 watt electric heater with a thermostat. The heater was only $12 at Lowes, and with the thermostat just above the lowest setting, it seems to maintain a safe temperature for the utility bay. Actually, I plan to buy another one to place in the bay that houses the 75 gallon fresh water tank. The motorhome is designed with heat vents from the furnaces going into these "basement" areas, but we were using a catalytic heater and not the furnaces.

Sharyn has done a remarkable job of cleaning the carpet, cabinets, and the two leather seats. The interior of the motorhome looks great! The outside is pretty gross, but I'll wash it tomorrow. It's also time to compound and wax the entire exterior again. I try to do it once a year but somehow I missed this past summer.

Of course we also replaced our blown tire (at a cost of $310.74). We now have six new tires, all but one of which are the new Goodyear G-670 RV, a tire specifically designed by Goodyear (not a French owned company) for RV's. Everything we're read about these tires has been positive. Several RV manufacturers have dropped Michelin and now install these Goodyears as original equipment.

New water filter installation

Odometer reading = 70,940
Miles for day = 0



1/7/05 through 1/11/05
(Sumter SC)

Mostly we've enjoyed the 70° sunny days and the 50° clear nights, but we also did some other stuff.

Genealogy wise, we went to three cemeteries in Sumter and Clarendon Counties where Broadways (my mother's family) have been being buried for about 200 years. We've been to these cemeteries before but I wanted determine the global coordinates while I still know how to find them. The Broadway Cemetery, the smallest of the three, contains only about a dozen graves including that of Lewis Broadway (1798 - 1857), my great-great grandfather. If any of my descendants ever want to find these places I'm sure the navigation systems that will be in their cars will take them right there.

Yesterday we drove up to visit and have lunch with my cousin Bobby and his wife Teresa in Florence SC. Lewis Broadway is his great-great-great-grandfather.

Today I finally replaced the spring that retracts the left rear leveling jack on the motorhome. I've had the spring since March which proves that sooner or later everything gets to the top of this list. I wasn't happy having to replace that spring because several years ago a hydraulic shop in California rebuilt that jack for us. In the process he stretched the retraction spring to the point that it no longer fully retracted the jack. We were probably a thousand miles away by the time we realized it. Anyway, now it's fixed.

As of now we plan to leave here in the morning and continue south -- perhaps to Andersonville , the notorious Civil War prison in Andersonville, Georgia where some 13,000 Union prisoners died in captivity. In 1998 the National Prisoner of War Museum also opened at Andersonville.

Me, Bobby, and his wife Teresa

Broadway Cemetery

Odometer reading = 70,940
Miles for day = 0



(Sumter SC)

I guess it should be no surprise that we're still here. This was just too nice a package to leave. I suspect we'll still leave in the morning.

Our campsite

Odometer reading = 70,940
Miles for day = 0



1/13/05 to 1/24/05
(Sumter SC)

I'm not sure exactly what to write as, at this point, it will seem both repetitious and dumb, but we're still here. However, in the morning we're leaving and going back to Virginia to provide a support system for our daughter.

About a week or so ago we paid what would have been the balance for a one month stay that took us up to February 4. I spoke to the fellow that kind of runs the FamCamp office to see if we could not have a credit for our unused time until the next time we come here. He said he'd make a note of our unused days and talk to his boss about it. He didn't think it would be a problem.

Odometer reading = 70,940
Miles for day = 0



(Wilson NC)

It was almost noon by the time we were actually on the road. First we stopped at the gas station on base where we took on 75.32 gallons of regular gas. That's an awful lot of gas for a "75 gallon" tank. We then proceeded to Southern States where we filled our 80 pound propane tank. From there we headed north on US-76 to Florence where we picked up I-95.

Around 5:PM we pulled into the Wal-Mart in Wilson NC where we watched the news, had dinner, and went to bed.

When we first parked off on the edge of the parking lot we were the only RV there. By the time we went to bed we had been joined by two 5th wheels, a trailer, a motorhome, and two tractor trailers.

Odometer reading = 71,156
Miles for day = 216



(Louisa VA)

I was up this morning at 5:50AM When the coffee was ready I poured Sharyn's cup and then, trying to be unobtrusive, woke her up to tell her her coffee was getting cold. I think it was about 7:30 when we pulled out of the parking lot (the tractor trailers had already left, but the RVs were still there).

Four hours later we were backing the motorhome onto the snow covered concrete pad next to the house.

Again, since we'll be here for awhile, it may be awhile before there is any further update to this page.

Odometer reading = 71,350
Miles for day = 193



(Sumter SC)

Some seven months after we unexpectedly left the FamCamp here at Shaw AFB in Sumter, we're back again. Much more importantly, after a seven month hiatus, we're back on the road again and back to our full-time RVing.

As we've written a number of times, this is our favorite campground and we could never figure out why there was practically no one here. Well, when we came in last night we were somewhat taken back by the fact that the place was practically full (including our two favorite campsites). We now realize that we always come here in the winter when there aren't a great number of "campers" out and about.. Anyway, when we left here in January we had paid for a month and still had 12 days to go. This morning they said they would honor our 12 unused days.

What we expected to be about an eight hour trip took us over eleven hours, the result of three separate construction areas on I-95 in North Carolina, plus a motorhome problem in Pleasant Hill NC.

After taking on fuel in Pleasant Hill I went to start the engine and nothing happened -- nothing at all -- even the gauges on the dashboard didn't move. With Sharyn driving the car she was able to push the motorhome away from the pumps to the truck parking area behind the station. Continuing to try to diagnose the problem I found that by jiggling the key I could get the gauges to sometimes come on, but no starter action. I was pretty sure it was a bad ignition switch (which we had replaced several years ago under warranty), but Sharyn kept saying it was a dead battery. I was about to take the car and go talk to a Ford dealer several miles down the Interstate but Sharyn was so insistent about the dead battery that, in large part to appease her, I jumped the battery by connecting it (the chassis battery) to the four Trojan house batteries (there is a button on the dash to accomplish this). Pushing the button and turning the key the motor started instantly! I told Sharyn I was going to take her out to dinner for solving our crisis problem. She said, "I just know these things."

Anyway, much to our relief, we finally arrived at Shaw AFB more than eleven hours after we started out.

There's not a great deal to write about the last seven months but I'll include the following three pictures to depict some of the weather that full-timers are never supposed to encounter. The date was March 5.

Parked in our daughters yard

Storage shed

Sharyn enjoying the snowfall


Odometer reading = 71,741
Miles for day = 391




(Sumter SC)

The main event for today was the purchase and installation of a new battery for the motorhome. After installing it I turned the key and the motorhome instantly roared to life. A very happy sound.

One of the changes we've talked about implementing in our approach to full-timing is to stay longer at the places we stop, and move less frequently. There is a two fold purpose in doing this. First, we will get to know more about the places we stop and have greater interaction with the people there -- both campers and residents. Second, it will offset the increased costs of fuel. (In 1998 when we bought our 26' Travel Master we were paying 87 cents per gallon for gas).

Actually we've been talking about doing this even before the price of fuel went through the sky. While we've been to all the states except Rhode Island and Hawaii, there is a big difference between having "been to" (a particular state) and having "seen" (a particular state). While in 5½ years we've been to all these states, we figure it would take 20 years really "see" all of America. We probably don't have 20 years, but we'll start anyway.

Part of the reason for mentioning this is that when we stay in one place for a longer period of time there will probably be less to write about on any given day. Accordingly there will probably be more lapses when I make no entry for several days (I try to avoid too much of "first we went to the grocery store, then we went to the post office"). However (particularly now that I have my new camera - a Canon 20D), I'll probably post more pictures. I'll see how it all works out.


Odometer reading = 71,741
Miles for day = 0




(Sumter SC)

It was our plan to fill up the gas tank when we first arrived here at Shaw AFB. However, because of the battery problem we were experiencing when we pulled onto the base we decided to forgo stopping at the base gas station. The day we came in gas was $2.17. This morning Sharyn was on her way to the BX and saw that gas, which has been going up continuously, was up to $2.69 and thought that she'd fill the tank on her way back. On her way back, an hour later, gas was up $2.92! (we are now three days post hurricane Katrina).

The Enlisted Spouses Club is sponsoring a craft fair here on September 24 and Sharyn has a table to sell some of her jewelry. Accordingly she's been working on building up her inventory. Hopefully she will do well.

It was probably several years ago that we bought an Olympian catalytic heater to use as a high efficiency heat source that requires no electricity. It's a great thing to have because we can use it while boondocking and not have to worry about using up battery power (the blower motors in the furnaces will draw down your batteries in short order). We also use it when plugged into AC and the temperatures go into the 20's. When it's that cold the heat pumps shut down and the furnaces automatically come on. Since we're plugged in the electricity used by the fans is not a problem but the furnaces use LOTS of propane -- largely because they put as much heat outside as they do inside. Take note of the amount of heat exiting the exterior furnace vent -- the "chimney" if you will. Besides I don't like the noise of the furnace fans. The catalytic heaters require no electricity, are totally silent, and extremely efficient -- all the heat remains inside the motorhome. Because they do consume oxygen out of the air you should crack a window at night to allow for this oxygen to be replenished. During the daytime there is enough in and out to insure sufficient air exchange. When the heater uses one pound of propane it depletes the oxygen from so many cubic feet of air. I've been trying to find out just how many cubic feet but so far have not been able to find the answer. If and when I get the answer I'll put it on the site.

The only drawback to the catalytic heater was that we were using a 20 pound propane tank that sat on the floor next to the heater. That took up a big chunk of space, plus it was ugly. For well over a year I've been going to run a gas line from our chassis tank to a connection in the living room area. Finally I actually got it done. I tapped into the gas line right at the tank and ran 3/8 copper tubing along the outside of the chassis frame until I came up to a shut off valve under the copilot's seat (with another shut off valve right where I tapped into the original gas line). To insure against the tubing wearing or weakening from vibration or chaffing I used a heavy plastic conduit tied off every 24-30 inches. There's almost no movement allowed and I'm pretty comfortable with the finished job (Sharyn accuses me of trying to blow her up with the gas line under her seat).


Large nugget necklace made by Sharyn

Turquoise and silver necklace

Gas tap at chassis tank

Coming up under Sharyn's seat

Connection valve behind seat

Our campsite

Sharyn reading her book


Odometer reading = 71,741
Miles for day = 0




(Sumter SC)

We went into Columbia today. Regular gas is running up to $3.35 per gallon and a number of stations are out of regular gas.

With all the TV coverage of what hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans we think back to our last visit to New Orleans in March 2002. This picture taken on Bourbon Street is one of the many things that the French Quarter used to be all about. We wonder if this man survived the hurricane.

New Orleans musician March 13, 2002


Odometer reading = 71,741
Miles for day = 0




9/3/05 to 10/26/05
(Sumter SC)

After a number of false starts we are finally getting ourselves ready to leave Sumter and the Shaw AFB FamCamp. Since I typically can't remember what happened yesterday, the following is my best attempt to put together some kind of coherent account of what we've been doing for the last two months. Since we've been here the temperatures have fallen dramatically (about 40°) to the point where we've been in the high 30's at night. Shorts and T-shirts have been replaced by dungarees and sweatshirts. It's a good feeling.

We have become very comfortable being in Sumter. Several years ago while we were staying here we even looked at some houses in the area. Several days ago I told Sharyn that to the extent I could live in one place, Sumter probably comes closer to being that place than anywhere else I could think of. We have also talked about the "need" for a house anywhere, if a motorhome or RV is an alternative. At the FamCamp here at Shaw we pay $350 a month. For that we get to live in an, admittedly small, but very nice home (the motorhome of our choice) in a crime free "gated community" with around the clock armed security, yard maintenance, all utilities, and real estate taxes included. Discount shopping and groceries (BX and Commissary) are additional benefits. Since we long ago decided that wherever we were in January is not where we'd want to be in August and vice-versa, the ability to relocate our home at any time and to any place, gives the motorhome an unchallengable advantage. We incur no expenses in Sumter while we are somewhere else -- with a house the expenses remain pretty much the same whether you are there or not.

Perhaps not unrelated to all of the above, when we leave here we'll be on our way to Red Bay, Alabama to look at the 40' Allegro Phaeton (diesel).

Now to move on to Southwest Designs, Sharyn's creative endeavor. A few years ago, just fooling around, she made a few eyeglass chains that she gave away to friends and relatives. From that beginning, she has evolved to the point where the pieces she makes are all one-of-a-kind, of her own creative design, and are beautifully made. This past weekend she displayed her pieces at the Annual Sumter County Octoberfest. Not only did she sell a good number, but as a result of some of the other crafts people who saw her stuff she has been invited to participate in two upcoming shows, one Ashville NC in December, and one in Myrtle Beach in the spring. The nice thing about these invitations is that they are to participate in high end shows that require your sale items to be pre-approved as to quality, workmanship, etc. These people were duly impressed with her jewelry. A few weeks ago we began a website for Southwest Designs. Take a look -- it's really neat stuff.

Not too long ago, while we were in Columbia, we went by the State Capital Building so I could see and photograph some of the damage inflicted upon the building by Sherman's artillery during the final days of the Civil War. Each place where a shell hit has been marked with a gold star -- there are about a dozen such stars.


As an aside, William Tecumseh Sherman is one of my favorite Civil War heroes. Everyone, particularly Southerners, are well aware of the burning of Atlanta, his "March to the Sea," and his alleged his Burning of the City of Columbia. Less known is the fact that he was the first president of Louisiana State University, and that when Confederate General Joseph Johnston surrendered his army to Sherman near Hillsborough NC (five days after Lee had surrendered at Appomattox) Sherman was even more lenient with Johnston than Grant had been with Lee. So much so that many in the North regarded him as a traitor, and the US Government subsequently rejected some of the terms agreed to by Sherman.

Sherman is also credited with being the first to employ the principle of modern warfare that you don't win by defeating the enemy's army, you win by defeating the morale of the people so that they will no longer support the war -- hence his "Scorched Earth March to the Sea."

It worked then, it worked in Vietnam (ask Lyndon Johnson) and, to some extent, it may be working in Iraq (ask George Bush).


Having seen what happened to gasoline prices after hurricane Katrina, as soon as hurricane Rita hit the Gulf shore we thought it was a good idea to top off the tank in the motorhome before the hurricane effect pushed up the prices again. By that time the price was down to $2.62 so we wanted to lock in our cost at that price. We unhooked all our lines, brought in the slides, etc. and topped off with 58.53 gallons for $154.50. Now that we're ready to leave, gas is down to $2.54 which, while we aren't complaining, proves you can't win. Oh well!

As regular readers may know, several years ago we rigged a pretty substantial flag pole arrangement to the motorhome with a 20' telescoping pole. The problem has been that you are not supposed to leave the flag up after dark unless it is illuminated. It was not, yet I did not take the flag down at night (rationalizing that it was better the flag flew all the time rather than not at all -- a dumb rationalization since it did not have to be 24 hours or nothing). Anyway, for a very long time it has been my plan to arrange some kind of a spotlight on the roof to illuminate the flag at night. In fact, I bought the light fixture over a year ago! Well, I'm writing about it now because I finally got it installed, running a 12 volt line up through the refrigerator vent. The light is on it's own circuit with a switch at the electric panel just below the refrigerator

Another job completed in the last few days was a new computer table setup. When I bought a new scanner last winter so that I could scan slides and negatives, the new scanner did not fit in the old desk I had made several years ago. The new desk, while it fits the new scanner and has some improvements over the original, is really not too different than the one it replaces.

Finally, for a combination Father's Day/Birthday, Phil gave me Sirius satellite radio for the motorhome. Last week I purchased a second vehicle docking station for the car so that we could move the satellite radio back and forth between the car and the motorhome. I just installed that yesterday, except that for now it still has to be plugged into the cigarette lighter. That has to be hard wired into the 12 volt system which I'll get to not too far down the line. For now, all my jobs are done!

It looks as if we're going to leave here Friday morning (today is Wednesday), stop and visit friends in Athens GA, and then proceed to Red Bay AL. We'll see if it really happens that way.

Sharyn waiting for me at State Capital Building

South Carolina State Capital w/ Strom Thurmond Statue

Impact points of two Union artillary shells

F-16 approaching Shaw AFB (photo taken from off base)

A cool picture in Clarendon County

Sharyn getting ready for Octoberfest

My favorite Octoberfest picture

Flagpole spotlight

New computer table


Odometer reading = 71,750
Miles for day = 9




(Athens GA)

Yesterday we did some preliminary getting ready to leave -- the longer we have been in one place, the more there is to getting ready to leave, and we've been here two months. We've never been that long in one place except for two occasions when we were at the house in Virginia where our daughter lives.

This morning we had a delayed start for several reasons. First of all we learned last night that our daughter had forwarded us a bunch of mail which had not yet come. This morning we decided we'd pay for another day and hope that it arrived tomorrow morning (Saturday) before the office closed for the weekend.

Fifteen minutes after we paid for the extra day the guy came over from the office to give us the newly arrived mail. He also said that if we liked, he would reverse the payment on our card. We did that and then prepared to leave.

Next problem. The bedroom slide would not come in (we have never had a slide problem). There was no sound whatsoever when we activated the switch so I said it was probably a fuse, but we couldn't find the fuse in question. I knew that there was an emergency crank to bring the slides in if one of them failed to function properly, but while I knew where the crank point was for the living room slide, I couldn't find the one for the bedroom. Rather than continue to look I called Allegro and asked them. The guy told me the circuit board and fuse were in the closet wall behind the switch plate and that there was a removable access panel, probably in the closet. Only problem was that there was no access panel. I told him that this motorhome was on the assembly line when they shut down for two weeks at Christmas in 1999 and that we had found several things over the years that we attributed to the workers coming back to the partially completed motorhome after two weeks and saying, "Now where was I?" I told him I though that was what must have happened to the access panel. I suspect that he thinks the panel is there and that either I don't see it or don't know what it is. He also told me where the crank point was to crank it in by hand (it's under the bottom panel in the storage area under the bed) so we emptied out that storage and cranked it in.

Next problem. Having pulled out of the site and into the road to hook up the car, we were standing there talking to another camper when we noticed the right rear tires seemed kind of low. The chrome wheel covers that cover the lug nuts are held on by two chrome nut covers that are supposed to pop right off. We could not get them off, and without getting the wheel cover off you can't get to the tire valve (you're supposed to be able to but you can't). Since our route was going to take us through Columbia, I told Sharyn that I had seen a big Sears store just our side of Columbia and that we'd stop there and buy one of those infrared thermometers that you just point at something and get a digital readout of the temperature of that object. If there was a significant difference in the temperature between the rear tires on the left and those on the right then we'd know that at least one of the right side tires was low.

Next problem. In the Sears parking lot, about 30 miles from Shaw, the tires on the left side were 94° and 95° while the tires on the right were 105° and 114°. Clearly we had a problem, but I still couldn't get the wheel cover off. Sharyn suggested I talk to the guy in the Firestone place across the parking lot. He said to drive it over and he'd take a look. He got the cover off and found that while the outside tire had 100 pounds of air, the inside tire only had 20 pounds -- pretty much a flat tire. He was unable to do anything with our size tires because his equipment only handles automobile tires, but he put 100 pounds into the inside tire and it seemed to be holding (we kept the wheel cover off because that tire is going to have to be removed and looked at. Several times throughout the day, and again when we stopped for the night, we took temperature readings of all four rear tires and everything seems to be okay. That thermometer is really quite amazing. I told Sharyn that technology is beginning to resemble magic!

That was it. No more problems. In fact, in spite of the fact that it was probably almost 2:PM by the time we left Firestone (who did not charge us anything) it was a nice day. I attributed that to the fact that we are under no pressure whatsoever to be at any particular place by any particular time. From Columbia we traveled US-378 and US-78, mostly two lane highway through the countryside and small towns. The sun was shinning and the gas tank was full -- how much better can it get?

We are parked for the night at a Wal-Mart Supercenter at the edge of Athens. At one corner of the parking lot there is a Chinese Restaurant, the Golden Sun, where we had dinner. The food was excellent, it was hot, and the waiters were all grownups. Sharyn said that's the difference between a buffet type place and a "real restaurant." I guess she's right (again)!

On the way back to the motorhome we saw the Wal-Mart Security truck and asked the security guy if it was okay where we were parked and if it was okay to stay there for the night. He said we were fine, but suggested the far corner of the lot as being possibly quieter. In any event he said he'd advise his relief who was coming on at midnight to keep an eye on us.

For anyone who may be interested, running this computer system on 120 volts from the inverter, at this point the computer has used 153.3 watt/hours and has been on for 1 hour 10 minutes. That seems like a fair amount of draw, but now I'm done!


Craftsman infrared thermometer (Great for $50)


Odometer reading = 71,938
Miles for day = 188




10/29/05 and 10/30/05
Red Bay AL

Yesterday morning in Athens I was up at 6:30, Sharyn was up at 7:00, and we were on the road at 7:40! That's really good for us -- even starting from Wal-Mart.

I don't recall anything else about the drive here -- it was pretty uneventful. Asking Sharyn to help me with yesterday, she said, "What do you mean? We came here, that's it." One thing that stands out is that we broke our 200 mile max rule.

We got here (the Allegro campground in Red Bay) around six or seven o'clock. Pulling in we were really surprised at how many units were here. The place is pretty full. There must be $10 million dollars worth of motorhomes in the campground. Most of them are pretty new and the owners have come here with "punch lists" of things they want fixed or changed.

This morning we got up pretty early. Last night we were supposed to have set the clocks back two hours; one hour for daylight savings time, plus one hour for having crossed into the Central Time Zone.

During the day we talked with other owners about all kinds of things that we have done, they have done, places, different ways of doing things, the 2006 Allegro line, etc. Just about anything. There is a good amount of camaraderie among Allegro owners, particularly when all are gathered at the factory. One very big change that has occurred since the last time we were here is that in the past all maintenance or repair was done at the factory several blocks from here. They'd send someone over to get you when it was your turn. That section of the factory has now been turned into the woodworking shop. Allegro (Tiffin) makes all their own cabinetry. A new facility with 40 repair bays and customer lounge has been build adjacent to the campground. Two wash bays have also been constructed for use by owners. Separate and apart from the motorhomes themselves, which are very nice, it's easy to see why Allegro owners are so loyal to Tiffin. We, for instance, when we talk or think about a new motorhome, think or talk about about a new Allegro -- that's just the way it is.

Anyway, some of the wives had the idea of a pot luck dinner this evening, so at 4:pm, with some tables and chairs, about 30 of us, mostly couples, enjoyed various delicacies presented, which together with lots of stories, lasted until just about dark.

As I am writing this Sharyn is working on her jewelry. All in all it has been another good day!


Some of the motorhomes at the Allegro Campground (Scroll horizontally to see entire picture)

Pot luck dinner group

Sharyn at pot luck


A few minutes ago, at my insistence, Jordan sent me this photo she took of the trophies she and Phil won this past weekend at the IDPA Virginia State Match. It seems that Jordan does better with a Glock 17 than a Sony 707, but that probably does not make her unhappy. (As I understand it these are glass plaques with the image engraved on the back surface).


Phil and Jordan's Trophies


Odometer reading = 72,266
Miles for day = 328



10/31/05 to 11/3/05
(Red Bay AL)


We've now been here for about a week and it has been both pleasant and relaxing. Unlike most of the people here, we came to look at the new units, not for repairs. However, while we were here we did have an access panel installed in one of the cabinets so that we would have access to the circuit board and fuse for the bedroom slideout, plus we had the fasteners that hold the ladder on the back of the motorhome replaced. Total cost, $16 (no charge for the access panel since that should have been there in the first place).

We've been her four or five times in the past and have usually wandered through the factory at least once on each of those visits (the entire factory, including the assembly line, is open for visitors at all times). Now, in addition to being able to walk through on your own, they have a factory tour twice a day. Several days ago we did the tour (and took many pictures). We also checked out the new units, particularly the 40' Phaeton QDH which we also took for a test drive. With four slideouts, 350 hp Caterpillar diesel, 6-speed Allison transmission, three or four times the storage space, a washer/dryer, half again as much kitchen counter space, plus a king size bed, it is quite nice. In fact, we are seriously considering one.

The other night we went out to dinner with another couple who are here having work done on their 2005 Allegro Bus. They are both accountants from upstate New York and we enjoyed their company. Last night they invited us over for some homemade apple pie (we supplied the ice cream). Walking down the row towards their unit and trying to determine which one was theirs I told Sharyn that it's like trying to fins a particular house in a "ticky tacky" village -- they all look the same. They finished up this morning and pulled out of here about an hour ago (it's now noon time on Thursday). They have to be back to work on Monday.

In spite of the fact that we had two "quality" tire gauges, we were unable to get either one of them onto the inside right rear tire valve. Yesterday we bought a third gauge and found that that tire still had 85 pounds of pressure. When we leave here in the morning we'll stop and put 100 pounds into that tire and then keep an eye on it for several days to see if the pressure holds. We won't put the wheel cover back on until we're either satisfied the tire is not leaking (we have less than 2,000 miles on the four rear tires), or we have it fixed.


A 40' Phaeton near the beginning of the assembly line

Further down the line

Closer to the end

Partial view of the finished interior

Another interior view

The one we took for a drive

From the rear (with bedroom slide in)

Floor plan


Odometer reading = 72,266
Miles for day = 0



(Starkville MS)

It seems that on most Thursday nights the Allegro Campground sponsors some kind of Bluegrass/Western/Gospel music entertainment. The musicians are mostly people from Red Bay and the surrounding area who work different jobs but share the love of music. Last night we went to the warehouse across from the camp store where we were treated to two hours of such music and song. If we had been aware of this Thursday night entertainment we would have made it a point to have arrived in Red Bay a few days earlier so we could have been there last Thursday as well. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

It's a good thing we went for another reason as well. During our stay in Red Bay we heard about the Coon Dog Cemetery located not too far out of town, and we had planned to go there. However, and no one will believe this, we forgot. As fortune would have it, one of the musicians told the story about the song he had written and recorded back in 1974 called Freedom Hills.

Everyone in that part of the country knew about the coon dog cemetery. In 1937 a fellow named Key Underwood was coon hunting with his dog Trooper, when Trooper upped and died. He buried Trooper on the spot (today there are over 160 coon dogs buried there). Anyway, this fellow (the musician) is telling the story of the song he wrote about Trooper and how he was hunting and was buried back in the "Freedom Hills" The point was that those hills had no particular name at the time he wrote the song and the name Freedom Hills was just part of the song lyrics. The name Freedom Hills stuck and that today that's how the entire area is referred to.

Anyway, the point that I am making is that that all reminded us that we had forgotten to go out to the Coon Dog Cemetery (actually, probably reminded me, as the cemetery was not on Sharyn's "must see" list). That oversight delayed our departure this morning. After getting everything set to go we took the car out into the Freedom Hills to see the cemetery (I'll skip the details about how I missed a turn and we drove out an extra 30 miles).

What really caught me by surprise were all the flowers (plastic) on the graves. I though that was not only strange, but gave an overall tacky or carnival look to what would otherwise have been an otherwise nice serene place. Sharyn disagrees; she thinks the flowers are fine. Anyway, the story of the Coon Dog Cemetery can be found at Physically it's located at N34.62989° W87.96662°

With respect to our tire problem, as we finally pulled out of the campground and got underway, we pulled into the gas station across the road where, after filling the gas tank (70 gallons at $2.32), we pulled up to the air hose. It didn't appear to be working properly and we soon had gone from 85 pounds to 80 pounds. It turned out that the station only had 80 pounds in their tank so we actually lost air as the tire equalized itself with the tank. Skipping the details we eventually found another station where we brought the problem tire up to 100 pounds. We still haven't put the wheel cover back on as we want to see if that tire will hold the 100 pounds. I suspect it will, but that will leave unexplained the previously lost air -- a leak that causes the tire to loose its pressure over a period of months? Maybe.

Eventually we finally left Red Bay on our way to Starkville MS to visit with Gerard and his wife Sherry. Gerard is a flight instructor in the Air Force and they have been following "stringbean" since 2003. They have a 5th wheel and plan on full-timing when he retires in less than two years. Seeing that we were fairly close to where they live, we received an e-mail inviting us to visit with them and we accepted. They keep their 5th wheel on an RV pad next to their house, but for right now they have moved the 5th wheel and we are on the pad, complete with full hookups.

The musicians

Musicians with their audience

Coon Dog Cemetery

Tombstone: Black Ranger

Tombstone: Ranger

Tombstone: Troop


Odometer reading = 72,357
Miles for day = 91



(Starkville MS)

Around midmorning, Gerard, Sherry, Sharyn and I all went into town where we had an early lunch before proceeding out to Columbus AFB where Gerard is CO of one of the training squadrons. The Air Force was doing a fly-over at half time during the Mississippi State-Alabama football game and Gerard was flying one of the planes. Also, there was sort of a job fair on base today where different types of aircraft had flown in from bases all around the Country so that student pilots could have the opportunity to meet and talk with the pilots and/or crew members of the different aircraft types to help them decide which way they wanted to go (fighters, bombers, tankers, etc.). While it was not open to the public, we had the good fortune to be there and see most of what was presented.

We got to see some of the headquarters and training facilities as well as a number of different aircraft with their crews. While Gerard was gone with the fly-over group, the three of us went to the commissary and BX where Sharyn bought some much needed groceries and a running set (shorts and shirt) for Jordan.

Shortly thereafter the fly-over group returned to base making a high speed pass over the runway before landing. I missed the picture because they were gone before I even realized they were coming. The lack of a picture doesn't really matter because with a high speed pass, while the visual is pretty impressive (and cannot be captured in a still photo anyway), it's the audio that brings out the goose bumps!

I told Gerard that while I certainly understand the benefits of retirement, I would find it difficult to walk away from the very impressive deal he presently has with the Air Force.

Anyway, after leaving the base we returned to their house where we subsequently had dinner and than sat around the fire in the backyard until fairly late.

Sharyn, Gerard, and Sherry in front of their house

Student pilots flight gear

KC-135 refueling tanker

This F-15 came up from Tyndall AFB

Sherry and Sharyn, standing in, and shooting the breeze

This F-16 came from Shaw AFB

I like this picture

A 1.6 second exposure around the backyard campfire

A very cool gas campfire


Odometer reading = 72,357
Miles for day = 91



(Red Bay AL)

Originally (24 hours ago) our plan was to leave Starksville this morning and head for Fort Pillow, north of Memphis. Then last night one of the draw slide brackets under the dinette seat broke off. Actually, both dinette drawers had broken brackets for quite some time, but the drawers still worked so we just ignored it. Last night, however, one of them broke all the way and now the drawer doesn't work. So, we adjusted our plans and decided we'd come back to Red Bay on the way to Memphis since we'd be passing through Tupelo anyway, only 30 miles west of Red Bay.

Then, this morning we had breakfast with Gerard and Sherry, one thing led to another, and soon Sharyn came and said she'd see me later, that she and Sherry were going for a drive in Sherry's BMW convertible (Starksville is a college town -- I think they were looking for guys). When they returned almost an hour later the four of us (in Gerard's car) went to a cafe in town so Sharyn could get "a real old fashioned greasy cheeseburger."

By the time we got back to the house we were uncertain about whether or not we should leave or wait until tomorrow. We opted to leave, but didn't get to Red Bay until after dark -- not our original plan.

Anyway, we are now set up in the Allegro Campground. Tomorrow we'll get the parts for the drawer slides and Sharyn will do the laundry while I fix the drawer slides. As of right now we plan to head for Fort Pillow on Tuesday morning.


Sherry and Sharyn said they were leaving . . .

. . . and they left!


Odometer reading = 72,448
Miles for day = 90



(Fort Pillow TN)

Yesterday morning when I went to fix the drawers under the dinette seats I saw a better way to make the repair than replacing the broken hangars. It had to do with fastening the sliders to two short pieces of 2x4. At 10:am, without having used any Tiffin parts, the repair was complete. Nevertheless, we decided to spend the day there visiting with some of the same people we had met several days previously.

This morning we were on our way to Fort Pillow, a Civil War battle site of particular interest to both fans and critics of General Nathan Bedford Forrest (I am a fan). Unless there is a reason to do otherwise, or we are traveling a route that we know and are familiar with, we usually let DeLorme's Street Atlas select our route from Point A to Point B. This gets us to our destination with the shortest travel distance (we ask for shortest distance rather than quickest time) and typically shows us a representative cross section of the areas we are traveling through. Sometimes it surprises us, as when, in Henning TN, not too far from Fort Pillow, the road passed under a single lane railroad bridge with a vertical clearance of just 7' 8." That is a low bridge by any standard! A man standing nearby gave us directions to a nearby railroad crossing where we could go over, rather than under, the tracks.

Fort Pillow is now a Tennessee State Park, and while it has a campground, it is basically a "tents only" facility, although they will allow small "van type" campers. Not to be deterred we figured we try anyway so we turned into the campground with all of our 36' (50' if you include the Honda in tow). Luckily it turned out to be a "pick your site and register yourself" arrangement. There was no one else in the campground, and there were so many fallen leaves that we could not tell where on site ended and another began. Ignoring the campsites, we just found a place where there was a level space with enough room between the trees to back the motorhome in off the road (I don't believe I didn't take a picture).

After running out the slides (no hookups) we filled out the registration card and inserted the card and a $3.50 check into the deposit box. When we got to the office/museum, about 3 miles away, it was only an hour before closing so we did the small museum and viewed the 12 minute video.

We then returned to the motorhome where we had dinner and watched the news and NCIS.

Tomorrow we'll check out the fort site itself and the head for Little Rock.

Low bridge (7' 8")

Couple fishing at Fort Pillow State Park

Odometer reading = 72,617
Miles for day = 170



(Little Rock AFB)

First thing this morning we went to the site where Fort Pillow had stood overlooking the Mississippi River from high on the bluffs. At the parking lot we met up with a young white lab that toured the fort site with us.

No part of the original fort remains, but a partial replica has been erected on the site. As in Vicksburg, since the Civil War, the Mississippi River at Fort Pillow has cut itself a new path and is no longer at the foot of the bluffs. It is now approximately one mile west of it's 1864 location

I had the same problem here that I have at many other Civil War sites -- the underbrush on the actual battle site is dense and thick so that you can't see more than 50-100 yards in any direction. You can't see the shape of the terrain, the high and the low spots that may have made the battle go the way that it did. In short, you don't see it the way it was, the way the soldiers fighting there saw it. There really isn't anything that can be done about this as, with the passage of time, the underbrush grows back, that woodlines moves, and the forest restores itself to it's natural prewar condition. But, like so many other things, you must take it the way you find it, and do the best you can with the way it is.

I wasn't sure how we were going to negotiate the exit road from the campground as the leaves were so thick on that section of the ground that you could not ell where the edge of the road was. Plus it was a sharp S curve with a concrete lined drainage ditch on one side. As luck would have it, when we arrived back at the campground there was a young man on a small tractor with a large leaf blower attached who was blowing sites clean at the other end of the campground. I asked him if he could do that section of the exit road which he said he'd do immediately. He also apologized for the leaves not having been previously cleaned up, but explained that that tractor had been in the repair shop until just that morning.

By 10:30am we were on the road heading for Little Rock AFB, about 10 miles north of Little Rock.

Upon arrival we checked into the FamCamp, got everything set up, had dinner, watched some TV, and went to bed early.

Sharyn with our new found friend

Mississippi River, looking south from Fort Pillow State Park

Sharyn crossing ravine to Fort Pillow

Our site at Little Rock FamCamp


Odometer reading = 72,818
Miles for day = 201




11/10/05 through 11/13/05
(Little Rock AFB)

We came to Little Rock to visit with Bill & Cheryl, friends we originally met at the First Annual Great North American RV Rally in Gillette WY in the summer of 2000. We've continued to meet up with them in different places over the years (Cheryl has 3 more years to go before retirement when they plan to begin full-time RVing). They've recently bought a place on a lake west of Hot Springs and we just got back from spending the weekend there with them. That was the first time we spent a night away from the motorhome since Sharyn's mother's funeral, and only the second time since we sold our home an pulled out of the driveway on February 25, 2000.

While we were there Bill and I pretty much just hung around the house, but Sharyn and Cheryl did their usual thing -- they went shopping! -- but only one day.

We are planning to spend the winter at Tyndall AFB in Panama City in Florida and we're trying to get them to bring their motorhome to Panama City to visit with us while we're there.

A week or so ago I was thinking that it had been a long time since I added anything to our page of Interesting and Unusual Signs. Well this weekend, somewhere west of Hot Springs AR on US-270, we had to stop and go back to this new addition to our page.


One of the views from Bill & Cheryl's lake house

Sharyn & Cheryl on screened porch

Our Interesting and Unusual Signs


Odometer reading = 72,818
Miles for day = 0




11/14/05 and 11/15/05
(Little Rock AFB)

These two days have been very active weather wise. Pretty much nonstop thunderstorms with numerous tornado warnings throughout the entire area. I guess we lucked out since while we got rained on we didn't get picked up and blown away.

Last night while brushing my teeth I suddenly had a rock in my mouth -- a giant filling had come out of one of my molars. First thing this morning I called Bill (of Bill and Cheryl fame) who happens to be a dentist with an office in Little Rock. By 2 o'clock this afternoon he had me put back together.

After leaving Bill's office we drove over to see Clinton's locally famous "doublewide" (a/k/a his Presidential Library). Somehow or other it doesn't appear too "presidential."

Anyway, as the afternoon wore on the strong cold front that has been stuck over Central Arkansas began to move on through as the sky began to clear and the temperature dropped dramatically. Last night's low was 68° while tonight is supposed to go down to 35.°

This evening we met with Bill and Cheryl for dinner at a local restaurant before returning to the FamCamp

Tomorrow we'll be on our way to Kansas to see Kim and our grandchildren before heading south for the winter. It could be a week or so before this site gets updated again.

View from the motorhome at 10:am today

Bill Clinton's "doublewide"

The sky clears as we head for dinner

Odometer reading = 72,818
Miles for day = 0




(Little Rock AFB)

While we had planned to leave her this morning it's going to get very cold tonight -- 25° here, but considerably colder as you move north, so we decided to remain here for another day. By tomorrow the temperature will begin to moderate (a little bit).

After making that decision during coffee and conversation, we decided that time was unimportant so we had more of both.

Eventually we went to the commissary and stocked up on groceries. This base has a really nice commissary. Sharyn said it could be the best one we've ever been to, that they have a lot of hard to find gourmet stuff. That she can't afford to buy everything she wants to buy, and can't afford to eat everything she bought. Anyway, when we got back to the motorhome, while Sharyn was putting the stuff away I went to photograph some airplanes that are on display, and to identify two that I didn't recognize.

One turned out to be a B-47 Stratojet, much smaller airplanes than I thought they were. The other one I still don't know what it is.

As I pulled up back at the motorhome Sharyn was sitting on the step where I got her picture through the front windshield.

In anticipation of the upcoming cold nights when we're going to be drycamping I brought in the catalytic LP heater. This will be the first time we use that heater without having to have the LP bottle here in the motorhome (now that we have the LP gas connection under Sharyn's seat

B-47 Stratojet

What's this one? (I need help)
(11/22/05 In response to my "I need help," I received the following link from Lt. Col. Gerard Rowe from the 43FTS at Columbus AFB:

Sharyn relaxed on the front step

Olympian 8000 BTU catalytic heater

Odometer reading = 72,818
Miles for day = 0




(Ozark MO)

Having extended our stay in Little Rock for an additional day to avoid the 17° temperature up towards Kansas City really failed to accomplish its purpose since it was 19° at Little Rock AFB when we woke up. Having disconnected the water lines the night before, the cold temperature caused us no problem -- it was just COLD.

Anyway, we were on the road by 10 o'clock, on our way to Olathe (a suburb of Kansas City KS), planning to do the 400 mile trip in two days. About 30 miles out, we left I-40 and headed north on US-65. When we got off the Interstate, gas in that area was going for $1.93. A real bargain -- plus we needed gas. However, I have this thing that gas at the Interstate exits always costs more than it does further down the road -- so we kept going. As the miles went by, and the gas gauge, gas prices went up. So much for my theory.

Several times during the day we stopped for coffee, lunch, etc. (we don't push too hard). About 10 miles south of Springfield MO we were really needing gas when we saw the sign for Murphy's Gas (Wal-Mart's brand). It worked out very well; the gas (75.8 gallons) was only $1.89, plus we bought milk from, and spent the night at, Wal-Mart.


Odometer reading = 73,026
Miles for day = 208




(Olathe KS)

I got up at 3:am to turn on the furnace in the bedroom -- it was 45° in the motorhome. Shortly after I got back in bed Sharyn rolled over and asked me if I had turned the coffee pot on. I told her I had not, that it was only 3:30. At 5:am I got up anyway, plugged in the coffee pot, and turned the catalytic heater up from low to high. Sharyn was up at six, and we were on the road by seven.

After a few stops for coffee, breakfast, etc., we pulled into Olathe's Wal-Mart at noon, checked out the neighborhood, etc., and by 5 o'clock we were having dinner at Kim's, catching up with what was new with her and the kids. We stayed for several hours before returning to the motorhome for the night.

As I understand it, the plan for tomorrow is shopping.


Odometer reading = 73,224
Miles for day = 197




(Olathe KS)

Sharyn and I had a quiet morning as we waited for Kim and the grandchildren to arrive. When they did arrive we all visited for awhile before leaving on a Christmas "shopping preview" to get some ideas from Katlin and Philip as to what they would like for Christmas.

After several hours perusing the toy aisles (where we saw numerous other parents and grandparents getting similar previews) we all went for dinner at The Machine Shed (as recommended by Katlin). It turned out to have been an excellent choice -- we all left there stuffed and happy!

We continued our visiting as we returned to the motorhome where, after a while, Katlin and I walked over to Wal-Mart to get some AAA batteries for a game that grandma had bought for Philip, who was very anxious to play with it. It wasn't too long after they left that Sharyn and I were in bed.

Tomorrow we're on our way back to Red Bay.


Odometer reading = 73,224
Miles for day = 0




(Sikeston MO)

As predicted, it rained last night, but as predicted as a possibility, it did not snow. That was very good!

I was up at five, Sharyn was up shortly after, and we were on the road by 6:30. There is very little traffic at 6:30 on a Sunday morning.

Heading west towards St Louis we ran into some light drizzle on several occasions, but although the weather was cold and blustery we had no real rain or snow. Turning south as we neared St Louis we decided that south meant warmer, so we decided to go as far as we could. Plus, the further we went today the less we'd have to do tomorrow. The total distance from Olathe to Red Bay is something like 625 miles.

A week or so ago we had been saying that we looked forward to when we left Olathe because from that point on we'd have no appointments or timetables and could meander on at our own, somewhat relaxed, pace. The need (desire) to get to warmer climate modified that somewhat -- we broke our 200 mile rule (almost twice) and went 399 miles before quitting for the day at Wal-Mart's Supercenter in Sikeston MO.


Odometer reading = 73,623
Miles for day = 399




(Red Bay AL)

It was early afternoon when we arrived back here at the Allegro Campground. It was kind of nice to be back -- several of the people we had met before were still here.

As we were setting up, the bedroom slide would not go out. We had the same problem about a month ago when the slide would not come in. That time we cranked it in by hand, but after that it worked fine and, until today, we did not have the problem again. I had to laugh -- where would be a better place to have such a problem. After messing around with it for quite a while I finally gave up and we cranked it out by hand (to get to the manual crank we have to empty everything out from the under-the-bed storage area). There was no 12 volt power at the switch, the disconnect switch, the breaker, or the fuse. Going back beyond that the wire disappears into the floor through the closet wall. Tomorrow I'll see if there is any such thing as a wiring diagram for the motorhome -- that would be a nice thing to have anyway.

For the first time since since we left Little Rock I've got my satellite back up so I'm back online again. Also, first time back with hookups.

Tomorrow we'll see what kind of a timeframe we can expect for the windshield and (if necessary) the slideout.


Odometer reading = 73,850
Miles for day = 226




11/22/05 and 11/23/05
(Red Bay AL)

First of all, the slide is fixed. That wire that disappears into the floor runs to and is directly connected to the battery terminal. When the crimp connector that fastens the wire to the battery was crimped to the wire, the crimp missed the wire. I replaced the crimp and all is well.

With respect to the windshield, they got to us this morning and removed both passenger and driver's side windshields. After reworking some of the fiberglass around the opening, installing new rubber, and reinstalling the glass, the technician said that while it was a lot better than it had been, it was still not as good as he would like to see it. After talking it over with the technician (David) we decided we'd stay over until Monday, after Thanksgiving, at which time he will again remove the windshields and buildup the fiberglass in the areas he is not happy with. As far as Allegro is concerned this is a problem that we should not be having and they are doing all this "on warranty" even though it expired years, and thousands of miles, ago. David said that since this is regarded as warranty work, our campground stay "for warranty work" is also free. It's difficult not to feel good about this company.

While Sharyn was hanging out in the customer lounge I went back over to the factory to reexamine the layout of the Phaetons and the driver and copilot seats in the bus (we want the bus seats). When I got back to where Sharyn was I also joined in all the ongoing conversations (albeit to a lesser degree). It's really remarkable how varied and different all the people here are -- doctors, farmers, stunt drivers, accountants, retired business owners, nurses, truck drivers, authors, retired military, etc. . There is absolutely no such thing as a "typical" full-time RVer. While all of the stories and experiences are different, and there sure are lots of them, all the wives have the same things to say about the husbands (that what Sharyn tells me), and all the husbands have the same things to say about the wives (I gave Sharyn that information). It's amazing that such a diverse group, with such diverse backgrounds, all tell the same stories about their spouses. Does that mean something?


Our windshield under repair

Tiffin's new repair facility


Odometer reading = 73,850
Miles for day = 0




11/24/05 (Thanksgiving Day)
(Red Bay AL)

While this place is usually a bee hive of activity at 7:am as motorhomes are moving into the 40 workbays adjacent to the campground, this morning all was quiet. Many had left for Thanksgiving, while for those who remained it was what amounted to a vacation day, and we all slept late.

The day could not have been nicer; bright and sunny with a cloudless sky and cool breeze -- temperature around 70.° As the day progressed people began be be out and about, enjoying the weather, and enjoying the camaraderie that this place fosters. It's interesting that pretty much everyone here is here because they need some kind of work done on their unit, yet just about no one complains -- and most of these units are only one or two years old. As one couple told us this afternoon, "we'd come here even if we didn't need to have any work done."

Anyway, at 3 o'clock this afternoon there was sort of a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, complete with three turkeys donated by Tiffin and prepared by Marsha, the campground hostess. All the food was delicious, and there was plenty of it -- plenty of turkey, stuffing, etc., and lots of conversation! It's not exactly Thanksgiving with family, but it's not bad at all!

Potluck Thanksgiving

A portion of the campground after dinner

Odometer reading = 73,850
Miles for day = 0




11/25/05 through 11/28/05
(Red Bay AL)

Today was the Monday after Thanksgiving. For the last several days we have just been hanging around with the other people that at here, all waiting for today when Tiffin reopens all of their activities and scheduled work begins again. In the meanwhile we've all been visiting with each other, sharing experiences, war stories, etc.

As per our arrangement with David, the technician who repaired our windshield, we had our motorhome pulled up in front of his repair bay a few minutes before 6:am, and at six o'clock the bay door went up and we pulled in. David had come in an hour early to be doubly sure he'd be able to have our unit finished today. He had us finished around 3:pm. The total invoice came to $1133.58 and was charged to warranty -- no cost to us. On a six year old motorhome, out of warranty by three years and 50,000 miles, that's a pretty nice way to treat your customers.

While we were being worked on inside, the cold front that spawned thunderstorms and tornados in Alabama, Arkansas, and Missouri passed through Red Bay with severe winds and torrential rains. Unfortunately, the satellite system that we use to access the Internet, which is set up on a tripod, was blown over. We didn't try to set it up again as we are leaving here in the morning. I sure hope it still works!


Odometer reading = 73,850
Miles for day = 0




(Prattville AL)

After saying goodbye and checking out at the campground office (no charge for the campground either) we were on the road by ten o'clock.

After stopping several times to eat, make another pot of coffee, etc., it was around 4 o'clock when we eventually pulled into a Walmart Supercenter just north of Montgomery to spend the night. We parked in the furthest corner from the store, and as we locked the door and started walking towards Walmart the security truck drove up. We asked if we were okay where we had parked and if it would be for us to remain there for the night. She said we were fine and that she'd tell her relief to keep an eye on us.

In Walmart we bought a gallon of milk, a 12" pumpkin pie, and not much else, yet it came to over $40 -- oh well!


Odometer reading = 74,073
Miles for day = 222




(Panama City FL)

This morning we were up at 5:50 and on the road by 7 o'clock -- but not before we finished the pumpkin pie we bought last night. It would have been better if we had not bought that pie!

I think I've mentioned before that we've been using Street Atlas 2003 in conjunction with a GPS to plan our travel route from Point A to Point B. With this system we can tell the computer what kind of roads we want to travel by telling it to prefer or to avoid (or to treat as neutral) limited access highways, US highways, county roads, local roads, farm roads, etc. We can also say we want the quickest route or the shortest route.. We usually select shortest route and avoid farm roads and ferries. This gets us to travel a neat cross section of America. Some Interstate, but mostly state and county roads, with some of what are called local roads. It was one of these local roads where we encountered that railroad underpass with a vertical clearance of 8' 7".

An example of why we avoid farm roads came to us today when we were talking and, not paying attention to the monitor or the voice directions, I missed a turn from one local road to another. These local roads don't provide much opportunity to turn around without unhooking the Honda, so I scanned ahead on the computer and saw that we could take a left on White's Road and that would bring us back to our proper route. As we turned onto White's Road we went less than 100' when we quickly stopped -- there was a bridge that might not support a heavily loaded pickup truck, never mind our 24,000 pound rig. Anyway, we unhooked the Honda, backed it out, and the backed the motorhome back out to the other road.

Having gotten an early start this morning, we were here at the Tyndall AFB FamCamp before 1 o'clock. While the sites we would have preferred were taken, we were both lucky and relieved to get a full hookup site (most of the sites here have water, electric, and cable, but no sewer). We paid for a month and we'll how it plays out at the end of that time. Until last year there was a 90 day limit which would have allowed us to to stay here through February. Now there is a 45 day limit, after which, if someone is waiting for a site we will have to move to another available, non-sewer, site. If no such sites are available we'll have to go to overflow and wait for something to open up. We'll see what happens.


A farm road bridge


Odometer reading = 74,280
Miles for day = 206




12/1/05 through 12/11/05
(Panama City FL)

The first several days we were here it was sunny and quite nice. After that the giant cold front that brought blizzard conditions to the upper Midwest and northeast passed through the Florida panhandle bringing rain and cooler temperatures. While the rain has passed, the clouds and cooler temps have lingered on. That means we've been in the 50's rather than the 60's, but speaking with our kids in Virginia and New York make it clear that "cooler temps" is a relative term.

Last week we went to "Tops in Blue" at the Panama City Civic Center. Tops in Blue is a show put on by a group of Air Force personnel that travels the world, entertaining more than 250,000 military personnel, their families, and communities, presenting an average of 120 performances at 100 locations worldwide. This is not their job however. They are radar operators, nurses, armament specialists, intelligence analyzers, security personnel, etc. who, for one year become and travel with "Tops in Blue." We thoroughly the show. In fact, we will be paying attention to the show schedule and will go again whenever our paths cross (which they will).

To see just what Tops in Blue is all about click here

To see if they will be performing near you (admission is free) click here.

With respect to Christmas shopping (we don't do "Holiday shopping") it seems that we are about done. Several days ago Sharyn drove to Destin because she said they had better stores -- Destin is about 75 miles west of here! She enjoyed her day there and did have some successful shopping. One day while Sharyn was shopping in the BX I took the car and went to the beach for an hour. If you like to walk on the beach then Tyndall AFB is a great place. The base encompasses more than ten miles of beautiful, wide, uninterrupted, uninhabited, Gulf shore beach. You might call it "The Seashore Primeval."

One thing here that is a pain in the neck is that our cell phones don't work in the campground -- no one's phone seems to work in the campground, but as soon as you leave the campground area everyone has a full signal. We (I) assume that it must be the heavy foliage, but that seems pretty extreme. Who knows?


This years "Tops in Blue" cast (from program guide)

Picture taken on Tyndall's beach


Odometer reading = 74,280
Miles for day = 0




12/12/05 to 12/22/05
(Panama City FL)

It's been rather quiet here in Panama City. Christmas shopping is finished.

Several days ago Sharyn and I went for a prolonged walk along the beach which we enjoyed. We had just concluded several days of rainy, stormy weather so the beach was in pristine condition -- not even any footprints. Sharyn came back with quite a collection of shells, some of them unique (at least to us).

Yesterday we picked Jordan up at the airport as she has flown down to spend Christmas with us. While it's only been about 4½ months since we've seen her, it was still good to see her again.

While we arrived here with the idea of spending a good part, if not all, of the winter here, we've kind of changed our minds. Since our first (and last) visit there in 2003 I've been looking forward to returning to returning to Quartzsite AZ for all the RV related things that go on there from mid-January through mid-February. Jordan's flight back to Virginia is on the 27th and within a day or two after she leaves we'll be on our way to Quartzsite. For us, two thousand miles in two weeks is a lot of mileage in a relatively short. We *really* like to go along at a slower pace, but then we want to be in Quartzsite for the whole deal.

Our clearing in the jungle (campsite)

Part of the walk to the beach

Beach scene

Shell on beach

Jordan at airport coffee shop

Jordan leaving terminal building


Odometer reading = 74,280
Miles for day = 0




12/23/05 to 12/29/05
(Panama City FL)

The three of us thoroughly enjoyed Christmas day here at Tyndall. There certainly was no shortage of presents for any of us. Christmas day we had our own Christmas dinner in the motorhome, but Christmas Eve we went up to the clubhouse where most of the campers shared a pot luck type of Christmas dinner. We, as most people there, ate way too much. When 50 women who have been cooking for 40 years (that's a combined 2,000 years cooking experience) bring their prize dishes to a Christmas Eve dinner you get quite a selection of rather delicious things to eat -- and that's what we all did!

Several days after Christmas, having enjoyed the unrelenting fun and humor of her parents, Jordan returned to Virginia.

At this point we're ready to move on towards Quartzsite for the big midwinter RV rendezvous that begins in mid-January.

Christmas Eve - Early Arrivals at the clubhouse

A little later

A Christmas present that only a few can appreciate


Odometer reading = 74,280
Miles for day = 0




(Summerdale AL)

After spending a month at Tyndall, around noon today we pulled out and headed west along US-98 to Foley AL and the nearby Escapees Park in Summerdale. We've stayed here a number of times in the past and find it a friendly and pleasant place to stay. Plus, it's a convenient stop as we follow the Gulf Coast. Besides, with respect to this particular visit, Sharyn was very clear when she told me that she was not going to spend New Years Eve in a Wal-Mart parking lot. With attitude like that, how could I not love her?

We'll probably leave her Sunday, January 1, 2006. Then again, maybe we won't!

By the way, any serious RVer, particularly full-timers, should consider an Escapees membership. We only belong to two groups or organizations; Escapees and Passport America. Escapees is a great organization and Passport America will save you money. It's as simple as that


Odometer reading = 74,429
Miles for day = 149




(Summerdale AL)

This morning we had a french toast, sausage, orange juice, and coffee breakfast at the clubhouse for $2.50. After that we drove into town (Foley), bought some stuff at Walmart, drove down to, and around, the Tangier's Outlet Mall (where Sharyn said we should have come here for Christmas rather than Tyndall), and returned to the park. As I am finishing up this page, Sharyn is preparing the "finger food" stuff to bring to the New Years thing tonight.

Today I'm wrapping up "Travelog 2005," pasting the bulk of it onto the end of "Travelog Complete" (which incidentally is the most accessed page on the "Stringbean" site [large file - not suitable for dial-up connection]), modifying the necessary links, and cranking up "Travelog 2006."

That's it for 2005; time to upload all this stuff to the server.

Happy New Year!


Odometer reading = 74,429
Miles for day = 0



Skip ahead to January 1, 2006




Complete Travelog February 2000 through last December
(This is a big file, probably not suitable for download via dialup connection)