Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This is our lifestyle, but sometimes you get to these beautiful parts of our country and you just break one tourist rule after the other. Like Gulf Shores....we decide to drive that little strip of land south of US Highway 98 heading east from Gulf Shores, AL and the sand dunes and the shoreline were just captivating. We're heading toward Pensacola, unaware we're going to be at the entrance of the Pensacola Naval Air Station any moment...and who should be practicing right over our heads but the Blue Angels - the Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron - who first performed in 1946 - and if you're from Jax., FL, as RV and I are, you were fortunate because that was where it all started. These days they fly F/A-18 Hornets...SO we had to stop everything and as soon as we got inside the Base gates, we parked at the Navy Museum to enjoy the remainder of their deafening practice.

We hadn't planned to go in the Museum - but decided we'd go in for about 30 minutes and then continue our excursion. O.K., almost 3 hours later we came out saying "UN-BEE-LEEEEV-A-BULL!!!" Yes, we heard the same from all of you who said "You've GOT to go to the Naval Museum in Pensacola", but we didn't believe you. Now we do. And thank you very much for arranging the Blue Angel demonstration for us - we loved that also. As a side note, we had lunch at the Cubi Point Cafe - disassembled in the Navy Base in the Phillipines (when the U.S. was asked to leave) in the early '90s, and reassembled exactly as it was inside the Museum as a living, delicious and very authentic Navy cafe/bar/officer's club.

As we left we drooled over the beautiful base campground on the water right across the street from the Blue Angels Training Field. What a benefit for all you military retirees! On the way back, we went out of our way to stop at the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Perdido Key. Several years ago someone suggested that we buy the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass - and it has paid for itself many, many times. All you young whippersnappers (62 or older only) need one. And by all means, get a Passport sold at the National Park Service bookstores.

Our tour continued the next day when we decided to take the Mobile Bay Ferry from Fort Morgan across to Dauphin Island, AL and travel north through Mobile, enter I-10 and then get off to get back over to Gulf Shores to our campground, and I hope that makes sense. The Ferry sign read "No RV's Today" - are you kidding? No way we could imagine getting on that Ferry in anything larger than our car! Dauphin Island is so beautiful you can't put it in words; however, Mother Nature keeps re-nurturing it over and storm after another. We visited Fort Gaines - an anchorage for the colonization of the New World. The Fort was established in 1813; however, this area was mapped by Spanish explorers in 1513. Ever heard the saying "Damn the torpedoes - Full speed ahead!" - a quote of Admiral David Farragut during the Battle Of Mobile Bay.

What a gem this island is, but we're getting hungry and begin to head north to the mainland on a bridge built in 1952 - to one of the hidden little bayous where we enjoy lunch and the freshest of seafood at Beaudean's. Fresh oysters are such a luxury and the story is they were brought from the Bayou LaBatre that morning. These were the tastiest and freshest oysters I've had in quite some time.

We've been at Island Retreat in Gulf Shores about a week, and while we were one of the last to leave the rally campground, we are excited as if it were Christmas morning as we begin to head in a westerly direction toward Louisiana to the "Who Dat Nation".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TRVN RALLY - Gulf Shores, AL

We were excited about going to the Tiffin RV Network (TRVN) Rally in Gulf Shores, AL. We had never been to this area so there were lots of new sights - lots of new people - and still a lot to learn about our coach. Our last TRVN Rally was in Tellico Plains, TN, in October 2009, and was attended by less than 50 coaches, so this was going to be large in comparison - 100 coaches. We are probably in the minority as fulltimers in our coach. A lot of the attendees still work, or they continue to own homes, and many are on the way to be as free as we are, and are disposing of their "stuff" and hope to be fulltiming shortly.

RV and I still learn something new regarding our coach most every day. Some things I don't EVEN want to know - like the black tank is RV's specialty. I'm the co-pilot, second officer, the right seat, etc. I'm not that familiar with leveling jacks, slides or air bags - or where the breaker box is located that houses a 300 amp fuse. Not to be confused with "just another pretty face", I do our online banking, meal planning and preparation, blog writing, trip planning, and inside cleaning, and whatever else is needed. We are into our 3rd year of fulltiming and in case you're wondering, we love our lifestyle more and more every day. We've learned to live in a small space and to rely upon each other during those stressful times. Oftentimes our sense of humor has helped us when things have been less than perfect, or our day hasn't gone exactly as planned. Every day is a new experience, but we feel blessed to be able to see our beautiful country and sleep in "our" own home and "our" own bed every night.

Being in the TRVN has given us an opportunity to meet and communicate with literally thousands of Tiffin owners. This is helpful when you are away months at a time. The TRVN has over 4000 members who communicate at, an internet forum for Tiffin owners. At least once or twice a day, we check in on the Forum to see if we can help or offer our assistance, or learn something from a new posting.

About 100 coaches arrived at our rally destination, Island Retreat RV Park, in Gulf Shores from 4/13 to 4/18. We are staying several days past the Rally to visit the area and become familiar with this beautiful part of the Gulf Coast -both Alabama and Florida.
We have been surprised at the damage that was done to this area of the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Ivan, in September 2004 - it was so devastating that most of the houses and businesses look brand new as you ride through the coastal towns. Hurricane Ivan was the 9th most intense hurricane ever recorded, with 115 mph winds, and a 10-13' storm surge. Afterwards must have been a long, long nightmare for the residents as we saw what must have been a boom in new construction and repair. There are hundreds of homes on the market, For Rent, or For Sale. Wherever you look are refurbished buildings and new infrastructure in the State Parks as well as the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We have lots of questions, but maybe this area comes alive in a few months, during the summer/winter, like so many coastal areas. But for now, the area seems to be sparsely occupied.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


It's Spring and we're "On The Road Again". Upon leaving Webster on 4/3, our only scheduled stop is to be in Gulf Shores, AL by 4/13, so we enjoyed a nice visit with family for Easter and were so proud to be at our granddaughter's (Kiley),baptism in Green Cove Springs. We enjoyed Easter Sunrise Service and the day with family. We left Green Cove Springs on Wednesday, April 7, and spent several nights Lee's Country Campground in White Springs, FL. You may have heard what a special place the Stephen Foster State Park is to visit. Hourly carillon concerts and a beautiful museum we both had visited in elementary school (about 100 years ago). Not really, but those panoramas have been working since about 1939 with minimal maintenance.

We spent 3 nights in the area since we were so tired after the 83 mile drive from GCS and moved on to a town we had never visited - DeFuniak Springs, FL - to Sunset King Lake Resort. Although the campground was a little off the beaten path, we soon realized it was one of the friendliest places we've ever visited. On Sunday morning we attended an on-site chapel and enjoyed a service presented by lay workers. We were treated as if they had known us for years and were invited to a pot luck lunch at the restaurant - also on site. These people are fishin' and huntin' buddies "big time", on these twin lakes - where the water flows into the springs at DeFuniak Lake. One couple befriended us and took us for a beautiful sunset ride in their pontoon boat. We found after a couple of days we could have easily stayed longer - but we have what is known as the "hitch itch". (This means it is time to get back on the road.)

Since neither of us had ever been to DeFuniak Springs, we had an opportunity to learn a unique part of Florida history, one of our favorite subjects. It was named "DeFuniak" in honor of Frederick DeFuniak, first president of the P&A (Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad Company). The "springs" are in the center of the lake, in the center of town. DeFuniak Springs had one of the busiest train stations in Florida in 1883 - made famous by the Florida Chautauqua (Hall of Brotherhood), modeled after the New York Chautauqua - a Methodist training center for Sunday School teachers. The Chautauqua had an auditorium that held over 4000 seats. The whole town supported the center. An interesting fact - the growing town was the home of the State Normal School (c.1885) which moved to Tallahassee in 1905 where it became Florida State University For Women, known today as Florida State University. The DeFuniak Springs Library, is one of the oldest continually operated libraries housed in the same original building in the State of Florida. We visited the library - it has one of the oldest armor collections in the world - many of the pieces are medieval - and all are displayed throughout the library. The whole town seems to revolve around Circle Drive, a charming one mile beautifully preserved circular drive around DeFuniak Lake. Talk about a walk back into Victorian times, when labor and materials were plentiful - turrets, double verandas, classic fluted columns, gingerbread trim, and window dormers are found everywhere you look - over 250 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in DeFuniak Springs.

For lunch one day we enjoyed a famous "Ed's Pub Burger" (absolutely delicious and only a half pound burger) with fries on the shores of Lake DeFuniak. We thought it was a great idea until I tried to feed the ducks and was soon surrounded by what seemed to be a scene from the Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds". Seems like they were everywhere, so I threw the fries to escape, and we made our way back to the car.

On the morning of 4/13 we departed Sunset King RV Resort and DeFuniak Springs and drove 139 miles to Gulf Shores, AL to attend the Tiffin RV Network Rally - about 100 coaches all manufactured by Tiffin Motorhomes in Red Bay AL.