Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bushed in Bushnell?

I can't really say that...It was a short drive from Cedar Key to Bushnell, FL...about two and a half hours...We're staying at the Breezy Oaks RV Park in Bushnell for three days. We're on a scouting mission to find places for approximately month long stays for January, February, and March in the Sunshine state. Eldy's not tired after a short trip like that!
semi after semi after semi--sigh!
Breezy Oaks is conveniently located within 1.9 miles of interstate 75....What they don't tell you is, although it's 1.9 miles from the exit to the campground. By the time you've driven back to the campground, you are a  hop, skip, and a jump to the interstate which is right in the backyard of the campground. That = LOTS of road noise, IF you are on the sites near the highway. We were on #83. There were only two sites closer to the highway than us. It was loud even with all the windows closed.....BUT---12.50 a night, you can't beat the rate for full hookups and 50 amp. Sites are a little tight and close together, but this is Florida...Park staff is super nice, they have karaoke here...(Did I tell you Sparky likes to karaoke? mentions E. innocently.) Well, yes, but only after quite a bit of wine, and only after the bulk of the audience has left and called it a night..... :-)

AHEM! About the park.......Here are a couple of photos of Breezy Oaks.....above and below....
Breezy Oaks main road thru park

After settling in the first day, we looked at Paradise Oaks Golf and RV Resort in Bushnell.....nice park, modern looking clubhouse, spacious sites, very few trees except at the back of the park.  The golf was a little on the questionable side. It advertises a "9 hole executive golf course". The course is a year old, but it didn't look in very good shape. It seemed like a very short chipping and putting type of course. Rates are 600.00 monthly, 240.00 weekly, and 46.00 daily....Main attractions for this area are listed as: Dade Battlefield, Croom Motorcyle Area (???), Withlacoochee River, Lake Pansoffkee for bass fishing, VFW Post, American Legion Post, and the Webster Flea Markets on Mondays....

We also checked out the Blueberry Hill RV park which is right across the parking lot from the Walmart in Bushnell...Nice place also...parking lot feel...rows and rows of sites all out in the open, no trees to speak of. Nice facilities and people speak highly of it on RV Park Reviews, if we remember right.

Another really nice park is the Sumter Oaks RV Park...It's an Escapees Park in Bushnell and one of the nicest we've seen....We'll definitely come back to that one...We chose Breezy Oaks instead for the rate while we're here, but the grounds and sites are a lot prettier at Sumter Oaks Escapees....

We saved the best for last---Florida Grand Motor Coach RV Resort....and the photos will have to wait because Sparky didn't take any except for one heading out of the park after a tour! Too busy gawking at the place! This is a luxury motorcoach RV resort in Webster, but further out in the county. Twenty thousand foot clubhouse, billiards room, hobby room, activities, crafts, outings, a knitting group--woo-hoo! very nice pool, huge lots...monthly rate is 650.00 a month, 210.00 a week....They bring in entertainment on a regular basis, the park is huge and paved all over for lots of bike riding, it backs up against a preserve and it's quiet and peaceful..Sparky was sold on the place when she saw two sandhill cranes come walking through a site to check out a crane lawn ornament. Once they saw it wasn't their type, they left!

The park is busy in the month of January for the Tampa RV show, 80% full they said....Looks like we might be staying there in January! See you later.....Tomorrow is our last day here, and Sparky is going to check out the Dade Battlefield State Park in Bushnell. We'll see you at the park....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are You Sure You Want to Go to Florida?

Darn these pesky ants! They like my hot pink parrot/flowered p.j's! They must think I'm a super sweet flower, haha. (E. says, "Well, you are my sweetie"....)  At least they are tiny little buggers! I found at least two crawling around on my pink shirt this morning.  They are NOT crawling around on him! I must be emitting chemicals that attract them. Maybe it's my Coke I drink in the morning.

Eldy says that there is a new invasive species of ants called CRAZY ANTS that are invading Florida and the southeast. They are called crazy ants because they move so erratically fast they leave normal ants standing still. They are believed to be from South America and they are hairy---ugh! They are about 4 mm long and can be grayish, reddish, or sometimes black. They were discovered nine years ago in Texas by an exterminator. When crazy ants encounter another colony of crazy ants, they become a SUPER colony and they can cover a sidewalk or the side of a building. They can BITE! The weird thing is, they are attracted to circuit boxes. If enough of them get together, they make an ant bridge between connections in the box and can knock out electrical circuits. Geez, sounds like a science fiction movie, where the ants take over the world! Darned if they are going to take over our motorhome! Time to get more ant spray, cayenne pepper, vinegar, and then some fogger for the yard! We're going to have a stinkin' bug free motorhome if it's the last thing we do! (Uh, Sparky, have you thought about moths eating holes in all that wool yarn you've got stored on board?) Uh-oh! And I better get that yarn bagged in air tight storage bags! And we better keep moving! That's the ticket, we'll just keep moving around from location to location! Eldy's not too keen on that strategy, it's not very economically sound, so looks like we will stick to the original plan of staying about a month in each place while we are down here......But not just yet...

And of course, you have the pythons that are running amok in southern Florida.....And I swear I've seen kudzu, that climbing vine that overtakes everything in its path and covers it up....Not to mention the mussels....and the....who knows what else!? If you want to know, you can check this website..I went looking just for the fun of it--(You can do that when you're retired, you know...) and there are LOTS of invasive species in Florida.

Yeah, we still want to go to Florida...heck, we ARE in Florida and going to be there in various locations for the next three to four months! We'll keep our eyes open for the crazy ants, fire ants, pythons, and alligators for you. We'll even do a local report!  Here's the first report....a baby alligator is in the pond here at Cedar Key RV Resort......and he's a scaredy-cat! I went to take a photo of him and he dropped under the radar into the water before I could get a photo...darn!   See you later.....Gotta make a store run for critter chemical warfare......

Monday, November 28, 2011

Beautiful Cedar Key, FL

Dusk at Cedar Key
Although it's only 8 miles into the town from Cedar Key RV Resort, it's not safely bikeable. Rats! Or Sparky would be biking into town every day for a cup of Tony's World Champion Clam Chowder! He's won these past three years in a row at the Knorr Great Chowder Cook-Off. Tony's Seafood Restaurant, in Cedar Key, is only a 54 seat restaurant, but he's world famous for the chowder. He's got the recipe down pat. Best clam chowder I ever tasted! If you like it, you can order it online and have it shipped anywhere! (I know Sparky is considering it, says E., but minimum order for shipping is HALF A GALLON, and we ain't got no stinkin' room! Even if we do have a residential fridge!) Eldo's not a chowdah hound, or we'd be gettin' some, for sure! After the chowdah and a nice salad, we walked the streets as dusk came...watching a fisherman throw scraps to the pelicans who fought over them.....

The main street of this little town, billed as "Florida's #1 Rural Small Town" as I said before, is filled with niche restaurants and little shops and a couple of galleries and "artsy fartsy" places...maybe these photos can give you a little glimpse of this sleepy little town that appears to have a hoppin' waterfront section with live entertainment, and all the different kinds of seafood you might possibly have a craving for....

There are TWO national wildlife refuges here, and we just didn't have enough time to check them time for sure! Here's a mosaic in the center of the town....
This little town is a hidden gem, kind of like "old Florida", before all the developers came and put up the high rise condos and all the trappings that come with overdevelopment...You won't find that here in Cedar Key!

Dusk at the dock....We'll definitely be back.......

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ants in My Pants! There Better NOT Be!

Ugh! I kid you not, I felt something crawling inside my clothing, and it was a little itsy bitsy teeny tiny ant! We've still got 'em, those darn stinkin' sugar ants and stink bugs, I think...and.....BLACK FLIES! Well, what do you expect? We're in Florida! And now they tell me some of the ants we're seeing outside can be FIRE ANTS! Well, shoot! We've been full timing for a year and a half, and this is the first time we've had bugs of ANY kind in great numbers! I will say I'm not sure about fire ants, that is, if they are in this area or not. I was sort of half way joking on that one. Everybody says fire ants bite and they HURT! These little sugar ants don't bite, thank goodness...But I'm starting to feel like I did when I was teaching school and we'd find out some kid had head lice and IMMEDIATELY we'd start itching and scratching our scalps!

I'm getting so I feel like there are little critters crawling up my legs or arms, just knowing that we haven't eradicated all our little insects on board. I think the stink bugs hopped on board back in Elkhart. They were in full force there all over the outside of the rig and have now found their way inside in various devious ways! The black flies and little eensy teensy tiny gnats outside or no see-ums are bad at certain times of day, but with bug spray, it's tolerable. Thank goodness, a breeze helps as well..... This is what I call a "stink bug" but it could be something else. It's pretty big and crunches when you squish 'em. Ew-w-w-w!

I have this thing about apologizing for every little creature I squash. I always feel I have to apologize out loud when I kill any of God's creatures, I don't know why. I started doing that when I was a kid, and have never stopped. I say, "I'm sorry, little _________" every time I kill anything, spiders, ants, bugs, plants. I read once about a study that hooked plants up to polygraph machines and the plants responded with a huge spike on the electrograph machine or whatever you call it-- to a leaf being torn off or cut. For a long time I couldn't bear to throw away a plant. And no, that blank space is not a cuss word! Substitute bug of your choice in the blank. ( I didn't know she was that way! says E.)  I'm starting to think maybe we should fog the motor home! But that's extreme....and I hate chemicals, so we're not gonna do that. Eldy is just shaking his head, he did not know this about Sparky being a little weird about plants and bugs. He's wondering "what else don't I know?" Time will tell.........

Time to change the subject......We checked out some more parks in the Cedar Key, FL area today...Rainbow Country RV Park...which is right across the street from the Cedar Key RV Resort where we are staying. Rainbow Country has a really nice office staff, but the park is very old, quite a few of the rigs in there are quite old. People have been going there for years, nothing wrong with that....but a lot of the sites looked like it, too--abandoned RVs, overgrown vegetation, messy sites. Sites are gravel/grass and somewhat uneven, road thru the park is sandy and uneven, and I didn't see any really big rigs in there. Plenty of shade, great rates...cheaper than Cedar Key RV Resort.  But, cheap is not always best! We think we prefer Cedar Key.....Next on the list to visit is Williston Crossings RV is the pool, nice, don't you think?

Williston Crossings  RV resort back in site
This is a VERY nice park, decent space between sites, beautiful pool, very nice clubhouse, some activities but not a lot. Some amenities still being developed. They have cable TV, free wi-fi, and decent rates, but there's nothing to do there....the town of Williston is just a very small town, your average small town....If you are happy sitting in a park, doing a lot of reading, or riding your bike around inside the park, crafting, sitting at the pool, this is a great spot for that. It's quiet and in the middle of nowhere. If you need a bigger town to visit for activities, Ocala is 25 miles away and Orlando is 97 miles from Williston.

Rates are grass sites--21.95 a day, 135.00 weekly, 450.00 monthly--no cable or wi-fi at these grass sites if I remember correctly...Back in sites: 29.95 daily, 175.00 weekly, 495.00 monthly..There are no monthly rates available for pull throughs....which is too bad, because they were very nice sites with borders of trees on each side, a little more "private"......

Back home we came to our Cedar Key RV park and a quick last drive back into the town of Cedar Key for some fantastic chowder...We'll share some great photos of the town tomorrow, as it is a travel day for us. We are headed to Bushnell, FL tomorrow.....Exploring the possibilities of places to stay for future winter visits!  See you later......

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We're in the Keys! ----

NOT!    Does Cedar Key count? No? I didn't think so, but it's very reminiscent of the Florida Keys, that's for sure! We'll show you the actual town later. We left VERY early this morning, like 6:30 AM. (Can you believe I got Sparky up that early?????) We had to drive about 370 miles today, and according to the G.P.S., we needed every bit of daylight to get there before dark to park the rig as we lost an hour crossing a time zone. It wasn't that hard to get me up, once I know that Eldy wants to get an early start, I just tell my brain, "Woman, you've got to get up early, early in the morning, or Eldy's going to be a basketcase when we get there in the dark, and we don't want that, do we?" Nope, nope, and nope! (And you need to add that Sparky gets a little crabby on long driving days and then having to park me in the dark! adds E.) Fair enough!  Yes, I do! ----Sometimes.....

We were headed from Summerdale, AL to the Cedar Key area of Florida, the northwest Gulf coast side of Florida....about a 7 1/2 hour drive counting a gas stop. No problem-o!  Eldy did a great job driving, Sparky did a great job knitting after ripping out a baby bootie six times, and here we are at the Cedar Keys RV Resort, a new resort that opened in April, 2010, I believe.....

Thirty dollars a day, Passport America rate good only for ONE night. They oughta take notes from Emmaus RV Park back in Summerdale, AL, who honors P.A. rate for as long as you want to stay! The park here is quite empty. I'm sure that will change later next month. The rates are 180.00 for the week and $400.00 for the month. The monthly rate is great, but you have to add electric to that and an 11% tax...Still great rates! This park is VERY big rig friendly...There is AWESOME space between sites..There are just a couple of drawbacks...The park is laid out in a typical "Y" slot formation. You have lots of room sideways on each side, but units are at your backside from the next row over. We discovered this evening that that can feel like someone is right on top of you if they have a campfire going--cough! cough! or a T.V.  (That's Sparky with sensitive lungs hacking it out from two campfires going on two sides.)

The other drawback? It's just a little far from the water, about 7 1/2 miles from the Gulf and the little rural town of Cedar Key. There is another little park right across the street from the Cedar Key RV Resort. It's a Passport America park as well.  It's a much older park but the rates across the street at that park are cheaper than this one! We're going to check that one out--Rainbow Country, while we are here for two days.....
Cedar Key RV Resort
Some of the sites have nice trees on them, some of them are out in the open, like ours....We are on site 13, one of 83 sites here.....The rates quoted are for 50 amp, full hookup, laundry, and electric is included in the daily and weekly rates. They have a 4,000 foot clubhouse and a pool. We'll check that out tomorrow...
We are getting closer to the water!  Yay! That's something we both love, and it's just a little harder to find a nice park closer to the water without paying astronomical rates here in Florida....There is an RV park inside the town of Cedar Key, which bills itself as "Florida's #1 Rural Small Town"....That park is called Sunset Isle RV Park, and it does have sites on the water. Unfortunately, everybody (popups, RVs, travel trailers, and a big rig or two), is jammed together in a very small area, and water sites are VERY limited. It looked messy and crowded in there. It would not be easy to get a big rig in there, and they looked quite full. We're going to pass on that one.....We'll see you tomorrow in the harbor town of Cedar Key, a very unique place!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Awesome U.S.S. Alabama!

At our Thanksgiving dinner last night, they had door prizes, and we won a ticket for two admission worth 24.00 to the U.S.S. Alabama Memorial Park near Mobile, Alabama. Not only is there the U.S.S. Alabama battleship there, there's the U.S.S. Drum, a WWII submarine of rare vintage and preserved very closely to its original form, unlike many WWII military ships which have had many parts replaced and reproduced. What's interesting about this park is that this memorial receives ZERO financial aid from the federal and state government to keep running. The park is dedicated to all Alabama veterans who have served in all the  military conflicts of the United States.

The battleship is a self-guided tour of three choices--red, green, and pick up a sheet and follow the instructions to pass through the ship at designated stations, depending on which color tour you take. Each tour takes about 30 minutes. There is no information about each station on the sheet, just the name of what you are looking at--"On your left is the crew's berthing space. Proceed through hatch 18 into the crew's mess area. On your left is the Gedunk stand (ship's soda fountain)." It would be nice to get some info from a tour person, or someone stationed at the entrance if you had questions. But there's no money for that, they are just hanging on with preserving the ships and planes.

The ship is's always amazing to see the ship's structure up close and personal---the guns that shoot 320 rounds a minute, the different quarters of the ship that held a total of 2500 seamen operating the ship...The U.S.S. Alabama earned 9 battle stars and shot down 22 enemy airplanes during WWII.

There's a lot of cool stuff here besides the battleship and the submarine. There is a museum of vintage war planes, the spy plane the A-12...It was sad to see the damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Some of the planes have been repaired, but some haven't and are awaiting for funds to be repaired. All funds to operate this memorial come from schoolchildren, vets, and concerned citizens. Apparently, the museum doesn't have any money to fix the damage to the U.S.S. Drum, the submarine that is outside on the grounds of the Memorial. We toured the sub as well today...amazing all condensed hardware and controls jammed into the smallest of spaces...

We hope that Americans will continue to support the memorial.....this is a wonderful be able to walk the decks of a historical ship, travel through the sub's tunnels to revisit  and FEEL the history--climb all over the 12 decks and steps, sit in the gunner's seat, read about the men and women who served on the ship and sounds so lame to try and explain the importance of being able to do this for all generations to come, but it is very important to never forget our countrymen and women's service. When you can touch it, feel it, and see it, it really makes an impression on you!

Tomorrow we leave for Cedar Key, Florida...See you on the road......

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Special Thanksgiving....

Sparky woke up this morning with a nice surprise from her honey, Eldo...he wanted to cook her breakfast! Now, this is no ordinary deal, believe you me! Eldy has trouble boiling an egg. The last time Sparky had him boiling eggs for deviled eggs, he about let the water boil dry! This man never really learned how to cook. He can make himself an egg sandwich for breakfast, and cold meat sandwiches for lunch or supper, but that's it. No clue in the kitchen, and he's the first to admit it! So a little instruction was in order.

We got out the necessary equipment and Sparky instructed Eldo how to make pancakes based on Aunt Jemima's recipe and Sparky's mother's secret ingredient, just a little bit of melted bacon grease. If you follow the recipe on the box, it makes very thick pancakes. They were too thick for Sparky and Eldo's preference, which is thin pancakes. Eldo wanted to squish the pancakes with the flat spatula to make them flatten out, but Sparky said, "No, no! You can't do that to pancakes!" Eldo wasn't buying that, more than once, he was tempted to just take the spatula and whack 'em down! Sparky had to keep a close eye on him!  The pancakes turned out great and Eldy was happy that he learned something new in the kitchen! Sparky is, too! ('Cuz she hates to cook, reminds E.) Eldy texted his kids with photos of him in the kitchen this morning, and just to show you how little Eldo has ever cooked, here's what his daughter said:
                                          "OMG!  Dad's  cooking!!!!!"

Although we weren't able to be with our families today, we called and talked to everyone either thru Skype, iphone Face Talk, or just the good old fashioned phone call!  My family is in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas and Virginia, and Eldy's family is in Indiana. That's what makes it so hard to get people together for the holidays in our families.....By traveling around the country, we have been able to see our family more often than if we were permanently settled down in one place.

We took it easy today...everything is closed of course, until the madhouse starts this evening and the rest of the weekend, but we don't do any of that....we'll shop online or at small local stores, and we've been shopping for gifts a little here and there on our travels for the family....This afternoon, Emmaus RV Park had a little Thanksgiving dinner for the people staying here this day.....The whole nine yards---smoked turkey, dressing w/gravy, ham, green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle, rolls, cranberries and wine...and they had door prizes! Not quite the same as a family dinner, but this little park feels a little like family with its warmth and friendliness and the small numbers staying this week at the park.....We had a wonderful dinner there, karaoke afterward with lots of laughs all the way around. Sparky tried to get up her nerve to do a song, but didn't quite make it this evening...another time for sure! There were door prizes and we won an admission to the U.S.S. Alabama. We might do that tomorrow!  See you later.....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Satsumas, Say What?????

Sounds like a sumo Japanese wrestler's name! We'll tell you what it is in a minute. Have to pique your interest first, so you'll check out the blog today, dontcha know?

Out today for another exploration drive to a town nearby. We had heard from reliable sources (thanks, Jan and Greg White) that had an interesting, cute little downtown main street shopping center full of antique stores, ice cream places, knick-knack shops, AND a yarn store....(AHA! I KNEW there was a specific reason we headed there today! Sparky is NOT a cutesy little shop shopper, folks! I just knew she had an ulterior motive!) Yup! I was not impressed with the Yarn Cottage, a very small yarn shop.....kind of a mish-mash of yarns, and the needle section was poorly organized, BUT---I did find a couple of things I needed to make a pair of sox for my youngest daughter.

At any rate, the town was crowded, parking was a problem on the narrow streets, so we decided not to get out and window shop other stores today, Sparky's mission was accomplished!...(That's one thing I love about Sparky--she doesn't like to dilly dally in and out of every single store that she walks by...whew! We got out of there in record time!) And I'm glad Eldo doesn't like to shop every single store, too! Now, if it's a GOLF shop, he's IN! And it might be awhile... But no longer than I would be in a Michael's, or a Hobby Lobby, or a JoAnn's......Eldy is really nodding his head in agreement. :-)

On the way back, we saw at least two signs that said, "SATSUMAS"....We wondered what the heck is that?  It looked like a lady was selling something out of the back of her car, they looked like teeny oranges, so we stopped. And here's what she was selling.....satsumas! You mean just small oranges...Well, yes, sort of... Really, they are a mandarin orange that has been imported from Japan. They grow on tree like bushes. First, they turn a slight yellow blush on the skin, then they turn completely yellow, then, bright orange when they are ripe. They are VERY easy to peel. People grow them around here a LOT!  The climate must be really good for them, as we saw at least two different selling locations right around a single spot near highway 59 in Summerdale. The lady selling them said, "Here, try one!" And they were seedless and super sweet! Delicious! We chatted a bit and found out she was a former RVer for 14 years. Now that she is in her seventies, she came off the road and built a cabin in Wisconsin with her husband. She spends part of the year down here in Alabama and has the satsumas trees growing on her farm. Let's compare apples to oranges here.....
Satsumas are cute little things!
We bought a 5 pound bag of them...nothing like fresh mandarin oranges, maybe cut up with a banana to start your day in the morning with a cup of coffee and a bagel.....That's what we are going to have for breakfast in the morning! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving...We'll take time to count our blessings, share a wonderful meal with other travelers here at the park and call our families to wish them a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and may you all have many blessings in your life to be thankful for......Jeannie and Eldy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Exploring Gulf Shores

One of our favorite things to do is to go out in the area, drive around and just see what's out there! The weather is in the seventies here, above normal for November. And it's very humid, that's probably normal! We decided to head out Fort Morgan Road towards the ferry.....we wanted to just see if it was running-it was. From what people told us, it seems that it's necessary to check often if the ferry is running, there must be a lot of times it isn't!  The ferry goes from Gulf Shores over to Dauphin Island, and we might do that on a nice day this coming week. We didn't go see the fort today, might do that another time.....we were out for a driving tour......

Then we drove along the beach highway road to look at all the pretty houses that are vacation rentals. They were beautiful and very colorful!

We drove to a public beach along the shoreline and stopped for a bit to look at the beautiful beach....

We stopped again to see the pelicans on the pipe at the Lee Calloway Bridge..Guess lots more of them come in to roost in this area as the winter progresses....

And the pretty orange/red butterflies that were flying all around the sand and the dunes.....
By this time, Sparky was getting hungry....(And when Sparky gets hungry, you gotta feed her SOON or she gets grouchy!) There are LOTS of good places to eat in Gulf Shores and the surrounding areas, it's hard to pick just one. So we decided to try.......
Hm-m-m-m, this guy looks familiar! He sure is cute!

....Good food at the Oyster House and nice view out the restaurant window!

While we were out and about, we checked out some more RV parks--Fort Morgan RV park was old and filled with old RVs, it was dark, and we would never consider staying there...very small and not for big rigs.  Doc's RV Park was very small, tight, almost all 5th wheels and park models and no sites on the water.  It had the feel of sitting in a county park parking lot.  Bay Breeze RV Park was another very small park. One lane in and out of the park, about 25 sites or less at the end of the road in, but it was a clear view to the bay for the RV sites.   Island Retreat RV Resort was probably the nicest park we saw of these....There's one more we drove into and around and that was Johnny's Lakeside RV Resort, formerly known as Palm Lake RV Resort. That was a very nice campground as well. It's interesting that the photos on the web look very little like the actual campground once you drive in for a lot of these places, especially the ones that are older. It's almost like they spiffed up the website, chose the most attractive building on the premises, then carefully shot the photo with the building and some pretty foliage nearby. This campground was gravel sites with very small concrete patios at the site. Sites were not too close together. It seemed pleasant enough for a day or two, but we bet there is a lot of road noise as highway 59 sits right outside the park.

You can check RV Park Reviews for more specific information about these parks. Hands down, Gulf State Park and Emmaus RV Park beats them all for the money, in our humble opinion.

It was a relaxing day....a nice Sunday drive....No plans for Monday yet, but you never know where Eldo will want to go........

Monday, November 21, 2011

Emmaus RV Park, Summerdale, AL

Here we are at the best deal going in the Gulf Shores area, WE think! As I mentioned yesterday, Emmaus RV Park honors the Passport America rate for as long as you want to stay--a day, a week, a month. Fourteen dollars a day includes electric and all taxes! We are Escapees members, but the Escapee park in Summerdale is parking on grass and the atmosphere is just a little different...Electric is extra at the Escapees park, but not at Emmaus. There are lots of trees at the park, but it's light and airy, not dark. You can see the beautiful trees both in the top photo and on our site with Eldy.

Emmaus is a pretty little park located on CR 38 in Summerdale, Alabama. Full hookups, great water pressure. Mi-fi works great, AT & T phones are one to two bars. No pool for now, small little laundry, a clubhouse...layout of the park is very different, sort of like little cul de sacs....winding and slightly curvy. Not a problem for big rigs, but turning radius is a little tight as you move around in a big rig, getting situated to your site. Definitely would suggest unhooking at the front entrance before heading to your site. All sites are back in sites, but easy to negotiate...all concrete pads and roads all around the park mean no tracking in debris! Sparky is happy about that after battling grit and sand and dirt from previous campgrounds! So far, 33 (?) sites are ready for RVers...many more sites are coming in additional phases. This is the best kept secret around as we had no problems getting into the park, plenty of space available!

When we first got here, we headed for site 128, because it had a nice ring of trees around it. Unfortunately, there were limbs going up against the slides, and there was no way we were going to be able to put our slides out. We thought about moving a site or two down, which was a lot more devoid of trees but we really liked our site! The management was not there, but another resident at the park gave me the manager's phone number. I called, and she said if we were willing to wait a bit and we wanted to keep our site, she'd send her hubby over in a couple of hours (they were in another town) so we said ok. But within a half an hour, here came her husband and a couple of guys and a cute little guy to take care of business.

We thought they would just trim a few limbs and that would be it...Nope! They sawed, they hacked, they took out an entire young tree! Wow! That's service!

Next door, behind the fence are a couple of cows and sheep...They came over to the fence to check things out and say hello....This is not a farm, they just have a few animals, no smell at all that we've noticed, and only an occasional "MOO-ing" and an even more occasional "BA-A-A-A-H!"

The staff is super friendly, the neighbors are all super friendly....Within minutes of setting up, people walking their dogs came by and said hello and introduced themselves.  Very, very nice people in the park.....You can't beat that southern hospitality. We really love this park and it's close to Mobile, Pensacola and Gulf Shores. Tomorrow, we head out to explore the surrounding area and try some local cuisine. Oysters here we come! For Eldo, NOT Sparky! :-)

P.S. A couple of people asked about pickleball. It's a terrific, fun game that is easier on older bodies--think shortened up tennis game and a cross between ping-pong, badmintion, and tennis. Here's a link to a blog post I did about pickleball. There's another post I did when we were at Casa Grande at Palm Creek, but will have to find it. Pickleball was HUGE there, big tournaments, many many courts devoted to the sport.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More About Gulf State Park & the Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail

Gulf State Park sits on about 6100 acres of land, has three lakes, waterfront sites and all kinds of things to do.....It is virtually across the highway from the Gulf of Mexico so you've got sugar sand beaches and the beautiful gulf within walking, biking, or driving distance in addition to all the wonderful park facilities.

We really enjoyed Gulf State Park and definitely plan to come back. Sparky wants to swim laps in the HUGE pool!...

The busiest, most packed time of year is January thru March..The Canadian snow birds leave April 1, so chances of coming in and getting a great spot are good in November, not as good in December, and then not again until after April 1. If you can make a reservation for whatever time you plan on coming, that is HIGHLY recommended by all who stay here and by the staff. The farther out you can make the reservation, the better! You can't pick your site when you reserve, you just are reserving a place--you pick it when you arrive.

Sparky checked out the bike trails yesterday, at least one of them, on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. There are SIX bike trails, ranging from one mile to two and three-quarter miles, so you could do just a trail and have a relatively short ride, or you could combine them and have lots of miles to ride. The trails are wide asphalt and beautiful! Sparky rode the Gulf Ridge Trail yesterday, along the Twin Bridges Trail and back along the campground road. She thoroughly enjoyed it! There was plenty of shade and lots of memorial benches. My favorite was this one....

Supposedly, there are resident alligators that can be seen at a couple of places along different bike trails in warmer weather...The Gulf Oak Ridge Trail has an observation post to view them, but none were seen today....darn!

There are even covered porch swings along the trail to stop and take a rest to enjoy the view. A couple of the other porch swings on the trail overlook fire burned areas. Guess the park had a big forest fire last year and more than 10% of the park burned. It's always sad to see that, but encouraging to see the new growth that quickly comes back to start a new cycle. This swing overlooks the lake area as you are coming back into the campground.

With all the wonderful facilities for families at the state park, it's surprising that there are NO basketball hoops! What, no basketball court? That's right! And no pickleball! I talked to several staff while I was here, and they weren't familiar with pickleball at all. Just going to have to work on that the next time we come back.... Maybe we can convince them to paint or tape one tennis court for pickleball...Not one person was out on the tennis courts the three days we were here....and these courts looked NEW. They are building an ampitheater by the nature center, which also was very nice. All the amenities buildings looked very new and very nice....This has got to be the crown jewel in the Alabama State Park system......We'll definitely be back!  Tomorrow we move to Emmaus (Emmas) RV Park, another quiet little gem of a park in Summerdale, Alabama. See you there!