Friday, October 31, 2008

On the road to Tucson, day 1

Happy Halloween! We did a blistering 230 miles today and are now lakeside in Pell City, Alabama. Today was the first day that we put diesel in the truck while towing the 5th wheel. We went to Flying J which has really pegged the RV market's requirements. They have dedicated RV lanes with gas and diesel, propane and dump stations. There are no canopies so there is no danger of scraping off the top of the RV. No trauma, no drama, we love that.

This is a lake somewhere on the way - the Southeast still has a significant drought. The lakes are very low.

This is the lake we're parked by today. It's kind of a neat place. Pell City has nothing to recommend it except the lake. It's lake Logan Martin. Lots of people appear to spend the summer here. They're dug in like ticks on their sites.

Tomorrow's goal is Pelahatchie, Misissippi. There's a Yogi Bear Jellystone park there, and it looks like it's far enough to drive. We're not driving until we drop this trip West. Today we did laundry and we did not have to unhitch the coach. So, it was a successful day.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Greetings from Anderson SC

Well, this is why I have not been blogging. We've been busy! We picked up the 5th wheel October 21. It was a long day. In addition to having the new hitch installed, we had to transfer all of our stuff to the new RV. At the end of the day when we were cold, tired and hungry they showed us how to hitch it, and told us how to unhitch it. Needless to say, we did not remember much of what was said. The next day when we returned to Fort Mill to build bike racks and create storage, we couldn't remember anything they said. It was just pitiful. We called Camping World and got more instructions on how to get it off the hitch. I was just terrified. So far nothing bad has happened.

We now have a 36 foot Montana 5th wheel. The 5th refers to the thing that goes into the bed of the truck, aka the king pin.

It's nice. The living area is bigger than what we had in the travel trailer, AND we got a fireplace and surround sound. Pretty cool. The fireplace is electric which is nice because it conserves propane. Electric is built into the daily rate at an RV park, propane is purchased by the owner. It has a fan, so warm air is gently wafted into the living area, and heat rises into the bedroom.

It's a rear kitchen. We liked that floor plan the best. I have more counter space. Counter space is good.

Dinette and hide-a-bed. It's an air mattress and it's actually comfortable. The mattress has an electric motor and inflates in 120 seconds. Unfortunately the factory neglected to install the 110 outlet behind the couch which required much persuasion on our part to get it installed for free, but through our collective force of will, we prevailed.

The bedroom. We ejected that TV in favor of more storage.

King sized bed with a closet behind the mirrors, and a narrow hanging closet to the left.

The "basement". Megastorage underneath.

The other side of the basement. We have 3 bikes in there.

Happiness is discovering that 20 feet of sewer hose actually will fit in the sewer hose box.

October 25 my wonderful brother dedicated a Saturday to converting the narrow hanging closet into a closet with shelves. It's a thing of beauty.

The new shelves. The structure is self supporting, we couldn't drill into the sides of the closet.

Kim and Jim Waddle came to visit us from Asheville. They're completing their grand tour of the Eastern United States. We christened the RV with happy hour. It was fun seeing them again.

Wednesday we left Fort Mill to go back to the Spartanburg Camping World to have the previously mentioned 110 outlet installed. It was cold but a beautiful day.

Leave taking involved rehitching the trailer to the truck. We all read the manual.

That's the 5th wheel hitch in the bed of the truck. We were successful in reattaching the trailer to the truck.

A quick check of the map and we were on our way.

So, as of today, 10/30, we're heading out to Tucson for the winter.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

IOP and Patriot's Point

Today is Thursday, 10/16. I do not believe we have burned more than 20 calories over what our basal metabolic rates would need to sustain life. We have had a sedentary day. The previous two days were more energetic.

Tuesday we went to the Isle of Palms. It is an over-developed exclusive little barrier island covered in expensive homes. Having said that, I think the next picture represents housing perfection. This is the intracoastal waterway. These people have docks on a little spur off the waterway, with deep water and no wakes. There is a 50 foot lot (that would be dirt only) with a dock for sale - $1.9M. Yep, that's a capital M.

This is lovely, as well. This is the style of home built on the island.

This is right on the ocean. It's huge. They're all huge. Hugeness abounds.

Here is the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Are they not lovely?

Little sea bird, looking for lunch.

Yesterday, after nearly melting down after talking to my credit card company, we went to Patriots Point. It's a museum with an aircraft carrier, destroyer, coast guard cutter and a submarine you can tour.
This is a memorial to all of the submariners who served during the Cold War. The sail and fairwater planes are from the USS Lewis and Clark, a decommissioned fleet ballistic missle submarine. Charleston was a huge Navy base during that period of time.

This is the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown.

I love this bridge. It reminds me of the bridge over the Tarn River in Millau France. I took this from the dock walking up to the Yorktown.

Flight deck of the Yorktown.

Jim sitting in a Grumman Panther, an early Navy jet fighter.

It was a well done museum. Jim enjoyed himself. The most interesting bits were how the service men had to live in these really uncomfortable environments. It's always sobering to think how many people have died in armed conflicts, how many families broken.

As I said, today we did bupkis. Our feet were ready for a break. It was a glorious day, high 80s, low humidity. Just delightful.

Oh yes, the credit card company. We put the deposit for the 5th wheel on the ATT Universal Master Card. It was a lot of money. FICO scores are influenced by the ratio between debt and credit limit at the end of the billing cycle. So, I did a mid-billing cycle extra payment to get the debt/credit limit ratio back into a more favorable range. Guess what - their autopay software does not look at credits for the billing cycle (like extra payments). So, they debited my checking account for the full deposit amount. I now have a HUGE credit with Master Card due to that extra payment. They took money I did not owe them. They'll be happy to cut me a check in two or so weeks, but no, they can't just put it back. Yes, they get many complaints about this feature, but no, they do not plan to fix it in my lifetime. I am so peeved with these people; no where on the web site do they mention this policy. On the web, it looks like the balance has gone down, but no, the autopay software runs in a parallel universe. So, that's how yesterday started. I hate them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Historic Magnolia Plantation

Monday, October 13. The Dow is up 938 points, it has quit raining and all is right with the world. We went to the Magnolia Plantation today. The house was originally built in 1676, the damn Yankees set fire to it during the Unpleasantness (aka The Civil War). Afterward it was rebuilt on a less grand scale. It was a rice plantation. Rice was a huge crop in the low country. Tons of the stuff was shipped back to Europe, making the plantation owners wealthy until the war. Most of them were devastated afterward. Rice farming requires dikes to control the influx and outflow of water, most of them were destroyed by a series of hurricanes in the late 1800s. Without the labor provided by slavery, the dikes could not be rebuilt. Then there was that pesky earthquake that leveled Charleston in the same time period. Surely locusts were on their way. Anyway, it was an interesting visit.

This is landscaped in the "romantic" style. Meaning they wanted it to look natural, but better. Lot's of trees and shrubs.

There are some large ponds. They used to be rice paddies, but now they're decorative.

The view from the front porch of the plantation.

More pondage.

The family gravestone. There is a huge underground vault where the Draytons lie in repose. See the crack in the marble? Caused by the earthquake.

More ponds, more grounds.

There is a petting zoo. Peacocks roam about.

The property abuts the Ashley river. It's a tidal river. Goods were taken to market down river using drift barges, the current runs about 3 mph. Then they came back the same way when the tides turned. It was quicker than by horseback, so most people and stuff came by water. On the other side of the remaining dikes are freshwater marshes, planted with cattails. It's a wild life sanctuary now. We saw this guy looking for food. We signed up for a boat tour of the marsh. Saw a couple of alligators sunning themselves.

The marsh with cattails.

Then it was off to the Audubon Swamp. This area used to be for the large scale production of rice. They had acres of the stuff. After the fields were wiped out, this was turned into a swamp garden. The green stuff floating on the water is duck weed. Ducks eat it, alligators eat the ducks.

More Spanish Moss. It's neither Spanish nor moss. The Spanish part comes from the native American's naming it for the long wispy beards of the conquistadors. No one knows about the moss part of the name. It's an epiphyte.

These are the only surviving antebellum slave quarters. Here two families per house would live and raise food and try to survive. The siding is cypress wood and is original. It's pretty grim.

Back to the swamp walk. The boat tour guide told us about alligators. They eat, then they have to sit in the sun to get their body temperature to 72 degrees so they can digest. If they're not warm, it just sits in their stomachs and rots. They can run 35 mph for about 70 feet. If you startle them, they'll eat you. Kidding, just kidding. So, we know there are alligators in the swamp, and we're walking at pretty much water level wondering if we're prey or not. It was slightly unnerving.

We saw a couple of them sunning. There is also a fence around this part of the swamp. We like the fence.

So, this concludes today's travel narrative. We're here for 1 more night and then we don't know. I wish the dang 5th wheel would show up, or we could at least get a delivery date so we could make a plan. I want to get ON with it!
Hope you are all well. We are fine.