Saturday, January 12, 2019

Warmer Weather Explorations

We left Wichita Falls with snow melting off of us and headed east towards our final destination. The warm and tropical Tampa Bay area. This is the first long journey for Gandolf pulling our home behind it. It handled beautifully. Our first stop was in Marshall, Texas at the Laguna Vista RV Park.

It is a Passport America park and for $17.50 a night with full hookups, it worked just fine. Passport America is a club you can join and stay at these parks for half price. Many have restrictions and limitations so you have to read the fine print when you book them. But for us they work fine and we only use it when we are traveling from one point to the other. We don't like to Wallydock at all, but that is just us.

The next day we drove to Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, Mississippi. This is the third time we have been to this area and we really like it. It was hit hard by hurricane Katrina and is slowly recovering from that after many years. The beaches are beautiful and empty. Although it is January and the temps where in the mid to upper 60's. Fine for us because we just left the negative 20's. Our plan was to enjoy the sun at the beach for the day and then eat at Shaggy's, a beach bar in Pass Christian. I brought my metal detector so that I could strike it rich.
Gulf of Mexico

Waveland Mississippi

Sunset

Lisa happy

Lisa enjoyed the sun on the beach and I went right to work to strike it rich. With no traffic on the beach, I could set up a classic grid pattern and combed a large area of sand.

Back and forth I went until finally "beep, beep, beep"! PIRATE TREASURE! So I dug and dug and then I struck treasure. I really don't know when pirates started using pennies, but during that day, I found 3 of them. That was it. I keep in mind that a bad day beach combing is still better than a good day at work.
Time for Shaggy's!

Our next stop brought us to Daphne, Alabama at Meaher State park. It was a nice park on the bay. Our site backed up to the water for a great view.
The sites are large and spread out. It looks perfect and I know for many people it would be. Here is the but, that black line on the horizon is I-10. The noise from the highway carries across the water and can be noisy if you are not used to it. We lived on the interstate (I-94) and are used to the noise. We chose this area for 2 reasons. One is that the USS Alabama is right there and the second is, we have friends at Gulf Shores we wanted to visit with.

We have traveled on I-10 for years now and have never stopped to see that battleship. Everytime we would drive buy I would say "someday we are stopping." So we finally did. So here are some photos of the Uss Alabama.
I was greeted by Captain Lisa. "Permission to come aboard, Maam!" "Permission granted." It is a self guided tour which we like. There is so much to read and after awhile we tend to start skipping over things.
I was right at home blasting imaginary "Zekes" out of the sky. Now if only Lisa would let me add one of those 20mm machine guns to my little collection. Lisa said that it looked like so much fun that she wanted to try.
To out do me though, she chose the 40mm anti-aircraft guns. "BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!" is all I could hear her yell. Then out of the blue I hear "SPLASH ONE M****RF****R!" Damn, I need to keep her away from guns. I quickly ushered her inside and away from the guns.

What a very cool piece of history and if you are passing by this way, take a few hours to learn what our sailors endured. With the cost of the battleship tour, you also get to tour a WWII submarine. The USS Drum. There is no way that I could have lived and worked on a sub. I thought maybe the battleship with it's crew of nearly 2500 men but the sub is tiny.

After that we went to Gulf Shores where our friends Bob and Deb are wintering. We got caught up with what's been going on the last couple of years since we had seen them last. Lots of stories and laughs. We met them at our first tour of Amazon and have stayed in touch. That's what I like about this lifestyle. The people we meet. We then went to dinner at Lambert's so that they could throw some rolls at us. I completely forgot to take a photo of us. But if I had it would have looked something like this.
Bob, Deb, Lisa and I.
I am always bad about taking group photos. We said our goodbyes and then headed to the Tampa Fairgrounds. 

Next up is the Tampa RV Supershow.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Gandolf Chronicles

We took Gandolf on its maiden voyage up to Minnesota for the holidays. The weather was good so we left in the wee hours of the mourn. I have to tell you that the truck was awesome. So much more comfortable. In fact we drove until 5 pm and made it to our planned stop. When we googled how much farther we had left in our trip Google said we were 5 hours from our destination so we just went for it. 1000 miles in 15 hours. We don't normally drive like that because my butt is usually sore after about 3 hours. Butt it wasn't bad. 

I did overlook one item when I purchased this new truck. Something that I said I would always have in a vehicle when we lived up north. That was an autostart. Luckily, I am willing to get bundled up in 20 below weather to get out there and warm it up for the princess. It did start on those cold days. I made sure to always use a diesel additive and to make sure that it was plugged in at night.

We ended up using the 4 wheel drive a lot, thanks to the terrible road conditions. I will never not have 4 wheel drive in a vehicle. We always need it in case we get stuck in somebody's yard or something like that. Gandolf actually has a shifter for the 4 wheel drive so that makes it more manly. The Beast had a little knob to turn. And speaking of The Beast it is all shined up and ready to sell in Texas. If anybody wants a well maintained 1 ton truck.


Our return trip to Texas was cold. We left at -21 below the doughnut as some of the weather people say up north. Roads where good until we got to South Dakota. They turned to shit pretty fast. South Dakota got rain, then snow and then rain on top of the snow.
Snow packed and ice.

Solid ice.

More solid ice.
The normal speed limit is 80, but with all of that ice it slowed us down to 55. I used to drive for a living and learned that roads like that are only slippery when you want to stop, so we don't stop.

The sun reflecting off of the ice on top of the snow.
Usually when we travel across the mid section of the country we really have to watch the weather. We waited for a storm up north to pass by and then we had to get to Wichita Falls, Texas before a winter storm hit there. So it is all about timing. We got to Wichita Falls hours before the storm hit and just hunkered down for a day. The weekend brought a big warm up so we pulled in the slides and said our goodbyes to Mike and Robin and headed south to warmer weather. We have a few days to play around with before we need to be in Tampa.

Gandolf handled like a charm pulling our 16,000 pound fifthwheel. So much different than The Beast. I could hardly tell the fifthwheel was back there. In fact I had to keep an eye on my speed because I could have easily been going 80 and not even know it. The ride is so much smoother. I don't feel all beat up from traveling like I did in The Beast. What a difference between the two trucks. Rams have come a long way.
Gandolf on the Gulf.
All in all, we are very happy with our new truck. Let the adventures begin.