Monday, March 28, 2016

Adventure In The South

After our Sunday stroll on the trails of the bird sanctuary we rode our bikes down to Fort Gaines. Fort Gaines is known for the Civil War's Battle of Mobile Bay. If you know Civil War history then you know that the historic quote "damn the torpedoes...full speed ahead" was said on August 4, 1864 by Admiral Farragut. The Union overtook the fort in a five day battle. 

Those who know us well know we love the outdoors and history equally. So we were excited to get our geek on. Since it was a rather chilly and blustery first day of Spring, the fort was the perfect vacation entertainment. 

(The anchor from Farragut's ship the USS Hartford) 

Lounging around on a beach can inhibit getting those Fitbit 10,000 plus steps in. Every night King Ralph and I walked down the beach, up and around the fort and back onto the bike trial. Every night I tried to envision what life must have been like in that fort in the 1800s. The deep darkness of night must have elevated fear in the soldiers. 

Riding our bikes is something we did everyday. Not just because it was a nice way to exercise, but because it was simply the best form of island transpiration. We rode our bikes to the Circle K in the evening to get a Redbox movie and we rode back in the morning to return the movie. Heck we once road to the liquor store for more bourbon to make Montana Mules. There's something about a copper mug of goodness while camping! 
(The liquor store even rents bikes) 

Since King Ralph is smart he made certain our Jim Beam was in a plastic bottle and would fit in his bike's water bottle holder; fastened securely by a bungee cord. 

These are things that make vacation! 

The Maiden Voyage...Dauphin Island Here We Come!

After years of good and fond memories in our high wall pop-up camper, it was time to say goodbye. We loved the ease of the set-up and take down, the sense it gave to being outdoors with fresh air surrounding...but we knew our dream rig was out there. In an effort to set ourselves up for retirement we began our search.

We finally found her! The Open Range Ultra Lite 2710RL. So we said farewell to our pop-up, a chunk of our savings and set the Open Range on the open road. 

In desperate need of a break from pubescent boys and girls, and King Ralph in need of a break from life, we chose an escape to Dauphin Island, Alabama. 

We were ready to experience some new firsts--Walmart parking lot over nights was certain to be one. We've seen RVs parked overnight in our local Walmart for years and figured it was worth a try. King Ralph downloaded an app that tells which Walmarts allow over night stays, even rates them. How does one rate a parking lot? Well, it's more about the safety of the area. 

We found ourselves overnight at the Walmart in the upscale city of Madison, Mississippi. When we arrived at nearly midnight there was already three other RVs parked. We all lined up across the rear of the parking lot, creating an impromptu mini-campground. With the exception of the nightingale's song sung most of the night, I rested comfortably in the parking lot, in our queen size bed.

Before hitting the highway again we bounced into Walmart to pick up a few items--bread, milk, donuts (travelers breakfast treat), RV toilet blue stuff...but, what we really needed was a cup o'joe. 
Standing in the parking lot to the left stood a coffee hut named "Mocha Mugs." I turned the drive-thru into walk-thru ordered a large coffee w/ cream and a large Earl Grey hot tea. The young ladies working in the hut gave truth to the sentiment of southern charm--they were both warm and friendly. They bid me safe travels and a fun week. 

Upon arriving at Dauphin Island Park Campground I knew it wasn't going to be my favorite. First, the gals at the check-in station could really use a course in smiling and welcoming. "Do you think you're going to stay the whole week?" Hmmm, well, ya! We did make reservations for a week. Way to make us feel like maybe we shouldn't stay. We were then given the option to check out a site different from what we reserved. After checking it out we decided the full-hookup site wasn't worth the hassle it would take to jockey our new rig in the spot. We stuck with our water and electric site. Where oddly enough our camping neighbors lived down the road from our sticks-n-bricks home.  

The sign as you drive into the campground that says "DO NOT DISTURB OTHERS" made us think someone was crushing the stereotype that campers are the friendliest folk around.  It didn't scare us! 

It was evident that this campground was full of snowbirds escaping the northern winter, leaving King Ralph and I the "teenagers" of the campground. But, that's not what turned my nose up. It was the cable cords running across the roads from site to site and the campground's lax on there own printed rules. The guy behind us had a few appliances outside his camper, along with a lot of other miscellaneous nonsense. It's those things where you lose the camp-esque feeling. However, most sites were kept tidy. 

The campground bathrooms need some sprucing up and really could have used my elbow grease. They where, however, sufficient for the needs. There are no fire rings available and ground fires are permitted (seems crazy and Smokie Bear wouldn't approve). Smart campers created or brought portable fire rings. The community building offered up a plethora of puzzles, books and a wood burning stove for those chilly rainy days/nights. There was wifi available in the community building--which was both a plus and an inconvenience. Mostly because it was spotty at best. The few children in the campground wasted no time inhabiting the decent playground. There's a large fish cleaning is a favorite past time on Dauphin Island.

What makes this campground nice is its location to the bird sanctuary and bike trails. The trails of the sanctuary start inside the campground and made for a peaceful and relaxing stroll to start our Sunday.

One trail winds around to the white sugary Gulf sand beach. The private beach section is never crowded. The water however is murky. Not a deal breaker for us. You can bring your pets for a walk and even ride your bike on the beach. The paved bike trail that stretches the length of the island made for daily leisure rides and island exploration. 

We explored both the east and west end beaches and found the west end to have the clearest water.

We grew to like the campground more as the week went on, so we  give the campground two and half stars and the island three stars. You're pretty isolated from services on Dauphin Island (shopping, dining, etc.) which is the reason for only three stars, but it is great place to go to just kick back and do nothing but relax. We don't count out a return. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016


I just pulled my feet out of the sand. There's lots of unpacking and Easter prep to do. I'll be back with stories soon. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Turning Back Time

King Ralph turned our clocks back last night. I woke up thinking I was 26 years old and a 114 pounds. It's only a matter of hours before reality sets in. 

Perhaps, I should just roll over and go back to sleep for a bit? 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lose It!

(Four ounces of sparkling wine 91 calories. I had 12 ounces...after a long walk) 

Three weeks ago my friend/co-worker and I decided we needed to lose a few L-Bs, so we downloaded the app "Lose It!" and bought Fitbits. 

Step one, ditching our Friday delivered or creatively home cooked lunches we shared for carefully calculated salads or cans of green beans. We can tell you how many calories are in a Tootsie pop--sixty. We drink enough water to pee a man made lake. All this in an effort to: 1. Fit into clothes hanging in our closests 2. To feel better with our sedimentary jobs. 3. Because we are menopausal with slowed down metabolisms. We sneak out of the office for brisk walks through the halls...racking up steps. To add to our goofiness we challenge each other to 60 second wall sits. If you walk in the nurse's office it may appear we are blocking the med cabinet. When really it's the closest thing to available wall space we can find. As of today, 60 seconds no longer feels like a death sentence. We actually are surpassing the 60 second mark. 

Julie hits the community center gym after work, while I enjoy 3 mile walks in my neighborhood, after the sun sets and the sidewalks are quiet. Whatever our methods, we are racking up those 10,000 steps plus. 

Last Friday my boss, who we often invited to enjoy our lunches, stopped by our table to jokingly proclaim our healthy eating was near nonsense and that he missed our Friday lunches. I just laughed at him and said "you just wait till I'm looking like Victoria Beckham!" 

Watch out world here comes The Lose It Girls! 

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Timehop It Back to 1997

Timehop. I love when it reminds me of things I came across while was cleaning out storage areas. Reminding me I snapped a photo. This little gem: purple velvet pill box purse with the plastic pearl strand handle makes my heart smile. My sister-in-law gave it to D for Christmas when she was three years old. At three years old D was a rambunctious tomboy, who loved dirt and collecting Matchbox cars. The purse, it went everywhere D went for a whole year. It's plush velvet has bald spots to prove. 

Can you guess what was always inside that velvet purse? 

You guessed it, Matchbox cars! 

I wonder if D carried that purse today what she'd fill it with. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Where'd That Weekend Go?

Where'd the weekend go? I ask that question and here it is, the weekend all over again. The year is flying by, and weekends happen in the blink of an eye--here and gone. I'm counting down to Spring Break, and before I know it, it'll be my summer break. 

Last Saturday King Ralph, M and I headed over to the St. Louis Science Center to get pumped for our summer vacation, by seeing an omnimax flick. We have no shame in admitting we're national park geeks. Is there really any shame in loving to vacation in the most majestic spots America has to offer? I say not! That's why we were excited to see "National Parks Adventure."
While we all three agreed we enjoyed the movie, we also agreed we wanted a little bit more from it. It did highlight some incredibly awesome adventures experienced by thrill seekers. 

This summer will be the first time in three years that M will hit the open road with King Ralph and I. While we won't be riding our bikes to a skreaching hault to mountains edge...we will hike hard and explore the vast open beauty of our country. 

Then we headed over to Soulard for lunch. My pal Lin likes to refer to Mission Taco Joint as "tacos for the pretty people." Rest assured Lin, I was not the only patron fashioning a ball cap. 

I was still riding high on Mother Nature's gift of flip-flop wearing weekend weather, after a crazy snow boot wearing Wednesday.  Sunday we loaded up our bikes for a seven mile ride. Then off to our nephew's house for bocce ball and BBQ. 

This weekend the weather is cooler and calmer. The calendar says: kick back and relax. Which is exactly the plan!