Saturday, May 18, 2019

MacDill Winter 2018-2019

My how time does fly.  As has become tradition, we spent the last week of October at the Ho Hum RV resort in Carabelle, FL on our way to Tampa.  Hurricane Michael had hit the area pretty hard the previous September, but they were putting things back together.  The extent of the damage was horrible, trees snapped for miles and miles from the eye of the storm in Mexico Beach.

We arrived at MacDill on November 1st to find most of our friends already in place and enjoying themselves.  We got a spot near Seascapes, and about 5 days later got the absolute closest spot to Seascapes and the beach, the same spot we had the night of my retirement party June 1st, 2012.  It turned out to be a great place for the season, short as it was.  We planted St. Augustine grass outside the front door since it was just loose sand.  It was a very enjoyable part of this winter.  I hosted trivia every Wednesday night, and Laurie kept score.  Seascapes mysteriously ran out of money to pay our normal trivia host/karaoke DJ, so we stepped in to fill the void.  We also started a happy hour tradition where people would have everyone over (whoever cared to come) to their spot for sunset drinks and snacks.  In November, we made a trip to Key West to stay in one of the Navy Lodge condos they rent with friends John and Phyllis from Raleigh, and Kevin and Char from Arkansas.  It was a great week!  In December, we flew to Little Rock for Christmas with the kids and Laurie's family, then off to Key West for our annual New Year's Eve stay.  We stayed about 10 days at Trumbo Point before heading back to MacDill.  It wasn't terribly long after that when Laurie's Mom started having mobility issues and a terrible bout with influenza.  Laurie flew home to stay with Dee in early February, and I followed later that month.  Brad drove up with me, so we had a good Father/Son road trip. 

After graduating college in December, Brad also got a job in Boca Raton as an electronics engineering technician, so we put the house up for sale and put what little belongings we have left into storage in Little Rock.  We close on the house later this month, so we're officially homeless again.  I've accepted full time work in software development education, so we're turning a bit of a new chapter in life.  Semper Gumby, as they say in the military.  Here are some pictures from the winter season in FL.

Mom and me

Grandma and the Boys.  They came up from Sebring.

Kevin and Char

The six of us took a sunset cruise, really nice evening.

The girls on the sunset sail

The Graduate!

Dee and her progeny at Christmas, 2019

First Happy Hour at Macdill, November 2019.  That's our RV in the background.  I was very careful to patrol for fire ants for a week prior to the event, sprinkling Orthene at the slightest hint of a mound and applying broad spectrum ant killer a couple days before hand.  Nobody got bit by ants!

Sunrise at the Ho Hum.  We love that place.

Larry, Jake, Don and Ed at SeaScapes

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Back to the Beach

After Philly, it was time to head back down to the seashore!  We retraced our steps back down to Delaware Seashore State Park and stayed at the other side of the inlet this time.  It was beautiful the first day, then we got hit by a rain front that soaked the whole country for a couple days.  It can't always be sunshine and palm trees I guess.  However, with satellite and Internet access, even a rainy day has its diversions.  After two days of more or less constant showers, we were again treated to days of sunshine on the east coast.  After Delaware, it was an easy drive down across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel to the North Carolina Outer Banks to see Stephanie and Kevin again.  We stayed at a nice park on the sound side and had a beautiful weekend at the shore.  Leaving the Outer Banks, we again stayed on Falls Lake outside Raleigh for a visit with John and Phyllis.  We're now heading west across I-40 with just a couple stops before heading back to Little Rock for a visit.  Some pictures from the last couple stops:

Poncho and Sou'Wester were in order for a couple days.  Missy wasn't exactly enthusiastic about walking in the rain.

We love a lakefront site, but this is a little rediculous.

However, once the weather blew through it was gorgeous in Delaware.

Not so many families in late September, which we really like.

That's our motorhome in the distance, really nice spot at OBX Campground.

We happened into a Jeep Jam at the public park, lots of really cool 4X4s jacked up and ready for the dunes

Panoramic view from our roof at OBX Campground

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Anyone who's driven a large RV along I-95 will likely back me up--Washington DC to Boston, the entire "eastern seaboard" is pretty hairy for driving.  The road isn't great, the drivers are in a pretty big hurry, and it seems like you go through a toll booth every half hour.  So, generally, we go inland a bit and avoid that entire section of the coast.  However, with all the traveling we've done, it seems wrong that we'd never seen the Liberty Bell.  So, on our way south this summer we bit the bullet and stopped outside Philly.  It was great.  We camped at a KOA near the little college town of West Chester.  I got my wires crossed and went to the wrong KOA initially, whoops.  45 minutes later we were at the correct one.  We'd gone back and forth as to where to stay and I got confused!

The countryside is beautiful, though a little expensive, and the roads are curvy and fun to drive.  It was far enough outside of town to be completely removed from city life, but close to a train station.  We took the commuter train into the historic district for two full days of touring, including the hop on hop off double-decker bus tour.  It was great, something we might do again because "you can't see it all" in one visit.  Some pictures:

The Bell.  About 4 feet high, not quite as grand as we expected, but still awesome in its historical significance.  No lines in the middle of the week after the kids go back to school!

Independence Hall.  The Declaration and Constitution were signed here, so we had to take a tour.  It's pretty simple, but again, so much history.  They've kept it in remarkably good shape and original condition.

One of the cooler surprises was a tour of Eastern State Penitentiary.  The country's first.  It was closed in 1971 and is being maintained "as a ruin."  Inmates had their own solitary cell and exercise yard, so they never saw or even talked to another inmate.  23 hours in the cell, 2 half hour breaks in a 10 by 15 foot little hard outside their cell.

Al Capone did a year-ish in lavish comfort here on a weapons charge.  He was on his way back to Chicago and got pinched.  Even so, his money and fame assured preferential treatment.  His cell looked like a gentleman's library.

The Rocky statue from Rocky III, just outside the Art Museum where he ran to the top "feeling strong now."

Yo Adrian!  This is the spot of a million portraits, where the camera spun around Rocky as he finally got his act together.

Can't remember.  City Hall?  There were so many cool, old buildings on our bus tour they started mixing together.  Some fantastic churches there too.

The outside of Eastern State Penitentiary.  It was outside of town when they built it in the 1830s, completely engulfed by downtown Philly today.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Saugerties, NY

After visiting Kris and Yancey, we headed west to get around New York City.  We hadn't seen the Hudson River valley south of Albany yet, so it seemed like a good place to stop for a few days.  We hung out at the campground some, and went on a few country drives to check out waterfalls and other scenery.  All in all a relaxing few days in upstate New York.  Just a few waterfalls from the nearby area:

The Hudson River on a beautiful sunny day

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ledyard, CT

After our Jeeptastic weekend in Maine, it was time to start the long, slow journey south.  We had to stop and see good friends Kris and Yancey in CT on our way.  They've got a great setup to park at their house, which makes for a very easy "drive" home.  We had rain 2 out of 3 days, but we were able to take a tour of the Thames river on their son Colby's fishing boat and visit the Mohegan Sun casino, a super sized beautiful tribute to helping those poor, underprivileged Native Americans (actually just a scam by some white folks to get rich in the casino business...)  All four of us walked out with winnings from $10 to $65.  Take that, fake Indians!

Here are some pictures from our outings

Ledyard is minutes away from the Mystic River, so we had to walk around a bit and have lunch.  Here's the famous draw bridge, just down the street from Mystic Pizza!

Traditional gaff rigged boat on the Mystic River

Sure, it's all smiles before the three hour tour, a three hour to-ur!

Captain Yancey at the helm

US Coast Guard Training Station Avery Point, Groton CT

Light and dingy sailing in Groton

The Electric Boat facility.  This is one of two companies that built pretty much every nuclear submarine we've got

I-95 bridge in our wake.  It's a lot prettier from the water.

Peaceful mooring field in the protection of Pine Island

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Casco, Maine

We couldn't come this far up and not stop and see Craig and Jodi and the whole Jacked Up Jeeping crowd in Casco.  We stopped last year and were introduced to the Jeep lifestyle and hanging out in style.  These folks don't do anything half way.  The whole group (6-8 couples) camped at John and Penney's place this time, were they still had their massive outdoor kitchen set up and room for plenty of RVs in the yard.  What a great weekend, though we might need to be there for Labor Day next year.  We're told it was epic!  Some pictures

John, Scott, and Craig in the background, cooking up breakfast for the crew

Our host, John

Craig grilling up a few dozen strips of bacon and a couple gallons of sausage gravy

Wouldn't be a trip to Casco without some trail riding in the Jeeps

John and Penney's spread with 6 RVs and room for many more.

A mountain pond in Maine you can't get to unless you have an off road vehicle

We had a bonfire with a maple tree that had died from the inside out, making it hollow and a perfect chimney.  It looks like we're standing behind the fire, but we're really right next to it.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

White Mountains, New Hampshire

After our Labor Day weekend in Vermont, we headed next door to New Hampshire.  Laurie scored us a nice spot in Russell Pond campground up in the hills.  It was just lovely for a three day chill out.  We had campfires on two nights, first time this year.  While we were there, we did a little waterfall hiking too.  White Mountains National Forest is a really nice area, one of the first we visited during our first summer of 2012.  Good to be back.  Some pictures:

You normally get a lot of real estate at a National Forest campground.  We could barely see our neighbors.

Russell Pond on a windless evening

We took a waterfall hike at Lost River Gorge and Caves.  1000 steps

Intrepid travelers in the White Mountains

Baby Bird

A couple views from the Kancamangus Highway