Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around us...to touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Settling In

The big day is coming!!!   Mike’s surgery is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 8:30!!
We have been busy getting things in order for an extended stay here at Chewacla State Park!!  We were in a beautiful site all tucked away in the woods but we quickly discovered that those trees liked to deposit little reminders of their beauty all over the roof of the Oliver!!   The tiny area behind the awning and the gutter was a debris collector!!!  Since Mike is going to be out of commission for several months the cleaning of the roof and awning and gutter would become my job!!   I don’t mind washing and cleaning the Oliver while Mike heals but this job was constant!!!    When the debris collects the water from rain or the A/C runs a brown looking stain down the front and back sides of the Oliver.  This stain looks awful against a white fiberglass rig!!!
           

So off we went in search of a nice site but a bit more open from trees.  We found a rather large site very near the campground host and closer to the front of loop 2.  We have the Oliver parked and the patio set up as well as our Clam!!!  We will place the zero gravity chairs in there along with our TV.  This gives us a great outdoor area to rest and relax in while Mike is busy growing bone at his fusion!!
We can watch a little TV, read or take a nap!!   I’m also closer to the laundry area as well!!!  Did I ever tell you I hate doing laundry🙁!!!  I sure miss our washer/dryer combo we had in our motorhome!!
                     

This site puts us much closer to the lake!!  We walked down there a few nights ago with Stephen and Asher!!  Asher has never been exposed to much water in his first year!!  He probably saw the lake as a huge water bowl!!  We hope to take many many walks to the lake with him this summer!!  We will put him on his 16 ft leash so he can actually walk, splash or just stare at the water.  Our hope is that he’ll learn to love the water....after all he’s a water dog!!!
              

So that is what we’ve been up to lately!!  The big surgery day is Wednesday and we are both looking forward to getting this surgery done so Mike can once again feel better (no pain) and begin to regain the strength in his arms and the ability to look up, reach up and all those things we all take for granite!!  We are beyond ready to get this Oliver moving!!!

On Monday Mike and I went to Little Italy in Auburn to get some really good pizza before his surgery day...man, was it good!
                       



Thank you for dropping by and remember to enjoy each day to its fullest!!!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Day at the Park


We arrived at Chewacla State Park and found the site we liked the best for our extended stay while waiting and recouperating from surgery.  Our site  is very spacious and nestled in the woods.  To the far left we have some chairs set around for when we want to have a fire in the fire pit. 



The weather, even though a bit warm, has been beautiful so we decided to walk a trail at Town Creek Park in Auburn.  It is a really nice park and the trails are easy to maneuver. Below is one of the entrances to the trails.
           

Once you round the last of the walkway entrance there is an open view of the pond and gazebo overlooking the pond.
     






We were enjoying our walk so much, we decided to cross the road and walk a part of the trail we had not been on yet.  This area is a Historic Tree Trail which the picture below will explain.  It really is awesome with a lot of incredible history about each tree.

There were trees from acorns or seedlings from all over the country...one was from the tree at the Jefferson Memorial. Another from George Washington's Mount Vernon and others like that.
For Auburn, there was a tree grown from an acorn from the oaks at Toomer's Corner.

We thoroughly enjoyed our walk and especially the history of the trees along the Historic Tree Trail.
It was a good day and a grand way to pass time waiting for Mike's surgery.




Monday, May 6, 2019

The Journey Begins

Sunset at the pier Mobile bay
So the journey begins!!  For the past 2 1/2 years Mike has been actively avoiding surgery on his cervical stenosis. Who wants surgery anyway?   The neurosurgeon in Columbus, Georgia told him 2 1/2 years ago that it would only get worse....and he was spot on.                 

On the way to Jessie's in Magnolia Springs

About 4 months ago the pain decided to take on a new high!!  The pain increased and now both arms are involved.  He has lost strength in both arms and is unable to look up.  But most of all the pain is constant.  He saw a neurosurgeon in Mobile, Alabama who examined him and had an updated MRI done.  Sure enough....it's gotten worse.               

Fountain at the pier in Fairhope

So tomorrow morning we will be traveling to Auburn and our "home" base of Chewacla State Park where we will be hunkering down for the surgery and recuperation.   Mike sees his neurosurgeon in Columbus, Thursday May 9th and we should have a date for surgery soon after that.                    

Boardwalk at the pier Fairhope

The surgery itself sounds horrible but doesn't all surgery??  The doctor assured us he "does this all the time!"   They will make the incision in the front (kinda like slitting your throat) and move the muscles and structures aside so he can get to the spinal cord where he will remove the bone spurs, disc and replace with a cadaver and plate with screws to hold it in place.  Mike will wear a soft collar and possibly a hard collar for several weeks following surgery.  He will be unable to lift, drive or do much for several weeks.  It varies with different people and different situations.  Our job will be to take care of the incision and do all the things to heal....such as eating healthy and walking walking walking!!!!   We can handle that!!               



The good news....when this is complete and Mike has healed we will be able to do more, go further and Mike will not be in pain. 
Those of you that wish...we would love to have your prayers for a successful surgery and quick recovery!!  

Small marina at the pier

So Sunday morning we will say our "see ya laters" to the Gulf Shores area...specifically Escapees Rainbow Plantation!!  

Our cameras caught some sights on our last, for now, trip to the Fairhope Pier!  Hope you enjoy!!







Monday, April 8, 2019

Meeting Up with Good Friends

One thing that sets this lifestyle apart from all the others is the people you meet along the way!!  We have met some wonderful RVers that became lifelong friends!!

When we heard Mike and Peggy Evringham we’re heading to Rainbow Plantation (Escapees Park in Summerdale, Alabama) we knew we had to go there.  We found a site and got all set up to meet up with Mike and Peggy.
Our site at Rainbow Plantation
When Mike and Peggy arrived there were plenty of hugs all around!!  We started our week of feasting at the last supper at the clubhouse.  A buffet of all that was left over...you know, you can’t carry this food over the next 7 to 8 months!!  So everyone gathered at the clubhouse for food and fellowship!!             

Our friends at Rainbow Plantation
The eating continued through the week with Big Daddy’s Grill, Saracenos and Mellow Mushroom!!  We enjoyed time with Mike and Peggy, Don and Gloria Martin and Norm and Linda Payne.  All longtime  good friends!!!  It was a lot of fun catching up and sharing travel adventures which included Mike and Peggy’s recent trip to Israel.  They toured the Holy Lands with a group led by Mike Huckabee.  What a wonderful trip and awesome pictures and video!!!

The fun didn’t stop there.  We left on Wednesday to travel the very short distance to Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort, Alabama. 
Our site at Meaher

Our friend's site
 This state park is just outside Mobile right on Mobile Bay!!  This is  where  we connected with John and Ellie Souva!!   We last saw John and Ellie 4 years ago!!  Even though distance in miles separated us we continued to stay in touch and our friendship flourished!!  We had the pleasure of meeting John’s mom, Millie on this trip!!  She is just delightful and traveled and camped most of her life!!  Such interesting stories!!    

Sunset at Meaher State Park
The weather hasn’t been too cooperative though!  Wednesday was beautiful and we all managed to get some walking in around the campground.  This is a very nice state park with full hookups!!

Boardwalk to the Delta
We walked what the gate called “The Gateway to the Delta”.  This is a very nice path that leads to a boardwalk through a delta area.  On this walk we saw a ribbon snake, a Nutria, a Prothonotary Warbler (so pretty) some black birds and ducks.  A nice walk!!         

                



Prothonotary Warbler
See the Nutria in the middle

Ribbon Snake
On the other end of the campground there is a very nice pier to walk and on this day several fishermen and women were catching a few Crappie.

Meager State Park
After a rainy Thursday we ventured down to the pier where we were told there were a couple quite large gators.  Sure enough they were there just floating in the still water.  There were also four gators right out from the shore on our way back to the camper.  We were hoping for more movement from them since it’s mating season but this morning and afternoon they just wanted to float!!



Black-bellied Whistling Duck

A wonderful lunch was enjoyed by the five of us at Ed’s Seafood!!  Delicious!!  We sat on the covered patio overlooking the bay!!!  
Ed's Seafood Restaurant covered patio
Good friends, good food and blessed fellowship!!

It has been a grand week!!!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Life Gets Messy

It’s been awhile....I hope you all still remember who we are!!
The Bellingrath Home
I went back to take a look at where we left off and it appears Mike had just gotten a good heart health report.  It was a scary time and we are so thankful that God led us to a great cardiologist and he was able to stabilize Mike’s blood pressure that apparently was causing the issues with mitral valve prolapse.   We were all set to begin traveling and Mike had a physical therapy session....remember his ruptured disc?  During that visit the therapist must have done something and all of a sudden Mike’s cervical stenosis became horrible to bear!!  The pain is immense....no sleeping comfortably, strength in both arms has diminished and he can’t look up.  We saw a neurosurgeon in Mobile, Alabama at the Coastal Neurological Institute.  He evaluated, including a current MRI to compare to the one done two years ago and immediately said the cervical stenosis was worse and he would need surgery.  So, if it’s not one thing it’s twenty!!  But we are not discouraged because he can get better with surgery!!
There is an 85% recovery rate...not bad!!




I’m not going to say we haven’t thought long and hard about what we are doing!!  Do we get a bigger rig?  Do we get a condo/townhouse?   Do we just stop full-timing/RVing?  What to do??  The neurosurgeon was totally in favor of travel, RVing, walking, hiking anything to stay active!!!              



So we actually chose all but stopping full-timing/RVing.  We actually bought a fifth wheel....a very nice one!!  We were going to park it on a lot/site at Rainbow Plantation and keep the Oliver for travel.  Sounded like a good plan and then along came the dead heat of summer in the Deep South.  We couldn’t keep that rig cool for anything...we brought the Oliver around to the side of the fifth wheel and turned on it’s AC and we stayed inside of it to keep cool.  We have an older Shih Tzu that was really hot and having difficulty inside the fifth wheel..  Then a few other things happened structurally (it was a new rig) and when the slide came in and  ripped off half the slide trim inside, a drawer and the trim under the refrigerator we said...enough!!  Ollie may be small but we never had any of these issues.             


Then we decided to try leasing a townhouse until after Mike’s surgery!!  Once again, this sounded like a great idea!!  The townhouse is brand new and very nice!! Located in a gated area and I even have my own screen porch.  All that was great until they decided to build more townhouses behind us!!  We get our wake up call very early every week day morning with huge equipment doing whatever huge bulldozers do....dig, clear, smooth out and then dig again.  Our walls actually shook and pictures moved.  Needless to say there is no peace and quiet in the townhouse so forget the nice screen porch ambience....you can’t sit out there and enjoy!!      




We found ourselves missing the Ollie more and more!!  Each time we thought we might  sell the Oliver neither of us could do it!!  Do we have a weakness here??    It’s called loving the lifestyle along with its freedom to go whenever or wherever you want, the ability to meet amazing people and visit those we’ve already met.  The peace and quiet and the simplicity of it all.  The idea that life happens no matter where you are or what you’re living in.  It happens!!   And last but not least....we love the Oliver and we are just not ready to give her up yet!!  There seems to be some miles left to experience with us and Ollie so we are going to stay with it...at least for a while longer!!  Maybe another year, maybe two, maybe...never mind you get the point!!  Travel is good for the soul!!        



Since we have missed blogging for awhile I’ll leave you with one of our last outings in Mobile, Alabama.  Bellingrath Gardens!!  It is actually in a city called Theodore, Alabama which is just southwest of Mobile by about maybe 15 miles.  It is a beautiful place and we look forward to visiting in different seasons to see what is blooming!!  Hope you enjoy!!!