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 touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Famous Fillmore

This will be a short entry today. We plan to just relax and enjoy the day. We went down this morning to say good-by to Doug and Joann who are leaving and heading toward Louisiana. It has been so much fun meeting and getting to know them better. I have been reading their journal for several years and it is always neat to actually meet the folks you have been reading about. It feels like you already know them.
They travel with their standard poodle - Fillmore.
I had read so much about Fillmore especially from Linda Payne of RV Dreams. Linda has a real fondness for animals so they always get top billing with her. He is everything she described…..beautiful and well behaved. A real delight. I was promised a photo opportunity with Fillmore this morning before they left and so I have included the photo.
The real treat came when Joann invited me in to see their rig. Full-timers always give the nickel tour. They had painted the walls in their fifth wheel. I love it!! She is going with a southwestern theme with her colors and d├ęcor and I love it! Every wall in most RVs seem to look exactly alike….kinda dull or boring. What manufacturers do is try to create a neutral look that blends with whatever color theme that particular rig might have. Everything is sort of cookie cutter. It is more economical for them to do mass wall boards. But this removes personality. I had read where others had painted their walls and taken out certain pieces of furniture in order to make it more their own but I had never actually seen the results in person…..until today. I love it! They had also removed their sofa and have two comfortable recliners. The bedroom had also been painted in two different colors, all southwestern. She has definitely given me inspiration. Maybe I should thank Doug also…. after all he is the one that did the painting.

I have included a couple of pictures of our new site at Rainbow Plantation. It feels good to be among people. It should be another beautiful day and we plan to relax and enjoy it because the weather calls for rain tomorrow. Hope you enjoy your day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fellowship, Fun and Food

It has certainly been a busy day! First, we got up early this morning to take a road trip. We traveled a great distance….less than a mile. We took a look at our propane gauge and decided that we would be needing to fill our propane tank in the next few weeks. I guess the cold weather emptied the tank a little faster than usual. With our son coming on Monday we didn’t want to move the motorhome while he was here visiting so we made the call to pull out today and refill the tank. Since we had only paid for one month in our current spot (remember we were “squatting” in a lot owners backyard) we also decided to just return to the campground for the remainder of our time at the Plantation. We enjoyed our spot in the yard of Jerry and Linda Christie but being in the campground gets you a little more involved with folks. So we are now in site 17. We have a beautiful tree right outside our window and great satellite reception and good neighbors. All is good.

We had earlier invited Norm and Linda Payne and Don and Gloria Martin to come over this afternoon for some wine and cheese.

We have become very close with these two great couples and you never sit and talk with them that you don’t come away inspired and little more knowledgeable. Last night I found out that Doug and Joann Durbrouillet ( dream) would be able to make a detour and stop by Rainbow Plantation for a brief visit. They would be arriving around noon. Sure enough we had settled into our new spot and were sitting talking when we saw a Montana drive by. I told Mike that it was probably Doug and Joann along with their traveling companion Fillmore and sure enough it was. We walked down to give them a hug and welcome them to the Plantation along with an invitation to come down to meet the Paynes and Martins at 3:00.
As I have said before, whenever you get full-timers together there is always conversation about their travels and experiences and with all the travel experiences in our motorhome this afternoon it was amazing. The stories were endless… fact we ran out of time before we ran out of stories. Now if you are a smart “newbie” you keep you mouth shut and your ears open and that is just what Mike and I did. The one lesson we learned from these wonderful folks is that there is a lot of amazing places to see and experience in this great country. Thanks guys for your inspiration!!

After our awesome visit this afternoon the fellowship just continued. We took Doug and Joann and met up with Glenn and Sylvia Avery at Big Daddy’s Grill. This is a local favorite if you want some great seafood dishes. We ate great food and continued good conversation with each other. Glenn and Sylvia were kind enough to invite us all over to their motorhome after dinner for some delicious apple pie. We talked a little longer and then decided to call it a night. Doug and Joann had a long day and we were tired from our extended travel day. Tomorrow, before Doug and Joann leave, I have a date with a very good looking standard poodle named Fillmore for celebrity picture taking!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

From Wet and Windy to Windy and Sunny

Some things take some getting used to and unfortunately we have had lots of practice in the last few weeks. Wind makes the most ominous sounds in a motorhome or any RV for that matter. The wind gets up under the awning covers and makes a sound like non-other I have ever heard. Now those that have been Rving for years understand this sound and it really doesn’t bother them to the extent that it bothers us. I guess you get used to it and realize that you are not going to blow away or look out a window and see your roof floating in the air. Then there is the rain. Rain makes a lovely sound on the roof that seems to lull you to sleep unless it is the hard downpours we have experienced lately. I guess you have gotten the message by now. We had some really scary wind and torrential downpours this past Sunday. Just about every lot including the campground sites were full of water. I went outside and took a few pictures but some of the water had already disappeared by the time I got out there.
Needless to say it was wet! We spent the majority of the day lounging around and being lazy. We watched some TV and both of us fell asleep for a short while in the afternoon. We decided to attend the ice cream social at the clubhouse and really enjoyed the fun and fellowship there.

Today we decided to take a drive along Highway 180 towards Fort Morgan.. We wanted to check out the ferry that crosses over to Dauphin Island. This is a trip we want to make next week when Stephen comes. We will also explore Fort Morgan with him. He loves Civil War history and Fort Morgan was a major player during that time. It was a beautiful drive but quite windy. We stopped at one of the trails maintained by Bon Secure National Wildlife Refuge that happens to be right on the beach. We walked out and took a few pictures but it was too windy to do any bird watching or much walking.

This evening we are going to join a few of the folks at the Plantation for another Mexican dinner this time in Fairhope. There should be good food and fellowship along with an authentic Mariachi band. Should be fun!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Day at the Beach

Today turned out to be a truly fantastic day. The temperature was nearly perfect at about 70 degrees and the sun was shining brightly. We decided to relax today and so we headed for the beach. We packed our chairs, cameras and a few diet cokes and off we went. This beach is pleasantly clean and not extremely crowded….. yet! We parked the Jeep and found a place to plant our chairs in the sand. Aaaaah now this is the life! The waves were breaking a little harder today than the other times we had visited the beach which made for a most calming sound to relax by.

There was someone down the beach a ways flying a really colorful kite and a group of young folks playing volleyball. Quite a few people were out slowly walking on the beach and several were sitting in chairs just enjoying the afternoon. This is a major location for snowbirds to migrate to for the winter and many rent or own condominiums on either Gulf Shores or Orange Beach. It certainly beats shoveling snow and enduring the freezing temperatures up north.

Mike and I collected a few more shells to add to our collection and while on our shell hunt we noticed a man creating a design in the sand.

He is a professor of interpersonal communications at a college in Connecticut. He took this semester off and he and his wife are spending a few months at Gulf Shores. He told us that he just enjoys making “sand art.” Today he was creating a sea monster with a swimmer holding onto its tail. Next to this creation he also had a seal complete with grass attached for the whiskers. He is quite good. I have included some pictures but it probably looked better viewing the entire thing in person than in pictures. For more pics of the sand sculpture click on new folder.

We also saw a couple of guys doing what looked like surfing. I commented to Mike that I didn’t think the waves were quite that big.. However, I imagine that they were very cold even though they were wearing body suits.
As they made their way closer to where we were sitting we noticed that on the bottom of their boards it said RESCUE. As it turns out they were putting in their hours for rescue services. We aren’t sure if they were practicing being in cold water for rescue or practicing with the boards for rescue but either way they were great entertainment for the day.

Around 4:00 we noticed that the temperature was getting a little chilly and since we had been sitting there for two and half hours we decided it was time to pack up and head for home. It was a wonderful day to just sit together and BE. Hope you had a great day also.

Bluebird Visitors and Vallartas

For the last few days, since the weather returned to normal, we have had several bluebirds hanging around our motorhome. It’s so funny, for the last five years in our sticks and bricks I tried everything I know to get the bluebirds to visit our backyard. We have been avid supporters of the National Wildlife Federation. We even had our backyard certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. I am proud to say we were able to attract many of the local birds to our area but not the bluebird. It seems we were too close to the city area and our yard was heavily wooded. Two factors that bluebirds are not keen on. The bluebird continued to be allusive until a few days ago.

The first time I became aware of our new neighbors I was in the bedroom and I kept hearing a tapping on the window. I became curious so I put up the shade and there he was looking at himself in the reflection off the window. It was at this time I noticed he was not alone…..there were several beautiful Eastern Bluebirds happily playing on the ground and anything they could perch on. Mike and I continued to watch and noticed that they even liked sitting on the Jeep. The cutest part was how he would look at himself in the front window and even peck at the window while his female friend sat nearby. We got out our cameras and managed to get a few good shots of the bluebird visitors.

Wednesday evening Mike and I joined several other Rainbow Plantation friends at Vallartas Mexican Restaurant. This is a popular Mexican restaurant and on Wednesday evening they have a live Moroccan band along with the usual Wednesday night margarita bargains. I ordered the taco salad and Mike didn’t get what he ordered but he did get a very yummy soft chicken taco dinner. The food was good, the entertainment was fun and the fellowship outstanding. Great evening!!

Thursday afternoon Mike and I decided to visit Glenn and Sylvia Avery. We visited with them when we first arrived here. Sylvia has been having a terrible time with her back and hip and has been undergoing therapy for about three weeks. She continues to be in a lot of pain. I made some No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies to take over for them to enjoy. We really enjoyed visiting with Glenn and Sylvia; they are a terrific couple and we’re glad we have gotten to know them since arriving at the Plantation. We certainly hope Sylvia is able to get relief for the pain that she is experiencing.

After leaving their motorhome we helped serve dinner at the clubhouse and then joined table 3 for a wonderful evening of great conversation and dinner. We sat next to Delbert and Shirley Ashby who are also full-timers traveling in a Dutch Star just like ours only a different color. We swapped stories of how we pack and store items in our coaches. It is always fun to talk to other full-timers and learn from them.

Tomorrow morning Mike is suppose to learn how to line dance. We’ll see….. just to be sure I will be there with the camera to capture this event on film or actually memory stick in today’s world. We’ll see what happens…..should be interesting.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gulf State Park

Monday ended up being such a beautiful day Mike and I decided that we would drive to Gulf State Park and explore this area. Our friends, Gene and Judi Curp, told us about Gulf State Park but when they were there it was so cold they couldn’t do a lot of hiking. Monday it was very near 70 degrees and sunny. Great weather for hiking and exploring.
Our first stop was the state park pier. This pier appeared to extend out into Gulf Shores about 150 yards. We didn’t walk the entire length on this day.

We did enjoy listening to the waves clap onto the beach and watching a lone boat head back to shore. From here we made our way across the street to the Gulf State Park Nature Center. This nature center was a pleasant surprise. It had many exhibits of live animals that are normally found throughout the park. As we strolled through the center we noticed a cage housing two owls.

We don’t normally like to see animals like these caged but the lady told us their stories. It appears one of the owls had lost his right eye. If sent back into the wild he would die. She explained that he will never be set free. The other owl had been hit by a car and was on the mend. He will be able to be released upon his ability to survive.

After leaving the nature center we took a quick drive through the campground. This campground is quite large with 496 sites offering 50 amp service along with water and sewer hookups. The roads were paved as well as the parking pads. Although we didn’t visit the bathhouses, camp store or laundry we were told they were clean and in good repair. You can also rent bicycles here and ride on many of the bike trails available.

There is a beach pavilion, lakeside cottages as well as cabins. Lake Shelby is a 900 acre freshwater lake providing activities such a fishing, boating, skiiing and swimming. For the golf enthusiast there is even a Gulf State Park 18 hole Par 72 championship golf course located near Lake Shelby.

We were interested in exploring a few of the trails so today we ventured onto the Gulf Oak Ridge trail. This trail is 2.75 miles and is asphalt. Along the way there are benches for resting. We passed a few bikers along the trail while we were there. The reason we chose this trail is because the gentleman in the nature center implied there was an alligator near the approach bridge that usually lays in the sun. Mike was dying to see an alligator. Well…..not today. We didn’t see him or at least we don’t think we did. He he!

There are several other trails that we hope to get back to before we leave. All in all this is quite an impressive state park. We had a great day and hope to return for further hiking, some bird watching and photography.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Souper Sunday

I know its football season, but souper Sunday at Rainbow Plantation is not about football. This month everybody that wanted to volunteer to make soup and serve it Sunday did so for our dinner. There were 21 varieties of soup for supper. We paid our donation and then went to the soup tables and chose the soups we wanted to eat; I think I had 5 different types of soup. Our parents told us all about it, but this was our first time to stand in the soup line.

After our dinner we then had our ice cream social followed by an evening of different music and singing. We listened to several groups play and sing bluegrass and country music. There were about 150 people there and every one of us had a grand time. We were amazed at multitude of talent of those at the plantation. After the groups finished, we listened to about 15 people play dulcimer music. This was our first time to listen to that many people play dulcimers together. Gerri & I saw folks just have a plain downright good time. There were some ladies that stood back in the back and line danced to some of the music… just a great evening of fun and fellowship. It was our joy to listen, watch and be a part of such a wonderful evening.

I know the football super bowl is coming later in the month, and on a Sunday, but for us last night was the best souper Sunday we have been blessed to experience.