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".

Our Friends

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Friends

Today was a maintenance type of day. About a week ago our bathroom fan stopped working. Mike has had it on his “to do” list and finally got around to looking into the problem today. He first checked to make sure it wasn’t a blown fuse. It seems so much of an RV is run on fuses. It wasn’t the fuse. He then went up on the roof and checked things out from that angle. He wanted to make sure it wasn’t something simple like a loose wire. It wasn’t. The next possibility is the little motor that runs the fan died. We were heading for Camping World when we decided to check with those of a higher calling…..experience. That brought us to Don Martin’s motorhome and his excellent advice. What a nice man! He came back to our motorhome with Mike to look things over and test the “juice” of the wires coming into the fan motor. The “juice“ was coming in fine! Now we knew the problem and it was what we thought….. we need a new motor for our fan. So after taking Don back to his rig off we went to Camping World. Well, as luck would have it, they were out so we had to have one shipped to us via another Camping World location. It should arrive around Tuesday and thanks to Don, Mike knows just what to do when it arrives. Thanks Don!!

This evening twelve of us met at Big Daddy’s Grill to eat terrific food and enjoy great fellowship. Jesse and Ginger Haman were passing through RP on their way to Maryland and some of the group wanted to reconnect with them and some of us wanted to meet them. Mike and I have been reading their blog ( since they started full-timing about a year and half ago. Darrell and Judy worked with them last year at Lake George Resort and Glenn and Sylvia had met them in Kerrville Texas last year. So Randy and Terry Guiler, Mike and Peggy Evringham and Mike and I met Jesse and Ginger tonight for the first time. You would never guess that we had just met because we all sat there and talked and laughed as if we had known each other for many years. It is just that way with RV friends.

Tomorrow is our last day at Rainbow Plantation for this season. We will be heading back to Pine Mountain, Georgia for a few weeks to take care of some doctor appointments and spend some time with Stephen before moving on to our volunteer position. It takes awhile to get doctor appointments scheduled for times when you are in a certain location. We have been working toward getting these appointments scheduled for the time when we are home for the holidays - November/December. That didn’t quite work out this year but we are hopeful that next year we will have it right. We will work on giving our “so long” hugs tomorrow and taking one last drive to the ocean and then prepare the rig to pull out Sunday morning.

Even though it has been a cold winter, Mike and I have been warmed by the love and friendship at Rainbow Plantation.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Today Gerri & I decided to do some geo-caching, so we looked up a couple caches and put the coordinates in our E-Trek hand held personal navigator. There are several reasons we enjoy geo-caching. First, we usually try and find caches that relate to local history in the area we are camping; secondly, usually they are in some very beautiful areas, and thirdly, we get out and do some walking where the caches are. So for us, it is a win –win situation.

Our first cache was at a site called Raid on Smith’s Mill. Back in the 1860’s there was a mill in Baldwin County called Smith’s & Dannellys Mill. It was swampy, sandy river land full of long - leaf pines. James Smith supplied timber for the Confederate barracks and fortifications and ship building for the Navy activities. His property also had a steam engine on it and he never owned any slaves. The mill was in operation until the last part of the summer when the Federals learned of his work and support of the Confederates. On September 11, 1864, a mixed force of union sailors and soldiers came after them and the mill never operated again.

The other cache was a place at Memorial Park in Silverhill, Alabama and the cache is called The Hill. It seems before the 1890’s a turpentine still was operating just east of what is presently called Silverhill. Logging companies were clearing a lot of the forests of Baldwin County and built a railroad through the county. The still was at one of the railroad junctions. A man named Mr. Lowell operated the still and bought / sold all things in silver coins. In fact, when his workers walked up the hill to get paid, he paid them in silver coins. Later when Swedish settlers started arriving, they wanted to name their settlement “Svea’, but too many people had come to know the area as Silverhill thus the naming of the community Silverhill.

So as the day ended up, we found both caches, learned some local history and saw some beautiful sites, and got a good bit of fresh air and sunshine. What more could you ask? I think we will do a lot more geocaching.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Fairhope Day

With our time at Rainbow Plantation winding down, Gerri & I decided to have a casual day just seeing and doing some of the things we want to before we leave for the season. We set out toward Fairhope with a detour through Point Clear which is a community on the east side of Mobile Bay. There we ran across the Grand Hotel. This hotel has been in operation since 1847 and is a leading resort destination nestled among million dollar bayside estates. There is also a small marina there. From there we headed on to Fairhope just off the shore of beautiful Mobile Bay.

We stopped at the Fairhope Museum which depicts a cross section of Fairhope’s history. Fairhope is a utopian style community with a vast array of shopping, dining, city parks and brick paved sidewalks accented with seasonal award winning landscapes. Since it was quite windy and cool, we just drove through downtown and some of the surrounding streets including the Scenic Highway 98. There are many older homes with beautiful trees and landscapes.

We got back to the plantation and rested for awhile and then headed up to the clubhouse for the afternoon social. On the way up there we stopped to visit Randy and Terry and were having so much fun visiting, we missed the social. Well, since we were visiting with them, we had our own social. We left around 5 pm because Randy was playing in The Baldwin Pops later that night.
When we got back to the rv, we got ready ourselves to go to the Baldwin Pops which was going to be at the Fairhope Civic Center. Since Darrell and Judy, Mike and Peggy were going too, Darrell graciously asked us to ride with them. The Civic Center was packed for the concert, and it was an incredible concert. There were about 65 members of the orchestra and they played magnificent. The performance is strictly a volunteer performance because they love to play.
There is so much to see and do in this area; we have not been able to do it all. I just guess we will have to return next year…………yea!!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Color Purple

“What happens at the Plantation stays at the Plantation.” This is what Neil, one of the long time homeowners at the Plantation, told Mike and I today while attending Ray’s birthday party. To say Ray is an icon here at the Plantation is an understatement. Ray, who everyone fondly refers to as Purple, celebrated his 78th birthday today. Well, actually Ray has been celebrating since Wednesday when we all gathered to eat at Vallarta’s Mexican Restaurant. At first appearance you might think Ray to be a bit gruff and at times he probably is, but since somewhere around 1992, he has been making friendships here at the Plantation. Today, those friends came out to wish him a wonderful birthday complete with purple iced birthday cake. I could tell you the stories his friends told today but as I said earlier, what happens at the Plantation stays at the Plantation. I have even heard several versions of how he came to be called Purple. I think it had something to do with not liking the color purple and being a royal pain in the you know what. However it came to be….. it has stuck and Ray only wears the color purple. Yep, you will never catch him wearing any other color. So if you are ever at Rainbow Plantation and see a short man with white hair and gray whiskers wearing purple you know you have seen Ray.
With all the Mardi Gras activities at the Plantation and opportunities to eat we have been lax in the entertainment department. We finally had the opportunity to have Darrell and Judy along with Mike and Peggy over for a chat and chew this evening. We have really enjoyed getting to know both of these terrific couples and have had a lot of fun times together and tonight was no different. We sat and talked for several hours taking time out to eat a little along the way. Mike E has been very helpful with his expertise in helping us set up our cradlepoint router and then today he gave us some help with our handheld GPS. Thanks Mike!

Well the “that’s more like it” weather is not going to last very long. It appears that the weather is going to be turning back into its ugly cold self again later in the week. Oh well, eventually it will be spring. It is what it is…..its all good.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Flatulence Fest

Yes, you read that correctly. Tonight was the “Flatulence Fest” at the clubhouse. What is a flatulence fest you might ask….well, those that choose to, can bring their favorite bean dish to the clubhouse and for a mere $3.00 you can fill your bowl to your hearts content.

Those partaking of this fest could begin filling their bowls at 5:00 and immediately following this event was the weekly ice cream social. Remember, I told you these SKPs know how to eat and eat they do. After all the many opportunities to eat….. there was music. It always amazes me at the talent these “keenagers” possess. We had several show their talent with musical instruments and several by singing. As usual the dulcimers played beautifully.

I especially enjoyed the bluegrass music by Glenda and Larry and a visiting banjo picker from Livingston, Texas.

Several times during the music couples would take the floor and dance with their husbands. As always, lots of fun.

This was our last Sunday night gathering here at Rainbow Plantation for this winter. These wonderful people have taught me a few important lessons. They taught me to always stay young. I know we have no control over our age and the years will continue to be added on but those numbers don’t mean a thing. Stay young in spirit. Live each day to the fullest. Laugh often and hug a lot. Don’t take yourself too seriously and love each other. Stay busy and gather to eat often with each other. There is a spirit here that words can’t describe. These good people honestly care about each other. How refreshing in a world that seems to be in such a hurry that we sometimes don’t even know our neighbors.

We will be moving on to new adventures soon but this adventure will never be forgotten.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Now That's More Like It

The biggest news I have is that the weather is finally starting to return to normal. Yesterday and today have been just beautiful. In fact I believe today might just be the nicest day we have had since arriving in the Gulf Shores area. Plenty of sunshine for the soul. Mike and I have started our walking regimen again. We are only doing about a mile and half right now but our goal is to increase that to three miles a day. We have also started eating a little more healthy. The one thing these SKPs know how to do is eat. If we aren’t eating at the clubhouse or someone’s rig we are eating out at one of the local “favorites“. It is hard to maintain your weight under these extreme conditions. After we finished our walk today we sat outside for the first time this winter and just enjoyed the warm weather. While we were sitting on our patio Darrell and Judy rode up on their bikes. They stopped to visit with us before journeying on back to their place.

Last night we ventured over to Darrell and Judy’s rig for a visit along with a show and tell. Darrell has just completed the installation of a new inverter in his fifth wheel. Mike wanted to take a look at what was installed and how it was wired. Their new inverter allows them to run both televisions, computers, router and some electrical outlets. Along with their generator and now the new inverter they are set for several days of dry camping. Darrell is very pleased with his new setup. I am sure it is far more technical than what I described so check out his website and read about what he did at

We invited Randy and Terry Guiler ( ) over this evening for dinner. As always the food was good but the conversation and fellowship was even better. It’s not about the food. In fact, we had planned to play a little Mexican Train but we preferred to just sit and talk with each other instead. Randy and Terry are a wonderful couple that we are just so blessed that we have gotten to know. This is what is so great about this lifestyle……the wonderful friends you make for life.

Our time here at Rainbow Plantation is coming to a close. Next week will be our last week here and then we will be heading back to Pine Mountain for a few weeks while we complete some doctor appointments. We have had a great time and have met some wonderful people. We plan to spend next winter here and perhaps experience some of that normal winter weather.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Roadkill Cafe'

Larry Cameron, the cook, has been busy preparing food for us during the Mardi Gras celebrations here at the Plantation. Yes, Larry and his volunteers prepared some awesome dishes and he is much appreciated by everyone! Not only can he prepare great food he is a wonderful person. He and his wife, Babs, are both special people. But it didn’t take long for us to realize that there would be no more wonderful dishes to enjoy at the clubhouse for the remainder of the week. What’s a person to do?? Well, Darrell had a great idea!! We would all gather at Road Kill Café and see what has been run over and drug in for lunch. This is one place that Mike and I have not had the pleasure of experiencing. We were going to take Stephen there when he visited but with all the University of Alabama banners in the window we decided it was best to pass that opportunity up. Stephen is more of an Auburn fan and a huge fan of Georgia Tech. So when we realized it was Road Kill or cook off we went.

Darrell and Judy picked up Mike and I along with Mike and Peggy and we all rode together meeting up with Norm and Linda Payne, Don and Gloria Martin and yes, Chef Larry. We weren’t sure if Glenn and Sylvia would be able to make it but it seems the idea of cooking was not big on Sylvia’s list of things she wanted to do either. There we all were converging upon The Road Kill Café which was already packed with other folks that obviously didn’t want to cook either. Unfortunately we couldn’t all sit together so we split up into smaller groups. They have a buffet style service including two meats, several vegetable choices and salad. When you are sufficiently stuffed with this good southern cooking you can continue the eating with their dessert choices. The fun begins when you go to pay and you get to draw a chip out of a bag and if your chip is red your lunch is free. Guess who didn’t get the red chip?? Yep, that’s why we refrain from playing the lottery. It was great food and lots of fun.

After leaving the restaurant we decided to check out the Baldwin County Heritage Museum located in Elberta, Alabama which is just east of Foley. This museum shows items from everyday life of the people that founded this county. It shows a hard working culture and items from a time long past. The area was complete with a little red schoolhouse, a church and blacksmith’s shop among other buildings. We had a nice afternoon just walking through history.

The highlight of the afternoon was watching Darrell, Mike and Mike trying to get the backseat fastened back into place of the van Darrell and Judy borrowed while their truck is in for repair. First, it was Mike J and Darrell trying hard with no luck and then Mike E joined and saved the day. Yea, Mike E!!!! As usual this was another great day!!

Tolstoy Park

This was an “us” day. Yep, we have been so busy with Mardi Gras activities that we haven’t had an “us” day. We took our time getting up this morning and after my usual cup of hot tea and bowl of cereal I went on the computer. I was just serving around for area attractions and by chance I came upon this very interesting link about Tolstoy Park.
Upon further reading I discovered that it was a place worth exploring. The story goes like this -
local author Sonny Brewer tells the true story of 62 year old Henry Stuart who was living in Idaho when was told that he was dying and had about a year to live. It was recommended to him to move to a warmer climate so that the “end” wouldn’t be so painful. This is when he made his journey to the quaint city of Fairhope. It is said that he “left his shoes out west, and lived barefooted in a round concrete house made by himself with his own two hands.” He lived beyond the predicted one year, he lived twenty-two years in his handmade round house and yes, he was barefooted. Clarence Darrow, who was his friend, visited him many times in Fairhope. Henry named his house after his favorite writer Tolstoy. Henry was a poet, writer, a gardener and above all self-sufficient. A man after Thoreau’s own heart. Sonny Brewer tells Henry’s story in his book, The Poet of Tolstoy Park.
Mike and I took a drive to the area in Fairhope that Henry Stuart called Tolstoy Park. It was a little difficult to locate since there have been many buildings erected around it. I was glad to see the little hut was left untouched by progress. There it sat beneath a huge live oak tree. A little round hut built by the hands of Henry Stuart. We walked inside and imagined what it must have been like to live such a simple life. I can only imagine that he was happy and content with his life and had learned to life well. It was here in this hut that Sonny Brewer lived while writing this amazing story of Henry Stuart. It was nice to see this reminder that life can be lived simply and beautifully. After leaving we immediately went into town to a local bookstore and purchased the book. I can’t wait to read it.
This evening we joined about 21 Rainbow Plantation friends for dinner at Vallarta’s Mexican Restaurant. I can’t describe the fun these folks have together and we are just so glad they have opened their arms to Mike and I and allowed us to have a little fun with them. Tonight was Ray’s birthday celebration so he got the usual “happy birthday” sung to him Mexican style complete with a little whipped cream on his beard. The food was great but the fellowship and fun was even better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fat Tuesday

The Mardi Gras celebration has ended at Rainbow Plantation and it went out with a bang! The final day of festivities began with dinner at the clubhouse. We were served meatloaf (which Mike helped prepare), mashed potatoes and green beans with dessert being a slice coconut cake. That was only the beginning. Of course before we ate the king and queen were paraded into the clubhouse wearing their royal attire. Speaking of attire… seems many of the Plantation folks dress up for the annual Mardi Gras costume contest. Some looked festive and some looked strange but each had their own style. The judging took place after everyone was finished eating….it was best that way. As soon as the costume judging was completed there was a declaration read by Darrell stating that the king and queen would be banished from the kingdom and out of nowhere some strange folks appeared wearing even stranger sports attire. These folks made sure our current king and queen were taken away so the next king and queen could be announced next year for the new theme of “strange sports” or something like that. I’m not sure I ever got the exact title. With the king and queen banished from the kingdom the band began to play.

This has been an amazing five days of fun and frolicking by everyone. Mike and I have really enjoyed participating in the fun of Mardi Gras and now we can honestly say we understand this celebration better because we have experienced it….wow, isn’t that what this lifestyle is all about…. .experiencing things first hand and learning more about different cultures and making lasting friendships. We certainly accomplished that in the past few weeks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Parade Day

I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the rain coming down. Not again??? But by morning the rain had stopped and the sun was beginning to shine. That’s a good thing because today was the Rainbow Plantation Mardi Gras parade. We didn’t know what to expect since we have never experienced Mardi Gras anywhere before but if the last few days of celebrations were to be any indication it would be something to remember. When we stepped outside the motorhome the cold air and wind hit us in the face. The rain had stopped but the cold temperatures were hanging on not wanting to give up its grip on the south. My heart sank a little because I expected the wind and cold temperatures would be a road block to the many “older” citizens and visitors of the Plantation. Boy was I wrong. These people continue to just simply amaze me. They have a quest for life that is so refreshing and they know how to have fun and have fun they do. When Mike and I walked up to the clubhouse (the starting point of the parade) we were greeted with dozens of folks dressed up for the occasion with golf carts, cars and whatever else they could find decorated in the colors of Mardi Gras which consist mainly of purple, gold and green. They were laughing and having a grand time. I don’t think they even noticed it was cold.

The parade began promptly at 11:00 complete with an honor guard at the beginning and a fire truck to bring up the rear. There was a lot of bead and moon pie throwing along with waving and fun. Several people even had their pets dressed up in Mardi Gras colors and walked them in the parade.

Immediately following the parade we all converged in the clubhouse for lunch. Chef Larry and crew prepared yummy barbecue, baked beans and cole slaw. After lunch the king and queen paraded into the clubhouse and sat on their throne. The entertainment consisted of a skit followed by the dulcimer group playing several tunes for us. Following the highly talented dulcimer players there was a performance by the group that calls themselves The Chenilles. There just aren’t any words to describe this group of crazy ladies. They came out dressed in their best chenille robes some complete with curlers in their hair. They sang their own modified versions of several songs….mostly off key. As you can surmise it was all in fun and we all laughed so hard we cried. Good fun!

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday. This will mark the ending of Mardi Gras and the continuous party that has been going on since Friday. I hate to see it end but I am confident that the fun will continue here at the Plantation. Thanks for stopping by and allowing us to share with you the fun of this celebration called Mardi Gras

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

Well it happened again…..another great day! It started out with Mike and I visiting another church in the area. Today we attended services at Summerdale Church of Christ. We had spotted this church when we first arrived and had wanted to visit. It was a good service centered around the topic of “love.” What else on Valentines Day? After this we went back to the motorhome and before we could prepare our lunch Randy and Terry Guiler called and invited us to join them for lunch at where else….Big Daddy’s Grill. As usual the food was terrific. I decided to be a good girl today and order something besides fried shrimp. Yea me!! In fact Mike and I both ordered the Big Daddy hamburger with sides. Even though Big Daddy’s is known for its seafood I must say the burger was superb!

Norm Payne along with Don Martin came down to our motorhome this afternoon around 1:00. Norm has owned Newmar motorhomes since 1999 and currently owns a Dutch Star. He volunteered several weeks ago to come down and go over our motorhome with Mike and show him various system, how to service different things and tips we don‘t have the experience yet to know about. You can see I am not very technical!!! There is so much about these diesel machines to learn and there aren’t any better teachers/mentors than Norm and Don. Even though Don owns a Winnebago it has many of the same systems as our Dutch Star so his input was also invaluable. These two super friends stayed and talked with Mike for over two hours. We just can’t say it enough…..there is nothing better than RV friends. Thanks so much guys!!

This evening we went to the clubhouse for our next round of Mardi Gras activities which included the usual ice cream social at 6:00. The king and queen entered the building and took their seats of honor just in time for the line dancers to perform.

Mike and I went a couple of times to practice with these guys and I can tell you that it takes a lot of energy and foot talent to dance some of the line dances. These guys are good and really enjoy dancing. After this was karaoke time.

It never ceases to amaze me at the talent of RVers. Our friend Terry Guiler sang two songs and what a wonderful singer she is. …..a great voice!!

I have always wished I could just open my mouth and beautiful music would come out. Not the case I can assure you. We sat with our friends Darrell and Judy, Mike and Peggy, Glenn and Sylvia, and Randy and Terry. We never get together without tons of laughter and lots of fun. What a great night of fun, laughter and fellowship. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Tomorrow is the Mardi Gras parade here at Rainbow Plantation. This is an energetic and hilarious group of people that just love to have fun and with the theme of “Fractured Science Fiction” it should prove to be a most interesting parade!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Our First Mardi Gras Parade

Today we attended our first ever Mardi Gras parade. We got up early and braved the cold temperatures to venture to Foley, Alabama at 9:00 for the 10:00 “scheduled” parade. What we didn’t know, as well as few others, was that the time had been stated wrong in the paper and the parade was actually scheduled for 12:00. Ok, what do you do in Foley on a Saturday morning three hours before parade time?? We started off by making the economy a little better by going to Stacey’s Rexall Drug and Old Tyme Soda Foutain and purchasing 10 cent coffee.
This is a really neat drug store/soda shop reminiscent of those commonly seen many years ago. It is complete with a small train that travels the perimeter of the shop on a ledge up toward the ceiling. While we were there somebody put money in the juke box and played some old tyme rock-n-roll. We sipped our coffee and discussed what else a person could get into in Foley on a Saturday morning. Well, Darrell had a great idea! Since Mike and I had never been to the model train depot we decided to walk down the street and take in this unique treat. It is quite unique with an entire city displayed in scale.
We got lucky because we got the guided tour by one of the volunteers. He held a flashlight and pointed to each display explaining what it was and what was going on at that particular display. He was good and quite humorous!

From this point we walked slowly back toward Stacey’s in hopes of enjoying one of their famous milk shakes but alas the crowds had grown and Stacey’s was packed so we decided to plant our chairs along the street and wait for the parade. We found a nice spot in the sun which actually made it quite comfortable on this chilly morning.
About an hour later we could see the parade making its way down the street. Of course there were the floats/decorated cars with folks throwing various items out into the crowd…..mostly beads.

The local high school band marched and we managed to catch a few beads and three moon pies. Darrell and Judy said the Foley parade is a smaller parade by area standards but it was very enjoyable. We have some tentative plans to attend the Fairhope parade on Monday night. It all depends on this unpredictable weather.

After the parade we decided that it was time for lunch….. after all we never did get to enjoy that milk shake. Judy suggested LA Barbecue in Summerdale.
We pulled a couple of tables together and had some delicious barbecue with Darrell and Judy, Glenn and Sylvia and Mike and Peggy. Good friends, good food and good times. Life is good.
Happy Valentines Day!!