Monday, October 16, 2017

2017-29 Eufaula Alabama to Florida


Eufaula Alabama
Silver Springs/Ocala Florida

Morning Sunrise
White Oak Creek Campground


Selfie, me
Campground: White Oak Creek Campground. COE. Senior rate: $12.00. 50 amp/water. Many sites have long driveways, all are paved. Lakeside and lake views at all sites. They permit 28 day camping during the winter months and you can move between a few of the COE parks in the area. Note gates are locked up front at 10pm and not opened till 7am. If you have an emergency, one needs to go up front and blast their horn until a camp-host comes and opens the gate.

Campground: Silver Springs State Park. Florida Senior discount: $12.00 50 amp electric/water. Large modern campsites, many are pull thrus, 100 ft and longer. Always a favorite place to stop.

This will be my last blog report for the season as I'll be in Florida next week and heading for my Rv lots in St Cloud Florida.

As I wind down for the season of travels, I've once again ordered the awning from a dealer in Florida. Hoping it arrives undamaged this time with a projected time-frame to have it installed November 15. It will be a busy two month stay as I've already got a few doctors appointments set up. Just general follow-up stuff. Then I should be heading out to Arizona around the 1st of the year.

Shorter Mansion
stunning exterior

A drive into Eufaula brought me to the Shorter Mansion, the only attraction in town. Fortunately it didn't cost anything, as there is no tour of the house. The exterior is stunning with it's 17 Corinthian columns. 6 identical columns are inside the mansion. The interiors first floor is minimally decorated and is used for local functions, weddings, etc. The second floor consists of a few rooms filled with a mismatch of local historical items, including a huge confederate flag. They tell me the house as all the mansions along the main thoroughfare were built from cotton farming. But truth be told, it was Eli Shorter's new wife Wileyna's inheritance of the SSS Tonic company's fortune that built the mansion at a cost of $100,000. In 1965, the historical society was able to purchase the house at auction for $33,000.

the mansions cotton built

love the simple classic lines

next to church, the Vicarage?

one of those odd arrangements, they don't use the front entrance,
or the grand staircase to the second floor, one has to use the
side entrance and an elevator, rooms not well organized 
a gas station on the edge of mansion row

in need of some major work

so much work needs to be done...

This is the true south, where almost every restaurant has a buffet or choice of one meat and two sides, often coming with desert (or at optional expense) for around $9.00. Good home cooking, I have yet to try collard greens. Though I did have grits with one meal and they were actually pretty good.

Happy Birthday Alabama

I even attended a one day “Indian Summer” event in Eufaula. It was held right next to the Peanut factory where shipments were coming in from the farms even as the festival was going on. Free bags of boiled peanuts were being give out. Red and white balloons were released into the air in celebration of Alabama's birthday, kids had lots of activities to enjoy and wear them out a bit, lots of food vendors and craft displays and artists displaying their latest water colors and photography.

part of a petting zoo

ideas for you craft folks

a few wood workers

horse rides

old entrance to the peanut factory

Distance traveled: 300 miles (5 hours drive time)

A huge number of miles to travel. I had planned on breaking that up into two days of 150 miles each. However, after making a reservation at Silver Springs I discovered I'd made it for a day earlier than anticipated. Giving me no choice but to drive the full 300 miles in one day.

Along the route, I'm stopping in Williston Florida for a visit with Eddy and Debby Tennant. Good friends that I worked with at the Naval Training Systems Center. So good to catch up on former co-workers/friends.

good people, my former co-workers Debbie and Eddie
so glad we had time to get together along my travel route

The Silver Springs/Ocala area is a nice stopping off place before arriving in St Cloud for a couple of months.

Silver Springs State Park, nice modern large campsites

Before I go, let me once again thank all you, my readers for hanging out with me along the back roads and discovering a few new places along the way. Your comments along the way are always so appreciated as well as learning about what is going on in your life.

Sorry I didn't get a chance to visit the many friends and family along the way this year.

Life is what we make of it and I'm so fortunate to have this time in my life where I can explore it at my own traveling pace and having you along on the journey sure adds to my enjoyment.

Have a great fall and winter season ahead.

More photos:

Sunday, October 8, 2017

2017-28 Chattanooga Tennessee to Alpine Alabama


Chattanooga Tennessee
Alpine Alabama

Campground: Marion County Park (Jasper TN). $18 with senior discount. 50 amp and water at site. Nice site backed up to lake. Some highway noise from across the lake, but not an issue.

Campground: Logan Landing Rv Resort. PPA discount, $15.00. Full hookups 50 amp. Nice park in the middle of nowhere. No OTA Tv stations, weak radio stations, weak 4g Verizon signal.

Knoxville, Chattanooga to Talladega Alabama  

Distance Traveled: 153 miles

What a drive. Having to drive on major highways is never fun. Hwy 40 and the dreaded Hwy 75 were crowded as usual. Lots of semi-trucks, fortunately going at moderate speeds with the occasional car going way to fast. There's no chance to enjoy the scenery while driving on these major highways, but I'm at my next destination outside of Chattanooga. Those internet apps are really great for helping me find the next campsite at reasonable prices. My two favorites are RVPARKY and The Ultimate Public Campground app. Both have saved me a considerable amount of camping fees this summer.

I did get my new Michelin truck tires, $995.00. Not cheap, but the best safety insurance one can buy. With a guarantee of 50,000 miles, I'll probably end up getting a second set after about 35k miles, which is what happened with the last set of tires.

the many colors of Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls

My big tour item in this area is Ruby Falls. It's advertised along all the roads leading to Chattanooga and I've avoided it, thinking it was just one of those hoke tourist traps. Still, I thought it might have something going for it. I won't keep you in suspense, it is awesome.

After paying my $20 fee, I joined a tour group ready to take the elevator down to the caverns entrance. It's been described as one of the top 7 Natural Wonders in the U.S. Being the nations tallest underground waterfall that is open to the public. 145 ft high. After a natural cave entrance was blocked due to a new railroad tunnel being built through the mountain, Leo Lambert owner of Ruby Falls decided to see if he could find another entrance into the vast cave labyrinth. An elevator shaft was proposed to get down to the caverns. Once the first entrance was discovered 18 inches high and 4 feet wide the low tunnel was explored for 17 hours into the darkness. Finally, Ruby Falls was discovered. The tunnels required expansion, but still remain low requiring tall folks to bend over a bit so as not to hit their heads on the solid rock ceilings. I had no problem walking upright through most of the caverns.

beginning the tour after descending deep into the mountain
via the elevator 

the original explorers would have crawled along a space like this
to get to the falls

the Castle entrance, built from stones removed during
the excavation of the tunnels

many of the stalactites were damages during
the depression era 

colored lights, some folks like them
others prefer not

the passage way open up to high narrow ceilings

After almost a half mile walk with striking narrow wedged spaces rising above us bathed in rich colors of blues, yellows and reds in between the low corridors, we reached Ruby Falls... named after the explorers wife. History about the cave is provided as we walked deep into the mountain.... a brief video was shown along the way, before a few stops to ogle the various formations. Though many of the formations were damaged by tour guides during the great depression, selling pieces on the side to make extra money. The last stop being Ruby Falls. A spectacular light show accompanies the illumination of the falls inside the tall cavern so deep inside Lookout mountain. Eventually, the lights go dim and it's time to return along the half mile of tunnels and a quick ride back up the elevator.

the falls are dark until
the light show begins

cell phones are the norm for

I took pictures with my cellphone and camera

stunning to see a water falls deep
underground in a mountain

The average daily attendance is around 2,000 with a high of 5,000 on major holidays. At $20 per person, average, that's between $40,000 to $100,000 in ticket sales each day. Oh my.... and yes, it is worth the price of admission.

A little known fact is that the elevator goes even deeper down into the Lookout Mountain Caves which was the original destination for the elevator shaft. Those cave tours were also available for years, but Ruby Falls being the star attraction, they were discontinued. No longer provide tours of the larger Lookout Mountain Caves.

After the tour, I drove to the top of Lookout Mountain, overlooking Chattanooga. A wealthy community lives on top of the mountain, among the trees and winding roads, gracious homes are nestled where the summer temperatures are much cooler that down below. A small town with a couple of restaurants, where I'm able to enjoy a meal sitting outside under bright red umbrellas. Fresh fall air and dappled sunlight along with good background music. Couldn't ask for a better way to spend a day.

Distance traveled: 141 miles

From my campsite near Chattanooga, I headed south west passing through the corner of Tennessee, Georgia, and into Alabama. The direction chosen after finding a sweet deal on a Passport America campground. The scenery changed quickly as I entered Alabama, the mountain ranges quickly dropping off and the land leveling out. The state has the feeling of being very rural, flat with rivers and lakes dotting the landscape. I'm also avoiding traveling through Atlanta Georgia which I would never do anyway.

Logan's Landing also hs cabins for rent 

Logan Landing is designated a resort in that they have a nice swimming pool, locked clubhouse, lake fishing and swimming beach. My trusty GPS got me there as it truly is in the middle of nowhere, down ever changing country roads. Left here, right there, next left a few more miles with the rare country store, Dollar General or a church on a lonely corner sitting forlornly by itself.

Exploring the area, I've found many Rv campgrounds and cottages along the many lakes and wooded areas. It gives the impression that this is today's version of the summer camp away from the big cities of Birmingham and Montgomery.

small docks built for seasonal campers

I headed into the town of Talladega today. Next week is the Alabama 500. NASCAR races of course are popular here as well. I was lucky to get a campsite the week before the races. Though from what I can see, that's about the only attraction in the area. The town of Talladega is the most depressing town I've see so far this summer/fall. The buildings around the town square and courthouse are all but deserted. This would not be a regular stop by any means. I did notice a few of the buildings around the town square that look to be getting renovations, but it can't be easy when the town itself is so run down.

the bones of the town look good,
but the stores are all empty

the courthouse in the center of the square

even the sign has sagged during "renovations"

some great architecture, now a small church 

another building being renovated, a good sign

used for college productions

large empty stores

a new roof going on

Distance traveled: 2,000 feet.

Hurricane Nate: 

I'm right in the center , lots of rain coming down

 I moved to a different campsite here at Logan Landing, out from under a few huge pine trees with heavy pine cones waiting to launch a missile attack on my camper roof and solar panels. I decided not to try and move out of the park as the traffic along the main routes will surely be congested with folks coming inland away from the coastal areas which will surely get damaged. We are expecting winds in the 10-25 mph range, down from 35 to 59 mph gusts. So far so good.

The rains came throughout the evening and this morning as I finish writing this blog report, the rains are coming down in buckets, as the remains of the hurricane, now just a tropical storm have arrived. The path appears to be coming right over my area here in central Alabama. All is safe at this point. I'll finish having my cup of coffee and post the report for now.

Life on the road, always an adventure....

More photos:

Ruby Falls, the tour Chattanooga Tennessee