Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Getting a Handle On RV Repairs

 In Louisiana, in the middle of dealing with the storm, this happened. Since  everyone keeps asking for more pictures of the crew, we will let them help tell the rest of this story.
"Woah, mom! Easy on the RV!!"
 That's right, I go to leave  - and the handle came off in my hand. I examine the handle, hoping it was just a loose bolt or something, but nope, the metal has actually sheered off! The Biker, thinking quickly, dives out the front passenger door and lockes our entrance door from the outside with his keys. 
 "Um, guys? Could you please fix this door? I am getting tired of having to go in and out the front cab just for a walk!"
 Relax, Crockett. Winnebago sends parts in two days - even for 1999 Itascas. Thank you, Winnebago! 
 The Biker pulls out his trusty drill, lines up a few holes, and voila!
 We have a door handle again!
 "Good job! This means more walks, right?"
 This also means we can use the screen door on again!
 "Um, Mom? It's January and 40 degrees. Why is this door open?!?"

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Alabama by Way of Texarkana

We are currently enjoying a sleepy Sunday afternoon in Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale.
A very sleepy Sunday! In an attempt to get this blog back on track, lets back up to Friday, December 21st.
Amazon Camperforce is done for the year, so we leave Fort Bluegrass and Louisville. After spending a second year here, we are growing attached to this city, with its many funky restaurants and um, interesting driving habits. Always wait a few seconds when the light turns green in this town - just saying!
Our original plan was to follow our route last year, taking a leisurely week-long stroll down down 65 to Alabama but
it turns out its time for The Biker to renew his license in person. Which means we need to drive to Texarkana, first.
So we leave Kentucky then swing west, through Arkansas.
We crate the crew when we drive, so we drive for a few hours then pull over in rest areas and Walmarts to let everybody stretch. Not what we planned for Christmas, but at least we have holiday lights to enjoy - even if its just a beautiful full moon and a whole lot of semi lights!
We finally reach Texarkana on December 26th. Getting the license only takes an hour. After Lousville, the warmer Texas weather is glorious!
It's also true gulf state weather - devious and sneaky. A big storm front moves in just hours after this picture is taken. We spend the night in a torential downpour, as high winds rock our RV from side to side.
The next morning, we pack up the crew and check the radar. The storm is heading east and so are we. Sigh. It can be dangerous to drive a high profile vehicle like ours in high winds, so we decide we will just drive until we reach the storm's edge - and then pull over.
We spend the next day slooowly driving through Louisiana, playing our own version of storm chaser.
Eventually the storm stalls out over Missippi. We have no choice but to pull over at a truck stop in Louisiana and wait it out. 
We finally reach Missippi on December 28th, a whole lot later than we planned -
only to discover that there are road closures ahead! The storm has dumped so much rain, bridges are underwater. We talk to a very nice Department of Traffic person who is directing traffic and she tells us our best bet is to detour an hour or so north.
We aren't exactly happy about this, but we check Allstays and the detour will send us toward the Alabama Welcome Center in Cuba. We change plans (again!) and decide to head to the Welcome Center, where we can either wait out the storm or push through.
Of course, when we arrive, the radar shows the storm is just passing through Gulf Shore. We asphalt camp for the night, waiting once again for the durn storm to move along. At least this is a really pretty Welcome Center!
We make it to Gulf Shores late Saturday afternoon. The ground is incredibly soggy from the storm, so we park and resign ourselves to having to level out again when things dry out. At least we made it safe and sound!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Staying at Fort Blugrass Mobile Home Park

Hi! Before we get into this park review,we wanted to take just a moment to talk about Amazon Camperforce. Amazon Camperforce is a temporary work program for RV'ers who want to help out with holiday rush. Sadly, there is a couple of "news" articles currently circulating about the program that cast Amazon as a draconian overlord, working senior citizens to death in Bezos' salt mines. 

Um, no. Camperforce is an awesome program that allows Amazon to ramp up for the holidays, while giving retired and semi-retired RVers a way to make some extra cash. RV'ers get paid hourly (with time and half for overtime) AND get free rent (Amazon covers lot rent for Camperforce employees at local RV parks). Many RV'ers return to the same distribution center year after year, making lasting friendships as well. Oh, and Amazon pays a nice bonus to everyone who stays to the end of the season.

If we had one quible with the program, its that the RV parks in the Louisville/Shepherdsville metroplex are, um, interesting. White Acres (Bardstown) and Grandma's (Shepherdsville) are ran by owners who have some rather strange quirks. North Louisville Campground, where we stayed last year, wasn't one of the Amazon park options this year, but Amazon has added Fort Bluegrass Mobile Home Park
Let's talk about the cons first. This is a very old mobile home park, and it does back up to train tracks and a warehouse area. Having said that, new owners bought the park in May of 2018 and they have been working hard to fix the park up and bring in newer units. We saw a lot of improvements in the park in the four months we stayed there.
Dog Friendly: The park does not have a dog park and there is no off leash areas to excercise a dog near by. There are some neighborhood streets and athletic fields close by which do provide good places to walk a dog on leash.

Motorcycle Friendly: The park's roads are asphalt, but be aware there are some enormous speed bumps in this park!
Cell Service/Wifi: Verizon was 2-3 bars, without a booster. The park does have free wifi, but its definitely a work in process.
Amenities: Currently the park doesn't offer many amenities, except for a laundry room. The owner is putting in showers and bathrooms, but we are not sure when these will be ready. We also feel we should point out that the owner is still trying to sort out issues with winterizing water connections at the different sites - we weren't the only campers who had issues.

Getting There: The park is just off of I-65 and technically in Watterson Park, which is in the southern outskirts of Louisville. Once again, we will mention the speed bumps - go slow entering and exiting the park! 

Local Stuff: There is a Walmart, Target, and Krogers an easy one mile walk (just follow the sidewalk past the athletic fields) and Costco isn't much further. The park is also just south of 264. The area above 264 is known as Highlands/Bardstown and is well known for its restaurants. Talking about restaurants, we definitely recommend Tumbleweed, which is right around the corner, just past the Krogers.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind - Free!

Hi! We're back! Amazon was crazy busy this year and we didn't get much time to blog. We will try to do a better job blogging in 2019 - we promise!
We did get a chance to check out one museum in Louisville - the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). If  you've been reading this blog for a while, you won't be shocked to know that, yup, this museum is free!
The APH was started 150 years ago, thanks mostly to the efforts one man, Dempsey Sherrod. Louisville was chosen as the home of APH because of the city's central location. The nonprofit's museum is on the second floor and is our favorite type of museum - they encourage touching the exhibits! (Which is a good reason to donate a little to this musuem - we all need to support this!)
Most of APH's products are written in Braille. Braille was created by Louis Braille, a blind French man who was trying to figure out a way for the blind to read and write.
Although Louis created Braille, there were several competing reading systems for the blind throughout the nineteenth century. 
The musuem does a great job talking about this "battle of the dots" and the ensuing confusion before printers settled on one system.
The museum also has a large collection of different styles of Braille machines, many of which were innovations created by APH employees.
One section of the museum is dedicated to educating visitors on the many needs of blind students,
andincludes the many tools and inventions that APH has created over the years to meet these needs.
It's Buddy! Buddy was the first American Seeing Eye Dog. Buddy's human would go on to found the American Seeing Eye in 1929.
There was also a fascinating corner dedicated to Stevie Wonder, highlighting the the unique challenges he faced as he worked to get an education while handling the demands of being a child performer. Stevie is so successful today, we often don't think of the huge hurdles he faced at age 11 when he signed his first record deal.
The museum had so much to see (and touch!) we could've have spent the entire day there. Our stomachs, however, insisted on lunch. Fortunately, the museum is pretty close to a great restaurant we found last year - Feast's BBQ.
Their brisket is moist and flavorable, and the fried cheesecake sticks are excellent.  They also have smoked tofu. Yes, you read that right - smoked tofu. Since I am one of those weird people who loves tofu AND bbq,  this makes me very happy. Also, fried cheesecake. Just saying.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Winnebago Grand Rally - Part III

Yes, it has been a month since our last post. The Biker is currently working 60 hour weeks and I'm walking dogs for folks on four different shifts. We will endeavor to get more posts up, but things are probably going to continue to be slow until Christmas!
Time to wrap up the Winnebago Rally, which was, um, July? Yeah, we're not very good bloggers.  One of the most exciting things that happened at the rally was Winnebago techs tracked down our electric gremlin affecting the 12 volt system. It turns out our coach had a frayed wire. It only cost $5 in parts, but three hours of labor. Ouch!  Oh, well. It's fixed and we now have 12 volt all the time, which is kind of important.
We also got to go on a long bike ride with the WIT riders.
After all the rain at the beginning of the rally, it was nice to  enjoy some great riding weather.
We headed up the road to a tiny town called Rock Falls.  The town was built by the falls at Shellrock river, and was originally called Shell Rock Falls. We couldn't an explanation of why the town folk decided to drop the "Shell".
In the 1960s, Rufus Wilkinson and his wife donated 19 acres for a park. Cerro Gordo County Conservation Board has worked to expand the park to 80 acres.
Wilkinson Pioneer Park is now a valuable nature trail, and home to many birds, from blue herons to bald eagles.
The park is best known for its  covered bridge. The bridge was built in 1969, was destroyed by fire in 1997, but was rebuilt the next year. 
After leaving the park, we grabbed gasm and stopped to see one of Iowa's Freedom Rocks.  Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, a native of Greenfield, Iowm launched the project in 2013. He is placing a rock honoring veterans in each of Iowa's 99 counties!
We then headed to Lake Mills to grab lunch at Teluwut, which has really good food - although I would have liked a bit more seasoning on my fish.
The restaurant is the old Merchant's Bank, so we got to eat in the old bank vault - which was certainly cool enough to make up for the lack of seasoning!
After lunch, we strolled over to the town's Arlington Veterans memorial.
The park was created in 2004 to honor local Veterans.
It currently has 124 flags and honors 1,234 veterans.
Another Freedom Rock. The black granite on the top of the walls came from the same mine that provided the granite for the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
This stone honors the 22 local men who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Reading their names and remembering these brave souls seemed like the the best possible way to end to this great ride!