Our Schedule



Home in Alabama!

April 19 to 23. VRV Park in Vinton, La. To attend family reunion.

May 30 to June 4. To Louisiana and Texas for granddaughters HS Graduation.

May 14 to 16. Visit from my sister, niece and grandniece.

September 21 to 28. NOMADS annual meeting. Memphis, TN

October 6 to 25. NOMADS Project, Gallant, AL






Monday, April 23, 2018

Meet the Easts

Sulphur, LA

This past weekend we traveled to Louisiana for the 3nd formal reunion of Lens siblings and their families.    Leonard is the 3rd oldest of 10.    There are 9 surviving siblings.  Seven attended the reunion.  In the front is Laura (Pet), Lydia (Monkey) Angelitta (Sissy).  In the back is Robert, Leonard, Myron and Royce.   A typical display of baseball caps.



Our plan was to leave home last Thursday, take two days to drive the 560 miles and leave today to come home, again taking two days.  We were going to tow our travel trailer and stay at a local RV park. Plans change.  Our truck went in the shop last Monday for a new rear.  We were assured it would be done Wednesday at the latest.  This is Monday again and the truck is still not done. They tell us tomorrow.  We'll see.

For two days we had to rent a car.   Finally the dealership gave us a 2018 Ford Escape to use.  We are used to the leg room and the comfort of a F350 Super Duty.   An Escape has very little leg room. Not the most comfortable trip.  But we sure did save a bundle on the cost of fuel. 

Due to these changes, I cancelled our RV reservations and we stayed at Lens brother Royce and SIL Susies.   And we left home on Friday, drove straight thru and back on Sunday, straight thru.

The reunion, as always, was a delight.  One hitch... Leonard woke up Saturday morning with a gout flare-up.   The worse ever.  And he didn't bring his gout meds that he takes when he feels a bout coming on.  By yesterday he could not walk on his own.  He had to grab on to something to be able to keep off his foot.   He took two long naps on the drive home.   Once home I retrieved a set of crutches we have here so he could get in the house.   He collapsed in his recliner ( after taking those gout meds) about 4:30 yesterday afternoon where he has mostly remained since.   He was asleep by 6 and slept til 7:30 this morning.    He is asleep again now as he has been most of the day.   He says the pain is substantially lessened.

Some random shots:








Each year each "team" (Team Lydia, Team Royce, etc) are assigned a color.  You will note many people are wearing pink.   That was the color assigned to Sissy and her family.   Her one son told us their shirts should have said  "The Sissy's". 

Games are played throughout the day with points awarded.  The team with the most points have their team name engraved on a trophy and get to keep the trophy until the next reunion. 

We thank daughter D'Juana for handling the ordering of our team shirts this year.  She also was REALLY good at herding and leading our team in each competition.   We couldn't have done it without her.

I'm not saying which team won this year but with humility post the winning team holding the trophy.



It will be proudly displayed at D'Juana and Joe's house.

Until next time.....



Friday, April 13, 2018

Dang it!

Cullman,  AL


There are so many things we want to do.  One of those has been to restore a pond that used to be on the property.    Another is take down many cedar trees that were planted some time ago.  Another is a clear approximately one acre of overgrown brush and trees at the back of the property.

We met with an excavator.   We agreed to the cost of getting all done.  He was to start work in a few weeks.

Then.... we heard a grinding noise in the truck.   Dang it!  Plans change.  That grinding noise meant a new rear.   $5,000.    Some of the excavating will have to wait.     We decided to still have the pond restored and the cedar trees removed.    The back acre will have to wait.   I am thinking mowing 3 cleared acres now takes me a few hours.  Do I really want to have to mow another acre? 

These cedar trees can be no older than 17 years as the house was built in 2000/2001.  Look at the size.   Can't wait til they are gone!!

Looking from the house toward the shop and road:



Along side of the house:


Blocking the view between house and future pond.  The cedar trees are on the right.  On the left are two beautiful cypress trees just starting to leaf.  They are gorgeous when fully leafed.  We can't see them from house because of the cedars.  The cypress will remain.


Another view of cedars and cypress:



Leonard had taken out one of the cedars but it was quite the challenge.  When they were planted, they were staked with green metal stakes.   Several remain.  Tree roots have wrapped around them and some even have the tree growing around the stake.




There are two cedars that are beautifully shaped and sit off separate.  We are keeping them.  They will look great lit up during the Christmas season.

As I said... Dang it!  The best laid plans............

Until next time.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Test Run

Hidden Cove Resort
Arley, AL


We took this opportunity to travel all of 26 miles to one of our favorite campgrounds .... Hidden Cove in Arley, AL.     The purpose of this 4 day trip was to test out our new Grand Design Travel Trailer.



The first day out was a pleasant sunny day.   We managed to sit outside for a spell.   Can not say the same about the remainder of our stay.  That night the winds kicked up, the rains pelted and light hail hit the area.   As Hidden Cove sits on Smith Lake in northern Alabama, it can really get cold there.



Our 3rd day was spent driving back to Cullman, about 36 miles each way where we both had medical appointments.  Len for a knee that is bothering him and me about the continuing pain in hip.  All part of getting old I fear.

On Friday we packed up and came home as planned.

So..... how did the Grand Design hold up?   No leaks, kept us warm on those cold days, everything worked as expected.

How did we like it?    There is a LOT less counter space than our previous RVs.   That is expected as they were much larger rigs and all had center islands.  Going to take some getting used to.



Along with a smaller kitchen comes a RV refrigerator.   We had gotten accustomed to a large residential fridge in our last two RVs.   Not only that ..... I HAVE TO MAKE ICE CUBES.  How primitive.    No ice maker, no water and ice without opening the door.   But since we do have an outside kitchen with small fridge, we are fine.   But too cold to cook outside those few days.

I never cared much for booth seating.  We always had table and chairs.   I like this one though.  It is not the traditional setup with a stationary table and two booths.  This table is movable and the booth is U shaped.   The table is in the down position in this picture.




Len noted that we can move the table closer to the cooking area when more counter space is needed.  Great idea.

We both love the bathroom.  It's roomier than any we've had before.

We were worried about storage space.  However, since we won't be living in the Grand Design but only use it while on NOMADS projects or vacations, it has more than enough.

We purposely got a unit with a bunk house.   There are times when I go searching for a quiet place to rest or sleep.   That will be lessened when Len finally gets this sleep  apnea thing evened out.   But having a bunk room is great for guests and grand kids who travel with us.  Lots of storage in that room.   That is another bunk that folds down over the sofa.


Yes, this will take some getting used to.   Next Saturday is Len's family reunion in Louisiana.  So off to another trip.  Hoping for much better weather.

Early this past week we planted tomato, pepper and cabbage plants.  Expecting to go down to 29 tonight.   In a while we will go outside looking for buckets, flower pots, etc to put over the plants.  Wish we knew that in this area they recommend not planting until April 15.   We were too anxious I suppose.

Until next time.



Saturday, March 31, 2018

New Improvement

Cullman,   AL


We enjoy having a front porch and a back porch.   Only problem....  they have three railings and when seated the top railing is eye level.



Solved the problem on the front porch.   First we slid top railing down to sit on middle railing.



Then we installed shelving on top railing.



The shelving is stained to contrast with the railings.  It is the perfect height to place my morning coffee when porch sitting.


Our plans are to sand the porch decking and steps and stain to match the shelves.  It currently has two coats of paint which is in the process of peeling.




We are only working on the front porch at this time.  Our plans are to eventually screen in the back porch.

I read somewhere that hummingbirds arrive in this area around March 15.  A few days ago I put out a feeder.    Yup..... two of them were feeding and buzzing by our heads as we were working on the porch.   Only one feeds at a time.   Whichever one is the meanest.




Until next time.....

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

You're always welcome here.

Cullman,  AL


As I have often said, we love having guests.    That's why we put in two RV sites. 

It's been a wonnderful few days.  This is Darlene and Jim.




We met this nice couple a few years ago when we were in Pennsylvania to visit daughter Terri and SIL Steve.   We were parked at a nearby campground for a few weeks.   Darlene had been reading this blog and saw we were near where they lived.  She contacted me thru the blog, we arranged to meet and rest is history.   We've gotten together many times since.  Often staying at the same campground... Hershey Preserve Thousand Trails.  And once at Sea Pines near Cape May, NJ

At that time they were planning to go fulltime.  Then the time came.  They sold their older model Cedar Creek and bought this beauty.


Last year they sold their home in Pennsylvania.   As they were still working, they continued to live in the area.  Then the time came and, like many, headed south for the winter mostly in Florida.

They are fortunate that both their employers agreed to employ them on a seasonal basis.  They start back to work on April 9 and will work until November and take off again.  What an arrangement.

Darlene and Jim arrived in Cullman on Saturday and left this morning..... amid a few tears.  We will miss them.

On Sunday we took them to a spot where we take most visitors... Clarkson Covered Bridge.


As they are also Thousand Trails members, we took them on a tour of Hidden Cove TT Park.  This is one of our favorites.  Our first outing in our new trailer will be there next week. 

They took us out for dinner that evening.   There is a BBQ place we like in town.... Jim and Nicks.  While there we learned something new.  As we left the fun waitress asked if she could refill our drinks to go.  Jim teased to change his to a beer.  Sorry.... no alcohol served on Sundays in Cullman.  Now that he talked about having a beer he and Len decided to go into Wal-Mart and get a 6-pack.  Jim picked up what he wanted and they walked to the self check-out aisle.   Sorry... no alcohol sold on Sundays in Cullman either.   Reminds me of when we first moved to Alabama.  Len was getting fuel.  He asked me to go inside and get a lottery ticket.  The clerk just laughed.   Not in Alabama.  Ok then.

Sunday gave us nice weather, not so yesterday.  Cold and windy.  I had physical therapy in the morning and on the way dropped Darlene at Wal-Mart and picked her up on the way back.   We spent some time visiting in the afternoon and then Darlene made a Zucchini pie and salad, Len grilled pork chops and I did the hardest part.... I opened two cans the green beans with potatoes.   Oh, Darlene had bought a cheesecake while at Wal-Mart.

Darlene gave us a beautiful gift.  Her father made the frames and she stitched the designs.  She kept them with her when they moved into their RV.   She wanted them to go to some place special.  This means so much to me.  They were meant to be here.  Our second bathroom:



It is decorated in red, white and blue.  I have two wall hangings (you can see one of them reflected in the mirror.  It is a patriotic angel.  On another wall is a primitive wooden Uncle Sam.   Darlene's gift is perfect.  The wooden frames match the vanity.  The stitching matches the motif.   Perfect!!



So this morning we said our so-longs.   The visit ended all too soon.  We are reasonably sure they will return.    To read their blog, look for Darlene and Jim listed under the blogs we read on the list to the right.  


Safe travels... dear friends.


Until next time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tornado or Hail, which would it be?

Cullman, AL


We knew when we settled here that tornadoes come through this area.  We well remember the April 2011 tornado that hit the town doing major damage.   When we came to visit son Lennie and family we drove through the town and saw the mass destruction.   Google Cullman AL tornado 2011!

Then a few days before we moved into the house in December 2016 one came through about 15 miles from our house over in Arley where we often camp.   We stayed at that campground not long after the roads there were hit.   We saw wide swats of woods wiped bare.  We saw the damaged homes and businesses.   Some houses so damaged they were beyond repair.






Then last Spring we were under Tornado WARNING two times.   We receive alerts on our phones to take shelter immediately.

When we bought the house we did not consider that we had to have one with a basement.  We are really glad we do. 

Yesterday once more it was time to be thankful for that basement.   As the day went on and we watched the weather station, it was clear Cullman was in the path of something.  Most of the day we were under a tornado WATCH.    That we did.   We watched. The skies became dark and foreboding.


Lets get prepared.   We took blankets, water, charger, change of clothes, flashlight, candles and matches to the basement.   They will remain there.   We have a sofa, chair, table, lamp,etc in the basement.

We continued to watch the weather channel.  Then we received phone alerts.  Tornado WARNING. It was time to move ourselves to the basement.  I took my camera and computer.  (yea, my whole life is on the computer!)

For about ten minutes we wondered if we had anything left upstairs.  The winds seemed fierce.  It sounded like things were moving around.  But we heard no glass break.  Once the racket stopped we came back up.   Everything was fine but some furniture on the front porch was re-arranged.  Not even a tree down.  A tomato plant we have in a pot on the back porch was just fine.

The TV situation was in and out as we have DirectTV and kept losing a signal.  Then the hail started.  It would hail, stop, hail, stop etc.    I went to the back porch.  There was hail the size of a ping pong ball.  As it was dark out, nothing else could be seen. A friend up the road told us via Facebook that parts of Cullman were hit with baseball size hail.

This morning we drove through town (about 8 miles away).  My sister called from NJ after she saw a report of the damage on TV.

This is just some of what we saw.

This first picture is taken at the lot of the pest control company that we use.  Just now I looked outside to see we were being serviced.   I talked to our tech.  He said the truck he is driving was brought down from Decatur.  Every one of the trucks at the Cullman lot were destroyed.  He said one truck was so damaged it looked as if a large log fell on it.  Several of the trucks were parked out in the front were for sale.   He also said their office is destroyed.  When we went by we saw people working on the roof.


Every car at this dealership was destroyed.  You can see the damaged windshields. Less than a quarter of a mile away is another dealership. No damage at all!




Wal-Mart is closed due to hail damage and water as are some other businesses.  Some homes also damaged by the hail.

Once more we dodged a bullet.   All is good.   For us.

Until next time......


Monday, March 5, 2018

Downsized to new RV

Cullman,   AL

Ever since we came off the road as fulltime RVers we have talked about not needing a 43' Fifthwheel.  One that size was ideal when we lived in it.   Now for the occasional weekend, NOMADS project or a week or two at a time we felt a 28 to 32' travel trailer would be just fine.

But first...... repairs had to be made on our Open Range.  All under warranty.  Good thing.


The repairs were such that it had to go back to the manufacturer in Indiana.  While there they had to replace flooring due to 3 leaks caused by loose fittings.  In addition they had to remove the entire drivers side walls and replace.  There was a crack in the shell that was fixed twice but then cracked again.  Also we had 2 spring hangers break.  So they picked up the rig back in November and took it to north Indiana. The repairs were done in December but the weather was such that we were not about to tow on ice or snow.  Since we had to inspect it, we had to pick it up.

It appeared we would have some better weather last week.  So we took off on Wednesday.  It rained all day.  As it was a 606 mile drive we spent Wednesday night in a motel.    We finally arrived at the manufacturer Thursday morning.   In rain, then sleet, then a little snow.  But turned back to rain.

Len was drenched, cold and a little cranky by the time he hooked up and we could get back on the road.  After going a few miles the sun came out.  Whew..... this is good.  We thought.  Two hundred miles down the road on the busy Interstate in Indianapolis...... smoke.  Tires were rubbing together.   ANOTHER SPRING HANGER BROKE.   Talk about unhappy campers.

Len called back to the Open Road folks.   As we were stuck on a busy Interstate we needed a safer place.   Open Range contacted Lippert, the frame maker who arranged for a tow.  We got off the road and realized we were there for the night.   Two mechanics from Lippert drove 3 hours on Friday to do the repairs.


They replaced the broken spring hanger and noticed another one was about to break.  They also replaced the equalizers.



Needless to say... there was some frustration of our part.  We do have to admit although they didn't correctly fix the problem we sent it there to do, they did a lot of stuff we didn't expect.  There was a huge dent from when Len hit our carport.  They replaced that panel. A awning leg was damaged when winds came up in Branson last year and as we attempted to retract the awning the wind was so fierce the leg bent. They fixed that.  Screws had come loose and fallen out of valances.  They fixed that.  One shade in the bedroom had a broken string.  They fixed that.  Some trim had come loose in the kitchen.  They fixed that.   They also washed and waxed the rig.

Well this was good as our plan was to sell it and downsize.

We finally got back on the road Saturday.  We were to take the rig to our local RV dealer.  When it was in their shop last year, they ripped the roof.  As we needed the use of the rig, they patched it with plans to put a new roof on at a later time.  So we dropped it off on the way home.

While there we talked to a salesperson and told him our plans to downsize.   Today we went back and did just that.

We are now the owners of a 2018 Grand Design Imagine travel trailer.  We went from 43' to 32'.  Google Grand Design Imagine 3170BH.


Our last two RVs had huge residential fridge with ice makers.  But we can live with this smaller rv unit.   Not the counter space the larger units have but that's okay too.  Especially since it has an outside kitchen with a 2nd microwave, two burner stove, small refrigerator and storage drawers and cabinet.



A large booth dining area that can be converted to a bed.  Two recliners.  Len is thrilled.  They not only recline but have a heat and massage setting.


The bunk room.  This room closes off for privacy.  The bunks on the left with a TV.  On the right is the sofa that folds down to a bed plus another bed that folds down above the sofa.  Drawers under bunks and sofa.  Plus a closet.



Our bedroom.  Not real big but satisfactory.



The bathroom is surprisingly large.   Good size shower and some shelf space on the vanity.


Yea, some things I will miss.  The washer/dryer combo.  The huge living room in the Open Range.  The residential fridge.  The fireplace.  LOTS of storage.   What I won't miss is the stress of wondering when the next spring hanger will break.   And towing and finding sites for a 43' RV. We expect that due to downsizing the insurance and cost of tags and registration will be less expensive.  And we know we will get better fuel mileage.

Hope to pick it up by the weekend.  Can't wait to get the tubs of "stuff" out of our basement and start arranging them in a new part time home.

Until next time.