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Nov 1 - 30 - A busy, wonderful month

One of our bucket-list items is to visit all the official Presidential Libraries/Museums in the country. November saw us adding one more to our tally, leaving just one to go. November also saw us settling in (figuratively speaking) at a seasonal RV site at the 1000 Trails Orlando Resort - which means we'll be in the same place for over three months. That'll be the longest we've ever sat in one location since we started this adventure. And November also saw us making a flying trip to the Pacific Northwest, our justification to see our doctors and get our meds renewed. The bonus reality was that we got to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with family we'd not seen for nearly a year.

On November 1, we hooked up and left the Lexington NC (25) area, heading south and hoping to stay ahead of advancing nasty weather. We didn't. By the time we checked in to the 1000 Trails Carolina Landing RV park at Fair Play NC (26) it was foggy and drizzling. The forecast was for torrential rains. The forecast was right.

Our stay at Carolina Landing was just for one night - we didn't even unhook the car - and when we got up the next morning, it was pouring down rain. Just unplugging the electricity was a drenching experience. Al vowed once and for all to buy some rain gear. That's one sure way to ensure we won't have to hook up in a drenching rain again. But, on November 2, we slogged back onto the interstate and drove just over 100 miles to the Stone Mountain RV Resort (27) at Stone Mountain GA, timing our departure to avoid Atlanta rush hour traffic. And when we arrived, the rain had stopped and we were able to get settled in in the dry.

The massive stone sculpture on Stone Mountain commemorating heroes of the Confederacy was one of the bucket list things we wanted to see in the Atlanta area, and we were parked just a mile from the Georgia State Park that encircles the mountain. But we didn't get there. And we'll regret not going. From pictures we've seen, it's a spectacular high-relief carving into the mountainside, and well worth seeing. Circumstances just didn't make it happen. We'll probably not have another chance. Oh well, we can't do everything.

But we ticked off another bucket list item by spending an afternoon at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum. The museum is just one building within the Carter Center, which also houses the Carter Presidential Library and offices for the Carter Institute, a organization focused on improving the quality of life especially for people in less developed countries. We'd been to Plains GA just last spring and so were familiar with the "before" story. And while that story is reiterated in the Atlanta museum, the focus is on the Carter presidency and his work after that. Carter's biggest Presidential achievement was probably the Egyptian-Israeli peace accord hammered out at Camp David in 1979 - and which remains unbroken today despite everything else that's been going on in the mid-east.

And since what he calls his "involuntary retirement" after one term in the White House, Carter's been all over the world, using his influence and negotiating skills to try to bring democracy to places without it, and to try to find remedies for diseases that can be prevented by helping folk get sanitary water supplies, just to name a few things. In the videos shown where he's discussing some of his activities, you don't get the sense that he's bragging, even though he's taking credit for things that he's accomplished. He's probably been the most "Presidential" of the ex-Presidents. And he's showing little sign of slowing down, despite the recent diagnosis of brain tumors (since successfully treated) and being 91 years of age. We even got to see his Nobel Peace Prize - never saw one of those before.

Anyway, on Nov 5 we hooked up and headed south again, driving just 134 miles to Unadilla GA (28), where we overnighted. We adjusted our departure to avoid the worst of Atlanta rush hour, but it seems that rush hour conditions exist in and around Atlanta most all the time. We survived the traffic. Our final push southward to Florida was 264 miles on Nov 6, and we arrived at the 1000 Trails Three Flags Resort at Wildwood FL (29) just about lunch time. We were essentially killing time at Three Flags, as we couldn't get into our final destination until Nov 10.

Last spring before we left, we'd rented 3 months at the 1000 Trails Orlando Resort near Clermont FL (30). And having paid for Dec., Jan. and Feb., we then made one of our free membership reservations for the three weeks preceding. So on Nov 10, we drove the last 54 miles and settled in. We booked those three months for several reasons, not the least being the proximity of a Curves just a mile from the park, where Judy could maintain her exercise regimen. In fact, Judy'd transferred her membership to that Curves. But a couple of months after we left, that Curves closed. So Judy moved her membership to the next-closest Curves, about 12 miles up the road. And in September, THAT Curves closed as well. So Judy moved her membership to Williamsburg VA for two months. The result was that one of the first things we needed to do was find another Curves. There are two, each about 22 miles from the RV park. And after visiting both, Judy became a member of the one in Winter Garden FL. So her half-hour workout became a 2 1/2 hour commitment. It's increasingly clear we have to develop another way for Judy to exercise.

But first, we had just a few days to get ourselves organized and catch a plane back to the Pacific Northwest. We flew on Mon 11/16 to Portland OR. Back in July when Al made the reservations, he found that two first class tickets could be had for a total of just a couple hundred dollars more than what our economy plus class seats had cost us last year at Christmas time. And being that we'd never flown first before, and that it was unlikely we'd ever have another opportunity, we spent the extra bucks and opted for comfort. Maybe not a big deal for most people, but it was pretty neat for us. End of brag.

Anyhow, upon landing in Portland, where the ambient temperature was colder than the average refrigerator, we picked up our rental vehicle. We'd reserved a "full size" car, hoping we could get a Ford Fusion like last year. We wound up with a full-size GMC Yukon, only slightly smaller than our motorhome. It was our first experience with an "intelligent" car - it had radar front and back so it could warn us about approaching vehicles, it monitored whether we were straying from our lane and corrected the steering if necessary - unnerving stuff like that. But we and the big black moose survived.

Our doctoring in Oregon went very well - Judy's neurologist detected no significant progression in her Parkinson's symptoms, and Dr Law renewed all our meds with only minor tweaking. So, having driven from Portland to Salem to Eugene to Seaside to Astoria in the pursuit of medical opinions, a week before Thanksgiving we rolled into Jan & Denny's driveway at Longbranch WA for our holiday reward. Much visiting ensued, and Jan & Judy did a LOT of kitchen work. Relatives assembled, and there were 23 for Thanksgiving dinner, not counting the two youthful raccoons peering through the windows from the deck, much to the delight of the kids (and us).

Two days later, much of the group reassembled at niece Lauren's house to help her celebrate her birthday. And after brunch, we piled into the big black moose and headed for Portland in anticipation of an early flight Sunday morning back to Florida and reasonable temperatures. But somewhere between making the plane reservations in July and all the rest of the plans in October, Al got the dates messed up - our flight wasn't until Monday Nov 30! So we had an extra day lolling about the PDX Airport Sheraton, and finally got to fly back to our rolling home on Monday. Took us a while to connect with the airport shuttle back to our car in Orlando, so it was almost 8pm by the time we ended our trip. A long day, a rather busy month.

We've assembled some of our pictures (along with some from other folks) into this month's slideshow. Check them out here if you choose.

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