Sunday, September 15, 2019

Day 167, September 15, 2019, Sunday. Tampa, FL (158 miles)
Trip stats:
coach miles: 14,864
diesel gallons: 1,527
mpg: 9.7
states visited: 18
provinces visited: 3
states not yet visited: 1 (Oklahoma)
provinces not yet visited (and most likely never will): 2 (Northwest Territories, Nunavut)

Day 166, September 14, 2019, Saturday. Lake City, FL (166 miles)
The Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, FL was to be our first stop at the beginning our trip but it was closed due to Hurricane Michael damage. So we visited the park on the way home not only to see th caverns but to escape some of the heat as the cave temp is a very comfortable 65 degrees and no jackets needed.  The caverns were opened for guided tour but flashlight tours only as the electrical system was still not functioning due to the hurricane. The caverns has some very nice features and the flashlight tour gave it a very different perspective. The photos came out fairly well as the camera flash was the only light on the subject. After the tour we drove to Lake City, FL, and checked into Casey Jones RV Park (fhu 50 amp pt). We had dinner with our friends Tim and Marilyn at Rita’s. The restaurant left a lot to be desired but the company was delightful.

Day 165, September 13, 2019, Friday. Marianna, FL (231 miles)
We departed Birmingham and headed 86 miles to Montgomery, AL, to visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration.  Both of these opened in April of 2018. We parked the coach at the Memorial and entered through a strict security screening. The Memorial begins with a shocking sculpture of slaves in chains, the anguish on their faces is quite upsetting. The Memorial’s main feature are 800 weathered steel monuments, one for each county that has been documented to have lynched a black person prior to 1950. In addition to the county name, each monument lists the names and dates of those lynched. Outside the Memorial structure where the monuments are hanging is a field of identical monuments waiting to be claimed by the counties they represent. So far, it appears that no county has confronted the truth and claimed a monument. A shuttle bus took us to the Legacy Museum in downtown. The museum is located in a building which housed Africans waiting to be sold at slave auctions. 400 years of history is presented from the beginning of the slave trade though the civil rights struggles to present day discrimination in the criminal justice system. After our visit, we continued onward and checked into Stay N Go RV Park (fhu 50 amp pt) in Marianna, Florida, thus ending my longest ever stay outside my home state at 5 months and 12 days.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Day 164, September 12, 2019, Thursday. Hoover, AL (Birmingham, AL)
We visited the Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens in Birmingham. The mansion was built in the 1840's and one of the few to survive the Civil War. We then went to Vulcan Park and viewed Vulcan, at 56 feet tall, the world’s largest cast iron statue, situated high on a tower. The park is on Red Mountain which offers a good view of the city of Birmingham so we elected not to pay for the elevator ride to the top of the tower. Vulcan is the Roman god of the forge which gives a nod to the city’s past in the iron and steel industry, the “Pittsburgh of the south”. Next up was the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark which operated iron furnaces from 1883 until 1971 when plastic piping made iron piping obsolete. It looked like a very scary place to work and there were many worker injuries. Lunch at Back Forty Beer Co. was a delicious cheeseburger washed down with a “P&Q Porter”. Rosemary had a kale salad with chicken, no beer.  A stop at Birmingham Breadworks for an almond frangipane for dessert after dinner as our next stop was for dessert now, bubble teas at ThirsTeas CafĂ©. On our way back to the coach we stopped at Publix and it felt like we were almost home. After dinner and almond frangipane, we walked the indoor walking track to get our 10,000 steps.

Day 163, September 11, 2019, Wednesday. Hoover, AL (Birmingham, AL) (168 miles)
Lakeshore’s morning run to Red Bay for parts naturally omitted one part we needed. So I got in the car and drove 45 minutes to Red Bay each way to pick up the missing part and to correct another part which was mislabeled and did not fit. We finally departed Iuka about 3:45 pm with all repairs done except one of the major ones, replacement of a slide topper which part will have to be ordered in Tampa and which will take about 2 weeks to receive. We arrived at the Hoover Met Complex RV Park (fhu 50 amps) about 7:00 pm. After dinner, we walked the indoor walking track at the complex but our walk was cut short as it closes at 9:00.

Day 162, September 10, 2019, Tuesday. Iuka, MS
A day spent at Lakeshore Custom RV where the progress was slow. Two issues resolved and a third informed not fixable. The rest were to be the next day when parts were being brought from Tiffin in Red Bay. So that third unfixable item - Rosemary’s “captain’s chair”, I got down on the floor and within 2 minutes I fixed it. Goes to show it’s tough to get good help! After closing time - 4:30 pm- we hooked up the electric and water again, we drove the car to Iuka which turns out to be 18 minutes away. Nothing to see there except we did visit the Piggly Wiggly for a couple items. I sure hope we can get fixed up tomorrow and can hit the road.

Day 161, September 9, 2019, Monday. Iuka, MS (124 miles)
A leisurely morning as we did not have more than a few hours to our next destination, Lakeshore Custom RV in Iuka, MS. Our coaches manufacturer, Tiffin, is in Red Bay, AL, and we hoped to stop there for a few repairs. When I called Tiffin, I was informed that it had a new policy since last year that it no longer works on coaches more than 10 years old. My coach’s 10 year  anniversary was July when we were in Alaska. Tiffin referred me to Lakeshore which is run by a former long time Tiffin employee. Iuka is about 40 miles from Red Bay and both places are in the middle of nowhere. We met Nathan and discussed about 10 items to be addressed for tomorrow, some minor and a couple not so minor. Lakeshore has two spots with 50 amp and water so we plugged in for the night.

Day 160, September 8, 2019, Sunday. Memphis, TN
We began our day with a walk of about 5 minutes from the Graceland RV Park to Elvis Presley’s Graceland which features 200,000 square feet of exhibits, restaurants and shopping. Across the street now named Elvis Presley Boulevard we toured the mansion where Elvis lived. Elvis died in 1977 and the house looks like it is dated in the 1970's. One room referred to as the “jungle room” had green shag carpeting not only on the floor but the ceiling as well. Although on 13 acres, the house is not as big as I imagined but it did have an indoor racquetball court. Elvis’s grave is on the property as is his parents and grandmother. We toured the exhibits which includes Elvis’s automobiles, motorcycles, outfits, awards including dozens of gold records. Of course Elvis sings throughout. A separate building housed non-Elvis exhibits including one on the life of Muhammad Ali. It seemed that just about everywhere there was a gift shop selling everything imaginable with Elvis on it. We were able to resist making any purchases. After Graceland, we drove downtown and visited the Peabody Hotel to watch the famous ducks leave the fountain precisely at 5:00 pm and walk the red carpet to an elevator and up to the rooftop “duck palace” where they reside until 11:00 am when they descend and walk the red carpet back into the fountain. Begun in the 1930's as a way to attract people to the hotel. And attract people it does. A big build up for a few seconds of action. We did go up to the roof which offered a nice view of the city. Next we walked along Beale Street, “home of the blues”. A seedy area, like a poor man’s Bourbon Street. We then drove to the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid, an incredibly big pyramid shaped store which inside had a trout pond, shooting arcade, hotel, sporting goods galore and an elevator that for $10 you can ride to the top of the pyramid and go outside on a walkway. I declined to pay for the elevator ride. We dined at Marlowe’s Ribs and Restaurant where I had a full slab and Rosemary had the brisket. For those counting, that made for a rib dinner for me three days in a row and more ribs and brisket to take home. I sure hope those cholesterol lowering drugs I take work!