March 17th - 18th
Campsite #29 in Blue Springs State Park.
Sissy putting more firewood on the fire for dinner.
Honoring heros of times past.
U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Honoring heros of recent times. The museum was wonderful.
We departed O'Leno State Park in High Springs, Florida in a fog bank, but that burned off quickly as the sun came up and the temperature rose. North on I75 for a few miles and then westbound on I10 we drove toward Dothan, Alabama. Can you believe it, we were on schedule according to Our Plans. Our 9 days in Florida were great!
North Florida was beautiful and we took plenty of pics along the way. Alabama on the other hand, was even prettier. The rolling hills went on forever. After reaching the state line, we stopped at the Welcome Center to make a pit stop, get complimentary soft drinks and chat with some very nice ladies at the counter. They provided us with maps and information of Dothan and the surrounding area. One of the ladies suggested a campground about 13 miles toward Dothan, but we opted to find the Blue Springs State Park in Blue Springs, Alabama (population "at least" 100 according to the park clerk).
Sissy was navigating while John drove, and drove, and drove some more. He was getting a little frustrated that the park was so far north of Dothan (about 50 miles), and was getting ready to blame Sissy for getting lost. But then, the sign appeared just past downtown (a couple buildings and a closed store).
Blue Springs State Park must be the best kept secret in Alabama because it was absolutely beautiful and peaceful. The 50 site campground had 1 permanent resident and 1 transient camper when we arrived. Our rig made a total of 3 trailers in the entire campground. There were some folks swimming in the springs (the water comes out of the ground at 58 degrees), but they left at 1600 when the park closed.
We were assigned site #29, but the clerk told us to pick whichever one we liked. #29 was a pull through site on a small hill and was perfect for us. It was level, had all the hookups we needed (electric, water and sewer), a fire pit and a picnic table down the bank. With everything unpacked, John took an outside shower with his bathing suit on to freshen up, and then it was exploring on the bike.
We weren't able to swim in the pond due to the resident alligator we didn't see, but we came across the springs where the day timers were enjoying the water. John just had to do it! It didn't take him long to shed his shirt and sandals and take the plunge. The kids were daring him to jump in, but that had nothing to do with his decision. He was GOING in the spring just to say he did! Sissy opted to take a rain check because she hates cold water.
After taking the truck to the local store at the top of the hill, John used the cell phone (it didn't work in the valley where the campsite was). Then it was back to home base and dinner. Sissy collected firewood from the grounds (a new job she acquired) while John started a fire in the pit. The baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil got burned pretty good (Sissy had to cook another in the microwave) but the London Broil was delicious. There's something to say for cooking steak over a wooden fire.
With an early start on Monday morning, Sissy cooked eggs and the remaining London Broil from the night before (excellent). Then it was outside to wash both the bike and truck right at the campground (they needed a bath), and before you know it things began to happen. John decided to take the truck into Dothan, so he needed to put the bike into the trailer since there weren't many people around to watch over it. It's a good thing he had replaced the rear tire before heading out on our adventure because he looked like the bug sprayer man as he created a big, blue cloud on the way up the ramp. Once, he almost lost it, but recovered brilliantly and then inched up the ramp like a pro.
To Dothan it was. First, we headed for a "good-reception" area for John to take a leak and call his friend Frank on the cell phone. After making arrangements to visit Frank and Mary at 1630, we looked for a Ford dealership to get the 1st oil change for the truck (4,000 miles). Bondy's Ford, Inc took care of us in record time and without an appointment. The salesman (smoking cigarettes on the sidewalk out front) told John they didn't discriminate against out-of-towners! We were on our way in less than an hour.
After a short trip to Wal-Mart for necessities (toilet paper, chemicals, coke and an outside welcome mat for the trailer) it was touring time to locate the U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker. Boy what an adventure that was! As John pulled into the Fort Gate, we noticed the MP's were searching vehicles. Ok, maybe they won't search ours and find John's weapon ... wrong! The very nice MP (with a totally professional business attitude) asked for John's driver's license, registration and insurance papers. All was OK so far because he had each of them. Then "please step out of the car sir, and open your hood, doors and trunk" (he probably meant toolbox). Enough is enough, it was time to break out the credentials and explain to the nice MP that the weapon was located under the seat. "Is it loaded, sir?" After making John unload his weapon and store the ammunition in a separate location in the vehicle, we were issued a visitor pass. We think it was because one of the other MP's was a Harley rider, and he and John were chatting about Daytona Bike Week and Harleys.
The museum was huge, not air-conditioned and free. It was amazing and a good decision to visit. We were prohibited from taking pics on the Fort itself, but we snapped away at the museum. There are many, many examples of aircraft and even an Army Aviation Vietnam Memorial to the soldiers who died during that war.
After lunch at a local restaurant and soaking up the sights in and around Dothan, it was time to visit Frank and Mary. Frank, now working at a nuclear power plant nearby, used to be on the VBPD many years ago. He and Mary invited us in, and we chatted for the longest time about old times. A neighbor of theirs recently passed away, and we had to cut our visit short so they could go to the viewing. Maybe next visit we'll be able to spend more time with them.
Driving back to the campsite after dark was a real trip on the country roads, but we made it without any problems. We decided to leave the bike inside for the night so we wouldn't have to put it back in the morning. The next morning we headed for New Orleans and a visit with John's sister Debi and her husband Rod.
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