Posts Tagged With: paddleboard

Sweet Spot Alabama

Georgia has lifted many of the stay-at-home restrictions caused by the corona-virus, but we remain housebound most of the time, researching future adventures. Our deck and backyard serve as our outdoor escape, and what with all the critters, we could almost believe we are at the edge of some wildlife refuge.  (Is sleeping in the middle of the glass totems really the best spot?)

If you haven’t seen the videos of our backyard at night or the newborn fawn posing in front of the trail camera, you should take a moment to have a look now. 

Fawn’s First Days
What Happens at Night?
More of What Happens at Night



We were supposed to be on a big ship headed to Alaska this week, but as you know, all cruises out of Seattle, Canada and Alaska are cancelled. So we lamented our lost adventure to see Orca, humpback whales, eagles and more, but had our own sail-away party from the upper deck anyway. Gosh, you should grab a drink and join us for the celebration!

Alaska Sail Away

And since the motorhome sitting in the driveway was a strong reminder that we ought to be out camping somewhere, Jackie and her sister Judy got on the computer and searched out a spot that would be halfway between us (she is in Nashville) and a fun spot to meet up for a few days. The result was Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama, just 4 hours away and northwest of Birmingham. It is actually the Clear Creek Recreation Area in the William Bankhead National Forest. They reserved adjoining sites and we headed out for a mid-week get-together.

      

   

       

It was a great choice and the midweek arrival meant we had our half of the campground practically to ourselves. The weather was sunny and cool, the campsites wooded and nicely separated and the water in the clear lake was a perfect temperature. The only downside was that only one restroom/shower building was open and it was not in our loop. We were actually fine, but it did make it inconvenient for anyone who didn’t have onboard facilities.

     


We played it pretty low-key. We paddled around the lake with our kayak and paddleboards, bobbed in the water of the swimming area and rode bikes along a really nice bike path that followed the lake edge. If you want to get a sense of the lake and the bike path, watch this brief video, but be advised, the biking is a bit disorienting. 

Smith Lake Bike and Paddle video

   

Craig and I were delighted to learn that the nearest town of Jasper, maybe 20 miles off, had not one, but TWO breweries that were open. So of course we all had to trek into town and see what was on tap. Hands down the friendliest brewery was Twisted Barley, with most of the owner’s family helping out. We had flights of some really tasty beers – from IPAs to sours to pilsner and barrel-aged. Nice selection. We also ordered up some pizza and “pig wings” – little riblets that had a bit of a kick to them. Definitely worth a stop if you are in Jasper.

 

 

Maybe a block further down the street was the other brewery, Tallulah Brewing, with a really nice outdoor patio. We only stayed for a single beer, but it was a beautiful night out and the town was really quite cute, if a bit deserted.

 

As the weekend approached, more campers arrived and the boat traffic picked up, but we still had some nice paddles around in the lake. Soon it was time to pack up and head home, having spent a really nice couple of days in the woods.

  

It wasn’t without a few glitches, however, and this seems pretty typical when you are driving around in an older motorhome.

For some reason the electrical problem with the refrigerator (that I fixed back in the driveway) was back again. It meant that the fridge ran off of propane instead of electric, even when plugged in to shore power. The fix is to replace a 5 amp fuse on the control panel, which is difficult only because you can’t easily reach the screws that secure the cover on the back of the fridge. I replaced the fuse and all is well, so far, but I also replaced some screws with Velcro for easier removal of the panel cover the next time this happens (my knuckles thanked me).

The fridge fuse (on left) and control panel

And I have suspected a leak in the hydraulic system used to push the slides in and out and the leveling jacks down. I had to add a significant amount of fluid on our last trip and learned this trip that, yes indeed, we have a leak. While setting camp, we lowered the jacks to level up and began to move the slides out the sides until we lost pressure and things stopped. Since I was out of the transmission fluid used in the pump, a trip to town and the nearest NAPA dealer was in order. It was there that I also bought extra buss fuses to repair the fridge. Back in camp I added the extra fluid that allowed the slides to fully extend, but I was able to see the spot where we were leaking fluid while it was under pressure.

The area where the hydraulic fluid leaks

Of course I kept wondering if we would be able to fully retract the sides of the motorhome and get out of camp and back home. I discussed the problem with John, Craig and did some online research, but figured I had one shot at holding down the leak and getting back home to make repairs. And … that’s how it worked. I held pressure on the leak, Jackie flipped the switch to bring the slides in, fluid leaked but pressure on the spot kept it to a minimum and now I have to figure out how to make the repair. Not to worry, we won’t be headed out for at least 2 months.

 

So another adventure ends and a few more await us this fall.  Thanks for reading along and stay tuned to learn about our next trip to Florida (St. Andrews SP, Henderson Beach SP and Anastasia State Park) for nearly a month.

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day at the Beach

Panama City Beach

wpid-st-andrews-2015-11b-4x6.jpg.jpeg

We made it to St. Andrews State Park just fine and are having a great time, thanks to some smart planning and some good purchases. The tow dolly we bought worked great to bring the Rav-4 with us and the extra hour spent hooking the car up was worth it. The first part of the trip was tense, as it took a while to relax and realize the car was just fine, but a few stops to check all the winches and hitches made us feel better.

We stopped in Dothan, Alabama to buy a countertop ice maker at Camping World and have now put it to use. The first cubes were unimpressive, in fact they were six tiny little cubes that popped out in 10 minutes, making us wonder how that would ever make enough ice to handle cocktail hour. But we left it on for the afternoon and we now have a full ice bucket in the freezer. Another smart purchase.

The campsite we have is level with a nice cement pad, so it was easy setup once we arrived. Unhooked the car and stowed the tow dolly and we got ready to hit the beach. Sunday we took the paddle boards out in the bay and paddled to the inlet – just a spit of sandy beach where the current circles around. It was fun to walk along the white sand and splash in the warm clear water – spotted a sting ray in the water and two dolphins on the paddle back to the dock. Lots of boat traffic kicked up the wakes, but it worked out. Tried my JVC camera (similar to GoPro) and got some video, but need to learn the controls better. Hope to try some while snorkeling. Another smart purchase.

Paddleboard cart that we made from PVC and wheels was a big help to pull them from the car to the water, then back to the campsite.

Afternoon was at the beach near the jetty – snorkeling was amazing. New masks and fins (yep, another smart purchase) made it much more fun and we managed to keep the masks from fogging up! Always important. Did I mention one other smart purchase? The Tommy Bahama beach cart made it so easy to get chairs, towels, cooler and gear up to the beach … and this year the beach is nice and wide, so it’s a lot more walking to get to the water. Good day at the beach, nobody is burned. Going to try snorkeling early tomorrow and get some video if we can.

St Andrews

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: