John and Sandy's RV Adventure Journal

October 2010 Journal

Needless to say, today we are lounging an watching football.  We saw Liz and Duane and our float won 10th place in the Fantasy Fest Float Contest.

This morning we are lounging.  We left the campground at 1pm.  Linda, Joe, Joy, TJ, Terri, Joe, John and I rented a van and Terri drove.  This way we can have cocktails and not worry about driving.  Well the parade was TOTALLY AWESOME!!  We got down to the staging area and Liz and Duane were already working on stuff.  Major Thanks go out to them for having us on the float.  We all starting working on the float.  By 5pm we were done.  We had a group shot and starting getting our costumes on.  There are 56 floats in this year’s parade.  Each float has 40 – 50 thousand beads to throw, so that’s close to 2.5 million beads.  So the floats started moving and we were all pumped.  The route took us past the Green Parrot, down Whitehead, up Front to Duval.  It was just AMAZING!  We would grab a lock of beads and before you know it there gone and you grab another and another.  Most of the floats have a sound system and music going.  Duane set all that up on ours.  When we stopped for the judges, he played “There coming to take me away, ha ha, he he, ho ho” and we all performed a short 1 minute skit.  When it was over, we were done.  So after a little bit, Terri, Joe, Linda, Joe, John and I headed home.  TJ and Joy decided to stay with Liz and Duane.  They were going to continue to party and work on tearing down the float.  We had a GREAT DAY!!!

 29   Today we are having another easy day.  We took a walk around our lake then headed to the pool for a while.  We were flip flopping on if we want to go down to Key West for the Fantasy Fest Locals parade.  Liz, Duane, Joy and TJ are heading down.  They this is we are doing the big parade again tomorrow.  Well we decided.  We are going to the parade.  We got dressed up like parrotheads.  We drove down and made it to the cemetery which is where the parade starts.  It’s actually 2 parades.  One goes one direction down Truman to Duval and the other one, which we did, goes down Fleming to Duval.  Doesn’t really matter, everyone is just as crazy.  There is just about every costume you can imagine.  Different guest houses have tables of drinks set up so as you walk on by, you can grab a couple.  We did end up finding Liz and Company.  We hung around Duval for a little while longer then headed back.  We have to be in good condition for tomorrow’s big parade.
28   Today is an easy day.  We took a walk around our lake then visited at the clubhouse.  We got out our costumes for the Fantasy Fest Parade on Saturday.  We sprayed them with fluorescent paint and spattered red paint for blood spatters.  As they were drying, we headed to the pool to soak up some rays.  Marty had been out fishing and asked us if we wanted some snappers.  John cleaned them up and we put them on the grill.

Since we got here we haven’t been down to Key West.  We are heading there today.  Starting on Friday for a little over a week, we will be down there almost every day.  We have Fantasy Fest so today, Friday and Saturday.  Then next week MOTM, “Meeting of the Minds”, the big parrothead party starting Wednesday everyday for 5 days.  We stopped at Fast Freddie’s and purchased 2 Key West Bar Cards.  These give you your first drink at 10 Key West bars 2 for 1.  Then we headed down to Ricks, they aren’t listed as a 2 for 1 bar but we like Rick’s and they honored the card.  Alphonso was playing and we stayed a while.  Then we moseyed on down to Hogsbreath and then to the Bull.  Most of the Fantasy Fest activities get going later at night, but there were a few people out with their body painted.  On Saturday, the parade is the big day.  We didn’t stay out too late, we must pace ourselves.
26   This morning after coffee on our verandah, we headed out fishing.  Since somebody took our bait trap we have to try to catch bait with our cast net.  We went down blimp road (this is where the weather blimp lives), but didn’t see any bait fish.  We ended up going and buying some bait shrimp and heading to our bridge by the KOA.  It was a beautiful day with a few clouds and a couple passing sun showers.  We caught some small fish and used one as cut bait.  When we got there the tide was coming in.  We were there for slack tide and while the tide was going out.  We did our best on slack and the outgoing tide.  We ended up with 3 keepers.  We closed up shop and headed back to the cow.  We had a nice dinner of salad with grilled pork chops and fish.  We were done for today so we took a time out tonight.
25   This morning there is a blood drive up at Big Pine Key, so we are heading up there to give blood and pick up a few groceries.  We stopped to check our bait fish trap but it was gone.  We know that does happen, but we were hoping not.  Oh well, John will have to build another one.  When we got back from Big Pine, we saw our neighbor Mark.
We chatted with him then headed to the pool for a while.  Monday is Lazy Lakes night at the KOA so we walked to the KOA with Mark.  On the way another friend, Carlos, had moved just down the street from the KOA so we stopped in to see him.  His landlord is this Cuban man we met.  He hand rolls all sorts of cigars and sells them to local hotels.  John had not had a cigar in a long time and he gave one to him.  We continued over to the KOA.  There was quite a crowd there and a lot that came and went.  Linda and Joe gave us a ride back on the Chevy golf cart.

We had a relaxing morning at our campsite, looking at the water, having coffee, reading the paper and practicing harmonica.  We started on a walk around our lake but we always get sidetracked.  We ran into Duane.  He is working on our Fantasy Fest Float for next weekend.  OK, we continued on, we saw Art and then George.  We ended up walking back to the cow.  Today is Sunday and football!   We watched the first games then headed out for another walk.  This time we ran into more people working on the float.  They had just finished up and were heading out.  We went back, had dinner and went to the clubhouse for our Fantasy Fest Float meeting.  Liz and Duane went over the when, where, how and who for next Saturday.  There are 22 people participating in our float.  There are about 10 of us that are renting a van and Terri is driving us down and back so we don’t need to worry about driving.  Terri is also our float driver.  Our meeting went well; we are really excited about the parade!!!

We had a little rain overnight but this morning is bright and sunny with a few little clouds.  I know it seems like we have a lot to set up, but we like to get all organized then we can enjoy.  After a walk around our lake, John started work on his bait trap.  While he was working on that, I supervised him and practiced my harmonica.  Now that the bait trap is done, we took it to a cove down the street and baited it with canned cat food.  On Monday we want to go fishing so well see how we do.  We got back, had dinner and took a nice walk around the lake.
 22   There are a few repairs John needs to make to the electrical and our stairs.  So he is working on these projects, I’m updating our journal and organizing the cow.  After we got our projects done, we decided to take a walk over to the KOA for happy hour.  We saw more friends along the way.  The view from the KOA bar is so beautiful.  You see the ocean, marina, bridge were people are fishing, palm trees swaying in the breeze.  Yes, it’s great to be back in the keys and on Key West Time!!  After a couple beers, we moseyed over to Mangrove Mama’s on our way back.  The Doerfels, a bluegrass family band from the bluegrass belt is playing there tonight.  We stopped in and had a couple beers and listened to some great bluegrass music.  We couldn’t stay the whole time, tonight is movie night under the stars at Lazy Lakes.  We got back just as Craig was getting everything together.  Tonight is a double feature outside under the stars, “I pronounce you Chuck and Larry” and “MacGruber”.  We had a small crowd, Craig, Debbie, Judy, Fred, Ron, Karen, John and I.  As more people arrive, the movie crowd will grow.  
21   We were up and on the road by 8am.  We don’t have far to travel today only about 115 miles from Homestead to Sugarloaf Key.  It takes a while since most of the keys is only 45 miles and hour.  We got in, said our hello’s and started to set up.  We had a problem with our electrical so it took longer to get everything going.  We had dinner then took a walk around the lake and visited with our neighbors.  We stopped by Craig and Debbie’s for a little while, had a few beers and caught up on everything going on.

We were up and out early again.  We only had to go about 300 miles to Homestead.  We decided not to push it today.  We got all set up and then gassed up Red for tomorrow and picked up a few last minute items from Walmart.  John is going to go through withdrawals when were down in the keys.  He will be closer to Cuba than the closest Walmart.  We got back, had dinner and just relaxed.

We were out and on the road early.  We made it about 500 miles to Orlando.  We got checked in and needed a dip in the pool.  We relaxed around the cow and went to bed early.

Today is pre-departure day.  We gassed up Red, did our grocery shopping and laundry and got everything packed up for an early departure tomorrow.

Happy 4th Gypsy Anniversary!!  Yes, today, 4 years ago we left Chicago to start our Gypsy lifestyle.  Has it been good?  No!  It’s been GREAT!!  In the last 4 years we have visited so many great places, met so many cool people and had so many great experiences.  However, we are just getting started.  But we need to focus on today.  First we are searching for a sports bar close to the beach.  We want to take the shuttle to the beach early, watch the first set of football games at a beach sports bar and then go to the beach to see Brad Paisley Beach Concert tonight.   Well, we were too early for the shuttle so we drove down to Mudbugs Sports Bar.  We got there for the 1st set of football games.  We stayed until around 4pm which was too long.  Especially with 1.00 drafts.  We walked to the beach and into the concert area.  We found a spot a little bit farther back than when we were at Bon Jovi, but still good.  The governor of Alabama, Bob R. Riley was working the crowd and gave us an autographed ball cap and we got a picture.  It was getting packed and both of us had already had too much fun for the day.  We decided not to stay for the concert and headed back to the cow.

16   For part of the day we are grounding ourselves.  But only for part of the day.  Later in the afternoon we headed over to Lulu’s for dinner, drinks and music by Scott Kirby.  Lulu’s is a huge place with all different areas.  There is an inside restaurant and bar, a couple outside bars, sand volleyball area, outside picnic table seating and a Crazy Sista outdoor stage area.  When we saw Brent Burns on Monday night, it was crowded, but only the inside area was open.  Today is Saturday and all the areas are open and packed.  Scott Kirby is playing outside on the Crazy Sista Stage.  Scott Kirby is another trop rock musician.  We saw him last year at MOTM’s in Key West at Blue Heaven.  We found a picnic table in the sand, perfect to listen to the music, and enjoy the outside.  We had a great dinner of grilled shrimps and blackened mahi mahi.  Another great day!

15   Continued – The Bon Jovi concert was GREAT!  We took the free shuttle from Target about a mile away from us to the beach about 4 miles.  The gates opened at 10am, the front beach area near the stage opens at 4pm.  We decided to leave on the shuttle at 2pm.  Good decision.
We got to the beach and found a place in the sand to hang out until they opened up the front beach area at 4pm.  We ended up about 100 feet from center stage.  We had a good group of people around us.  In the beginning we didn’t have many turf wars, but as the night progressed, we had to hold our area, which we did.
At 630pm Green River Ordinance came on and played for about an hour.  Around 745pm, Bon Jovi came on.  Now the place is packed!  It’s good we got here early.
Bon Jovi had the stage setup really good.  From our area, we could see the musicians on stage and on the 2 side trinitron screens.  Behind the musicians they did close-ups of everything going on, on stage.  It was excellent quality.  They played for a little over 2 hours.
I compliment Gulf Shores for how everything was setup and they way the whole event was handled.  They had a lot of bathrooms, lots of big shuttle buses, and a lot of beer tents.  We had a great time and really enjoyed Bon Jovi.  We are looking forward to Brad Paisley on Sunday night.
15   This morning we are relaxing around the cow.  Like I said earlier, we have a big party weekend coming up.  This afternoon we are heading to the beach for a free Bon Jovi Concert.  Saturday is Scott Kirby at Lulu’s and Sunday is Brad Paisley, another free beach concert.  You have to have tickets for the beach concerts.  You get them from local businesses.  We got them since were staying at the Gulf Breeze RV Resort.  These concerts are to benefit and bring in business to the area since the BP Oil Spill. – I’ll add more info and photos soon.

14    Another rough pool day.

13   We have a lot of partying coming up this weekend, so today we are having a pool day.

There are a few rain showers moving through today so we are getting Red an oil change and lounging.

We headed out early for some hiking and investigating of our area.  Our first stop was Fort Morgan at the end of the road overlooking Mobile Bay.  We took a walk around the fort and while we were there we saw thousands of monarch butterflies.  We saw a few on our drive in, but here, there were thousands!
We checked out a fishing pier and the fish weren’t biting, but the crabs were.  People put turkey necks in a small netted bucket and lower it into the water.  Wait about 10 minutes and you have some crabs.  It would be a great dinner.
After the fort, we drove back up the road to the Bon Secour Natl Wildlife Refuge.  There are hiking trails, but we decided to take a walk along then beach.  We saw workers along the road and out on the beach.  The beach is beautiful and stretches for miles in each direction.  As we were walking, we saw a few sun tents and people sitting and digging in the sand.  I had to go talk to them and find out what they were doing.  We talked to them for quite a while.  They were there helping to clean up the beach.  To us, it looked like the beach was clean.  Then they took their shovel and gave a small dig.  They showed us how right below the surface are these tar balls.  Some were pretty big, like league baseballs.  They explained how this cleanup will take years, now we understand why.  As we were walking along the surf, the tide was coming in.  We did start to notice tar balls coming in on the surf.  Would that stop us from walking or swimming on the beach, No Way!  It’s just bad that it happened.
After our beach walk, we headed back to the cow.  We regrouped and went to Lulu’s Restaurant for dinner and drinks, and to listen to Brent Burns.  He is a trop rock musician that we just saw at Shrimp Fest and have seen quite a few times.  While we were there, we met some parrotheads from St. Louis.  They were at MOTM’s last year.  Mary Ann is the mother-in-law to the crazy fireman parrothead.  We had a great time.
10   Today we needed a time out day.  We stayed around the cow, did some reading, worked on the computer and watched football.  You have to have a time out day now and again.

9   Another warm and sunny morning.  This is what we’re talking about!!  After a relaxing morning at the cow, we headed back to Shrimp Fest.  The music is just great!  Today we are experienced.  We took our chairs and set them up at the East Stage.  We got there just in time for Brent Burns.  He is a trop rock musician we have seen before.  We listened to his set and then some of Catfish Flats.  We left our chairs there and headed for the beach.  We strolled along the surf and watched the dolphins at play.  We walked on down to the Sea n Suds Restaurant.  They are right on the beach and we heard they have good food and good prices.  We sat outside overlooking Gulf Shores Beach.  We had a dozen oysters, salad bar and a pitcher of beer.  As we finished our meal, the sun was setting.  Another great day.  But it’s not over.  We walked on back to the fest and our chairs were right where we left them.  Right up front near the stage.  The crowd has gathered and the Andy Smith Band is playing.  The last performance is Lou Gramm.  He was the vocalist and songwriter for Foreigner.  They played a lot of Foreigner songs and really got the crowd going.  Right before they ended we headed back to the shuttle and now were done.  Another great day!
8   AH!!  This morning is warm and sunny.  We took a long walk around our campground to check it out.  There are tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, hot tub, clubhouse, game room, shuffleboard, putt putt, horseshoes and a fishing lake.  We already have too much to do here and not enough time.
Today we are heading to the Shrimp Fest.  It’s a 4 day fest on the beach in Gulf Shores.  It has continuous music on 2 stages from 10am until 10pm.  We parked at Bruno’s Grocery and took the shuttle bus to the fest.  We got there around noon.  This fest is massive.  There are tons of vendors selling just about everything.  A huge number of food vendors with all different shrimp and seafood creations.  Two large stages for the bands and everything is right along the beach.
We walked over to the East Stage and listened to some of Harry Case.  Then we moseyed around and decided to walk down the street to a liquor store to pick up a few beers.  They sell beer at the fest, but you can also bring yours in, so why not.  We walked back to the fest along the beach.  This beach reminds us of Panama City Beach.  It’s all up along the Florida Panhandle.  They did a great job of cleaning up the beach after the Gulf Oil Spill.  This area got hit really hard by the oil.  It’s great it worked out.  The beach is just beautiful.
We left the beach and went back to the East Stage to listen to Tracey and Alan, then Jim “Dawgs” Park Band.  We got some shrimp and jambalaya and enjoyed the music.  Now we headed over to the West Stage.  The band Mustang Sally is coming up and we heard their really good.  Well Mustang Sally was the best performance of the day.  It’s an all girl band with one guy on lead guitar.  They are just GREAT!  They have so much energy; they get the crowd going and have fun.  We are going to look to see them again somewhere.
After they were done, we went back to the East Stage to see the Alabama Blues Machine.  They were an 8 piece blues band and did a great job.  We had a lot of sun today, lots of music and now were done.  We caught our shuttle back to red and headed back to the cow.
7   We were up and out on the road by 7am.  We have a long day today.  We are driving from Tunica MS to Gulf Shores AL, about 450 miles.  The drive was fine.  We got all set up at Gulf Breeze RV Resort.  We have a nice cement pad for our rig and patio.  We took a quick drive to Walmart to get something for dinner and a few other items.

Like I said, today is domestic day.  We are doing laundry, packing up the cow and getting ready for the road tomorrow.  We had an early evening because we want to be up early tomorrow.

Today is Senior Day at Sam’s Town.  If you’re over 50 you get 5.00 free slot play and ½ off a buffet.  Well, the 5.00 is good, but the ½ off buffet cost more than full price after we gambled our 5.00.  Actually John broke even today, but the blazing seven slots got me.  We finished up our gambling here in Tunica.  We are going to take tomorrow for domestic stuff and to pack up. 

Today we just relaxed around the cow.

This morning I worked on our photos and website.  I was way far behind.  We headed over to the Roadhouse Casino to watch football.  They had a promo going where they had drawings every hour for free stuff.  The first drawing, John’s name was called.  He got a T-Shirt, hat and 50.00 in free slot play.  That was great.  We sat at the bar, had free drinks, gambled for free and watched football.  They have a mechanical bull they got going.  I tried it as long as they didn’t do it too fast.  I did ok, and then I lost it.  We moved on back to our area casinos.  We went to Resorts and played some craps and blackjack.  We didn’t do great, but we had a good time.
2   Today we headed to Memphis.  It’s about 35 miles away.  We found parking no problem really close to the Peabody Hotel.  We wanted to get to the Peabody by 1030am.  Everyday, twice a day, the Peabody and the Peabody Duck March.  They have ducks that live in a duck suite on the roof.  Everyday at 11am, the ducks with the duck master, leave their rooftop suite, waddle to the elevator, take it down to the lobby, then waddle on the red carpet to the lobby fountain.  At 5pm, the ducks are done for the day and head back to their rooftop duck suite.  As you can imagine, each march is an event.
After seeing the ducks, we strolled through downtown Memphis and over to Mudd Island Riverside Park.  Along the way, we saw the trolley cars that run through Memphis.  We took the monorail over to the island and then went through the museum.  We didn’t really expect much from the museum, but it surprised us.  It was really pretty big and lots of exhibits and information on the history of the Mississippi River.  After the museum, outside is the Mississippi River you can walk.  We started in Minnesota where the Mississippi starts and ended in Louisiana where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.  Along the way are signs showing where you are and the area info.
We had a good time at Mudd Island, but now were ready for some Blues.  We walked to Beale Street.  Beale Street is considered the home of the blues.  It’s like a mini Bourbon Street.  We found a few bars, both outside and inside, had a few beers and enjoyed the music.  We ended up at BB Kings Bar and a really great blues band was playing.  The singer reminded us of Koko Taylor.  One of the guitar players was 89 years old and have played the blues all over the world.  We enjoyed our Memphis day and headed back to the cow.  We were going to go to the casino but decided to just hang around the cow.

1   This morning we took a casino walk again.  We ended up at Resorts next door.  In October they have a promotion going on craps and blackjack.  This is what we really like but normally it’s 5.00 minimum which can get really expensive.  For October craps is 1.00 minimum and blackjack is 2.00 minimum.  Right up our alley.  We played craps for quite a while and both walked away ahead.  I played a few of my nickel blazing sevens and hit the jackpot.  On nickels it’s around 75.00 so I was very happy.  We played some blackjack and lost a little.  All in all we ended up ahead for the day and had great time.  We needed some groceries so headed to the town of Tunica.  We are only going there once.  It ends up the closest grocery store is about 20 miles away.  We got back to the cow, had dinner and relaxed.