Full Time! (for a month, sort of)

As we move forward with our plan to begin full-timing, there are certain steps that we have to accomplish to be sure that all will work. First, it was time to stop working. Retirement would be the word if the timing was my decision. A shake-up at work made it look like I would not be working after December 31, even though I had planned to work until March 31. When faced with this dilemma, I made the best decision possible; I booked the entire month of January at Bella Terra RV Resort. Prior to this time, we had not been on an extended stay longer than 2 weeks. It was time to take a big step and to do it with our three animals. 2 dogs and a cat will certainly make it interesting. We have taken the 2 dogs with us before, but never have taken the cat.

Unfortunately, we are finding that things in the RV world need to be fluid because they rarely work out exactly as planned. Work did not end on December 31 and I ended up commuting from Foley AL back to Meridian to work on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then return to Foley Tuesday evening. Since I took our towed vehicle, that left Jimmie Kay in the RV with the animals for more than 48 hours at a stretch. Not the best situation, but working through the issues is part of what it is all about.

Our site at Bella Terra

Our site at Bella Terra

 

We’ve stayed at Bella Terra before and it is one of our favorite resorts. In fact, we use it as a baseline against which to compare others. We were looking forward to the time in our new environment and were anxious to see how it worked out.

 

 

 

The Animals…

We found that one of our dogs does not travel well. She gets extremely anxious, trembling and shaking at every noise and sound driving down the road. We have tried acepromazine (a dog tranquilizer), Benadryl and a Thunder Shirt. Any suggestions from readers will be welcomed! Before the trip, our biggest concern was with the cat. Big Momma is about 16 and extremely set in her own world. She lives in the garage at home and ventures into the house for food and occasional interaction. The biggest concern for us were her toilet habits. She is not the best litter box user in the world. Once it has been used, she refuses to go in it again until it is cleaned. Imagine a Garfield type attitude. This gave us great concern about her turning our RV (home) into her bathroom. We did a little research and found a self cleaning litterbox. To be honest, we had never bought one before since her health has not been good. We really didn’t expect her to live much longer and didn’t think that we would recoup the cost of the litterbox. But, when it came to messing up the RV, the expense was justified.

Scoop Free Litter Box from Amazon

It worked wonderfully! Our worst fears were averted. We would highly recommend this product for anyone with a cat with finicky bowel habits.

A few photos of them adjusting to their environment…

Big Momma, Louie and Kit all relaxed!

Big Momma, Louie and Kit all relaxed!

Their other favorite seat in the coach

Their other favorite seat in the coach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Momma looking for a hiding place

Big Momma looking for a hiding place

Kit exploring the basement storage

Kit exploring the basement storage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weather…

One of the reasons we decided to head further south was to find some warmer weather. Well, the night of our arrival, it was 18° with a 20 knot north wind. You can put in your own description for cold involving well diggers or witches or others, but it was miserable! While we were there, we did have several good days of near 70° weather but we had more cold days than warm days. Here’s a pic of us walking (briefly) on the beach.

IMG_2752  IMG_2750

Silver lining, lots of shells because no one else was out there! Note to self, next winter, desert southwest!

Food…

Seafood stuffed pork with Gouda Cheese Grits

Seafood stuffed pork with Gouda Cheese Grits

 

 

One of the first days we were there, we ran into a friend from Meridian that has moved to the coast. We asked him about good restaurants and he filled us in on what’s hot. Great advice! Our favorite of the trip was Tin Top. It is in Bon Secour but only about a 15 minute drive from Gulf Shores. Of special note was the seafood stuffed mushroom appetizer and the seafood stuffed pork porterhouse. Delicious!!!

 

 

 

 

 

'Mini' Meat loaf at Kitty's Kafe

‘Mini’ Meat loaf at Kitty’s Kafe

 

 

We also tried Kitty’s Kafe in Gulf Shores. It is in the outdoor mall next to the Target. It was also highly recommended and we went for lunch. It was very crowded with a wait list so we expected good things. It is also rated #9 of 135 on Trip Advisor. The reality was not so good. Food was OK but very much nothing special. Serving size was small as you can see by the photo of my meat loaf and veggies.

 

 

 

Based on all the other high criteria, we might try it again, but might not. We also tried several of our regular favorites. Cactus Flower Cafe, Shrimp Basket, Lulu’s and the Crab Trap. We also tried a couple of new ones, for us. Nolan’s is an institution in Gulf Shores but this was our first visit. It was good, but overpriced for what you get. Probably won’t be back. A big hit for us was Portobella’s in Foley. It’s a small family owned Italian/Pizza place. Awesome! Really delicious, fairly priced and great service. We will put that one on our list of favorites. Another new one for us was Lambert’s, home of the throwed rolls. We had never eaten there, thinking it was just a touristy type of place. Well, it is, but the food is really good! The pass arounds that they bring to the table are really good. Blackeyed peas, fried onions/potatoes, fried okra, boiled cabbage and the rolls. My suggestion, order something cheap and eat a bunch of the freebies. They’re really good!

RV resorts…

As we said, Bella Terra has been the measuring stick for us when it comes to resorts. One of our plans once we full time is to travel the country and find a final place to settle down. Jimmie Kay says, ‘find a place to settle down.’ I say, ‘find a place to die!’ Either way, it is one of the things we are going to constantly be looking at.

Sunrise at Bella Terra

Sunrise at Bella Terra

 

One of the options is a popular finding in RV Resorts now. That is the concept of a coach home, casita, port home or whatever name it goes by. Basically it is an site that you own that is a small home that is attached to an RV site. Sometimes the RV site is actually incorporated into the home so that when the RV is there, it is all one larger place to live.

 

We have looked at several places in the area. Buena Vista, Heritage RV Resort, Lake Osprey and Bella Terra’s Reunion Point. Prices range from low $100,000 to as much as $450,000 if you want deluxe accommodations with a boat slip in the attached marina at Heritage. They are all really nice and something like them might be in our ultimate future, but we have a lot of country to see before we settle.

Things we did..

Since the weather wasn’t too cooperative, we spent most of our time around the coach. We did venture out a few times to see some new things in the area. One was the Farmer’s Market in Foley. It’s held on Saturday mornings and on this particular Saturday it was below freezing. That thinned out the vendors and the crowd, but we still managed to find some wonderful homemade salsa, hydroponically grown vegetables and some home grown satsumas.

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Next adventure, San Antonio!