We made reservations in three spots - a state park in Al, a military park in Fl and a private park back in Al. It was our first experience away from the private parks and we loved it!
Oak Mountain in Alabama is just south of Birmingham and it was beautiful. Very large with lots of amenities...fishing, boating, biking, relaxing, you name it, they had it. We were able to take Sage on a paddle boat ride that she, and we, thoroughly enjoyed. The sites were very wooded and private. We rented a car from Enterprise and they were great.
I managed to do a good job at dividing up the locations and the drives. Each drive was about 250 miles and took us 4-5 hours with stops. We learned that it was the perfect pace for us. And I drove! Yes, for about an hour, I actually drove the rig! I learned very quickly that we do need stabilizers for the rear, because every time we were passed by a tractor trailer, my hands hurt from clenching the steering wheel. So yes, stabilizers will be added to our shopping list.
Next up was Blue Angel Recreational Area at NAS Pensacola. We checked in at the front gate and were told to pick an empty site. That was a new experience for us, but we found a great site towards the back that was so quiet and peaceful. At the front was an old airfield that bordered the Sound. The sunsets were gorgeous as we watched the dolphins play every evening.
This stop was important to us because we were checking our winter base for next year. We went to Avalon Landing in Milton and loved it. It's very small and quiet and our neighbors are mostly retired military. we did check out a few other campgrounds, but none held the appeal of Avalon Landing. It's right off I-10, shopping is close by and VA facilities are only about thirty minutes distance. Our site is one away from the laundry room - a plus for me, and the wi-fi repeater is there as well, so hopefully we'll have good reception. We met one of the owners and he was very nice and ready to show us how to get around. All in all, I think Avalon Landing will be a great winter base for us.
I also had the chance to meet a new friend, Janey, who I met on Facebook in one of the RVing sites. She was kind enough to pick me up one day and show me the sites. I got a wonderful taste of Old Town Pensacola, as well as Ft. Pickens and the local dog beaches. We had lunch at Crabs, right on the beach. What a treat it was to be sitting on the beach in October. And the food was fantastic! I think we made the right choice for us.
Last up was Logan Landing, Al, which is near Talladega. This was a private park, with a mix of permanent and transient guests. Most of the sites and homes were based around their private lake, with lots of trails to explore. I really enjoyed sitting in the evenings and watching a local community act. Most everyone has a golf cart, and every evening, I would sit and watch the permanent residents drive around in them and socialize with each other. The sense of community was very palpable and enjoyable to be a part of.
We did have our first oops moment. In Pensacola, as I was returning the rental car, Dave stopped at a rig wash. The turns were too tight and we broke the joints on the ladder, something we didn't realize until we were headed down the interstate and heard a loud bang. We didn't stress about it, realizing that things like this were bound to happen.
What else did we learn? As much as we love Lulu, we know that she won't be our permanent fulltime rig. Quarters are a little tight, especially in the living room and bedroom. A bigger shower is almost a necessity, as is a kitchen pantry. Dave really wants an automatic power reel, and I can see the appeal of a Diesel. But she'll be ours for at least the next five years, and we'll enjoy every moment of it, I know.
So, there you have it. Our first official scouting trip and we know that this is what we want. This is the lifestyle that we love and can't wait to start.