Fort Payne, AL

Trip Start Apr 24, 2008
Trip End May 13, 2008

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Where I stayed
Deer Run Campground, Troy, AL
Sequoyah Cavern RV Park

Flag of United States  , Alabama
Saturday, May 10, 2008

We left Mexico Beach early Wednesday morning, heading for Dothan, AL and the Camping World there to get the TV connections fixed.  We followed US 98 to Panama City then US 231 north.  It was excellent roads the whole way.  We got into Dothan, found the Camping World and notified them we were there to have the work done.  Even though I had spoken with the General Mgr from Winchester, who had called the store and set up the appointment, and I had a call from someone in Dothan confirming a 2PM appointment, NO one knew we were coming.  So after some scrambling, they finally made out a work order and set out to fix it.  I pointed out that there were 3 problems:  the digital/analog converter didn't seem to work; no matter what I tried, cable TV would not work at camp grounds, and; the regular analog antenna system didn't seem to work as well as before.  We went to lunch and 4 hours later, the technician finally finished.  He said when the converter was hooked-up, it was wrong and as a result, fed extra power into the box, probably frying circuits.  He said that other cords were fed to the wrong place and that a splitter had not been used.  But after tracing all the circuits, he had us back to where we were before the original install.  However, we probably needed a new converter box and the one we had bought was probably the wrong one.  We'll settle this with the General Manager in Winchester when we get back.
We continued on US 231 out of Dothan north to Troy, where we were going to spend the night at Deer Run Campground.  I had called for reservations and now called to say we were late but on our way.  When we pulled in, the owner/ manager welcomed us and asked if we wanted cappuccino or a slushy.  And did we want a bag of popcorn each?  A copy of USA Today was also provided to us.  He then escorted us to our site and pointed out that our retractable stair was stuck out.  We tried to get it back in and when we couldn't, he called a friend and asked him to come look.  I was just hooking up the electric and water when the young man arrived and he apologized for not being home when the call came.  He then spent 30-40 minutes taking the step apart, trying to get the electric motor to work, and finally putting it back together.  He was most apologetic that it didn't work.  We tried to pay, but he said he enjoyed helping folks. This is what is called real Southern hospitality!  We had dinner and then went to the hot tub at the campground to relax.  Back at the RV, we discovered that the cable TV did, indeed, work. 
Thursday morning we left early.  In packing up, we discovered that the retractable step was working.  I don't know what the young man did, but it worked.  We had watched a Montgomery TV station in the morning and they showed a picture of the "Commuting Congestion" on the Beltway (US-231).  There were maybe 12-15 cars visible, total,  in either direction.  The beltway was 6 lanes, 3 in each direction.  I've seen more of a jam at the slug lines around the Pentagon!  We stayed on 231 almost to Gadsden, AL where we picked up US-11 north to Fort Payne. 
Beyond Fort Payne, we were headed to Sequoyah Caverns and RV Park.  The park is near I-59 but we could barely hear it.  There were not many campers this time of year, so we had a nice pull-through site away from anyone else.  It was raining (first rain in over a week for us) and I set up in between showers.  We relaxed in the RV, had dinner, (no TV reception here and no cable) and decided to watch a DVD.  That was when we discovered the DVD player would not broadcast.  And we could not get it patched through to the bedroom TV.  So although the tech in Dothan had worked hard, we were NOT back to where we had been before the original install.
First thing Friday morning, we got the scooter off the rack and I crawled under the rack and worked on the tail light of the motorcycle carrier.  Yes, the same one we had fixed in FL.  Seems the wires hung a bit low and so when we scrapped bottom on a driveway somewhere, we had separated the connection so the right rear light wouldn't work.  I figured it out and after 30 minutes had it repaired, ready for the rest of the trip home next day.
This was our chance to explore the area.  We have considered this as prime territory for retirement.  Alabama has some great tax advantages, the weather in north eastern AL is similar to the Shenandoah area, and property prices are reasonable (for the most part.)  We rode the motorscooter up to Valley Head and then up Lookout Mountain to the town of Mentone.  (Lookout Mountain runs from Chattanooga, TN, to GA and into AL.  In fact, 80% of the mountain is in AL; it's just that the battlefield and Ruby Falls are in TN and get all the publicity.)  We talked to a real estate agent and described our hope and interests to her then went to the Wildflower Café and Shop for lunch.  What a great lunch!  Trish had marinated tomatoes baked in a shallow pie crust with various cheeses melted through on a plate with fruit (grapes, pineapple, orange slices, and honeydew melon) and a tossed salad of wild greens with dressing.  I had a spinach quiche with the same fruit.  We also had a yeasty dinner roll that had been split, buttered, and put on the griddle and lightly toasted.   We ordered sweet potato biscuits and it was like heaven biting into them!  Great meal and the total bill was under $15.  Trish went to the herbalist portion of the shop and bought some herb remedies for aliments and chatted with the owner.
In talking with the owner, LC Moon, we learned she had property for sale for $10k an acre.  She had a 2 acre plot already tested and passed for perc and on a paved road.  She wanted someone to build a Green home, solar/earth sheltered/straw bale.  This was perfect, so we got directions and went riding to look at it.  We passed along the Brow of Lookout Mountain and all the rhododendrons were out.  In fact, this weekend is the rhododendron festival.  After looking at the property we headed back to the camp ground and got back in time to take a tour of the cave with the owner of the property, Mr. John David Jones.  We had, in essence, a private tour through the cavern and it was really wonderful, well worth the time to stop and visit.  The property has been in the same family since 1843.  It was fascinating to hear the history of the property and the family.
We were so full still from lunch and a late afternoon popcorn and beverage break, that we just snacked for dinner and went to bed.  Next day we would be up early and start back home.
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