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YEAR #2 - STOP #65

Today's move lands us in a county park located just north of Mobile, AL. While we are here we have a Holiday Season sightseeing location to check out. It's a one mile long walk through an elaborate outdoor holiday lights display at Bellingraf Gardens & Home.

THURSDAY - We have lots to accomplish today and if we get everything done there should still be enough time left to visit the holiday lights display tonight.

First up today is a visit to the local Ford dealership to get ROVER's oil changed for the third time. After that we'll be seeking out a satisfactory laundromat in the area to get nearly three weeks of clothes and some new bed sheets cleaned.

Once Tricia was all set up at the laundromat I was off to get ROVER's gas tank filled and find a hardware store to pick up a few items for "yet another little project" that I have in mind. Once all that was taken care of it was time for lunch before we head out for a much anticipated trip to the grocery store.

You're probably wondering, "a much anticipated trip to the grocery store", REALLY?

Well YES, you see it's been 10 months since we left Florida and visited 18 new states this year.

One thing those 18 states have in common is:

there's not a single
Publix Supermarket
in any one of them.

Tricia is on a mission!

I knew our entire life savings was in jeopardy when Tricia left the truck. She grabbed all six of her heavy duty canvas Trader Joe's bags, slung them over one shoulder and took off at a very brisk pace towards the front of the store. After snapping the above picture, I also took off at a hurried pace to locate a sturdy shopping cart and to pick up a copy of the weekly flyer listing all of the BOGO's on sale.

Much to my dismay (or relief, I'm still trying to decide) it also happens to be GAS WEEK at Publix. About once a month Publix runs a promotion where for every $50 you spend on groceries, you can purchase a $50 gasoline gift card for just $40. It's a really great way to save 20% on your gasoline costs by using the gift cards (BTW they never expire).

For several years before we started our travels we would purchase these gift cards and put them away to use once we were on the road. By the time we hit the road we had nearly $3000 worth of cards, some of which we received as going away presents from friends. During our first year on the road not once did we pay for gasoline using anything other than a gift card.

By the time the cashier had rung up all of today's grocery purchases our total was $246.64, so we also picked up 4 more gas cards (2 for Shell & 2 for Exxon - because they are both have locations nationwide) at a final cost of $160.00, for a grand total of $406.64, you're welcome Publix!


Some of the displays were very elaborate and Disney-like.
This display has us walking "Under The Sea".
At the halfway point of the walk we ran across a live High School choir singing Christmas carols.
This area was a Chinese Garden complete with a dragon and lanterns.
This should be familiar to all, "A Partridge in a Pear Tree".

We took many other pictures during our 1-mile stroll through the lights but most turned out blurry. Only these few seemed worthy of sharing with everyone. Suffice it to say there were many displays, each with it's own music playing in the background. It seemed as each display came to an end another would begin, either after turning a corner along the path or passing through a tight space in the gardens leading into "another room".

We spent nearly an hour and a half strolling through the gardens, admiring the lights and music and thoroughly enjoyed our night out here. It sure put us in the Christmas spirit!

FRIDAY - Today it was finally time to say goodbye to my trusted 2008 Mac Book Pro laptop. With it's big 17" screen it was considerably heavier than most other laptops. For it's first three years of duty it went through many hands at my previous employer, Blue Ocean Press, before finally being given a little rest and relaxation. Sadly that period of rest turned into several years worth of time. With newer, faster and most importantly, lighter weight models on the market it was soon forgotten about.

Just after New Years of 2014 a new salesperson at Blue Ocean Press was in need of a computer for their desk. The 6-year old laptop was considered a dinosaur by then and was deemed inadequate for the job. I offered Tom the owner $100 for the electronic paper weight and we have been together ever since.

First thing I did was buy a fresh new battery for the laptop ($50) and installed 6GB of newer faster RAM ($100). I completely formatted the hard drive and installed a fresh copy of the latest Mac Operating System. So for a little over $250 I had a fully functioning Mac laptop which has been instrumental in the creation of this blog and website. Every single post up until today was conceived in my head and composed right here on it's keyboard.

So all I can say is, "it was good while it lasted". For the last few days the screen has been acting strangely. Flickering, freezing and well, just not acting properly. Today it was time to take it to a professional and find out what was wrong. I located a shop here near Mobile, AL that specializes in older Mac repairs. For $25 he verified what I already suspected, the video card was on it's way out. He didn't have a replacement, new or used, that would work in my 11-year old laptop.

So I picked up my laptop, left his shop and went to the nearby Best Buy store. A new entry level MacBook is roughly $1300 and in order to get one similar to my old laptop it would be closer to $2500. Both were more than I wanted to spend so we left the store and headed for home.

SATURDAY - First thing after breakfast every morning I update our Stats Page on the website from the day before. The laptop seems to work better in the morning. Once it gets warmed up is when the problems with the video begins. So right after I updated the website I completed a full external backup of my hard drive.

Just a hour after the backup was completed the video quit working, this time for good! While I was waiting for my laptop to be diagnosed yesterday I looked around the repair shop at the refurbished laptops they had for sale. Most were newer and still over $1000, but one right by the front door was only $650.

It was a 2012 13" MacBook Pro model and came with a 90-day money back warranty. It had the standard 4GB of RAM and had been upgraded with a 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD). I called the shop and offered them $500 for the laptop and fully expected them to say no. They did, but I asked if they would be willing to upgrade the RAM to 8GB and transfer my old laptop data onto the new laptop. Additionally if they would take off $25 for the fee I paid the day before, we would have a deal.

Long story short, I now have a "new to me" 2012 laptop, which means I'll be able to continue bringing you updates on our travels through this blog! I know, so exciting!

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