My Travel Log
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Well, 2010 is passing us by and I've done no Travel Log entries at all! I just reread Chapter 87, which was also coincidentally about Mentone, and realized how much has happened in the last year. Making a long story short, we finally came to agreement on price on the cabin in Mentone, Alabama, and purchased it in April of this year. We spent several weeks refurnishing and getting some paint and carpentry work done, then returned to Florida for a few months. Returned in late June, opened the Art Gallery @ Mentone on July 2nd, and have been here through all of July. Plan is to stay for the World's Longest Yard Sale (Aug 5-8), then return to Florida for a couple of months. Since the most beautiful time of year in these mountains is the fall, we plan to return here in early October and stay at least through November (maybe longer). If you're wild to read some detail and see photos of our Mentone Artist Retreat, click the name. There are a lot of photos from around the cabin, so I won't repeat those here. As I've no doubt said several times, we had in mind to find a cabin in the mountains, where it might be cooler in summer than it is in Florida. Also were thinking about a place to run to if we get a spat of hurricanes like we did in 2006. One of my main concerns was to get a place where we could park the RV nearby (like in the yard) and not down some long winding road that would be difficult to navigate in the RV. We also hoped to get something that would possibly generate a little income, like a vacation rental, since we weren't real sure whether we were going to be able to afford maintenance on two homesteads. As it worked out, we were able to find a vacation rental cabin with a huge parking lot in back, right in downtown Mentone, so that it would also be a great place to try our hand at opening an art gallery. So far, things have worked out great! The trip by RV from our home in Florida to here is an easy two-day trip, usually with a stop-over at the Twin Oaks RV Park in Perry, Georgia. With pull-through parking, free WiFi and several Macon TV channels, it's the kind of stop that we enjoy.
Speaking of parking, I'm not sure how interesting this might be to non-RVers, but here goes anyway ... as mentioned above, our parking lot is big enough for the RV plus there's room for about 8 or 9 cars in addition (or maybe another RV if one of you wants to stop by). Note in the photos below that our two little vehicles can actually be driven in under that pergola, leaving the entire parking lot empty for potential customers. We couldn't have designed a better setup!
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Our parking comes down to the light pole and those large rocks; dumpster belongs to neighboring market.
I just checked my travel record and this Mentone trip is actually the 4th outing for the RV in 2010. Have had one almost every month, some with just me and others with Joyce along. There was February fishing, March to Huntsville for work, April to Mentone, and then this June to Mentone. I guess this art gallery and Mentone experience is the first trip that has enough new stuff to merit a travel log chapter. And I guess I've said all there is of any interest to say about it. We've done a little wandering around the area to see some of the tourist sights, have taken a couple of trips to Huntsville and Guntersville, and recently a short trip to Chattanooga. We've taken several photos of the sights, but nothing that hasn't been photographed and put online a hundred times already. I've included a few neat (IMHO) photos on my July @ Artist Retreat page and you can find links to over 50 Mentone-area websites on my Mentone.com website.
Incidentally, all those trips to tourist sights, Guntersville, Chattanooga, etc., have been by car. The RV hasn't moved since we parked it out back in June. Not that we haven't used it. Seems like we're constantly getting something out that we didn't think we'd need or putting something back that isn't being used. In that respect, it's like having a very large storage area out back. In addition, Joyce's brother and his wife stayed in the RV for a couple of nights when they came over from Arab to help with the grand opening. In that respect, it's like having a spare "guest house" for visitors. I'm finding that our view and use of the RV are changing over time ... but I plan to ramble on a little about that in an upcoming newsletter.
As my final note, I wanted to mention that cousin Bruce has been back down to St. Lucia again this year - recall that I talked about St. Lucia at the end of Chapter 87 last year. Well, I'm not sure what his retirement plans really are, but he seems to be having quite an enjoyable time on those island visits. We're wishing he'd get settled in down there, so we might have an excuse to plan a trip down for a visit.
How is the gallery doing? We've been asked that several times by friends and Joyce's artist buddies in Florida (partly because they have work on display here). It's hard to give a quantifiable answer, but I just counted the names in our guest book, which most but not all of our visitors sign. We have 97 names and have been open 16 of the last 28 days. I'd say that comes out to about 10 visitors per day, if you assume that each sign-up probably represents an average of about 1.5 people. I'd consider that satisfactory for a business that just opened. I can't talk dollars or sales, as Joyce would definitely shoot me for that, but I'd say that's going satisfactorily also.
As mentioned above, if you want to see details about the cabin as a rental go to the Artist Retreat website. For photos of the entire interior, visit Mountain Getaways website. Below, however, are the only photos thus far that we've shown of the way we look when we're an art gallery.
Looking back toward the front door; that door is to our office with desk and computer(s).
View as you enter front door; note kitchen with doggies in background.
Joyce's work space in the back corner of the gallery.
Where in the world is St. Lucia? Click photo for more detail.
Our two little vehicles fit easily under the pergola to the left of that big tree in center of photo.
This is my evening "work space."
As mentioned above, we'll be back in Mentone in October. If you're in the area, we'd enjoy having you stop for a visit. There are plenty of places to stay in and near Mentone - neat bed & breakfasts, campgrounds, and rental cabins. Or, if we know you well enough, maybe we could put you up in the RV out back. And, as noted, the parking lot is large enough to handle another RV, as long as you could get along with a 20-amp electric hookup and no water or sewage. I'm thinking of putting a 30-amp out there one of these days, but haven't gotten to it yet.
Looking forward to your visit!