5/29/2014: What ended up happening, Sal and Ron came over on Monday for a campfire after dinner out at the Mexican restaurant in town. I got a round of golf in that morning, Marsha drove the cart. We drove the final leg home on Tuesday the 20th, 8 months after leaving. We've been busy since then getting the house up and running. We had left before the leaves dropped so the spring clean up includes the fall clean up. So far I've hauled 53 bags of leaves to the community compost heap, and I still have the back yard to do. We've purchased a new propane grill for the back deck, and purchased granite counters and sink for the kitchen. We still have to have an appointment with the cabinet people to get a quote on refacing the cabinets. We still have to get the garden going. I think we will be more on top of things by the end of next week.
Charlie is really enjoying her fenced in back yard, but is spending an inordinate amount of time in the garage, stalking a chipmunk.
5/15/2014: Update, Sal and Ron are coming over on Sunday for a campfire and hot dogs instead. Sounds like fun too:-)
5/15/2014: We're at the Fort Chiswell RV Park in Max Meadow, VA. We travel to the Cross Creek Resort in Delaware, OH tomorrow, 317 miles - rest up on Saturday, then travel on Sunday to the Holiday Shores RV Resort in Durand, MI, 234 miles. We plan to play golf on Monday, then have dinner with Sal and Ron at the Rancho Grande restaurant in town there. We are researching this location as a possible place to store Hanna for the May - October season when we get a one ton truck. Tuesday we drive home to Breezy, 140 miles. It will feel good to get home, after 8 months away...
5/10/2014: We're at the same RV park as last November when we got a new roof because a tree branch came through our old one. The guy that fixed it was great to work with so we got a quote on fixing a rotting floor problem. We said great, we'll be back. He got all the work done today, here are a few pics....
4/25/2014: Today, we heard from Kim of Donn's Electric, the company that winterizes and summerizes our house in Roscommon. 1. They found a dead squirrel in our toilet. 2. The garage flooded - I will have some cleanup work to do when I get home. 3. The water system needs a new accumulator tank and valve. Whew - we were waiting for her to tell us the roof caved in:-)
4/25/2014: We traveled from Titusville, FL to Brunswick, GA on Wed. Thursday I found this seafood market, we had peel and eat shrimp for lunch - fresh sweet meat, and live blue crab for dinner. Nice day:-)
4/22/2014: Our first stop on our trip back home is at an RV resort surrounded by a golf course in Titusville, FL - Willow Lakes RV & Golf Resort. I played 9 holes this afternoon, and hope to do it again tomorrow after catching up on work, then back on the road on Wednesday - bound for Brunswick, GA - 192 miles.
It was alot of work moving back into the trailer and preparing the 5th wheel to be stored over a Florida summer (humidity, hurricane season). We cleaned both rigs inside, and had the outsides cleaned. Today, I bleached the windows to kill any remaining mold. It was great to break away to play some golf, and hopefully life's pace will be a bit more relaxing going forward. We've employed Sandy Clark to check on Hanna every 2 weeks and after any storms, to make sure the Damp Rid is still working and that it hasn't become infested with mold or bugs. Her daughter and son-in-law will be cleaning the rig inside and out before we get back there in December. Our fingers are crossed that everything holds together, this could be the plan for a while...
4/15/2014: The photo below is our current fleet configuration. They moved our trailer out of storage yesterday and parked it next to our 5th wheel. The crew will be cleaning both rigs on Wednesday/Thursday. We move back into the trailer for travel on Friday/Saturday and get back on the road on Sunday. The Montana 5th wheel will stay here in storage ($50/month) after we summerize it. April is really peaceful in this park because most of the snowbirds bolt out the last week of March. There is a good off leash dog park a short 2 block walk from our site, that has a fishing pear out into the Peace River, so Charlie has been having much fun this winter chasing lizards. I never broke out the fishing gear because there is a seafood vendor that comes here once a week. We had Grouper last night, with Quinoa, and a mixed greens salad with red onion, mushrooms, and artichoke heart. We spent January ordering new galley stuff from Amazon Prime, piece by piece, and have been having fun in the galley and eating well. This new 5th wheel (2011) is a Keystone Montana, we named it Hanna.
Our trip home plan includes first stop in Titusville, FL in a resort in the middle of a golf course (I have my clubs with me) - 2. Brunswick, GA - 3. Hardyville, SC just north of Savanna, GA - 4. a week outside of Charleston, (we plan to eat a lot of live blue crabs while on the coast), then 5. Taylors, South Carolina near one of Marsha's brother's house where we had the trailer's roof replaced last November. The guy that did the work was great, we're having him do a half day project to fix the trailer's remaining wart. We plan to leave there on May 15th, and either do a 3 day trip straight home, or meander along the Blue Ridge Parkway, depending on how we feel living in the trailer after spending 4 months in this 38' 5th wheel. It has a very comfortable full king size bed, which we have been sleeping in till noon many days lately...
We're looking forward to visiting friends out west this fall, the current plan is to head west mid September, then down to San Diego, then east along the southern route back to Florida for the winter, our reservations are for December 20 - April 20. After that, we have no plan:-)
2/25/2014: As a PS to my post earlier today - regarding visiting guests. Hanna's couch converts to a self inflating full queen size air bed. Deploying it fills the living room so it means Hanna does not have a guest room, the bed is for situations like when another couple come over to play Mexican Train then sleep over rather than drive or walk home. Having said that, we can easily have Taylor the Trailer moved out of storage to a nearby transient space to be used as a guest house for visitors:-)
2/25/2014: We're getting pretty settled in the new 5th Wheel. For the initial move in, Riverside let us move Taylor the Trailer next door for a few days. We bought new king size bedding on the way back from closing the deal, and borrowed everything else from Taylor to get comfortable. Then over the course of the next month we started buying new stuff for Hanna, mostly from Amazon Prime, and moving the borrowed galley stuff, towels, etc. back to Taylor, now parked in the storage area. Now when it is time to hit the road again, we just need to move the food related items and personal effects.
Last year mid Feb. we signed up for January and February this winter. If you are here then you get a notice in your mail box offering first dibs on your spot for next year. We had stayed here for the month of Feb., liked it allot and decided we would enjoy 2 months. Staying in one spot for a month while traveling away from home did seam a bit surreal. The WIFI was challenging at times, and there was no cable - but if you are here a month you get a mailbox. We were able to order things online, which was cool. We turned Netflix back on to get movies to supplement the local TV stations we could pick up with our antenna. We had acquired an iPad 2 with a data plan so we had our own wifi hotspot to back up the WIFI when it had issues. It did seem like a long time to be in one spot, and a bit strange to be preparing to move again. But we had more places to go and people to see so we hit the road again on March 1, arriving back at Breezy on April 23.
The spot we would be in for Jan. and Feb. this year was just big enough for the trailer to fit on the pad and park the truck next to it. Sometime last summer we decided to change our arrival date to December 20 to be situated here for the holidays. We did spend Christmas with Bob and Cindy in Cape Coral, and attended Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve functions here in the Pavilion, all of which we enjoyed. As we we driving here from the previous spot on Dec. 20, we decided to extend our stay to the end of Feb., instead of Feb. 20 if it was available. I asked about it when checking in, upon our arrival. The spot we were reserved for, #80 was reserved as of Feb. 21, but they offered to let me take a look at site #16 as a death in the family had caused a cancellation. I walked in, took a look and said wow, we'll take it. It was huge, and had a huge back yard that opened to the volley ball and pickle ball courts.
We had learned last year that many of the 5th wheels didn't have trucks that could tow them. People left them in storage, the park maintenance crew have a tractor for towing them in and out of storage for folks. We had thought about that possibility all year, and the fact we now had a bigger site that could accommodate just about any size rig hit us as a sign it was time to take action. The money from selling Spirit was in the bank. We ended up agreeing to purchase this 38' 5th Wheel on December 26. As time passed, we extended our reservation to March 20, then to March 31, then to April 20. We now have Satellite TV, and DSL for high speed Internet. When the notice to reserve for next year appeared in our mailbox, we signed up for Dec. 20 - April 20. We still plan to travel in Taylor in the fall, and use it as our 3rd bedroom / 2nd bathroom while in MI over the summer. We have made the decision to call this our winter home, at least as long as we haven't upgraded our half ton truck to a one ton truck, which is what we would need to travel with it. The following are pictures of Hanna in our winter spot.
12/24/2013: This is the spreadsheet with the RV parks we stayed in over the fall journey to Florida.
12/23/2013: Facebook post 12/20/2013: We arrived at our winter destination today - here we be...
Facebook post 12/17/13: Had a pleasant lay day in a beautiful park surrounded by tall pines in Hazlehurst, GA. Caught up on laundry getting the sawdust and hatch repair droppings out of the bedding. Ended the day with a nice campfire. Traveled today to Ocala, FL - had to break out the tank top and flip flops upon arrival. 3 nights here then one more travel day 200 miles south to our winter destination. We're still smiling about the new roof:-)
Facebook post 12/15/2013: After 3 weeks in Taylors, we traveled today to an RV park just north of Hazlehurst, GA, pretty much in the middle of no-ware. The road here was definitely the one less traveled, traveling south about equidistant between Macon and Savannah passing through a few very small towns along the way. The stern ladder got installed yesterday, I've already used it - we couldn't pick up any satellite signals with the dish on the picnic table so I carried it up the ladder to try putting it on the new roof. It worked! There is no ATT service so no iphone. We have one bar of Verizon LTE, which appears to be enough for wifi good enough for email and Facebook.
We're lucky our roof got impaled where it did, we got to spend more time with Marsha's brother and his wife John and Carol. There were great Chinese Food and Pizza delivered to our door. State Farm Insurance covered the roof replacement without hassle. The RV park didn't charge us for our stay there and recommended a great RV service contractor that did the job. We plan to stop by there on our way back north in the spring to have him do another one day project that will need attention soon.
Anyway, it feels great to be back on our own schedule again, the photo below shows the new ladder on the transom just before we got back on the road this morning...
Facebook post 12/13/13: I haven't posted pics of Charlie in a while. She's a traveling trooper, but picked up fleas at a groomer's shop in Carolina Beach, NC. We took her to the emergency pet hospital in Taylors, SC on Thanksgiving day because of an allergic reaction to their bites. A prescription for prednisone did the trick, she's all better now and ready to travel.
Everything with the roof repair is completed except for installing the new stern ladder, which is scheduled for the morning. We have a new roof, all new vents, and new air conditioner cover. Better than new and back on the road again soon:-)
Facebook post 12/11/13: The crew, Pat and Tony, with assistance from the Park Assistant Manager Dave made great progress today. No ugly surprises, and the promise of everything being better than when we got here (Nov. 23, Marsha's birthday). Looks like we're going to end up with a stern ladder as well:-)
Facebook post 12/10/13: The materials to replace our Trailer's roof have arrived, we have a 3 day no rain weather window, the insurance money is in the bank, work begins tomorrow morning around 8:30. If all goes well we will be back on the road headed south on Saturday.
12/8/2013: Most of the parts to replace Taylor's roof arrived yesterday, except the roll of roofing material. There were no scheduled stops between Atlanta and here, but it went missing in route - that was the part that dictated this truck as the shipping method. They put a tracer on it, whatever that means. The rain window is still the bigger gating factor on starting to replace Taylor's roof. The rain is supposed to end late Tue. afternoon - looks like the roof replacement project could begin as early as next Wednesday.
Charlie had her last Prednisone pill today - hopefully back to normal in a couple of days. All symptoms of the allergic reaction to the flea bites are gone, but the steroid keeps her appetite enzymes on hungry full time, she needs a bath...
On the topic of bucket list, I met 2 of Marsha's cousins she had not seen in many decades a few weeks ago, one on her mother's side, one on her father's side. We were contemplating rearranging our route at one point but at that phase of this journey, Larry's medical problems swayed our route decision to make it to Cedar Point, North Carolina on this trip south instead of on the way back north next spring. We learned yesterday he lost his battle with Leukemia - we were with him just days ago, the reality he projected was fighting the good fight. He made many good points in his prolific conversation, about nutrition and holistic approaches to living and dealing with such a disease, and dealing with doctors and the medical system in general, um... a bit scary... . He sensitized me on the subject of continually accessing the healthiness of all aspects of my lifestyle a bit more, but I've been working on it. I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet Larry - rest in peace...
12/3/2013: Facebook post: Our insurance company just authorized our claim and are sending us the money to have the roof replaced. I've given Pat of Upstate RV Services the green light to do the job, he'll be ordering the materials in the morning. He said he should be able to get started on the work by the end of the week, and that it will take 3 days without rain to finish the job. There is rain in the current weather forecast for Thur. - Mon. We'll be in Taylors, SC until it's finished...
Marsha's comment: We are so lucky to have this happen a few miles from my brother John's house. We've had a great time visiting him and his wife Carol. There are more great times to come in the next couple of weeks too.
11/30/2013: Here we still sit not knowing exactly what to expect, waiting for the State Farm Insurance assessor to arrive, currently projected for early next week.
So, since we were going to be here a while, there is no cable TV hook up, and the selection of digital channels over the air is poor, we decided it was time to break out the Tailgater and see if we could get it set up. The first step after hooking up the gear is to locate the antenna so it has a clear view of the southern sky. We're in a wooded park, but most of the leaves have fallen so there is hope. After a couple of failed attempts with it setting on the ground, I set it higher up, on a table. I located the table close to my neighbor's satellite dish.
After 20 minutes or so of scan time to get its internal satellite aimed correctly, with rotating servo motors, we started picking up TV stations. We got a dialog window telling us to call Dish Network regarding HD reception. We did, they were able to determine the problem we were having was due to the fact it was raining hard. Once the rain tapered off, we had full reception, including their HD stations. We learned we have to call them each time to update the service address and activate the local channels (though we may be able to do it online, we'll see). We also learned that with the model of receiver that goes with the Tailgater, we would need an external hard disk and have to pay a one time activation fee to enable the DVR functions. After a false start with a 3TB drive, because a local Dish installation tech rep they referred me to said size didn't matter, I ventured out to Best Buy on Black Friday to get a 2TB drive because that is the max size the system would support. Piece of cake, I ordered it online for store pickup, there were 2 people ahead of me in that line, as opposed to 50 or so in the cash register line. The steps, hook up the hard disk to the receiver's USB port, do the full scan again to get to the point where it detects the disk, call to pay for the activation, then do the full scan again. I'm still going to have to neaten up the wires and sort out the equipment storage strategy for when we're moving, but for now while we're stranded here, we have our full home entertainment system up and running.
We're OK with the new 3TB external hard disk too, as it's serving as our data back up strategy. It's currently backing up our photo collection, just under 115,000 files.
Meanwhile, we've started using some of the 14.4 pound cabbage (OS Cross Hybrid 132) we got from Marsha's cousin's daughter's garden outside of Wilmington. Marsha's sister-in-law Carol had a great recipe for stuffed cabbage. Here is a photo of what was left after she removed the leaves for the recipe:
It turned out great, we enjoyed it for dinner on Thanksgiving day, and lunch the day after. Marsha's brother John had to work on Thanksgiving day, so we are planning the traditional turkey dinner on Sunday when he's home.
Also meanwhile, Charlie picked up some fleas somewhere, we think at the groomer's facility in Carolina Beach. At first we thought she was just shedding her undercoat but her skin was turning pinkish red, and upon closer inspection we saw fleas jumping around. Carol gave us her puppy Button's Comfortis. That did the trick for killing the fleas, but she was suffering an allergic reaction. We tried Benadryl to get her to stop itching but it alone didn't help. We ended up in the emergency vet hospital on Thanksgiving day, and ended up with a prescription of Prednisone, to be administered in conjunction with the 25 mg Benadryl, and half tablets of Pepcid AC. That combo is doing the trick. Her skin color is back to normal and she's no longer scratching. From the scratching and gnawing, she did loose quite a bit of her hair. Her lower hind legs look like they were sheep sheared.
The poor girl is having a rough trip, this after the deer ticks she picked up in Maine that resulted in a trip to the vet while we were in Maryland.
11/27/2013: We got an estimate of $5103.71 for the repair, from Pat Cobb of UpState RV Services, LLC. Now we are waiting for the State Farm assessor to come to settle the claim. It is now looking like Friday or Monday before that will occur. Here is the repair estimate. We'll be in Taylors, SC for at least another week.
Looking at new models of Travel Trailers, Marsha likes the Cougar XLite 31RKS. A second option is the Keystone Sprinter Wide Body, 302RLS-WB. We would need to trade the truck for a bigger one...
11/26/2013: Plans change...
11/22/2013: A fair amount of work work this week, this was a good place to get it done. We're in Carolina Beach, NC in a small park with good internet, Winners RV Park. Saturday we travel to Taylors, SC for 4 days. Then back to the coast to Charleston, SC for a week. Then to a place we stayed last year in SC just north of Savanna, GA for a week - good internet. There is still Spanish Moss on our TV antenna from there last year. Then to a combo RV Park/Golf Course for a week in Titusville, FL. Then to Riverside RV Resort in Arcadia/Port Charlotte on Dec. 20th where we have a reservation through the end of Feb. At least that's the plan...
Regarding our time on the outer banks, we were there after the season, so many things were closed. There was a storm one night, I had to go retrieve my bicycle cover plastered against the RV park fence the next day. Being in the trailer kind of felt like being on the boat with the rocking. They routinely have backhoes shoveling sand off the road back onto the banks, kind of like the job of painting the Golden Gate Bridge - never ending. Still, the weather was shorts and flip flops much of the time. We were at a very nice RV park, my Charlie walks were right out to the ocean - which she loves, chasing, barking at, and biting the waves in the surf. She just gets more intensely into it, until I get tired of it and want to go, then she still wants more. There are big vacation rental houses that can handle big groups, the waitress where we watched the sunset said in season, she sees groups of 30 that come in and want to sit together - no way... Rare to be in a spot with sunsets on one side of the street, and sun rises on the other. I, however never made it out of bed in time to catch the sunrise out my back door. It's a fishing meca, many pickup trucks driving around had front bumper racks that would hold an ice cooler and 4 fishing rods sticking straight up - surf fishing very popular. We drove to the south end of Hatteras, but didn't take the ferry to the southern islands, which we heard good things about - interesting things to do, miniature horses, people living there that have never been off the islands.
Funny weather, in the past week we have seen record low and record high temperatures...
11/16/2013: Spirit's Next Chapter. Dennis Boring, the mechanic Spirit's new owner is having work on a major overhaul contacted me recently. He'd discovered Spirit's website and thus my contact info. He thanked me for the level of documentation on previous upgrades I left with the boat, and sent me a link to some photos of the new ones. The photo below is of the new engine. It appears Spirit will be off to new adventures at some point:-)
11/12/2013: I've been updating our status on Facebook as we move along, the following are the posts since the beginning of the month:
Facebook post from 11/11: Travel day, south from Waves, NC to Ceder Point, NC - 200 miles the fast way, but we took back roads - fisherman's heaven. Salute to all veterans!
Facebook post from 11/9: We were the only customers at this restaurant across the street from where we're staying. Pet friendly, we got to enjoy the off season sunset...
Facebook post from 11/8: After a great week in VA Beach, we travel today to Camp Hatteras in Wave, NC on the Outer Banks - here for the weekend. On the road at 11:00, fully hooked back up with cable TV and wifi by 3:00.
Niece Teresa Turner's Facebook post from 11/3:
This photo wasn't part of a Facebook post. We enjoyed some sushi after spending time at the beach, in Virginia Beach with Tracy.
Facebook post from 11/3: Mississippi Roast: By far the best recipe I have tried. I wont make a roast any other way now. Mississippi Roast – - Put chuck roast in crock pot, Sprinkle with Hidden Valley ranch dressing, add McCormick Au Jus mix, a stick of butter, 5 pepperoncini peppers. DO NOT ADD WATER. Cook on low for 7-8 hrs.
Facebook post from 11/3: We're in Virginia Beach, went to an oyster roast gig tonight with my niece Tracy and her husband Ron, with live music and you put on a glove, grab a knife and shuck your own - weather nice, T shirt and fleece vest, never needed the sweat shirt. Charlie had a funny reaction to a giant stuffed gorilla. First impressions, I like it here:-)
Facebook post from 11/1: After our 9 night stay at Castaways in Ocean Beach, MD we moved today to the KOA in Virginia Beach, VA. We saw the colors change in MD, now there are many maple trees still green around us. It was 78 degrees when we arrived, I had to break out a tank top. We're reserved here for 6 nights. We traveled today feeling well rested, it was great.
10/31/2013: We've been traveling and have not had a mail drop in 6 weeks, so I called my insurance company to see if I have anything to worry about Affordable Health Care today. No changes in my coverage or pricing, nothing to worry about - so why have I had to hear so much about this on the news? We move to Virginia Beach tomorrow. The off shore sea breezes I've been hearing in the evenings here while walking Charlie remind me of being in the anchorages in the Sea of Cortez, in a very good way. I'm so glad I have those memories to draw upon...
10/26/2013: Facebook post: Yesterday afternoon, 200+ big rigs arrived at this park, most with children on board. They spent the morning decorating their spaces with Halloween - I had to run to the store to get in character:-)
10/24/2013: Facebook post: Normally we don't move 2 days in a row, but after arriving at Castaways RV Resort in Berlin, MD yesterday, today we moved from slip #141 to #137 because #137 was available for the next 8 nights. Everything is working great here, the only problem is the price, but hey - it feels like we've gotten off the road for a break...
10/23/2013: Time, where we are, where we've been, where we're going is getting a bit blurry. We arrived today in Ocean Beach, MD after spending 2 days in PA at an RV park that had wifi issues, and I had work to do - it was amazing I got the work done it was so bad. On the other side of the coin, we are in a very nice RV park on the ocean, in Ocean Beach, MD and the wifi is great. They provide a free .5 mbit service, and a for fee 10 mbit service - that's the way to go for people like us, we hope this place is the gold standard others will follow.
We did spend 3 days in the Catskills, before PA. Will add more details...
10/12/2013: Next stop, Timberland Campground in Shelburne, New Hampshire - rain storm, caught up on laundry, shopping at Walmart. They only had WIFI at office building, but we were able to pick up the signal with our Crane long range antennas. From there, we made it to Bar Harbor Campground. The Acadia National Park was closed due to the government shutdown, so we just drove around the island. A cruise ship had stopped to let everyone tour the town, crowded - not sure I'd ever want to do that. We did get our fill of Lobster though. From there, we made it to Silver Springs Campground outside of Portland, ME. We're aiming at the Catskills next, in hopes the colors will still be there...
10/5/2013: We discovered most of the RV parks in the North East, at least north of Cape Cod close for the season around October 15. This knowledge helped provide focus to our plan, we need to cover some mileage if we are going to be able to find a place to park our trailer and get to enjoy lobster in Maine. The next stop after Niagara Falls was Pulaski, NY, at the Streamside RV Park and Golf Course. The RV park was nestled in the middle of a 9 hole golf course. 2 nights and 9 holes with a cart, $65.00. What a hoot, I brought my clubs, it was fun. The next leg of the journey took us over the Adirondacks to Schroon Lake, NY - close to the Vermont boarder. 2 nights in the woods at Medcalf Acres Riverfront Campground & RV Park Resort. It appears we hit the peak of the color tour through there, very pretty.
10/1/2013: We made it to the Niagara Falls area today. We're hooked up at the Cinderella Motel and Campsite, Passport discount for 2 nights. Level gravel back in full hookups with Cable TV, no Wifi, we're using our Verizon hotspot for internet. We're thinking we may have got too late of a start for the colors this year, many of the leaves are falling already, at least here. We plan to tour driving around and get a feel for the US side of the falls area while here. We're thinking a trip through Canada to the Ontario side could be a separate outing during the summer from Breezy could be an adventure on its own.
9/30/2013: Facebook post: It begins. We stayed an extra day in Erie to let Charlie play on the beach:-) We picked Sara's Campground because of the distance from the last place and they honored the Passport America 50% discount. We didn't know it was located at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park and Sara's Diner that closes tomorrow for the season. We stayed an extra day to enjoy it.
9/27/2014: Facebook post: So we've left Michigan to go camping with our travel trailer. Today we traveled from Huron, OH to Erie, PA, mostly along Lake Erie's south shore, with a side trip through Cleveland. Many nice homes on the south shore, it kind of felt like driving south on Jefferson through the Gross Points into Detroit (memories from the late 70's, can't say what it looks like now). We'll be back in 7 months or so...
9/26/2013: I just updated Breezy's page on this summer's projects. Also, some pics from this summer: Marsha's brother Bob, his wife Barb, her brother Mike, and his wife Deb came up and helped me celebrate my birthday on the summer solstice. Jim and Jo Callen visited in August. My sister Sal and her husband Ron came up for a visit mid September. We stopped downstate on our way for the winter and visited my sister Shelley, her husband Robin and their friends Dave and Cynthia, then Marsha's brother Bob and Barb. Our great niece Hillary stopped by our campsite in Linden shortly before we left the mitten for the fall and winter.
9/25/2013: I have much content to add about our summer, and plan to. This purpose of this post is to start status updates of our travels with our truck and trailer for the fall/winter, 2013/2014 season. We left early this year to make it over to New England to hopefully experience their color tour, and eat some lobsters. We left Michigan today, making it to Huron, Ohio (not too far from Cedar Point), at the Huron River Valley Resort. We plan to stay here 2 nights. We don't have reservations for our next stop yet, in fact, our next reservation is December 20 at the Riverside RV Resort in Arcadia, Florida. Between here and there, we have to decide what's next as we go. Our current feel for what's next is to drive along the St. Lawrence Seaway on the US side for a while...
7/5/2013: Marsha has been spending time on ancestry.com researching our family history. She's traced me back to the person that came to this country from Europe, Richard Sears. This document has the full details, here is the summery:
You are descendants of Richard Sears the Pilgrim who was born about 1590. He died on 26 Aug. 1676 in Yarmouth, Barnstable, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts.
The ancestry lineage from Richard Sears to Steve Sears is as follows:
Richard (1590-1676) Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony (Cape Cod) about 1639
Leut Silas (1639-1697) Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony m. Anna Bursell
Capt Joseph (1669-1750) Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony m. Hannah Hall
Leut Zachariah (1706-1796) Yarmouth, Barnstable Co, MA m. Mehitable Crowell
Roland/Rowland (1745-1819) Yarmouth, Barnstable Co, MA m. Jedidah Conant
Zachriah (1782-1842) Ashfield, Franklin, MA m. Delight Coolidge
Lysander (1822-1881) Fabius, NY m. Julia Conover & Cornelia Meade
Orange Almoin/Almeron (1863-1942) Hartland, MI m. Charlotte Mallett
Robert Percy (1894-1969) Rose, Oakland, MI m. Margaret Stark
Almond Keith (1919-1993) Holly, Oakland, MI m. Virginia Alma Gregg
Steve Keith (1954- ) Flint, Genesee, MI m. Marsha Kraft
6/10/2013: We've been quite busy since we arrived home. I had a fair amount of work work to do in preparation for the big industry trade show that takes place the first week in June. Plus there were projects around the house we had been planning for some time, after being away for almost 5 months, we were anxious to start working on them. Inside the house, the entertainment center needed finishing. I had been dreading running speaker wire through the floor and crawl space for the rear speakers. A bit of research on wireless rear speakers turned up a great solution, the Rocketfish™ - Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit. We also added a new Roku 3 video streaming box. Much of it's functionality is redundant with other equipment already in the system, but not all, especially the headphone jack in the remote control unit. Concerned about video streaming performance, we figured out our wireless router was woefully out of date after consulting Charter Communications web site. They were recommending these features:
Follows the IEEE 802.11n standard
Notes speeds of at least 300 Mbps
Optional, but recommended features:
Dual band simultaneous or dual band concurrent
Support for Quality of Service (QoS)
Our old (but reliable) Linksys was supporting speeds up to 50 Mbps, so we got a new Netgear Dual Band 11ac WiFi Router R6300. Set up was a snap, we love it. With all of the component boxes in our entertainment center, we decided against mounting the 42" flat panel on the wall and started shopping online for a TV stand. Of 100s to choose from, we both ended up liking the same model, and with Amazon Prime's free shipping (which we love), it arrived in 2 days. Some assembly required.
Content with the inside of the house for now, we turned our focus to the outside. We felt the need for a storage shed because the garage was getting so crammed it was hard to use if for projects. Breezy was about the only house in the neighborhood that didn't have one. We also wanted to have a fenced in area in the back yard so Charlie could run and play off leash. After studying the Gerrish Township zoning ordinances, we learned we could have a fence, subject to the following: Fences and walls up to four (4) feet high that obstruct a maximum of thirty (30) percent of the view and air flow are not subject to any yard or setback limitations. That pretty much left the decision to a chain link fence. Marsha saw a black vinyl coated chain link fence around a yard near Punta Gorda, FL over the winter that looked much better, more subtle than the plain fencing. After thinking about where to put a shed for almost 3 years, and where to put the fence all winter, we had a design in mind, and could apply for both on the same land use permit. In the sketch we needed to include for the permit, we located the shed in the back right corner of the yard, offset 5' in from the property lines. We decided to enclose the entire back yard to the back of the house and deck. An idea surfaced a couple of years ago, during a visit from some of Marsha's family, to put in a culvert to provide access from the back yard to the road (driveway - long story) behind our property. We sketched this in because if we were ever going to do it, the decision to do it should happen when designing the fence so gates gates could provide drive though access. We were granted the permit for the shed and fence, and told we would have to apply for a permit for the back road access with the Roscommon County Road Commission. We needed to know if they would permit it so we could get the price quote on a fence, so I completed that design sketch and faxed the permit application to them. We received the permit in the mail a few days later. With designs and permits in hand we were ready to start work. We would first need to have a large stump that was in the fence to be's path, so I called a tree guy that advertised on the bulletin board at the Town and Country party store. He came later that same day and quoted $250 to remove all 6 stumps (out of the 7 trees George had cut down, the 7th looked too close to another tree). One of the other stumps was underneath our fire pit, as we had been trying to burn it out the past couple of years - so working on a new fire pit design was added to the outdoor project list. We decided to go with Home Depot for both the shed and fence. I called Ed of RBR Construction from an ad in the local paper for a quote on the driveway culvert - $800. We said do it, and now have a pull through drive for Taylor the Trailer. The shed looks great, it will take a while to get stuff moved from the garage and organized. The fence is scheduled to arrive and be installed in 10 days or so. While all of this activity was underway, we entertained a visit from good friends David and Marcy Albert, and poodle Marley. I'll post photos of the yard progress on Breezy's page. Here is a photo from the Albert's visit, while we were on Mackinaw Island.
4/23/2013: All went according to the plan, we made it to the Cottonwood Campground on the 19th. Nice place, everything worked great. We did have to disconnect and drain our water hose, and the camp shut down the water until about 9:30 the next morning because of unseasonably cold weather. It was an easy out the next day, we hadn't unhitched the truck from the trailer. We did make the brief stop in Clare, but didn't see Charlie's breeder. His cell phone number is no longer working. About 10 miles south of Breezy, we started seeing little patches of snow on the ground. The patches were getting bigger as we got closer to home. When we finally made it home, I had to park in the street to shovel a bit of snow out of the driveway before backing the trailer onto the RV pad. It all happened fairly quickly, everything in the house quickly came back to life. It took a couple of days for the snow on the decks to melt.
One thing we decided to change, and executed upon during the last few days of the trip back was to change our TV service provider. After many of the parks with iffy TV, or TV that didn't match any TV guide we could find, we started researching satellite options. We had seen many rigs over the winter with a satellite dish out side of, or on top of their unit. A quick check on Camping World's site led us to Dish Network. We called the company that supports Dish for the Roscommon area, and learned they have a solution called a Tailgater. You get Dish Network's satellite service for your home, then when you travel in the RV, you take the Tailgater. Supposedly all you have to do is set it outside the rig connected to the cable TV port, then punch in your zip code and it provides your same service, HD, to the RV TV. There is a tuner box that's compact enough to fit on top of the DVD player. We told Jessica, the woman providing the information on the call we would like to think about it, but it sounded like a great solution for us. A couple of days later it was time to call Charter, the cable provider for our home, to have them turn the internet and TV service back on. We were thinking it would be easy to just go with what we had turned off for the winter with their seasonal arrangement. But as we were having that conversation, we were learning the package we had was getting quite a bit more complicated and more expensive. On that call we decided it was time to bite the bullet and make the switch to Dish for the TV service. We had Charter adjust or service to internet only. I would have to drive to West Branch to drop off their TV equipment and pick up a new cable modem that would support the new 30 Mbit download speed. That was OK, I had other reasons to go to West Branch. The existing 15 Mbit internet would be working when we arrived home, I could make that switch later. We called Jessica at Dish Network back, signed up for their service, and scheduled the install for asap when we got back. We got home Saturday, they installed it on Sunday. The Tailgater unit arrived yesterday, we'll have to wait until tomorrow to test it as I have work to do today, but it looks like a pretty cool deal.
By the end of Sunday, we had pretty much transitioned all of the food stuffs and personal items back to the house. There is always mental adjustments to go through when moving, the transitions between Spirit and Breezy had gotten fairly automatic. It was different this time, after the 27 different places we stayed, over almost a 5 month stretch. It was like having to stop to re-remenber everything we did, every step of the way. I'm sure there is still more of that to go through, but we're pretty much over that hump, and are settling back in to home - and looking forward to summer in Northern Michigan. The following is a list of where we stayed over the winter.
Taylor's Travels, Winter of 2013
5339 Aurelius Rd., Lansing, Mi 48911
Lake Haven Retreat
1951 W Edgewood Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46217
Hinton RV Park
2863 East Malone Ave., Sikeston, MO
Frog Hollow Campground/RV Park
601 Hwy 7 N, Grenada, MS 38901
Magnolia RV Park Resort
211 Miller Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi 39180
Riverview RV Park
100 Riverview Pkwy., Vidalia, LA 71373
New Orleans West KOA
11129 Jefferson Hwy, River Ridge, LA 70123
Majestic Oaks RV Resort
1750 Pass Rd., Biloxi, MS 39531
Anchors Away RV Resort
19814 County Roud 20 South, Foley, AL 36535
Playground RV Park
777 Beal Pkwy NW, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Rustic Sands RV Resort Campground
800 N. 15th St., Mexico Beach, FL 32410
Tim and Donna's
8008 River Road, Live Oak, FL
Cedar Key RV Resort
11980 SW Shiloh Rd., Ceder Key, FL 32625
Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park
237 N. Rock Crusher Rd., Crystal River, FL
Riverside RV Resort and Campground
9770 Country Road 769, Arcadia, FL 34269
100 Shoreline Dr., Lake Placid, FL 33852
Zachary Taylor RV Resort
2995 US Hwy 441 SE, Okechobee, FL 34974
John Prince Park Campground
4759 South Congress Ave., Lake Worth FL 33461
Sea Island RV Resort
4450 Pine Island Rd. NW, Matlacha, FL
Bob and Cindy's
Cape Coral, FL
Oak Haven Mobile Home & RV Park
10307 S.W. Lettus Lake Ave., Arcadia, FL 34269
Clearwater Travel Resort
2946 Gulf to Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33759
St. John's RV Park
2493 State Rd. 207, St. Augustine, FL 32086
Hardeeville RV - Thomas Parks
3090 S. Okatie Hwy. Hwy 315, Hardeeville SC
Rainbow RV Park
104 Waukegan Way, Taylors, South Carolina
Whispering Hills RV Park
257 Rodgers Gap Rd., Georgetown, KY
7072 Grange Hall Rd., Holly MI
Other parks we would have used...
Circle B Campground
5251 West US 20, Angola, IN 46703
Blue Lake Campground
5453 N Blue Lake Rd., Churubusco, IN 46723
Cloverdale RV Park
2789 E County Road 800 S, Cloverdale, IN 46120
Benton KOA Kampgrounds
1500 N Du Quoin St Benton, IL 62812
Terre Haute KOA
5995 East Sony Drive, Terre Haute, IN
Tom Sawyer's Mississippi River RV Park
1286 S 8th St., West Memphis, AR 72301
4/18/2013: Yesterday was a long day, some work to do early in the morning, then drive the long day 322 miles back into the eastern time zone, so we lost an hour. We checked into the Lake Haven Retreat RV park just before their 6:00 pm office closing. We saw a tornado system pass near by shortly after getting settled. Storm conditions exist through tonight. The current plan is to move to the Cottonwood Campground in Lansing tomorrow - 263 miles. That leaves 144 miles to get home on Saturday. We plan to stop by the puppy sidewalk sale in Jay's Sporting Goods' parking lot in Clair on the way home to see if we can find Charlie's breeder.
4/16/2013: Charlie bath day, which means clean the floor first, then Steve gets a shower afterwards, because he is already pretty much wet all over. She still hides behind the bulkhead when I do the things that lead up to her bath, but she's mellowing out about the experience, which happens about every 2 weeks, and has for her entire life, which will be 2 years in just over 3 weeks.
4/15/2013:We moved from Grenada, MS to Sikeston, MO today, and are parked in the Hinton RV Park. The park is level gravel, and all services seem to be working well. We're looking forward to watching The Voice this week here. This move has positioned us close to the 2nd of 3 locations of Lambert's restaurant, the home of throwed rolls. They have a free shuttle to the restaurant for people that don't want to bother unhooking the tow vehicle. So we haven't unhooked. We're getting closer to home, and are enjoying the thought of being home. We have ample provisions to not have to worry about shopping until we get there, and then some. We've made reservations for 2 nights at the Lake Haven Retreat in Indianapolis, IN arriving on Wednesday, and Friday night at the Cottonwood Campground in Lansing, MI. We stayed there on our way to Mexico in 2011 and liked it. It positions us for a half day drive home on Saturday. We plan to stop by Jay's sporting goods in Clair to see if Charlie's breeder will be at the puppy dog sidewalk sale that occurs in Jay's parking lot every Saturday and Sunday, year round - just to let him see how she turned out, and maybe explain what part of her is Pomeranian - we can't seem to find it...
4/14/2013: We got some work done in the morning, then did some touring and grocery shopping in the afternoon yesterday. Grenada Lake has a fun looking campground and day use parks for fishing and swimming. We decided to stay here another day to catch up on laundry and things, and have made reservations for Monday and Tuesday nights at the Hinton RV Park in Sikeston, MO. After that rain storm while we were in Vicksburg, the weather has been great, sunny and moderate temps. The mud puddles here are starting to dry up. We like this park, the only issues are limited TV reception and low water pressure, but we would come back.
4/13/2013: We're at the Frog Hollow Campground in Grenada, MS. A bit muddy after the 4" of rain they got here while we were holed up in Vicksburg. This place is popular with fishermen angling for crappie on Lake Grenada. And we got to taste the fish last night. A couple of guys, one from Georgia, one from Louisiana meet here once in a while to fish the lake. The camp managers, Beth and Larry invited us to join their fish fry, with home made tarter sauce, French fries, and apple pie. Yumm.
4/12/2013: For us, Vicksburg turned out to be a place to avoid tornadoes and hole up through a rain storm. Today, we move on to Grenada, MS. The campground here was OK, Magnolia RV Park Resort. Tony was extremely friendly. It was gravel and grassy, level, and everything worked. We watched Lazlo say goodbye to American Idol. We saw several dead Armadillos on the side of the road on the way here.
4/10/2013: Moving from Vidalia, LA to Vicksburg, MS today, a short ride.
4/8/2013: We traveled from New Orleans (actually River Ridge, a western suburb), LA to Vidalia, LA today. We're now parked in the River View RV Park and Resort. Hanging out around the French Quarter made us kind of feel almost like we were in a foreign country, like Europe. The condition of the roads everywhere made us kind of feel like we were in a foreign country, like Mexico. We were pleasantly surprised to see the south Lake Pontchartrain area, with nice homes in upscale neighborhoods and folks out enjoying their sailing yachts out on the water - but the roads were still pretty bad. For the most part, it reminded us of being in Oakland, CA, except the integration of black and white people has a much better feel - friendly, at times transparent - as opposed to feeling like you have to have your defenses up - kind of like it has a southern version of Chicago feel to it. Local news on the television did seem to have quite a bit of crime to report, we checked our locks more than normal. We continued to listen to KLRZ on the radio, never got tired of it, actually started recognizing songs that we had already heard - glad they stream the feed:-) I cooked up a gumbo with smoked sausage, and a crawfish etouffee - fun stuff. Charlie really enjoyed meeting people in the French Quarter, but after a short walk and getting bumped in the head by some guy's leg, we opted for the slow driving tour. The web site dogfriendly.com told us unless fido likes getting stepped on by drunk people, take him there early in the morning. Many of the establishments you can walk into from Bourbon Street offered alcoholic beverages to go. The place makes you wish you were here when you were younger, then I remembered I was here when I was younger - that shifted the thought to, makes you wish you were here when you were younger with wheels, and money to burn. The KOA was an OK place to park, aside from the bad road, everything worked. I can't explain why it took me until the last night to remember the digital TV reception over the air might be better than the snowy on some channels on cable TV, but the channel we wanted to watch with 60 Minutes, then the CMAs came in much better, and in HD over the air. We departed heading west on River Rd. to take a mellow paced drive past many plantations and cementers from olden days, and infrequent small bergs (I bet they don't call them that - here, counties are called perishes) along the way from River Ridge to Baton Rouge, then had a pretty straight shot up 61. Again, staying in one place even a week lets you do some online shopping if you have Amazon Prime account - big upvote, we got a replacement for the 120 volt to the extremely antiquated standard interface to 12 volt (cigarette lighter) for the Koolatron refrigerator that lives in the back seat of our truck. The wifi there was OK, but we are learning that at pretty much any popular RV park, as in the best reviews on www. rvparkreviews.com, cocktail hour into the evening and rainy days are over subscribed. Our Verizon hot spot through our new iPad with a data plan has continued to be an awesome backup when the park we're in has wifi issues.
4/1/2013: We arrived at the New Orleans West KOA this afternoon. A week in Biloxi was more than enough time. So far it feels like a week in the New Orleans area will go by very fast. The first radio station I tuned to is cranking out good music reflecting Cajun and Big Easy vibes, KLRZ.
3/28/2013: Biloxi was pretty much devastated by hurricane Katrina. It used to be Mississippi's 3rd largest city, now it is the 5th. We're hearing terms like bouncing back from Katrina on the news every day. And I'm not sure where it would be without the gambling casinos. We're planning to go check out Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino while we're here. We did have a good thin crust pizza delivered yesterday from Bootleggers Pizzeria.
3/27/2013: We gave Charlie a bath today. I'm logging this here because by the time 2 weeks have passed, we have a hard time remembering when the last time we gave her a bath occurred. It doesn't really matter, because we give her a bath when she needs it, and it turns out to be about 2 weeks from the last time. But still, we like to know when. So one frustration here in Biloxi is we are unable to find a tvguide.com provider that matches the cable we are getting. The park has good internet, however the signal I connected our router to has bogged down during prime time tonight, but connecting to another one with the computer's internal antenna is working ok - update, it's sluggish too. It continues to be a good thing to have multiple wifi options. We've been watching The Voice, and American Idol. They come on at 7:00 because we are in the central time zone. Go Shakira!
3/26/2013: We got underway with 1 minute to spare before checkout time yesterday, and landed at the Majestic Oaks RV Resort in Biloxi, MS. Here for a week, the internet is working great so far. There were many MI license plates in the last place, Anchors Away, it seemed like about half the park. It is another place where people have 5th wheel rigs they leave there full time, the cost is $500 per month when you are there, and $45 a month to store it. The spaces were roomy. There, like here, can be variably windy such that most people don't have their awnings out. It wasn't quite warm enough to think about putting the awning out though, I can't speak for what it's like when the weather is warmer. The last afternoon was very warm and sunny, perfect for sitting out and soaking up some Vitamin D. Temperatures never got above the mid 50's the next day. I've only seen one other MI license plate here, most are from southern states.
3/21/2013: Turns out our neighbors had to leave early which opened up a spot, the park was able to put the folks that were coming to our spot there so we don't have to move our rig until we plan to leave Monday morning. We're learning we should stay in one spot for a week, there is typically a weekly rate that provides a free day over the daily rate - which we got here at Anchors Away RV Resort. We found a nice restaurant that has outside seating and would let us bring Charlie, The Tin Top Restaurant and Oyster Bar, in Bon Secour a few miles away. We split a pecan encrusted grouper with house creamy crawfish sauce, pan bread, lima beans with sausage, and collard greens. The area has many seafood stores, we bought some Royal Red Shrimp, which they freeze whole while still on the boat. I found this article that describes the types of gulf shrimp. Once we eat these Royal Reds, we will have had them all - and will likely stock up the freezer a bit before leaving here.
3/19/2013: We did some touring today, weather was in the high 70's, we now plan to stay in the area until Monday, but will have to switch parks. Many places are booked for the weekend. We found Cosmos, the only dog friendly restaurant in the area (Orange Beach) listed on dogfriendly.com - we split a shrimp poboy with Parmesan risotto, and a crawdads appetizer.
3/18/2013: We left Florida today, and ended up at the Anchors Aweigh RV Resort in Foley, AL, about 6 miles north of Gulf Shore. We had a great time catching up with friends Jim and Nancy Hegland of the sailing vessel Laughing Buddha while in Fort Walton Beach. Their boat is currently in Malaysia, they will be spending 6 months a year for a while, bring it back to Fort Walton Beach, FL. Saturday afternoon, we went out for lunch at Harry T's, in the neighboring community of Destin, in its HarborWalk Village. Nancy has spent time over the past few years studying and working at photography, she took this great picture of Charlie.
3/15/2013: We pulled into the Playground RV Park in Fort Walton Beach, FL today, close to friends we're visiting this weekend. It didn't show up on the web sites we normally use to research where we plan to stay, and google reviews were negative. But it's 1 mile away from our friends so we made reservations. What a surprise, clean, spacious, the best spot we're been on - PLUS, the internet is working as good as the best we've experienced, which have been few out of many. We'll see if the neg. reviews are merited, and if not, write a good review.
3/14/2013: Mexico Beach was pretty laid back. No franchise business, similar to Cedar Key - the grocery / gift store in town did have most of the basics, marked up as you would expect. We enjoyed the Rustic Sands restaurant, burgers, sausage dogs, Calzones, and pizza - a nice break from cooking. I did cook a stir fry, with stir fry steak from the Piggly Wiggly store in nearby Port Joe, very tough. Though we didn't go hang out there, it didn't appear to be dog friendly, Toucan's appeared to be the place to hang out on the beach - it had just opened back up for the season on March 8. We are here before the good season starts though, a bit cool and windy to enjoy the beach - it would be nice to experience it in season. The RV park has live music on Tuesdays, and the residents enjoyed the heck out of it. A different bunch here, say than what we saw at Riverside - I'm not sure how to describe these subtle differences, but maybe a bit less likely to show up at church on Sunday (and I could be completely wrong about this). We got the 50% Passport America discount, and ended up in lot 17. Fine in dry conditions, but we had a good rain one night and it was the site that flooded. I had to walk Charlie in the middle of the night, we had to step into water to leave the rig. The next morning I found her poop bag, which I leave on the ground by the entrance to the rig, had floated out to the middle of the road in front. Still, the discount is real, we would go back.
3/12/2013: We pulled into our slip at the Rustic Sands RV Resort in Mexico Beach, FL in time to get cleaned up, give Charlie a bath, and do the laundry. The internet is kind of iffy, but there is Verizon 4G lte so we've been able to stay on top of work.
3/10/2013: We spent Friday afternoon until Sunday morning staying at my nephew Tim Taylor's place, a 5 acre spread in Live Oak, FL - not too far from the Suwanee River. It was the first time we got to meet his SO, Donna. They have a great fire pit, that got used heavily both evenings. Donna's daughter Faith has 3 dogs, Charlie had a really great time playing with Layla. I hadn't seen Tim in something like 30 years. Next time not so long.
3/8/2013: We spent the rest of the time at Cedar Key enjoying local seafood - Blue Crabs and Oysters, and catching up on work a bit. Very pleasant stay. The only issue I saw was a slight reddish color to the water. It didn't smell though. We would return.
3/5/2013: The internet connection is working better at the Cedar Key RV Resort than we have ever experienced in a campsite. What a great travel day yesterday. The checkout time was later than normal, 1:00 pm, and we only had a one hour drive to get to our next destination. We got the rig ready for travel at a leisurely pace, did the commute, got everything hooked back up, and still had time to go tour Cedar Key, then hang out at the Tiki bar at the Low-Key Hideaway Motel and RV Resort to watch the sun set (we couldn't get a reservation there, all full).
3/4/2013: Three days in a new spot is just not enough time to get to know the place. The cold weather system turned us off on taking a boat ride to see the manatees. We left Crystal River thinking we'll be back next year. The internet was mostly great, though we could see a slow down after 5:00 in the evening as more folks were likely logging in. Just before leaving, I had the opportunity to learn a bit more about Shark fittings. It was leaking, and after almost giving up struggling with it to save the problem for later, I pushed up on the hose, into the fitting with both hands. I felt the hose move up about an eighth of an inch and heard an audible noise, almost like a click. The leaking stopped. I believe that was how the hose was supposed to be connected to the fitting. Yeaaa for plumbing problem solved. Here is a photo of our site there.
3/2/2013: We broke free from Riverside RV, what a great month. The weather was great, it was much more common to be wearing a tank top at night than socks. We spent 3 weekend afternoons listening to live music at the Nav-A-Gator Grill, and took my cousin and his wife out for a pontoon boat Peace River tour, based out of the Nav-A-Gator. Besides Marsha's craft fair, other than a couple of driving tours of Punta Gorda, and Port Charlotte up past Englewood, that was about it. Like I said what a great month. We were ok leaving, but not anxious to get underway, actually felt a bit surreal. We made reservations there for next January and February. We plan to head for Maine in late September for the color tour, meandering down the east coast, and expect we'll be back in FL after that. The video footage below is from one of the afternoons at the Nav-A-Gator, while the Daytona 500 was underway 3 hours north.
We're now at the Rock Crusher Canyon RV park in Crystal River. The daily rates are 20% less than Riverside, the monthly rates are 50% less. The internet is working great. The license plates seem to be the same mix of snowbirds. Much more space, woodsy. We're here for 3 nights before moving on. A cold front has moved in bring temperatures 20 degrees below normal, high temps in the mid 50s. The weather will start getting warmer when we leave on Monday so I'll likely not bother setting up the patio. It appears snorkeling with manatees tours are big around here, good to note for future reference.
2/27/2013: In the spirit of dealing with maintenance items on "the list", just like on a boat, a remaining lurker was the noisy galley faucet. After looking at different ones in Home Depot, I could see how you should just be able to unscrew the nut that fastens the center spigot to the base to inspect the innards for problems. Since the noise was occurring when running either hot or cold water, I suspected that as the source of the problem. I was resisting working on the project, rather waiting until the rig was next to the house once we got back to MI, where we wouldn't be living on it, in case of project creep. But I couldn't hold back my curiosity to just have a peak. I unscrewed it, the spigot came off no problem. I couldn't detect anything wrong so I screwed it back on. But then it leaked, and nothing I could do would stop the leak. So that led going back to Home Depot for a new faucet. Then I got to learn about shark fittings, after another trip to Home Depot to get parts to repair the damage I did to the hot water line fitting. I finally got it back together with no leaking, a new faucet (updated design of the same model we had), and *YES* no noise. Doing the work felt as bad as any bilge project ever accomplished on the boat.
2/26/2013: We're scheduled to be leaving Riverside RV Resort this Friday, March 1, but I wanted to attend the Tuesday morning Announcements meeting to see what it was about. We had learned this is a weekly thing, and I would have known about the additional meeting with the Camplink internet service provider that got added to the editing web video meeting I attended. It was lucky I attended, I learned about a wifi router / antenna combo that would fix many aspects of our LAN. Riverside has a web site dedicated to the activities that occur here, www.riversidesnowbirds.com . The photos below are from the announcements meeting. In addition to free coffee, there were free donuts this morning, funded by items sold at the crafts fair that were donated to the activities fund.
Here are the details of the network gear we just set up. The Alfa R36 802.11 b, g N, Repeater and Range Extender for AWUS036H can also be used as a 3G Router - Enables you to Extend to Signal that is picked up by the AWUS036H and distribute the internet wirelessly to multiple Users (Desktops, Laptops, tablets, printers, iPods or iPad). Based on comments in the reviews for the range extender, we selected Alfa AWUS036H Upgraded to 1000mW 1W 802.11b/g High Gain USB Wireless Long-Rang WiFi network Adapter with 5dBi Rubber Antenna and a 7dBi Panel Antenna. Also on network fortification, for Christmas we added a new iPad with a Verizon data plan that gives us a cellular wifi hotspot capability. 3G is ok, it lets us get most of our work done when there is no wifi. 4G lte smokes when we can get it.
2/24/2013: The Craft Fair / Garage Sale was yesterday. Charlie was literally freaked out that we were attending a local function and she couldn't go. Before it was over, I was holding her in my lap behind Marsha's exhibit table. Marsha sold some things but it was more about being involved with and a chance for her to meet some of the people here. I've already made quite a big name for myself, Charlie's dad. There were several jewelry exhibits, some too close together, a few other crafts, and many garage sale tables. We think most attendees were looking for the garage sale goodies. She sold a few things. The proceeds will likely cover our tab at the Navigator Grill this afternoon, plus we wanted to buy one thing for the house and the woman selling offered to take jewelry in trade which was cool.
2/21/2013: I didn't think we were getting enough fruit in our diet, with just the occasional glass of fruit juice. We decided fruit smoothies could be the way to get more easily. I ordered a small juice blender, so far it has been working out great. Though you could use about any combination, here's the first recipe we have been making:
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup fruit juice, we've been using orange/pineapple
few ice cubes
2/18/2013: We got out on a boat last week, with my cousin Bobby Fry and his wife Cindy. It was a pontoon tour on the Peace River out of the Navigator Grill at Desoto Marina. Weather was great, the tour of the bird rookery on Liverpool island was fascinating. Good burgers at the grill before the ride.
2/17/2013: I noticed this sign on the door of the rec room I go through to check our mail. I signed us up for a table.
2/16/2013: Replaced this failing part on Taylor with a new one. Closing the door securely has always been a pain. Now it works like a new door. Woo hoo.
2/8/2013: Time is passing very pleasantly here. Charlie is enjoying it here. We're at an intersection of sorts so there are a half a dozen directions we can walk in, and we meet plenty of friendly dogs and dog owners in every direction. Thinking about what we can't do because we are not in our house right now, rather in our trailer - I think of the bread maker and larger freezer. We could bring the bread machine with us, but a round of those yummy sandwich rolls would consume most of our freezer space. I do have a pack of some wonderful bakery made French Hamburger Buns from Publix on my shopping list. Another thing we didn't bring and could have was the deep fryer we use rice bran oil in to fry fish, shrimp, French fries, and tempura. Cooking with it is a good thing to do outdoors on the picnic table. There is still room in the truck, it would have fit in a bin no problem - yup we should have brought it with us. We could use more counter space for cooking, but we've done much of our cooking living on the boat and thus are accustom to making the smaller galley work. It will be nice getting back to our large screen LED TV, but we have a 23" one with us and we're not that far away from the screen when we watch it. I do miss the larger, more comfortable couch for watching TV, but we do have an inflatable ottoman and will make do for now. We just tune the TV to the weather forecast for back in MI and smile and do a high five every now and then. Here is a picture of my brother-in-law Ron from this morning, then a picture of our forecast here in Arcadia...
2/3/2013: It's quite peaceful here, full of people without children in tow, waiting out the cold weather back home, and dog friendly. Quite a mix of license plates from Michigan, Ontario, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and many other states in the northern mid west and east coast. The photo below is our spot for the month. Yesterday we made it to the Nav-A-Gator Grill, on the Peace River. It has outside seating and is very dog friendly. There was a musician playing contemporary music, and the beer was cold. We split a fish sandwich and an order of Gator Bits (kind of chewy).
2/2/2013: We pulled into Riverside RV Resort and Campground yesterday, Lot 47. It has an Arcadia mailing address, but it is much closer to Port Charlotte. We're here for the month of Feb., and actually have our own mail box.
1/30/2013: We're now in the Camp Florida RV Resort, what a find. There are different sections, all organized in circles. We're in one of the 2 Pet Circles. People own or rent their slips from the bank. The sites used to sell for $59K, but are lower now, in the $20Ks. The people here are all very friendly, the majority seem to be from Michigan, most from northern, west coast Michigan. The internet isn't as good as we first thought, it slows down and drops alot. That could be why the place isn't filled to capacity as in the past - I suspect more and more people are making better wifi connections a priority. Most everyone has a golf cart, and they are very useful here - many have a noodle or 2 folded in a U in the basket for use at the pool. Dave, over in site C-12 has a happy hour at 3 every day, and there are plenty of activities down at the club house on the shore of Lake Grassy, the dumpster is down there too. The local grocery store, comparable to Glens in Roscommon but with a better produce selection is just outside the park entrance. The roads are paved, and the place is very clean. It kind of feels like the Gate 11 of RV parks.
1/27/2013: On provisioning, it is a challenge to keep from stocking up on things before you need them, as we used to do traveling by boat in Mexico. In this mode, the truck is unhooked from the trailer and handy, and stores like Walmart or the local grocery chain are not far away. I keep a list of things we need going on my iphone and shop it when handy, we stay provisioned for about 5 days. Everything else can stay on the shelf in the stores. The fridge and freezer have been working great, on electricity while hooked up and propane while moving. We also travel with a 12 volt / 120 volt Koolatron that stays in the truck, 120 volt while parked at the site, 12 volt while moving. As of my last birthday, we also have a Dometic ice maker that runs on 120 volt, but we typically don't require much ice while moving. It produces quickly and more than we use.
1/25/2013: We made it to this place on the 21st, the Zachary Taylor RV Resort, in Okeechobee. I had made reservations for 10 days, but decided to only pay for a week when we checked in, just in case we wanted to make a stop visit in Lake Placid on our migration back over to the west side of the state. It's a good thing I did, the place is ok, and it is wonderful having a full hookup - not having to rely on the honey wagon, but the internet wifi is way under provisioned. It works fine in the middle of the night, I worked last night between 1 - 5 AM, but is mostly unusable during the day. We've made reservations at Camp Florida RV Resort in Lake Placid starting the 27th for 5 nights. They don't give refunds here, we're leaving a paid day early just to have better internet for work next week. I met our neighbor Ron from Ontario when we pulled in. He had made reservations for longer, but was leaving soon because of the internet. He told me about the place they were going next in Labell, the Whisper Creek RV Resort. He had great things to say about it because they have been there before. Strongly recommended for next time. One other negative about this place, more correctly the section we are parked in - Cypress tree droppings are sticking to Charlie's hair and littering the floor.
Except for possible activities like snorkeling or skin diving to retrieve things from the galley that fell overboard the night before, mornings are going by much as they do while cruising on a boat on vacation. Morning coffee, take the dog to shore, fix something for breakfast, make a meal plan for the rest of the day, clean up the galley and cockpit, take out the trash, and ice down the drinks for later, maybe fix a couple of things that need their screws tightened...
1/20/2013: Caught up on work, and things around home for a moving day tomorrow, we decided to go out for lunch and a bit more touring before leaving the Boynton Beach area. We knew from the time in Clearwater when we went out with friends and left Charlie in the trailer, when our neighbors told us she was very unhappy we had left her, that we don't really want to leave her behind. That can be limiting. Phil had recommended a place, the Old Key Lime House, a funky place on the water. I called them, though they have outdoor seating, they don't allow dogs. We found a website, which I suspect we'll be using more of, Bring Fido. I learned from that site there are 15 restaurants in the Lake Worth / Boynton Beach area that are dog friendly (according to their data). After reading their descriptions, we decided to try the Hurricane Alley Raw Bar and Restaurant. The food was good, dog friendly is not the only reason people go there, Charlie was one of 2 there, but there were many customers enjoying the place. We tried some of their blue point oysters from Chesapeake Bay - pretty bland - so far we're missing the Kumamotos, Sweetwaters, and other goodies from the Pacific west coast. We'll reserve judgment until we're in a position to try oysters from the cooler waters further north, but I'm just sayin... The food was good, and it is located close to the Boynton Beach Ocean Inlet Park.
On the park we are staying in, we'll be happy to get back to life with a full hookup. The Honey Wagon comes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, except on holidays. You have to go insure they closed the valves properly after they drain your tanks, every time the black wasn't closed all the way, including one time it was left wide open. We started thinking it was some kind of joke the drivers played on each other because it never was the same one twice in a row. There are much larger spaces with full hookups in this park, they were all already reserved when we knew we would be here and could make reservations. It is pretty crowded, quite a bit of traffic in the park. After walking Charlie, I now believe the French speaking guests are over half. It is a very large, and pretty park, located just north of the Palm Beach County Airport, where you can learn how to fly a plane, without having to learn how to take off or land it...
1/19/2013: Reflecting on one of the coolest music experiences in my life so far: We had sailed Spirit to Mexico back in 96, with recordings of my LP collection on cassette tape, and a high end marine stereo system installed on the boat just right. It was a good music collection, but after a while living in a foreign country I discovered I wasn't getting any NEW music (well, except for the recording of Clapton Unplugged Dar and Michael made for us). We started hearing a cool song on the local airwaves, I found myself in that mode where you had to know the name of the artist when I heard it again (pre broadband internet). Finally one day while out for lunch at an upscale taco restaurant in La Paz, the song came on the music they were playing, I asked the waitress who the artist was. All I could make out of what she said to me was Chaquita. For the next few weeks, while in town I walked into a few stores that sold cassette tapes asking for music by Chaquita. Finally, one young woman working behind the counter looked at me trying to figure out what I was trying to figure out and asked me back the question "Shakira?". I said, "Si, Possibley". So I bought a cassette recording of her first album, the song I was looking for was on it - Estoy Aqui. While chasing that down, I learned from Dar at a cocktail party on someone's yacht on gate 6 in Marina Palmira that Estoy Aqui translates to "I am here". It turned out to be a great record, and I later bought a CD - Shakira, The Remixes. That was the extent of my new music for a 3 year period while we were out of the country, offline. Then we get back to the United States, and integrated back into a land based home and started working again. A coworker from a previous company that I had become good friends with, and now a coworker again, Phil Parker was visiting our operations on the west coast. After work one day, visiting our apartment he brought up mp3s in a discussion about music. That led to him loading Napster on my computer and asking me what music would I like to hear. I said Shakira. He typed in her name and immediately a long list of links representing pretty much every song she had recorded to date appeared. I started clicking the links. Run bars started appearing, then quickly disappearing (that was our first broadband DSL connection). Then I double clicked on the downloaded file Estoy Aqui. That song started playing. I was awestruck, pretty much blown away. I turned my head to look at Phil and said, "Phil, how am I going to get any work done now?" After almost 3 years with literally no access to new music, I felt like I was the ammunition in a slingshot that had just been fired into the brave new world. That world of music has evolved since then, likely faster that ever before on this planet, with the now current likes of Pandora and Spotify. It was a fun ride though.
1/18/2013: It was tank top and flip flop weather day and night until late yesterday afternoon when a cold front came in. Weather should be back to normal for FL for a while by tomorrow, extremely pleasant warm days and we hopefully won't need the air conditioner for sleeping at night. We're still at John Prince Park Campground until Monday when we depart for Lake Okeechobee's Zachary Taylor Camping Resort. We've visited with good friend Phil Parker, his SO Candice, her Father Charlie, and Charlie's friend Earl - sharing good food and learning about the area. I've made it over to the Golf training center next door a few times. Not a bad place to hang out, or live...
1/8/2013: The weather here sure is nice. It appears about every other license plate in this park is from Quebec. The posted flyers communicating the bingo schedule are in both English and French. The other license plates are from different states - New York, Iowa, Pennsylvania, etc., and Ontario.
1/2/2013: Moved the rig from Matlacha to Lake Worth on the Atlantic coast side of FL today, to John Prince Park. We really liked the island community of Matlacha, the very friendly people we met there, and the great fresh seafood markets. What a great place to hang out for New Years Eve.
1/1/2013: Happy New Year! Added this recipe for turkey soup, made it twice - with turkey caresses from Thanksgiving and Christmas. My cousin Bob Fry and his wife Cindy joined us for New Years Eve crab munchies: