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 Concerned about video streaming performance, we figured out our wireless router was woefully out of date after consulting Charter Communications web site.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 tornados 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:
12/29/2012: Our holding tanks were getting full from dry camping in front of Bob and Cindy's house. In search of a pump out station, we stumbled across the Sea Island Resort on Matlacha (pronounced "MAT-la-shay") Island less than 8 miles from their house. A gold mine find, they honor Passport America, and had one vacancy open until the 2nd, we'll be here until then. It is a cross between a hippie commune and an artist community, is a short walking distance to restaurants, multiple fresh local seafood markets, and great fishing.
12/24/2012: Our 2012 Holiday Season letter: We spent much of the year selling our sailboat Spirit. After 20 years of ownership, it was time to make space in our lives for new experiences. What's the big deal with selling a boat you ask? Well, for over half that time it was our primary residence. We had spent much time and most of our discretionary income working on improvements and equipping it with the latest fancy gadgetry. There were many emotional decisions, and physical activities involved with separating ourselves from it, and from having the remnants of a lifestyle in California. All of it was good, but doing the same thing over and over removes the "I've never had this experience before" sensation from life, and we're freeing up some space in an effort to keep it fresh. Lately, we've been thinking it would be cool to go on an airboat ride through the Everglades... I did wake up from a dream recently, where we were tooling through a waterway system in our dingy to get back to the boat, and having the empty sensation hit me - "We Don't Have A Boat!"
To recap the year, we left our cozy house Breezy, in Northern Michigan in late October of 2011, after having puppy Charlie fixed and having spent 6 months and a day residing there, with Taylor the Trailer in tow. It took us 2 weeks to get to Bakersfield - yes, the BBQ ribs in St. Louis are very good. We put the trailer in storage, then drove up to the San Francisco Bay area to spend a month getting Spirit ready to list for sale with a broker. There were many things to fix and a lot of personal things to move off and store - not to mention pigging out on local Dungeness crab and getting together with our great friends in the left handed Sagittarian wives club. Once the boat was listed, we headed back south to reconnect with the trailer, buy a new iPhone, then drove further south, to La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico in time to make it to Ana Hall's Christmas party. Charlie had a great time playing with her puppy Molly. We spent Christmas with friends Rick and Pam on their sailboat Hotel California, then dropped them off at the airport in San Jose Del Cabo because his father had a heart attack so they had to go take care of things. We had a great time drinking a few margaritas with friends Jo and Lance Young and the friends we met through them at Camp Maranatha, and friend Crit on the sailing vessel JASDIP (just another shitty day in paradise), based out of Marina Palmira where we had spent 2 winters on Spirit back in the late 90's. Three months of tank tops and flip flops later, we spent three weeks commuting back to the bay area to spend another month continuing the work on the boat to get it more ready to sell, before spending another 4 weeks commuting back to our house in MI, via a course up the west coast through Anacortes, WA. We visited with friends Steve and Sheila Tomas in Anacortes, and Loch and Becky McGuigan in Ellensburg. We got back to the house in late May. Great summer, pretty much tank tops and flip flops the whole time. We did host a family get together with Shelley and Robin Fisher, and Sally and Ron Lathrop in the wake of my half sister Sue passing away. Then while at great niece Holly's wedding in late August we learned our yacht broker had suffered a heart attack, had surgery, and wasn't brokering yachts anymore. The thought of spending the winter back on the boat in CA wasn't resonating smiles, so we decided to suck it up and drive back to CA to finish the job of selling Spirit. That involved learning about dealing with Charlie in motels while driving the truck empty back for the last load in storage, fixing a bunch more things on the boat, having Louis and crew fix up Spirits bright work, finding a new yacht broker, and dropping the asking price a couple of times. Once we emptied the storage unit, had our Honda Accord shipped back to my sister Sally Lathrop's house in Burton, MI, and did everything we physically could to have Spirit in top showing condition, we drove back to MI the scenic route through Yosemite National Park and the Rocky Mountains - more Charlie in Motels. 2 hours after getting back to Breezy, we got an offer on Spirit. We countered, they accepted contingent on performant sea trials and a mechanical survey. The deal closed shortly after we spent a great Thanksgiving with family at John and Amie's house, then with Marsha's brother Bob and his wife Barb and her family. A couple of days later I had to use the grill lighter to thaw the frozen locks on Tailor the Trailer's hatches so we could hook it up to the truck and head south. We had a great visit with Marsha's other brother John and his wife Carol in Taylors, South Carolina before landing in St. Augustine, FL. We spent a few days there eating fresh seafood, then spent a week based out of Clearwater, FL. We had a great time there visiting with friends Doug and Deloris Bond. We then moved south to Port Charlotte to visit with friends Dave and Vicki Howell, before moving further south to spend the holidays with cousins Bob and Cindy Fry. Our biggest blooper of the year was spacing out on visiting friends James Pennington and Susan Fantle while driving north of San Diego. We both had caught colds which delayed our departure from La Paz, then we were worrying about getting our income taxes done in time, and just plain lost the frame of mind to smell the roses along the way. We hope to never be in a mental state to repeat that performance ever again. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year to you all, the photo below is of my adopted Christmas Tree:-)
12/23/2012: We're on the move again today, to spend the holidays with cousins Bob and Cindy Fry, further south a bit, in Cape Coral. Hanging out in the Port Charlotte area brings back fond memories of the time we chartered a sail boat near here. And dredging up that boat load of memories got me asking myself, is there still time to pull off a South Pacific charter? Frequent Flier Miles? Research will have to wait until we ***get a decent internet connection***.
12/22/2012: We visited with friends Dave and Vicki Howell at their motor vessel Nelly D, a Lord Nelson Victory Tug, on the hard yesterday. Many projects, started with a new bow thruster. We didn't ask, but from past experience, boat yard projects burn up about 3 boat bucks a week:-) Dave mentioned slip fees have gotten expensive in this area, about 2 bucks a foot per day. I think the reason I didn't get a photo of Vicki is we will be running into them again soon. The boat splashes on the 27th...
12/20/2012: We moved today, to Oak Haven Park between Arcadia and Port Charlotte. First impressions, quieter place, slower/weaker internet, pleasant, warmer. Iffy water.
Pros and Cons of Clearwater RV Resort - Pros: Very Friendly people there, lots of dogs. Good internet, grassy. Close to good friends. Bathrooms and laundry were great. Water was ok, good pressure. Cons: noisy construction next door, looks like a large development of some kind in the works, the area is crowded as is, Charlie got burrs a lot.
Golf was a really good experience for me yesterday. Marsha and I were into golf in the period we were in Colorado and California before Moonshot arrived in CA - here I am again without boat and getting enthusiastic about golf. There were alligators and coyotes on the course. My golf shoes disintegrated, but I learned you can get golf sandals, good for the weather down here. I like the woods Marsha's brother Bob set me up with. I really don't like my pitching wedge, and pitching / chip shots is the area my game needs the most work. It was a gorgeous day, we teed off at 1:02 pm and finished before dark. Marsha's work had piled up so she stayed at the RV park with Charlie to get-er-done...
12/18/2012: We've been at the Clearwater RV Resort since the 14th, and are paid up to be leaving for the Port Charlotte area on the 20th. My how time flies. We've been visiting with friends Doug and Deloris Bond, it's been about 10 years since we last saw them, when we rafted up at an RV park in the Monterey, CA area. We had breakfast at the Clear Sky Beachside Cafe on Sunday with them, then hung out in a nearby sports bar to watch football. Doug's other place is a house in Golden, CO, they are Broncos fans. Both the restaurant and lounge were Charlie friendly. We plan to play golf with them tomorrow at the East Bay Golf Club in Largo.
12/13/12: GPS tracking no longer powered by InstaMapper . They took the service down, claiming it would be cost prohibitive to move to a paid service as the business license to use Google Maps is expensive. They should get acquired by Google...
12/12/12: Still in St. Augustine, we plan to move to Clearwater tomorrow. By tenaciously monitoring Harry's progress at catching blue crab, we managed to score a half a dozen, and steamed them with Old Bay Seasoning. The Old Bay web site has a how to pick blue crab video. There is enough left over for another meal, or appetizer.
12/9/2012: PS: I just took Charlie for a walk, it's just past 7:30 in the evening. It's dark out and I was wearing a tank top and flip flops. Also PS: I just finished downsizing the larger pictures on this site so you won't have to scroll back and forth to read it.
12/9/2012: Just had a great pizza for lunch at Puccini's just outside of St. Augustine, FL - thin crust, outside seating, the waitress brought Charlie a bowl of water. We're docked at St. John's RV Park just off exit 181 from I-95. We got here 2 days ago, and though Laundry facilities were not listed on their website, they have one so we got 2 loads done done while preparing dinner that night. Yesterday was running errands, Walmart for groceries and Camping World for replacement parts for things that broke off or burned out along the way. The internet connection is pretty good, so we decided to stay here until after the webinar I need to participate in on the 12th. The park honors Passport America for up to 2 weeks, year round. Today we toured the island of St. Augustine Beach before stopping for lunch, then drove north on A1A for a ways to look at the ocean front houses. We would worry about hurricanes if we had a house here. We plan to go hang out in St. Augustine's historic downtown before moving on. We learned about Harry's for live crab from the seafood market we picked up fresh shrimp and cooked stone crab claws from yesterday. I called them yesterday afternoon, they were out for the day - will try earlier in the day before leaving here.
12/6/2012: Website maintenance: Created an Archives section in the left column navigation section and moved Spirit's link there, along with Steve's Book and the Mexico logs. Removed the Hatch Inventory from Spirit's page, because that is no longer any of my business. In the past, log entries appeared here when we were based on or bound for Spirit - and they would appear on Breezy's page when we were there, or bound for there. Going forward, this page is home base for all general log entries - Breezy's page will be for log entries on projects and information related to our cottage in Northern Michigan. And while on the subject, Taylor the Trailer's page will be for entries related to that sort of thing:-)
As noted in the GPS map above, InstaMapper will be closing down it's service on December 13. Very sad to see it go. It wasn't making it on the donations it was receiving. To go with a paid business model, they would need to pay for a commercial license to use Google Maps as well as hire employees... So I'm looking for an alternative - while researching this I've come to the conclusion having the google map on this website may not be cost effective for me either. I'm not done looking yet, but tracking our dot may need to be done with a smart phone app instead of a web browser on a computer. Stay tuned for more info.
12/5/2012: So far, this will be our second night at Hardeeville RV, in S. Carolina, about 10 minutes north of Savannah, GA. We may stay a 3rd night to relax, and catch up on things. Nice place, good internet, Passport America. No facilities though, we will likely be using the laundry facilities at the next stop (TMI?). We toured Hilton Head Island and Savannah, enjoyed a boiled shrimp appetizer at the Crab Shack, and had some great BBQ ribs - takeout from the Pink Pig Restaurant.
12/3/2012: Our second night at the Rainbow RV park in Taylors, SC. After a great visit with Marsha's brother John and his wife Carol, we plan to move about 250 miles down the road in the morning, to a park about 10 miles north of Savannah, GA. Hopefully the internet access there will exist, as opposed to what we experienced here. To be fair, Sue the manager warned us it may be iffy because of the trees, and she put us in a convenient space. We were able to research the next stop with John and Carol's wifi. One of the reviews on rvparkreviews.com mentioned wifi problems at Hardeeville RV, but when I called and asked about wifi at the sites, she said yes. We'll see, it is a Passport park = 50% discount. Taylors is located between Greer and Greenville. Carol drove us through Greenville's downtown section, it was very cool - I thought it would be a great location for a corporate meeting, several large hotels nestled in with dozens of inviting restaurants and many shops. Pretty. Funny thing, I took a couple of pictures with my iPhone while we stopped by the park in town. Later when I looked at them, the 2 pictures just before them in my photos appear to have come from somewhere else, a place we've never been, pictures I didn't take???
12/1/2012: We made it to Georgetown, KY today. Getting the rig ready to spend the next 5 months in a trailer on the road without missing the weather window, literally breaking the trailer free from ice so we would be able to spend time with Marsha's brother John, in Taylors, SC John on his day off was ALOT of work, my back still hurts. We were waiting for the sale of Spirit to close, the money was deposited in our bank account on Tuesday. Snow flurries were just beginning to appear on the windshield as we were leaving the driveway. Weather alerts for Roscommon were starting to appear on my iphone about storm conditions (remind me to describe the new weather term we learned "lake effect"), but we made it - south of West Branch, the temperature started rising from 29 into the 30s and the snow on the ground started disappearing. Planning a trip this time of year, this far north is more work, most parks are closed as of the end of Oct. or early Nov. Many of the thoughts crossing our minds on the way down, once the adrenalin of the last minute prep you do, the final loading and preparing the house to be winterized, were on our time onboard Spirit - mostly about all of the effort and money we put into it, but also all of the things like that it will likely experience with the new owners going forward. We will miss Spirit, but we are now free to move forward, constrained only by the trip has to be Charlie friendly:-)
11/22/2012: The Bridge is Burning. Happy Thanksgiving!!
11/17/2012: Well, this is another post here, and the site may undergo a bit of a redesign, possibly coalescing and archiving some things - we'll see. We got past the purchase agreement contingencies yesterday, on the sale of Spirit. The paperwork still needs to be completed, and we need to get paid. That will be happening in the next few days. I'm getting comments back, from friends that are learning about Spirit's sale, like "I'm sure it is sad and good at the same time", and "I guess it is probable a mixed blessing", and , "it must feel a bit surreal", and "Wow, wow... Time for a new chapter, huh?" All true. Thinking back on Spirit, the boat was with me, it would have been 20 years this coming Christmas Eve. But there is more than just that time, the book "Keys to the Golden Gate" documents the experiences of over a decade prior, with Moonshot - that is essentially a guide (or road map) to finding the perfect boat. Spirit has been with, and a part of me for most of the chapters of my adult life. Marsha and I made a decision to move past those chapters, while we can still have new adventures, experiences and new chapters. It took a lot of effort on our part, over the past 2 years, to prepare the boat, and our emotions for the event.
Reflecting, Spirit was a mental safe haven in many ways. Getting to the point where my ship was in shape, rigged and ready to sail around the world, on short notice has been a state of mind that has been with me since penning the first pages of my web log over 16 years ago. When earthquakes shook the ground, it was like the gentle motion of the sea onboard. Blackout power outages meant, oh, let me flip the switch on the inverter. If we didn't care for the neighborhood, we could move and still be home. We sailed Spirit to the point we were where we could live off the sea, catching seafood and converting salt water into fresh ice cubes. So I think it is safe for me to say, "Surreal - Yup! But as I look forward to the next 30 years, if I'm still alive I will be older than anyone in my family has ever lived - and I doubt that's going to happen. Given that perspective going forward, let's do something that doesn't take so much work. It is a sad time seeing Spirit sail off with someone else at the helm - possibly christened with a new name, but Breezy is cozy though, and we're starting to plan our winter escape south to Florida with Taylor the Trailer in tow. We will likely spend the Christmas holidays in the Ft. Myers, FL area, then bounce around the south, weekly stays in RV parks exploring new territory through March. I keep thinking it would be nice to have a back up power generator for the house:-)
11/7/2012: I will be making posts on Breezy's site after this, because I feel like I'm home there now. The cashier I chatted with while checking out my groceries from the Meijer in Bay City on the way up from Flint asked me what I liked about living in the San Francisco area, I stated, "the sailing and the food". She asked me if I would miss it, I stated, "probably". Settling in is a day by day process. I'm happy with the progress I made on day one. The energy to reach equilibrium with the surroundings always comes easy, but there is a homey glow to it here.
11/6/2012: We just got back to our home in Northern Michigan after being on the road for a month. We drove our truck to CA. Our mission there was to empty out the last load from storage and close that account, prepare and have our Honda Accord shipped back to MI, and get Spirit listed with a new broker since the previous one had a heart attack. We had the bright work done, and I did some engine maintenance. We were staying with friends Jim and Jo Callan while there. We ended up having to ship the car to my sister Sally's house near Flint as no truckers were taking the job to drive all the way up Roscommon. Once we got all of that accomplished, we started the drive back last Monday. The first half was the scenic route, through Yosemite to Denver. We got home with the truck and Honda yesterday afternoon, and had an offer on the Spirit before dinner. We countered and they accepted. Sea trials happen today or tomorrow. When the dust settles, and it may take a month or so, our plan is to tow Taylor the Trailer down to Florida for the winter to explore what people do when they leave here and go south. This photo of Charlie is after we had checked into the Motel 6 in Omaha, after 5 days on the road.
11/3/2012: We said goodbye to Jim and Jo Callan after getting the Honda loaded onto the truck last Monday, and headed for Mono Lake, CA. It is now Saturday, we are in Oglesby, IL - an intersection away walking distance from Delaney's - a place we had the greatest fried chicken dinner from about 3 (or 4) years ago. The Honda arrived safely at my sister Sally's house 2 days ago. We have closed out the last storage unit we had in California, the contents we didn't toss are packed into the truck. We got Spirit's bright work and engine maintenance taken care of while in CA, and lowered the price to be competitive with similar boats on the market. Jeff is showing Spirit again today, and asked a question, where are the keys to the lazerettes, which reflects more than a passing interest. Feels like we are really moving on now, someone is going to get a great deal with Spirit - we put alot into it. We're looking forward to getting everything back to Breezy - and sorting out the next plan:-)
PS, Google on maps from the SF Bay area to Grand Junction, CO, that route through til you get to Denver, CO is the most scenic way to cross the country - photo albums will be posted when we get to the post processing...
10/25/2012: I'm setting up a new laptop because Red has become unstable, therefore unreliable. I opted to buy one of the few remaining Windows 7 machines. Our plan is to start the truck back to MI this coming Sunday morning. The truck that will be taking the Honda back to MI has not been dispatched yet, though it has been expedited. We will likely have a guy that works for the company she consults for make the connection.
10/18/2012: We're making progress, but these are challenging times. Regarding storage, we've dumped more loads, have repacked boxes tighter, and are ready to do a practice load of the back of the truck to see what will fit so we can decide what else we can get rid of, or ship - likely do that practice load on Saturday. The trunk of the car is already packed, I should learn sometime on Monday when the trucking company will be picking it up the Honda to ship back to Breezy, and what the schedule will be. We need to meet it there to take delivery. We took the truck in to the Ford dealer in San Mateo today, for its 90K mile service, it needs a few extra things, $$, hopefully will get it back in the morning. Spirit's fresh cooling water isn't cooling, likely the fresh water pump impeller. It turns out I didn't have a spare gasket on board, so after getting the truck back I have to drive to Fairfield, CA (75 miles away) to get the gasket, and then get the system working again. The water needs to flow before the engine can be used. Lots to get done while we are guests at Jim and Jo Callan's house.
10/13/2012: We're back in CA, so I'll post on events on this page while we are here. I just made a post on Breezy's page highlighting the trip out. We stopped in Dillon, MT to visit Jim and Jo Callan on the drive out from MI to CA. We had dinner in town at Sparky's Garage. The Tuesday night special was Chicken Pot Pie with corn bread.
6/1/2012: We hit the road towards Ellensburg on Wednesday the 16th, staying at a campground in Easton, WA, the Lake Easton Resort (wifi, but no cable or TV signal, rustic)- then caught up with Becky and Lach after lunch on Thursday. Their driveway was just big enough for us to back Taylor in, leave it hooked up to the truck, and save room for their vehicle to get in and out. It was a beautiful drive through mountainous national forests from the Seattle area. We did some local touring that afternoon, including a wind generator farm. Ellensburg is a very windy place. Pizza for dinner, then after fruit and muffins for breakfast, Becky road with Charlie and I in the truck, while Marsha rode with Lach to drive out to wine tasting at the Cave B Estate Winery, at their distinctive cliff side location, 900 feet above the Columbia River. Lach gave us quite a bit of historical, geological information about the effects of the past 15 million years of the river's past. After a great lunch at the winery's Inn, we parted ways, and made it about an hour further east on 90, to a campground in Moses Lake, the Suncrest RV Resort (thumbs up). We were now on our own, and headed home to Breezy. I'll move the rest of the trip to Breezy's page, and continue on from there now.
5/14/2012: We found Kumamoto Oysters at Taylor Shellfish Farms. They made great appetizers before dining on fresh local Dungeness crab. Steve and Sheila's was the first house Charlie didn't mark. Except for playing havoc with their cork collection, she was well behaved. We got Settled in Pioneer Trails R.V. Resort yesterday afternoon, and paid for 3 nights.
5/11/2012: We made it to Anacortes today, 3 days of traveling in a row. We don't normally like to push that hard, but we wanted to catch our friends on the weekend because they are working during the week. We lost 2 days in our original plan, one taking more time than you think to leave the boat clean, and one to rain - it was a very good idea to stay put at Casini's. So we shall now exhale and catch our breath. Steve and Sheila took us to Anthony's for happy hour, a nice restaurant overlooking the marina where their cutter rigged Pearson 424, Zeba is berthed. We ran into Ed Wilkinson there, one of the crew members I raced with on the Tuesday night beer can series off Sierra Point the summer before we moved Spirit to Alameda, something like 2005. We took 1st overall for the season that year, on the Catalina 38, Dawn Treader. Small world! We plan to spend the day tomorrow enjoying our friend's company and touring a bit, and figuring out how to best spend the next few days up here, before moving on eastward.
Everybody's in a good mood because of the good weather we are experiencing. We think we brought it with us. I still have to conclude that Oregon has very friendly people. For a while I thought it was because of the good weather after a long stretch of rainy conditions, but Washington people have had it too, and they are more what we would call normal. Yup, Oregon - very friendly!
5/9/2012: We had a pleasant stay in Coos Bay, Oregon. We apparently hit an amazingly rare (at least so far this year) good weather window. Tuned into a great radio station we wish we could take with us, but it doesn't stream it's music. 94.9, http://www.ktee.com/. All of the people we encountered here were very friendly. We visited Shore Acres State Park and shopped in the trinket store and seafood markets in nearby Charleston. Put some local salmon and Alaskan cod in the freezer. We've pretty much maxed out on Pacific oysters now. We're moving on to smaller delicacies, hopefully Kumamotos at the next stop, near Tilamook. For tonight, we have reservations at Big Spruce RV Park, located only two block from the boat docks. We plan to get an earlyish start today, and travel each day ending up in Anacortes Friday afternoon, then spend a week in the general area visiting friends and touring some before heading east. We'll have to go east, we can't go any further north, there's too much crap in the camper to be crossing an international boarder:-)
Happy Birthday Charlie!!!
5/7/2012: I'm not sure what it's the Midway between, but it sure is a nice park. Driving up the coastal highway towing a heavy load is kind of stressful, you can't use cruise control for very long periods. We plan to stay here today and rest up, catch up on laundry, do some touring around, then have a late lunch in one of the many Seafood restaurants in the area. We're starting to think we should add an extra week to our time up here. It's a little difficult making those kind of decisions when you plan to drop in on friends along the way, managing their expectations. It's still 520 miles to our 1st destination in Anacortes if we stay on the costal highway much of the way. We could do that in one long day with just the truck, but at the pace we are going, that's 3 driving days, and would likely want another lay day somewhere in the middle. We could up the driving time to cut the distance in half to 260 miles a day. With a day off in between, that would be 3 days. That would make the destination Astoria, OR - 234 miles, instead of Tilamook, OR - 168. Hmmm, don't they make good cheese there? Aren't there great oysters in Newport on the way there. We were trying to make Anacortes by Friday to have the weekend visiting our friends. Marsha mentioned last night the idea of arriving on Saturday, and being based out of WA for a week before moving on. That could give us more flexibility with friends at the next destination. Hmmm...
5/7/2012: Made it to Klamath River RV Park, underway at 10:38, hooked up by 5:00. It was a full day with quite a few 7+ % grades and windy roads. Very pretty trees, greenery and wild flowers. Next stop, Midway RV Park at Coos Bay, Oregon. It's real close to an oyster harvest place. From 700 West Klamath Beach Rd., Klamath, CA to 92478 Cape Arago Hwy Coos Bay, Oregon 97420 = 163 miles. The red dot above doesn't reflect quite where we stayed, they charge $2 per device for wifi. I didn't buy one for my iphone and there is no cell coverage here. The wifi instructions are below. There are alot of other rules here too, no electric heaters, no extra refrigerators (we have one). Though pretty here, we think we'll move on down the road.
WiFi Internet Instructions: Our signal for the system comes in on satellite which will restrict the total bandwidth each day. We must ask that you limit your download and upload. Do not download videos such as YOUTUBE or large pictures. Email and normal net surfing is OK. We monitor the AMOUNT you are downloading or uploading and will turn off your access if you are exceeding the normal amount. If you must down load large files the system has an open time between 11 PM and 2 AM that is not limited. Thank You.
5/6/2012: Fun day yesterday. We toured Mendocino and Ft. Bragg. Bought some oysters, a baguette, and a Reynoso, Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc. After wolfing down the oysters, we shared a bonfire with neighbors Kelly and Vince, the owners of the Free To Ride Surf Shop in Capitola. Charlie and their dog got to play fetch, and then destroy the tennis ball. Today is a travel day, our goal is to make it to Klamath, about 200 miles north.
5/5/2012: We made it to Mendocino today. 130 miles from 855 Moscow Road, Duncans Mills, CA 95430 (Casini's Ranch) to 14441 Point Cabrillo Dr., Mendocino, CA (Caspar Beach Campground). We got the senior discount at Casini's for Wednesday night (Sun. - Wed.), but not for Thursday. Caspar Beach is a Good Sam park. We drove back River Rd. to 101, then up to 253, over to 128 (down a couple of 9% grades), then up until it merged with 1. We decided not to take 1 all the way up from Jenner as our truck is packed full. We're bouncing the trailer hitch on curbs getting out of some gas stations. Our progress will be slower with this load. We went through everything we had left in storage after getting it off Spirit, then picked out the things we think we will use in MI or with the trailer, things we didn't gear up with there, because we already owned one on Spirit. That process made us think back to when we drove the 36' Pensky rental truck across the country with the contents of the upper, larger storage unit - maybe should have done a hefty pass on the smaller storage unit back then too. But we hadn't mentally moved our homestead at that point. What's left in CA, besides many very good friends, many we got to get together with in April, the remaining stuff in storage, and our Honda Accord sitting in the marina parking lot. Much of the remaining stuff in storage is something that could be used on Spirit should it end up not selling, and we end up spending some more time there, bedding and galley supplies mostly. When Spirit sells, the plan is to fly back, toss most of the stuff, the least valuable stuff that won't fit in the Honda, then drive it back via highway 80.
For this trip, we still have 801 miles to get to our friend's house in Anacortes, WA, then 2,255 miles to get back to Breezy, so we have 3,056 miles to go. We plan to stop in Ellensburg, WA the first day after Anacortes to see friends there too, 181 miles. We're looking forward to enjoying oysters on our way through the Pacific Northwest. We're thinking this link may come in handy over the next few days. The external long range wifi antennas are working very well at this place too. We're staying put here today, for this Cinco de Mayo with the big full moon. We plan to go explore Mendocino - this costal getaway was featured on Eye On The Bay Thursday evening.
5/3/2012: FB: We begin our journey by, well, not beginning our journey. We made it to Casini's yesterday, the first day short trip just to get away - 90 miles. It's raining hard, we decided to stay put. We're testing out our new Super USB WiFi Antenna3s. WiFi signal strength went up from Low - 11 Mbits to Excellent! - 54 Mbits. Those 2 black strips sticking to the window are the antennas.
5/3/2012: Fixed the red dot, the location is correct now. And, we begin our journey by not beginning our journey, we plan to stay put today because of the rain. We wanted to enjoy the drive up the coast to Mendocino and see something. Manana.
5/3/2012: Spirit's walk through video after we off loaded our stuff and cleaned:
5/2/2012: The instamapper image isn't correct, there is no signal where we are parked, at Casini's Ranch. We used to come here with Harvey the RV, frequently when we lived on Spirit in Oyster Cove. We've learned a short destination on the day you leave after closing down the place you've been living in is a good thing. The truck is loaded with as much stuff as we could fit, basically most if not all of the stuff in storage that could be used or useful going forward, either on the road or at Breezy. We're over weight, in terms of what we can expect out of our Ford F-150, and have our fingers crossed. This morning I felt if we made it to Casini's OK, then we'll likely make it the rest of the trip. There is one section with a 6% grade, at the Idaho/Montana border. We'll have to decide to go for it or take a long detour after leaving Ellensburg, WA, somewhere around the 16th. I'm guessing we'll be back to the house on the 25th. It will be interesting to see how far off I am with that guess.
4/27/2012: We'll do the final move from the boat to the trailer on Monday, to start driving north on Tuesday, but I started packing things up today. We have 2 stuffed animals on board. I put one in a plastic bag, but when I went to put the Love Bear in with it, Charlie got all bothered and nervous until took it back out and put it back in the aft berth where she sleeps (until Monday). Didn't know she had gotten attached:-)
4/24/2012: Updated Spirit's Hatch Inventory and Enhancement and Repair Log. Created Taylor the Trailer Log because we replaced the house battery.
4/20/2012: Still getting caught up with the boat list, and planning to move back on the trailer and take off on May 1. We have many photos to process into an album, I suspect we won't find time to do that until we get back to Breezy, likely just before the Memorial Day weekend.
4/5/2012: It took a busy week to move back on the boat on Alameda, then we visited friends for a weekend in Santa Cruz. Tasted a bunch of good Pinots in the mountain wineries. Photo attached, Dr. Lewis Knapp and Charlie...
3/25/2012: We made it back to Alameda, CA, and moved back onboard the sailing vessel Spirit today. Because we had stripped it of most of our possessions last December, to stage it for sale, just moving our food, clothing, and computer bags onboard from the trailer felt like arriving on a charter boat vacation. it will take a few days to readjust. Last time we came back from Mexico in 99, Shakira was was my favorite musical talent. Still not too bad, http://youtu.be/_3-GiVIE8gc
3/24/2012: Executed most of the plan, but when cashing out at Camping World, I asked "Where's the nearest RV park?" Best on in Bakersfield 1 mile down the road. So we made it to Patterson, CA today. 75 miles to go in the morning. Wanted to get back to the boat early in the day to make the transition. Crew are all happy, healthy, and content...
3/22/2012: We stayed an extra day in La Mesa, CA to catch up on work and relax a bit - made the plan for getting back to Alameda. Back on the 2 hour shift, 2 driver plan - first switch in Von's parking lot - some provisions and lunch: second switch in Camping World's parking lot - pick up a few replacement parts that shook off on the Baja, then push on to Fresno up 99. That leaves a half day run to the Bay area in time to pick up the last 3 month's mail before the UPS store closes, and get the boat bedding out of storage. It's a plan anyway...
3/21/2012: Made it across the boarder at Tecate to the USA today. Stopped at Von's for some groceries - hard not to say olla greeting anyone, and it was way cool flowing into conversation with strangers, effortlessly. Wonderful products on the shelves. Watched the news, then American Idol on TV. Take none of these for granted:-) No pork of beef, seafood and cooked chicken were OK. No Fruits or Vegetables, but the onions and garlic I forgot to toss were OK. They only took my bag of Mexican dog food, and never asked about the drink. Green Flash Video from Estero Beach.
3/18/2012: We made it to Estero Beach, just south of Ensenada today. One day's drive away from our truck's GPS working, and I won't have to worry about data roaming on my iphone...
3/16/2012: Hanging out a couple hundred miles south of the boarder, consuming the food and drink the US won't let us come back with, might take a few days:-)
Puppy Charlie after 3 months hanging out down in southern Baja, a great traveling partner, and turning out to be a good watch dog too...
3/12/2012: I like this style of driving in 2 hour shifts. I drive for 2 hours, then we pull the rig into another park for a day or so. This photo is where we ended up today, in San Ignacio. The temperatures there were still Tank Top from breakfast till after dark. We're on the Pacific side now, at Guerrero Negro - cooler now...
We left Mulege this morning, which meant leaving the Sea of Cortez. It was a sad feeling, which we think means we'll be back. The attached photo was our spot for 3 nights.
3/10/2012: Puppy Charlie with Lance Young a week ago, before we left La Paz. She was 10 months old yesterday. My mother was from Texas, and explained a saying to me, "some people ride short in the saddle, and some people ride tall in the saddle - Charlie isn't too tall, so I think we are seeing Lance ride short in the saddle....
3/10/2012: We had shrimp tacos here for lunch today, where the river that runs through Mulege meets the Sea of Cortez, just north of Conception Bay. Not sure if the shrimp came from the boat in the background, but they sure tasted fresh:-)
3/5/2012: We'll be leaving La Paz in a couple of hours, looking at a short destination today, Ciudad Constitución about 200 km (120 miles). We're thinking about a whale watching trip to Adolfo Lopez Mateos, a 66 km side trip on Tuesday. Then Wednesday on to Puerto Escondido, another 125 km, with a day to explore the area on Thursday. Friday, get caught up on email and wifi stuff, then camping around Conception Bay over the weekend.
Fun group of people we met a Camp Maranatha, the attached photo is from dinner out at the Campestre Grill a week ago. So when anyone asks me what we did this winter, I can say we went out for Mexican food...
3/3/2012: Hard to believe I haven't posted here in a month. Our plan is to start heading north the day after tomorrow, Monday, March 5. Looking at a short destination, Ciudad Constitución about 200 km (120 miles). We're thinking about a whale watching trip to Adolfo Lopez Mateos, a 66 km side trip. Then Wednesday on to Puerto Escondido, another 125 km, with a day to explore the area on Thursday. Friday, get caught up on email and wifi stuff, then camping around Conception bay over the weekend.
2/12/2012: We're in an RV park with friends Lance and Jo Young. She has a photo album from Race Week in 1997 back when we met them. Film photos from back when most people didn't have digital cameras. The waters where these were taken are visible in the distance from the park here. Here are a few scans.
2/6/2012: La Paz, what a magnet - exercise is shopping for groceries because you need to plan on going to 2 stores to get your list, but the competition here is amazing. The government store, ISTEEE used to be the first place to go for the cheapest prices if they had what you wanted in stock. Now their prices are off base - not paying attention (but they still have smoked soy sauce that I haven't been able to find anywhere else on the planet). Between ISTEEE (3), Chadraui (2), Sariona (2), Ley's (2), Aramburos(2), and Mega, the competition is intense, nobody wants to be the one with the higher prices. Here's a photo out in front of the new Chadraui:
2/3/2012: Lance had seen a shop that looked like they refilled ink cartridges, and pointed it out to me on our La Paz map. I hadn't driven out that way yet, but ventured out and spotted it down a side street on the other side of the road. I recognized it because of the images of printer cartridges painted on the store front.. I did a U turn, went down the street, parked, went in, and set the empty cartridge on the counter. The woman said a bunch of Spanish to me, I didn't understand a word of it and had that look on my face. She then said slowly, cinco minutos. I took a seat. Then 5 minutes and 115 pesos later, I had the cartridge back, packed neatly in a cellophane wrapper. The printer is back in business. While on the road, I also stopped at the Bank for more cash, dropped off the laundry at Marina de La Paz, stopped by to check on the fridge on Hotel California, stopped at the Pemex to gas up the truck, and the little Tienda near the RV park with an 8' tall can of Pacifico Light on a pole as their sign to pick up a cold 8 pack. Such is a trip to town:-)
2/2/2012: RV slip #10 opened up, with a direct line of sight to the wifi antenna, we jumped on it - clear shot now, so as long as the router is working we're good (it still needs to be rebooted every few days). Busy day, we got haircuts from Yvonne (Jo made our appointments, Yvonne is from England but has been down here for a few years, married to Steve from S/V Steveadore - whom we heard on the VHF radio net back in the day when we were here on Spirit), then went shopping at City Club - La Paz's equivalent to Costco (Literally like going to a Costco, except the words are in Spanish, but they don't have Australian Lamb chops, you have to go the Costco in San Jose del Cabo for that). The prices of stuff is a very small fraction lower than at Chedraui, Soriana, or Mega - it's great having all the competition, I'm sure no one wants the label "more expensive". I bought a black ink printer cartridge at the Office Max next door, only to learn HP has a regional zone thing going on with printer cartridges similar to DVDs - so it gives us an incompatible cartridge error message. They have a support website with instructions for converting your zone, but you need the local color cartridge too. Should have gone with Lance's tip on the cartridge refill place, and will likely do that tomorrow while out and about. Days are flying by now, with not too much to write about - just living. Food, drink, and paper products around the place more and more have Spanish labels as we use up the stuff we brought with us. As the days go by, I think less about the fact the language I speak is not the native one here, and just go about our business provisioning for meals for the next few days, etc.. Thinking about it, a very large amount of my communication while out and about is non verbal. I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle returning a printer cartridge that has been opened because the packaging says it is the right one for an HP Deskjet 3050a (that we bought for Taylor in Traverse City), but it doesn't work here because we bought the printer in a different country:-(
1/30/2012: We had an equivalent of a dock potluck party this evening, in the RV park we're staying in - not sure what us land lubbers call it yet, maybe just a potluck dinner with our neighbors. I haven't posted a photo of Charlie in a while, but here's one I shot while watching a hillbilly horseshoe (or was it golf) demonstration. We're not the only folks from MI here, Washington, Oregon, California, British Colombia, and Michigan. We're now convinced we own the cutest puppy on the planet:-)
1/24/2012: Thinking about life and what is important now, it seems pretty important to us now to have a good internet connection. One that is reliably available, and with enough bandwidth to stream movies and YouTube videos. Here at Camp Maranatha, we don't have that. When it is up, it doesn't provide enough of a pipe to stream. The connection has been going down alot, sometimes completely, and sometimes it registers but fails to assign IP addresses so it's effectively down, like it is right now. Fortunately, there is a Cafe Exquisito at the corner of the park that has it's own wifi we can use. It's a pain to have to pack up and lug your computer there though, and it's right on highway Mex 1, which makes VOIP challenging. They've been saying they will be getting a new antenna next Tuesday, for at least a month now...
We do seem to spend much of the time in front of the computers, even though we're mostly unable to play those entertaining YouTube videos that people share in their Facebook posts. We've been here over 5 weeks now, and I've sat outside in the lounge chair reading a book twice now. We've been to 3 beaches, Magote to play ball and collect shells, Tecolote to have shrimp tacos, and Los Barriles to visit friends. We're planning a day trip visiting the beach at La Ventana, a relatively new development, ~15 years, to see it because we hear it is pretty. We're planning a day trip to Todo Santos to have lunch and hang out at the Hotel California. We're planning a day trip to go see the development at Los Muertos, because there wasn't any when we were anchored there 16 years ago. We haven't set any dates for those plans yet, and I'm sitting here suffering from nasal congestion from a cold that's going around.
Regarding television, we were anticipating streaming Netflix movies with our ROKU box, but there's not enough bandwidth. Many folks here that do have faster internet, such as at Marina de La Paz, or at houses, are downloading TV shows and movies in the .avi format, then playing them with a media player that enables movies playing on their TV from a USB connected external drive containing the .avi files. Rick obtained a media player that didn't support the .avi format, only mpeg4. Other's with an HDMI port on their laptop computers can connect directly to their TV. We are able to pick up a few channels on digital TV, in Spanish. That's been good enough for watching the football playoff games. I did bring a small space crate full of DVDs we haven't watched yet. It's a good thing I spent the time to get that organized. We're able to watch a movie or two a day.
We've been to a few restaurants, El Veijo's in Los Barriles, the Pizza place in El Triunfo twice, La Costa on the beach near Marina de La Paz twice, Super Burro near Marina de La Paz, Rancho Veijo near Marina de La Paz, Tacos Fish, up the road from Marina de La Paz, and twice at the taco stand that has good Tacos El Pastor, not too far from Marina de La Paz. We're looking forward to trying the hot dogs at the place on the corner near Marina de La Paz but they don't open until 7. We've also been doing a fair amount of cooking. We don't stock up too much food, maybe 3 days worth of meals. When going out shopping, it's pretty normal to hit 2 stores, as great as they are here, there always seems to be something on the list that's better at another store. We're thinking about the central, Bravo Market tomorrow - Wednesday is 2 for 1 pork carnitas, and they have the best fresh flour tortillas. We're thinking about going back to the new Soriana's for our next supermarket run, as we're only been there once - it's the closest one to us, after Walmart. There is one thing we haven't found in the markets yet, Ginger Root, which is reminiscent of Roscommon 2 years ago. We have however, tracked down Smoked Soy Sauce - they sell it at the ISTEEE in town. We've never found anything like it in the states. We've marinated hamburgers with it twice so far, and it is one of the key ingredients in my original BBQ rib recipe. I plan to bring about 4 - 6 bottles back with us, or maybe a case...
Charlie continues to be a big part of the project. She had only been off leash out doors once before we got here. That was at the dog park on Alameda, where they have double gates to insure no dog can escape. The first time she didn't spend the night in her cage was 2 nights before we got back to Alameda. She's great at night, sacking out on the bed before us, and staying there all through the night, without making any noise. There may be an occasional ear lick, but she stays in bed until about 7:00 AM, then it's best to get up and take here for a walk outside. Her first time off leash here was the day we went with Lance and Jo, with their dog Rocky to Magote Beach. She absolutely loved it. We now take her out to play ball or with other dogs here at the RV park. She's better if Marsha and I are both there, she is "Marsha's dog" - she waits by the door when Marsha goes to the bathroom. She's OK if it is just me, I've been able to retrieve her with a treat, but she does have a tendency to slip into playing the come and get me game mode more easily with just me. And she gets totally distracted by people, especially new people she hasn't met yet, and children, and other dogs. I don't yet know how to expect that to change with age and/or training, but you can't say she isn't getting socialized...
Having the laundry done at Marina de La Paz is working out, 160 pesos a week includes a tip and we've never had our clothes folded so neatly. We do have to use cash for everything, avoiding credit card scams. We only get cash from the ATM's at Banamex or Bancomar.
Update: The camp's network equipment did get upgraded this morning. The good news is some folks that were not able to get connected with their computers are now able to. The bad news is the signal strength to our site diminished to the point of un usability. Fortunately, it comes in strong at the palapa 60 yards from Taylor:
1/23/2012: This is the leftover sand castle associated with the International Kite board and windsurf competition that just occurred in Los Barriles. The kite boards look like a lot of fun. I've watched people do this off the South Shore beach on Alameda, a great training area. Wondering if I'm too old...
1/22/2012: We enjoyed brunch in town today at Palermo's, with Lance and Jo, and Bud and Joan.
1/22/2012: The La Paz magnet has struck us again. After our visit with the Bajaducks, Dave and Cheryl in Los Barriles, we stopped in to check out the Super Marcado in town. After a quick stroll through the store looking for half-&-half, my brain went I miss Chedraui. As soon as we got back to our camp site, I signed up for another month. Aside from the incredible growth, much of the change in La Paz has to do with hurricanes destroying things, and the incredible spirit here to rebuild. A couple examples are Marina de La Paz, and the Club Marlin restaurant. We visited Crit on the sailing vessel JASDIP (Just Another Shitty Day In Paradise) on Friday. She loaned us a spare hand held VHF marine radio. I was able to pick up much more of the morning net with it on Saturday. Turns out they still do have an arrivals/departures check in section. After emergencies, the tides and the weather report, the net controller gives each of the marinas a chance at air time. They let any of the cruisers know if they have packages of mail, or any other things of interest. Marina Costabaja is new on the list after Marina de La Paz and Marina Palmira, - where we lived for 2 winters. We picked up Mary Shroyer's voice, still sounding strong, representing Marina de La Paz when it was their turn. Marina de La Paz was completely destroyed by Hurricane Marty, back in 2003 - 4 years after we left. I'm not sure what would happen with the current economy, in terms of rebuilding, but the marina has been rebuilt, is thriving, and even has hard wired ethernet connections at each dock box. They are trying to move away from wireless because the anchor out boats at the Magote have been sponging much of the bandwidth. When Cheryl was giving me a tour of her kitchen, she pointed out the sand that had accumulated between the glass and moldings of her cabinets over the counter. Hard to imagine but the picture windows facing the beach had been blown out, the center pole on the palapa on the patio had been destroyed, along with a bunch of other havoc. Below are before and after images of their palapa. It reminds me of the Jimmy Buffett song, Trying to reason, with hurricane season. What we have in common with the folks down here is we live in a place you want to be away from for a season. If you can reason with hurricane season, you have many more options if you are running away from summer because just about anywhere you can go in the US in the summer is fun. Dave and Cheryl have an RV stowed up in southern California - they call it the Quackshack.
1/16/2012: Normally Charlie waits until it's light out for her morning walk. She was a bit early this morning, this was a pre sun rise shot...
1/10/2012: I've been adding a few recipes for Mexican food to the recipes page of late. It's hard to explain why we're home cooking Mexican food here, other than we're inspired being here. Except for being able to buy a kilo of these great little limes for just under the equivalent of a dollar, we're be able to make these pretty much anywhere.
I called the Tripui RV park today to find out if they have wifi in the RV park.
They do. We'll have to spend a few days there on our way back north. It's a mile from the Puerto Escondido anchorage, about 17 miles south of the town of Loreto. It's about 325 km north of where we are now.
We've thought about investing in retirement there in the past, more that once. Initially in response to a San Jose Mercury newspaper article we read about development opportunities in Loreto Shores back in the mid 80's. That lead to organizing a group of friends to charter a sailboat from the Moorings when they were based out of Puerto Escondido to investigate further. We had opted to have a cook join our crew, and Pat, a local cruiser, filled in for their normal cook who took off with a guy on a power boat. I brought the newspaper article out one night after we got anchored and had dinner. Pat started laughing hysterically. Someone had run off with all of the money soon after that development project had started, there were a few half finished roads and street lights in place when the money disappeared. Not the first time that happened either.
We did spend considerable time based out of there anchored with Spirit over a decade later. That's where Spirit stayed at anchor without us for over 2 months while we took Harvey the RV north to get renovated while we avoided the El Nino summer heat in the Sea of Cortez.
We almost bought a Palapa (with another couple or two) at Tripui, the resort a mile up the road from the anchorage, 8-9 years ago but a fire burned the place down just as our effort was starting to gain momentum.
We'll be able to pick up the VHF morning net there to learn about what's going on there now. We're missing that here, it would be a good thing to have if we were to spend much more time here, or next time.
1/9/2012: We finally made it back to visit parts of La Paz that were part of our old stomping grounds. We were staying in Marina Palmira, about 2.2 Kilometers past town in the opposite direction from where we are now. When we arrived, we had no means of transportation other than walk or take a taxi. Some friends let us borrow their bicycles for 3 weeks while they were traveling which led to us buying a couple of used bicycles off the morning "swaps and trades" net. The second winter, we had Harvey the RV as wheels which made us more mobile, but we still frequented the stops we'd learned about with bicycles and backpacks. The Aramburo Cow Store is still there and everything still looks as it did back then. The ISSSTE store is still there, and still looks as it did back then. The little tienda we used to buy fresh tortillas from when that was all we needed is still there and everything still looks as it did back then. We were pretty amazed at the looks as it did back then ness of that side of town. We then ventured into Marina Palmira, where we lived on dock 6 the first winter, then dock 4 the next, and had hamburgers at the Dinghy Dock restaurant, on shore near dock 5. There didn't used to be a dock 5, it was some pilings with a Dinghy Dock for cruisers tied to the pilings to tie up to when going ashore. The rent was lower there but you didn't get electricity and water service. Everything seems much quieter there now than it did then, though the marina seems pretty full of boats. They charged us 29 pesos to park for an hour and a half. I'll get pictures later, I still want to go to those stores but we didn't have a grocery list very organized.
1/7/2012: The VHF marine radio is still the backbone of the cruisers' social network here in La Paz, though it has changed a little bit. The check-in and out section isn't part of it anymore, for people just arriving in port, or about to depart. It starts at 8:00 am on channel 22, Monday through Saturday with the weather report, which we pick up on our small hand held radio because the skipper of Blue Wizard that provides the report is based in El Centenario, which is just down the road. We miss the rest of the net for lack of reception. I did hear the swaps and trades portion still going on at 8:20 on Club Cruceros' radio at Marina de La Paz when we went to pick up Rick and Pam to drive them to the airport in San Jose del Cabo. The net provides the weather, events, swaps and trades, local assistance, etc. Then people use it as their party line telephone, making contact then switching to other channels for their conversations. It's all public so don't say anything you shouldn't. People hail each other by their boat names, even if they don't have their boat anymore. Lance and Jo have sold their boat, and go by Casa Milagro. We've been using Spirit, though technically it should be Spirit Mobile, since we still have Spirit, but are not onboard when we use the radio.
The Internet is now a big part of the scene. We've heard that things have changed since last year, when all of the signals were open, now they are password protected. When we went cruising on Spirit back in 96, I had to que up email messages and web site updates on my computer, then take it somewhere like the harbormaster's office, and use their fax telephone line to connect to AOL, then bulk upload the que, then download new mail to read later offline. We also had a TNC (sea going modem) hooked up to our SSB radio so I could transmit small one paragraph messages out of the backstay antenna into the ionosphere to a ham radio operator in Los Angeles that would in turn, relay them to the internet. That was really slow, and only one station could be transmitting at a time. Now, Marina de La Paz is selling cruisers 50' ethernet cables to move away from wireless because all of the boats anchored out in the Magote anchorage have been sponging up the bandwidth. We have wireless here at Camp Maranatha, but it is slow, too slow for streaming movies or seamlessly watching YouTube videos. Rick says the wired connection on Hotel California is as fast as Comcast in the states. Rick and Pam have generously offered the use of Hotel California's connection should we have requirements for high bandwidth, such as recording a webinar. Our bandwidth here is enough for voice over IP so we can make Skype phone calls. Some thing's that are available online in the US such as the Pandora music site, are not available in Mexico. One thing we should have brought with us is a wireless router - then we could set up our printer to work wirelessly so we wouldn't have a cable running across the floor.
We've been picking up some local knowledge from Lance and Jo, our neighbors in the RV park. They've spent several winters here and have watched much of the changes that have taken place in La Paz since we were here on our boat. Lance mentioned a tipping event, at least in one dimension, was when the first Soriana opened. It was a large, brand new grocery store that was kept clean. Because it was clean, everyone started going there to shop. It wasn't long afterwards that it became local knowledge that if you kept your place clean, you would get more customers. Many things are much cleaner now. I won't say everything is cleaner. I had to use the men's room at The Shack, a place in town for great hamburgers. The toilet didn't have a flush handle. It's also still advisable to have a stack of tissue in your pocket when out and about.
We're still learning about shopping for groceries here, there are so many great options. It used to be when you went out to provision, it was ISSSTE first, then the Cow store, then CCC. ISSSTE is the government run store. You never knew what would be in stock, but if they had it, it would cost less than anywhere else. Aramburo's was called the Cow store because there was a large, almost life sized plastic cow mounted over the entrance. That was the local grocery store, and you could get everything you needed to get by. CCC, far enough out of town so you needed wheels or a taxi ride, felt much like a large grocery store in the states, and had many products we were used to in the states. For many products, such as canned goods, there would be a familiar brand, and a local brand that would cost less. After you got used to local products, the central market became fun. You could watch them use a hatchet to cut the baby back ribs off.
Now, there is a Walmart and a Sam's Club. A Costco will be here in about a year. The chain of Aramburo's is still around, and cleaner. We haven't been to the one with the Cow we used to shop at, but we stopped at a larger one out of town to get American butter. The local butter is darker and brighter yellow, and isn't quite the same. There is another local chain with several large stores, Ley's. CCC has been bought out by Chedraui, and there are several locations. Mega just opened up, which is a huge Mexican chain from the main land. And Soriana has several locations. The central market is still there, pretty much as it was back then. Wednesday is the day to buy pork carnitas there, 2 for one. They are still making fresh flour tortillas and squeezing fresh fruit juice, which was always my favorite shopping day snack.
Much has changed here though, since the last time I posted a write up on La Paz, in May of 1997.
1/6/2012: With over 1300 miles of Baja on it, washing the truck was way overdue. The new car wash across from Marina de La Paz was quite a surprise, 10 minutes, 60 pesos ($4.36 US), and I had a great cappuccino while waiting in the spotless customer cafe. That's our truck going through, and it will likely get dusty soon, but not like the caked on mud we had. The guys are still doing it on the street. I'll likely do it that way next time, while parked in one of the grocery store parking lot:-)
1/5/2012: We had lunch today at Tecalote Beach. Charlie was digging in the sand, one of the holes was under one of our table legs, we almost lost the shrimp tacos. Here's a photo when she's having a calmer moment...