Friday, December 31, 2010

One of "Those Days"

Yesterday was one of those days when, well I'm not sure what to think about it. All seemed to go well, but then there were these kinks in the road. Thursday was a big day out. We headed to Miami to do a number of things (buy solar panel, do the laundry, mail some letters, get a hair cut each and finally buy the weeks supply of groceries.)

As we left at 9 AM, all seemed to go well. Once we were in cell range, we called the solar place to make sure that the warehouse was open so that we could pick up a couple of panels. No problem. Finding the warehouse was not difficult, thanks to karen Gamin, who gave good directions. At the warehouse, we parked and went inside. The manager was at his desk and gave us a friendly welcome.

But when I said we were here to hopefully pick up a couple of solar panels, he informed me that they were really closed ALL WEEK for inventory. We argued a minute and then I said let me decide on what I want and then I will call the owner in the office. I found what I wanted and he called the owner on the speaker phone. Oh, there was that long silence and a few mutterings when the voice on the other end realized that it was no sales this week. PERIOD. End of conversation. He did finally did agree to pay for the shipping next week where ever I'll be here in Florida. Will it really happen? I doubt it. He has no money etc. So with that, we left instructions where we planned to be and that they could send it to the nearest UPS facility.

Back on the road, we headed for an Office Max to pick up a Day Runner, which is what we keep our daily journal in. But we missed a turn. The Office Max was a mile south of the road we were take, so we decided to just continue south and then west. Poor Ms. Gamin never lost her cool between “Recalculating” and telling me to turn right and then right again. In the process, we passed through some nice areas of old Miami. Some elegant, well kept nice homes. Finally, it was Office Max and Ms. Gamin was happy. Office Max even had one last copy of the Day Runner we wanted. Excellent!

It was then off to the laundry and barber on the highway we came in on. We found them with no problem thanks to Ms. Gamin. It was in a strip mall and just about every space was occupied with a car. We found a space and hauled our clothes into the laundromat, almost to be overwhelm by people. The place seemed to be teaming with people (all speaking a foreign language).  But we found two washers and shortly had them purring away washing our clothes.

I then went to a nearby barber, also to be met by a crowd of people. There were 5 barbers and about 10 people waiting. Someone else came in and signed a paper with lots of names, so I added my name to the list. Of course, I love to study people and watching the end barber cut the hair for about an 8 year old boy was a study in itself. Eventually he finished and the boy's dad was next.

Then a woman barber finished her customer and indicated to me that I was next. I think “Next” was the only English word she knew. But she did know how to cut hair and I had no complaints Back at the laundromat, I arrived in time to help Sandy hang or fold clothes.

It was then time for groceries. We found a Publix store and Sandy went in while I read some in the car. Finally I went in to push the cart. When we got to the meat counter, Sandy wanted to buy some salmon which they didn't have. But they had a nice package of frozen Grouper with no price visible on the case. I told her to take it, as a change would be fine. (I think I've had Grouper once when eating out and remember it as being a good fish.) Finally, we finished.

It seemed like a long ride back to the motorhome, about 50 miles with almost solid traffic coming at us. (Later we heard that there was a major accident on I-75 and part of it had been closed. Perhaps that was the reason.)

Back at the motorhome, all went well as we settled in for a comfortable evening. It was about 9 PM when Sandy let out a major exclamation. She was looking at the details of the grocery bill and noticed what the price was on the package of Grouper. Ouch. I think she wanted to return it but couldn't. But the thought of paying $20 for a package of fish with only 3 servings just didn't sit well with her. I think she was still muttering about it when we went to bed!

­All in all, it really wasn't too bad of a day. As a friend in the Air Force used to say, “You win some, you lose some and some get Rained out!” 

 Today with the sun shining and already 70 degrees out, I think it is going to be a good day.

We don't have problems, we have opportunities!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday, the week after Christmas

 I'm confused and frankly I'm not sure what has been posted and what hasn't been.  So this is being written on the fly (with blogger open).  The problem seems to be that I write a blog and try to post it later in the day when I'm ready to fight the slow internet connection.   Every once in a while, I slip up and don't get it posted.  Or a couple of times, it seems that Blogger doesn't show me the latest posting.  Such is life of a very disorganized manager.

It sure was nice to again rise in the morning with the coach interior temperatures at 58 degrees.  No shivering and shaking to get moving.  It has been a real eye opener to see the news cast on what the weather is like north along the east coast.    We may shiver a bit, but nothing like up in Yankee land.  I did notice that we did have frost on the toad this morning.  But it isn't going any place for a while at least.

One comment about internet surfing verses TV.  With the internet, one can choose how to entertain yourself verses watching the stupid boop tube with they're excessive crazy ads.  They seem to forget that I still have control of the big switch called   ON/OFF.  It is now OFF.



Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday of the week after Christmas

Blog Monday, the week after Christmas

While many of you hit the roads to visit relatives and friends, Sandy and I stayed safe and sound and stayed near our home. We didn't even start the Honda to go anywhere. We may be in Florida, but to do any shopping or even church, it is about 50 miles east to Miami or 40 miles west to Everglades City. We were outside a few times to take a stroll around the pond that is the center of this campground.

The reason for the pond is because they dug a big hole to obtain rock when they built the road 80 years ago. So now it is the heart of a campground, as is several other man made ponds. Besides fish, each pond seems to have at least one resident boss alligator. If you use your hands and splash in the water some and them look around, you can generally see a gator heading over to investigate the disturbance.

I really spent my interior time either trying to locate some campgrounds in Florida (online) or I was trying to make sure we have all of the paper work to do a withdrawal from our IRA. The catch is that Uncle Sam insists that it must be done by the end of the year and I've been procrastinating a bit too long.

Tomorrow we'll take the Honda out so that we can get some good cell phone service so that we can resolve any issues with our IRA withdrawal.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day after Christmas

Christmas is all about family and remembering the reason for the season. Sandy and I may have been far from our siblings but we had each other. And Sandy cooked a wonderful Christmas dinner. Also, to make it realistic, she told me early on that dinner would be at 2 pm more or less (Just like at Grandmother's house sometimes -but rarely.) And just like in Grandmother's house, we had left over pie to snack on late at night.

For a Yankee in south Florida, yesterday couldn’t have been much better. Today it is going to be a different story. We have seen our high for the day and we have a north west wind to remind us that it shall get worse all day and especially tonight. The reported low tonight will be below 40. (That sounds better than the upper 30s.)

We are not in cell phone range, so we have not talked with either daughter. I guess emails will do for the moment. Yes, we'd like to be together as a family with them, but certainly not in Wisconsin or Minnesota right now. Julie can be with her in-laws and Beth seems to have family and friends where ever she lands. I think that she finds that curling up on the sofa with a book or a TV program as this latest winter blast passes through is just her cup of tea!

Yesterday, a cousin lost her husband to pulmonary fibrosis, which I thought was a result of smoking. But I just searched the internet to verify that and came up short. Our medical community isn't sure what causes it or how to treat . If you do smoke, consider giving it up for the sake of your family and friends who really don't care for second hand smoke. Thank you.

Our future travel plans are not made yet. Frankly, we love it here in the campground. We have AC to power the TV and computers, and no crowds, plus we have a lake front lot. It may not be large, but it has gators in it.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

We would like to wish each and everyone of you a Merry and Joyous Christmas. This is the season, as long as we remember the reason for the season. I think all of us have much to be thankful for, especially ourselves in the warmer climates.

For those of you in the recent snow belt, it too shall pass. In the meantime, enjoy the scenery.

Most of all during this Holiday time, I think of our service men and women far from home, in a strange land. Even being state-side feels like a strange land at times (I know, I was there once.)

God Bless all of you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Leaving the Everglades

Today is mail call plus grocery shopping plus moving day. No big deal except tonight Sandy will have electric to run her stuff, like the vacuum, the microwave, a space heater (or two), water heater and the refrigerator. Plus while there is plenty of electric, we could have some extra lights on, but probably won't. We might even dig out the spiral Christmas ornament for the front of the rig. Then it will seem really like Christmas in the Teggatz household.

Yesterday was an administrative day. We made some phone calls to resolve our IRA withdrawals. One brokerage house says “we need the proper form signed.” The other brokerage house says “we can do it right here over the phone”. There are no hard and fast rules in the world of high finance.

So it was back to the motorhome, where we need to print out the forms, fill them out, scan them and send them to the broker. More stuff to worry about.

Friends of ours from 2 weeks ago in Burns Lake showed up yesterday and other friends of ours from Burns Lake left yesterday. We probably have lots of friends floating around Florida if we just knew their location.

We also learned about another boondocking spot from a friends' friend. Sandy and I both think we've seen it on the NW side of Lake Okeechobee. Today we'll meet up with them again and he'll have his map to show us where it is. (We boondockers kind of stick together to learn where the free places are at.)

For anyone thinking about camping in the Everglades, this campground is far from being used. My guess is that there are less than 15 percent of the sites being used. We're not complaining, just passing the word for others that there is space available. (Including ours at noon if the mail comes in.)

The mail came in, we picked up our groceries and headed out to the campground. We had an hour and 15 minutes to clear the grounds. (As we checked in at the gate, we indicated that we were leaving and might be a few minutes late- just to be safe.)

We stored everything in its proper place and brought the slides in. (Or as one friend said, “We compacted the motorhome.”) Gene took a few minutes to visit the couple about the potential boondocking spot. They showed us on the map and gave us printed directions on how to find it. They said it was a lovely place. It turns out that Sandy and I visited the spot 8 years ago when it was an overgrown weed patch, abandoned by the Corps of Engineers.

The drive to the Midway campground was uneventful with a moderate amount of traffic. Upon arrival, we were met by a couple that we had met last spring at a Boondocking Rendezvous in Arizona. So it was again just like old home week.

We settled in near them and got ourselves organized. Then it was time for the 4 pm social hour where we really caught up on life's happenings.

Sandy is in heaven with the electric power. However, she forgot we had it when preparing dinner and cooked the beans with gas. How fast we learn and then forget it.

While Sandy worked on dinner, Gene tried to get the TV adjusted. It showed that we had about 10 channels, but only one channel has a picture. So we again had the news on during the dinner hour.

((((( I have errorred the last few days and failed to post the new blog writeups. They were written, but not posted! So they have now been posted and you may want to read forward up to Everglades, Day 1.))))

Have a Great Christmas and “Remember the reason for the season!”


Seeing the Florida Keys

Today Sandy prepared us a quick lunch to take along and then we headed out on a road trip to see part of the Florida Keys. (We drove towards Key West, but not too it.) On the way, we stopped at a Visitors Center in Florida City to gain as much information as we could before going out on our adventure.

This represents a significant change in plans for us. We were going to drive the motorhome all the way to Key West and then stay at the American Legion Post. However, when we started to get real serious about the trip and what we'd see, we backed out or got cold feet. Friends of ours had driven to the far western end where it has some of the world's best sunsets. As he said, they were sitting at an outdoor cafe, enjoying a slice of Key lime pie and a cup of coffee while the sun did its thing. When the were leaving, they thought the prices were a bit high when they had to pay $25 for two slices of pie and two cups of coffee. It kind of took the joy of the view out of the picture.

The drive was uneventful (its best that way) and similar to the drive on the island of Kitty Hawk, NC. There was a fair amount of vehicular traffic but with no stop signs to slow us down often, we did make good time. I had told Sandy earlier that I wanted to drive until I saw some Key Deer near the center of the islands. It was noon when we reached the Key deer National Wildlife area. So it was a quick stop at the visitor's center and then off to see some deer. The refuge is more like a town where the deer roam freely from house to house. Also, the towns people understand the tourist traffic during the day.

As we had read before, the Key deer are very tame or people friendly. They are so friendly that they will walk right next to your car. As friendly as your neighbors dog.

Again the drive back was uneventful (best to keep it that way). We did stop at a state park to learn about it. However, we learned that the standard entry fee of $9 applies everywhere and we decided it just wasn’t worth it for 20 minute park tour. Even the gate attendant admitted that $9 was too steep just to look around.. So maybe next time. Now I think of it that the entry fee for one park would have been for all parks that day, so we should have entered each one.

Back in Florida City, Sandy spotted a Cracker Barrel ad and suggested that we eat out. It was a different one with no entry off of the main street. You have to drive over a block and come in from the back side. Many Cracker Barrel’s have nice parking lots and often times RV users stop at them for dinner and then stay over night. We wouldn't recommend it at this one, as the RV parking lot was the most uneven lot we have seen.

Back at the motorhome, we settled in for a quiet evening. Since the solar panels hadn't quit topped off the batteries, we started the generator for an hour. Now we have power to burn.

The temperature outside is mild (mid 50s) and no wind. Very nice.


Everglades, Day 2

Blog Everglades, day 2

We were gone most of the day seeing the sights. We went to Flamingo, which is the southern most area where they have a visitors center, campground and a marina. The area suffered heavy damage during the two recent hurricanes three or 4 years ago. The area is well cleaned up, but some things are not back to normal, like the restaurant and the lodge.

The campground is nice, but only lightly used at the moment. The RV area had room for 64 rigs and there were probably only 4 or 5 rigs there now. All of the stops have large parking lots with usually only a few cars parked in the lot.

Sadly, I have been negligent about posting. So this is a late posting on Christmas eve. I wrote it on one computer and then didn't move it to the posting blog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Everglades plus one

We kept ourselves busy yesterday touring. For starters, we surfed a while, then went on a 90 minute tour of an old Nike anti-aircraft site. The main buildings are now used for some park research while the launch complex remains as it was.

After the Nike tour, we went to the Royal Palms area to see the visitor center which is really a book store. Nothing of unique interest. Then we went on a mile swamp hike. It was all a hard limestone path or a board walk. Lots of birds and alligators. In one area, there were 20 gators all just resting. There were birds every where. They were really very tame.

It started to rain before we finished the the tour and about a minute after we finished and were in the car, it really cut loose with a downpour. Finally, we have the car washed as well as 2 sides of the motorhome. (It was very dirty from our drive into Burns Lake 2 weeks ago.)

We still haven't determined our schedule for the next two weeks. I guess we'll take it as it comes. I think we're headed to the Flamingo area of the park today, providing the weather is nice. It is hard to go bird watching in the rain. We have pushed off the laundry schedule for 2 days or so. Why get in a hurry?

Gene continues to work with his new PC that he lifted from Sandy. It is Windows 7 plus has Sandy's name written all over it. He did reconfigure the mail program and sent 8 emails of Sandy's back to her. When he had powered it up and was working on the email program, it picked up her mail before he changed the configuration. He has a big problem with the address book to resolve. Windows Live Mail insists on keeping the address book (or a copy there of) online at Hotmail. A very sneaky way for Microsoft to track the users. So Gene intends to switch to using Thunderbird if he can figure it out.

A note from our youngest daughter who is on a business trip to  Jordan.  She is stuck there because of the snow and ice in London.  She hopes to make it back to the USA in 2 o r 3 days.   The joy of business travel.

So life goes on.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Everglades, We made it

Yesterday we drove from the casino in Miami to the Everglades.  On the way, we needed to lay in a supply of food so that we didn't have to leave.  Seems pretty simple.   However, after we pulled into the most convenient Walmart, the little man with a flashing light on top was there before we had turned the engine off.   With lots of arm waving and words, it was apparent he didn't want us parked there.  also, he didn't speak any English!

Sandy got out and tried to convince him that we just wanted to shop for a little bit.  He motioned for us to move to what I thought was another area.  Afterwords, I think his intent was for us to scoot!   Sandy went in and I tried to relax and shortly security came by and it was obvious that he wanted to see if we were in the coach yet.  Finally he left.

When Sandy returned a short while later with hardly any groceries, I asked her, "Is this All?"   She quickly informed me that it was not a Super-Walmart and that no one spoke English in the store!   So we left and headed south to Homestead and the Everglades.   Thanks to our GPS, we located another Walmart just south of Homestead and Ms. Karen  (Garmin) took us right to the store.  It was also a very busy store, with a parking lot that was very unfriendly to RVers.  But we found an open corner and again Sandy did her shopping.   When she returned, she immediately commented "They spoke English here!".   Isn't it nice that we can drive 25 miles, not go through immigration control and be back in our native English  speaking land!"

We had no trouble finding the Everglades entry, thanks to Karen (Garmin).   We showed our Golden Age entry pass and sailed in to find a camp site.  All went well and as Gene was walking to the entry station to register our site, he met some friends that we had left 2 days ago.  So they found a  spot near us and we had a evening fire after dinner to sit around and share life's experiences.

Finally it was time to quench the coals and head in (and then the fun began).  Gene finally muttered and mumbled and asked Sandy where her Spare Windows 7 computer was.  He was taking possession of it.  His old machine caught a virus 3 weeks ago and while Avast, AVG, Ad-aware and something else say it is clean, simply put "It ain't!"   The virus was <      > point and the symptoms are that it causes erraidic
 operations sometimes.  I guess last night I blew my cork and said ENOUGH!    I could reformat the drive, but that is a lot  of just plain hard work that I'm not happy about..

Sandy acquired this spare machine a year ago so that she would know what Windows 7 was.   So it has had about 10 hours of use in 10 months.  And as much as I detest Windows 7, I'll face the music, mutter, mumble  and use it.  (I've already been told I need a better attitude before I start.)

Of course when Sandy set it up, she only opened one user, called  SANDY.  Of course, I want a few things different and the very first thing was to install Google Chrome.   The second item was to set up another user account called GENE.   (Of course, I did it in that order.)   So this morning, I turn it on, and log into Gene.  Yep, no Chrome or Open Office.  I tried to find it and W7 says it is not on the machine. So I log into Sandy's account and there it is.   I decided that we'll let Sandy fix it since she is a lover of W7.   (Maybe I can just rename both accounts and switch them since she has nothing in her account yet.  I went back to my old machine finally this morning it seems to be pretty responsive.   Maybe it senses that it is about to be fired!

I should mention that getting into the Everglades has been a real improvement to our budget.  It was so warm in the motorhome this morning (at 6 AM) that we didn't need any heat. I can take that!. The predicted low for last night was 61.   It was marvelous sleeping with hardly any blankets on.

Today is touring Everglades time.   It has taken us 72 years to get here, so we'd better get a good look.  But in weather like this, perhaps we'll be back more often.


Friday, December 17, 2010

A Night in the Casino Parking Lot

Well, we have spent our night in the casino parking lot and it was not very restful!   Even though we're in an area reserved for RVs and trucks, the valley traffic and other noise was disturbing.    Right now, for the Nth time, a car alarm has been going off.  It is the same alarm and usually times out or resets before the owner punches the off button.    Additionally, this morning someone seems to be setting off strings of firecrackers now and then. 

Adding to the over all noise level is the periodic noise of an overhead airplane (big one) in its approach pattern to Miami International airport.   Thankfully, we are not under the takeoff departure route.

I had been advised to join the players club and get a 10 or 15 dollar credit on the players card.   But after going into the casino to register for RV parking, there was no way I wanted to volunteer to go back in and spend an hour or so in a noisy smoke filled hole.   It caused me to have a mild headache for 3 hours afterward.

We are parked in the middle of the RV lot  and can see lots of stuff going on.    One  has to ask the question, "Is this a high crime area, considering the number of security cars and patrols going around here.  There  is almost always a moving security car in sight in the lot.   Also, this morning, the street sweepers are out in force.   If it doesn't belong there, it will be swept up.   So the area is very clean

Today we're moving to Everglades N.P. south of here about 50 miles.   It will be a welcome change from this urban setting.  But the price was right while parked here.   It also tells us what we want to avoid it if at all possible in the future.   On the way, we'll restock the pantry at our friendly Walmart so that we don't have to leave the park for groceries.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Miami for a night at the Casino (parking lot only)

Right now we're parked in a casino parking lot just west of Miami.   We may or may not spend the night here.   Yesterday we moved to a campground east of Burns lake that had electric and a dump station.  (You pay to use the dump station so we figured that by camping there, we would save those dollars.)   It was a real joy last night to have the electric heat on.  Sandy insisted that we lower the temperature when we went to bed and use one extra blanket.  Even that was a joy.

This morning we had frost again on the Honda.  But that should be the end of the cold for now.  One other joy of being parked in the campground with electric hookups was that last night Sandy made some corn bread  for me.   And this morning, we were treated to fresh hot muffins.  (Our oven only works on electric, so I guess one would say that "we made hay while the sun was shining."

We spent the past week with fellow Escapee Boondockers.   We will meet up with them again in February when there is another Rendezvous in north Florida.   They are like minded folks that don't like to pay to be in an RV park when they never part take of the stuff there.   Last night I located a free city park north of Tampa that we'll check out when we head north.

Well, a big disappointment about  the free city park north of Tampa. The primitive sites that they were referring to are a half mile hike into the boonies. If you want to use your RV, it is $20 a night to camp in the park.   A bummer.

This afternoon we programmed the GPS and headed to downtown Miami to visit a solar place.  Now I know why I like parking the rig in the boonies.    The roads were a zoo.   Once we arrived, I was ready to return back to the motorhome.  But we went in, only to find that the only panels he had in stock were monsters, suitable for house type system.   They had other panels at their warehouse a mile away in downtown Miami.  I decided to pass on the opportunity.   A bummer.

So then it was trusting Miss Karen Garmin to get us back to the casino.  She were doing great until we ended up in the wrong line at the toll booth.  It was the exit line with no way to get back on. So we did some cross country and finally made it to the motorhome.  What a beautiful site.   I shall not drive in downtown Miami again, ever, I Hope!

Tomorrow, the Everglades.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Burns Lake, Florida

We arrived here on Thursday (or was it Friday) and we've settled in.  The Honda hasn't moved since we parked it.)   The weather warmed up nicely and I'd guess the highs are in the 70s and the lows in the 50s.   Supposedly, it is to change tonight or tomorrow when another Arctic Blast moves in.  We'll take it as it comes.  Compared to what the midwest is getting, we'll grin and bare it!

In the reworked Burns Lake campground, the park service has cut the camping down to only 8 rigs plus about 6 tent sites (which have been used by some  fold-downs and some class C rigs.  The main thing is that our group is all parked together in the 8 pull through sites and Sandy loves the layout.   We can see the water via the front window or via the side window.  The pull through sites are very large.

For about 3 plus days, Gene has been moaning a bit about his arthritis that really nailed him in his right hip.   Walking, sitting and especially getting up or down has been a real problem.   He had become a spitting image of his dad.   But with the impending weather change, the soreness in the right hip is nearly gone.   The other downer is that since we have been in Florida (or the vicinity) Sandy has had numerous sinus problems.    We're beginning to wonder if Florida is the right place for us in the winter time.

Two weeks ago, Gene picked up a nasty Trojan/virus in his computer.  He has it mostly removed, but ever since the computer does some funny things.  I know I ought to re-format the drive, but that is a lot of work.   Yesterday, Sandy even applied her talents to the problem and seems to have improved it some.  We shall continue plodding along.

Yesterdays blog was a bit long and my chief critic lowered the boom on me.   The spell checker just didn't make the right decisions when replacing some  miss-spelled words.   So I took the flak.   I think they have been rectified now.   This one will be shorter, so less opportunity for a screw up.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Burns Lake, FL Finally

We arrived at Burns lake yesterday in a light mist.  Not a heavy rain, but enough that as we drove in on the mile gravel road, the car and the motorhome were well covered with a light layer of dirt.  We will have to use lake water and wash it if we get a decent day.

I  don't remember when we last reported in, but a lot  of water has flowed down the river of life.  We left Sumter Oaks Park near Bushnell, FL on Monday morning, determined to get to the RV dealership that was getting the replacement cooling unit.  It was an 80 mile drive and all went well.  Upon arriving at the dealer, we found the RV parking spaces and made ourselves at home.   We should have come earlier, as they are great (and free).

We checked in with our contact and Mary informed us that the unit did arrive and they would be ready to install it Tuesday morning at 8 AM.  We're ready.   So back to the rig to unwind and surf, hopefully with a good connection.   With an 50 Amp electrical service, we used our portable electric heaters profusely (it saves on propane).  Plus we ran one all night, so it was a pleasant night sleeping.

Tuesday morning came quickly.  We didn't set an alarm and wouldn't you know it, we over slept.  But we still made our 8 AM apointment (a minute late.)   We then reconfirmed that all of this work was on the warranty and there would be no charge to us.   Gene is still having a hard time accepting it, with a 5 year old refrigerator, but we won't argue.

Sandy spent the morning in the waiting room while Gene stayed out of the technicians way, but still around the RV for a while.   Gene finally decided that he was no help and went in also.   We finally determined that they had an internet connection, if you use the right plug.  (Obviously, the visible one is the wrong connection.   It was a receptacle behind the desk that worked, only a foot away.

At 1 PM the technician came in and told Gene that he was done and ready for a delivery inspection.  He finished the job in less than 5 hours   The job was well done and he said I should back it out while he watched for traffic, then we were to see Mary before leaving.   With that job done, and all that Mary wanted to do was give us a paper telling us what they had done.  Supposedly, we now have a Norcold warranty again for 3 years like it is a new unit.  (And all at no cost to us.)  Sometimes it is amazing how industry works.

We headed back to the RV spaces and again made ourselves at home.  We're sticking close to the dealer until we're certain that they unit is working well.   For the rest of the day, we surfed, did a little Walmart shopping and relaxed.  Life can be good.

On Wednesday morning the freezer compartment was down to 3 degrees and all seemed well. so we slowly packed up and headed south to Burns Lake, with an overnight stop at Paradise Park (Punta Gorda) to see a number of friends..   There was a light rain Thursday morning which the weatherman said would clear off as it moves south.    So since we were headed south, it didn't clear so fast. 

When we arrived at Everglades City, there was a steady drizzle, so we pulled into the information center for lunch and to relax.   After lunch, we unhitched and drove to the lake. The rain had stopped, but the gravel road was very sloppy.  Thus we have a fine layer of dirt on both the motorhome and the Honda.   But we found the one remaining open RV space and made ourselves at  home.  Sandy said that a big smile of satisfaction came over Gene's face when he got out of the motorhome and looked over the campground again.   Shortly one of the other campers came by to welcome us and say that their would be a 4 pm social  hour if the rain left.

At 4 PM, 6 of us gathered on the down-wind side of an RV and shared the days happenings.  It is great to be back among friends.   Few plans have been made, other than to attend a church barbeque in Everglades City Friday evening.   It is not cheap, but supposedly very good and lots to eat.  We shall attend.

We spent the evening in the rig reading or surfing   Gene had checked out a book from the library on General Colin Powell.   It is a fascinating life story of Colin's rise to greatness.   Gene especially has enjoyed it because Colin entered the army as a  ROTC 2nd Lt. 2 years before Gene entered the Air Force as a ROTC 2nd Lt.   Colin  carried an additional  burden of being black, but he handled it very well.

It is now Friday morning, there is no wind and the sun should be out shortly. It is going to be a great day.

(If you read this far, Sandy said that my spell checker did some bad replacements.  I think I've fixed them, but  proof reading is not my strong point.  I'll probably get another lecture later.)


Friday, December 3, 2010

A Week Killing Time

We departed Fort McCoy last Sunday, intending to spend a couple of days here at the Escapee Park near Bushnell, FL before getting our Norcold refrigerator recall taken care of and heading south to our park near Punta Gorda.     But as plans would have it, it was a no go.  The replacement part for our refrigerator did not come in, so we elected to wait.  It is due in on Friday and we'll head south on Sunday for a Monday installation.

With a week to unwind, we did some shopping in the Bushnell area.  On Monday, we visited a big flea market in a neighboring small town.   The place was swarming with people everywhere.  We did  find that they had lots of fruits and vegetables available.  We also went looking for a cast iron kettle that we don't need (and did not find one).

Our other item on our list was some hose fittings for our replacement water pump so that we can replace the one in the rig.  As expected, you have to find the right small town hardware store and they had lots of them.

The next day, we were determined to replace the water pump finally.  but before I removed the old pump, I adjusted the pressure controls and it now works.   So we decided that if it works, don't change it.  We also pumped some air into the water heater to create the air bubble in the tank causing the pressure to be more even.    (The pump now works against an air pressure head instead of a solid water head.)

With those tasks done, we have been taking it easy for the last 3 days. Sandy had kept the keyboard busy on her computer and Gene has reread parts of one book he is carrying.  Tonight was dinner out in the park.   A change of pace for us and it gave us a chance to meet more of the park residents.

Right now, we're ready to head south several more miles.  It was 37 degrees in Tampa (south of here) and 47 degrees in the motorhome this morning.  I think I became used to the much warmer temperatures and love them.   Perhaps in a week!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pow-Wow Departure Day

Our tentative plans are to cut and run today.  Our destination is the SKP park at Bushnell where we'll  have better cell service and some electricity.   We'll wait there until Dusty's Camping World calls to say that they have our cooling unit.  We'll then head south, spend a day or two at Dusty's, then head on south to Paradise Park where we have friends.   But we're only there for a day or two before we again cut and run for Burns Lake and the Boondockers Rendezvous, which is near the Everglades.

Attending the Pow-Wow has been interesting and educational.  At the arena last night, some   of the dancers really worked themselves into a frenzy.  Others were very sedate as they danced around the circle.   There were also many more people last night, both watching and in the arena.   Dancers and guests have come from far and wide.

It really is a very orderly group, no recorded music, no drinking (which is banned) and no kids running a muck of everyone else.   During  the day, one sees numerous dogs on a  tight leash, but last night,the only dog I recall seeing was sleeping at the foot of his owner.

So what did we learn?  Several things:
Only the men and boys wear feathers in their regalia (it is not a costume).
Women and girls can wear a feather (or two) in their hair only.  The dress is a plain robe.
Young maidens can wear bright robes and fancifully trimmed decorations.
The rotation in the arena (dance circle) goes clockwise with individual exceptions.
Vendors are called traders, which sell for cash or lay things besides their tent on a blanket to  trade.
The chanting during the drum beat is in fact words being sung to the beat.

This Pow-wow is un-usual because everything except the food is free.  There is no entry fee, no parking fee or entertainment fee.   It is supported by donations.   At the end of the year, they have a surplus so that they can contribute much to a local veterans home which receives no federal money.

It has been a wonderful experience with our SKP friends.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Pow-Wow days

It is the day after Thanksgiving and all is quiet early in the morning, save for the persistent rooster that continues to announce his presence in the neighborhood.   I would not expect much activity from the attendees considering that they had a big day yesterday.

Sandy and I both agreed that it was a different Thanksgiving yesterday us.   For one thing, there was no hurrying about in the kitchen to get something baked for the table or to take to somewhere.   Just a very quiet way of people moving about.

I'm not sure about other pow-wows, but this one very much honors our service personnel, past and present.   I even told Sandy that it surprised me the amount of respect shown for our nation after what we have done to the native Americans (not called Indians here).   It probably shouldn't surprise me, but the events always start with a prayer or blessing and thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Every day begins with an opening and presentation of the flags and all veterans are asked to help bring the colors in.   They also remove the colors before the activities begin

Another thing that has surprised me is how inter-married the native peoples are. It seems that no one is full-blooded this or that.  Most of the tribes mentioned are what we might think of as the lost tribes east of the Mississippi.  I don't recalling anyone saying that they were Apache, or Sioux or Blackfeet etc.

The RV group that we are with here at the Pow-wow provided the servers for the dinner yesterday afternoon.   It went very well,  We started at 3 PM and served the last one at 4:15 before we went through the line ourselves.   Then we learned how good or poor we were.   We were down to the last dozen paper plates, just a few utensils, no salads or vegetables  and very few desserts.   We had a good supply of turkey and ham available.   (and no pumpkin pie!)

The evening program was an interesting demonstration of all of the kinds of dances, all to the beat of the drum!   Sandy and I both wondered what was the music like before the day of PA sound systems.  Or are we listening the same volume as today's teenagers want to hear (at their excessive level?)

Today will be all Native American activities  (and the beat goes on!)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Pow-wow days

We have been here since Monday and we've kind of settled into a quiet routine.   We love it.  The sun shines very brightly and there has been almost no wind.   For the rest of the week, highs in the low 80s and the lows around 60.  That is almost hard to take.

But then Saturday comes and the low will be nearly 38 and the highs maybe into the mid sixties.   That will be even harder to take!

We picked up our general delivery package yesterday and we have the digital converter out, installed and working.   It operates a bit differently from the others, so we've hooked it up to the bedroom TV, which has some advantages and a disadvantage.   The good news is that we can use that TV now.  The bad news is that the converter and channel selector is at the front of the coach.   But considering that we have never watched a TV program on that TV, it doesn't appear to be a problem.

The one drawback is that the bedroom TV is being designated as the antenna setup TV.  So the rotating antenna up front has to be coordinated with the channel strength reading in the rear!.   The digital converter is up front and the TV is in the rear bedroom.  So it will be a two person setup when ever we do it.

Tomorrow is  the official beginning of the Pow-wow and we'll see.  Tonight we had a finger food potluck and then a briefing on how to act.   Or should we say "What the proper protocol is!"

Time for an early turn in.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Pow Wow, Here we come!

Today was moving day and while Gene is normally up early, Sandy was also up by 6 AM.  That is un-usual.   But after breakfast, she confessed that she needed to rework and print a newsletter outline for a gal in Iowa that she is helping by remote control  (A new user of Open Office.)   I knew there had to be a better reason than "we were moving!"

But all went well and we were on the road by 9:30 AM.  We had a nice road to Fort McCoy and upon our arrival, we spotted a sign towards the post office.   We stopped at the post office, as we are expecting mail, general delivery type.    However, it was not there.  It seems that the Zip Code for Fort McCoy is the same as the code for Salt Springs and after being here for 2 days, they sent it to Salt Springs.  A quick phone call and they said it will be back in Ft. McCoy tomorrow morning.   I thought ZIP codes were to be unique to each post office!   I guess it is not always true.

Yesterday morning, we headed to Starke for church at 10 AM.   However upon arrival, we found the building closed.  It is a small congregation and apparently they have moved locations, with no forwarding sign on the old rented facility.   We should have called the pastor on Friday or Saturday just to confirm the arrangements.  This is the first time it has happened to us in 16 years.

So we did our weekly shopping at Walmart and returned to Waldo.   In the PM, it was a very quiet day, other than the constant din of the Motocross bikes just south of us in the city park. Thankfully, it all closed down by sundown.

We are the first of about 25 SKP campers for the pow wow.   There are about 20 rigs here,   scattered about the grounds  (20 acres worth).   The grounds is all grass with some big oak trees heavily laden with moss.   It will be interesting to see how the pow wow develops and how they park the cars.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why write it, who reads it?

Saturday (yesterday) was a very slow day in our house.   Sandy was suffering from a sinus allergy so I've learned to lay low and out of the way.

In the PM, I walked over to the neighboring flea market and picked up some peppers and tomatos (the only things I'm trusted with on making a decision.)   But I must say, the place looked the same as the days before.   A few more people around, more tables occupied,  but junk is still junk.

There was one booth that reminded me of how my dad's generation used to stack loose hay on the farm.  It looked like he had cleaned out a house and everything (minus the furniture) was stacked.   I just chuckled.  Yes, there were some tools in it, but to see what kind would have caused it all to come tumbling down.  The stack (or pile) was about 8 feet by 10 feet and about 5 feet high with vertical sides.   In that space, you can get a lot of household stuff.   The seller was sitting on a stool beside it and no lookers.   The stuff was in sacks, boxes, bundles etc.

We did learn yesterday just how important our blog is.   Visiting with our daughter on the phone, she asked something about our recent activities.  It was obvious that she hasn't read the blog for days or weeks.   I guess that is the price of progress.  

Today is church, grocery shopping, laundry and pre-departure stuff.    Tomorrow we only have 50 miles to travel plus a stop at the small town post office to get our mail which is there (I checked the tracking number.)  Of course, there isn't much activity here and I'm really curious about where we're going.   It is a pow-wow on a farm 10 miles from town.   It will be a different Thanksgiving week.

Plus the weather has been fantastic.  75 in the afternoon, 50 late at night.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Some Days the Sun shines Brightly

Yesterday was almost a repeat of the previous few days.  I'm beginning to love this slow down of sitting and watching the world go by!

But there is always a fly in the ointment and yesterday we had one of those guys.   It was a good fly (I think) but it has caused me to wonder what it is that I don't know.  Yesterday morning we called the RV shop that we'd like to stop in at and have our refrigerator recall taken care of.   No problem, they took the information and indicated that when the parts were in they would call us, probably in about a week or so.  Fine!

Yesterday afternoon, we get a call from the scheduler to inform us that Norcold is not providing us with the standard recall fix, but they are providing us with a totally new cooling unit.   It doesn't make sense to me unless there is something drastically wrong with our particular production run of cooling units.  If so, dare I even continue to use it?   Am I being blessed with a new cooling unit or are we cursed?

The background for you non-RV readers is that a number of RV users have had major RV fires in the last few years.  The cause of some of the fires was supposedly the cooling unit of their Norcold refrigerator.   Think about it!   We have a Norcold refrigerator.   Should we turn it off every time we leave the rig?   Should we be installing a temporary heat detector until the recall is fixed?  (Which only works when we're here to hear it!)

When this whole thing came up, it was no big deal.   But as I think about it and write this, I begin to get the feeling that I'm sitting on a time bomb and I don't know what the setting is!   We will install something today.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Insulting the customer

This relaxing in a park for a week is great.   A real time to slow down and watch the world go by.

Yesterday we decided to go back to Starke to pick up Sandy's prescription.  Also to get a haircut for me,  visit the RV dealer about our Norcold recall and eventually find a store that had the fittings for the spare water pump I puchased a month ago.   On the way we noticed that Florida grapefruit were finally in season (and we bought some.)

All went well until we visited the RV store.   I've never been treated so rudely as a customer or even somebody's friend or enemy.   The store owner was an absolute jerk.   When I declined to take his one inch catalog, he blew a gasket, calling me names etc.   We finally just walked out.

In the afternoon, Sandy and I walked over to the neighboring city gokart or moto-cross park.   It has two sizes of mud tracks for the big boys, a practice moto-cross layout for the little boys and somewhere in the back apparently a full blown course.   We may luck out and not have anything here this weekend, as the big week-end event is near Gainesville (thank goodness).

Sandy didn't appear to be impressed with the activity.  I told her that it was another side of life that she hadn't been exposed to since we did not have a son.   I suggested that it was even better than a riding horse since if the weather was nasty, you didn't have to visit the barn to feed them.

We did learn that the big event for Waldo this week-end is that the local flea market on Saturday and Sunday.   I think we can handle that since we're on the other side of the highway and away from it.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slowing down in an RV Park

We've been here 2 days and really enjoying it.   Sandy is buried with the computer, doing something all day long.  She may take a hike once to get some fresh air.   Gene usually vacates the premises and relaxes outside in a lawn chair to watch the world go by.

Yesterday afternoon, we did get Sandy to go with us in the car to see what kind of town Waldo is. Not much!   It is actually located at a junction in the highway, with the train tracks going through near main street.

In our drive, we noticed a sign saying that the "Right Lane Closed Saturday".  We need to determine why.  Either it is excess Florida football traffic passing through or the local flea market's big day or perhaps the local "Go Kart Track" is having a big event.   I know one thing, we're going to stick close to our rig for the day.

Currently we're playing the waiting game.   Sandy needs a prescription refill, but the current prescription has expired.  So the pharmacists was going to call in for a renewal and then call us.  Then we'll go pick it up.   While back in Starke, we'll do a few other things also.  (The list rarely gets shorter.)

The weather yesterday was so so.  One could not venture too far from cover since it periodically would rain from sprinkles to a momentary deluge.

They need the rain here in north Florida.  There is a grass fire near the east coast that closed Interstate 95 for an hour.   That had to create a traffic jam of the first order.  We love this temperature.  Last night was the first night in a long time when we didn't have any heat on.  This morning, it was 67 degrees in our cabin.

My biggest frustration is the lousy TV reception.   We have plenty of stations, but it seems that all of them periodically loose it.  I can hardly wait for mail call in about a week when we get a new digital converter from Beth.   Finally we'll be able to point the antenna to exactly where the strongest signal is based upon a meter reading and not a picture that is either there or not there!

It is great to just stop for a few days.


Monday, November 15, 2010

We're holed up in a full-service campgound

We left our friendly Walmart at 10 AM and headed down the road, not knowing exactly where we'd end up.   We had looked at the state publication on campgrounds and found nothing that we liked.  In other words,  most exceeded my economical goals

There was one park I liked, but it was vetoed by the other half.   She didn't like the idea of a park with water on both sides, too many mesquitos might be around.   So we headed down the road, hoping to spot something.   We saw one about a mile outside of Starke, but we were going too fast and the traffic was too heavy for a panic stop.    But about 10 miles down the road in a small town, we spotted a possibility.

We wheeled in to the office and went in to meet a computer terminal.(in a very bare room).   They did have the rates posted, which exceeded my goal.   So out to leave.  However, Sandy spotted someone hurrying across the park, which we took to be the owner or manager.   So we went out to see what he had to say.

He asked why I was leaving and I straight out told him that his prices were out of line for what we were looking for, and I quoted the prices by the fishing camp I liked.   He then made a series of excuses that the posted price was for using a credit card   and he quoted a lower price.   I countered that it was still too much.   He then finally quoted a price I could live with (and paid by check.)

So we are now parked in an RV  park in a small town, also known as the "Speed trap Capital of Florida".   We have full hookups, a concrete pad to park on with a concrete patio, with the motorhome facing the northwest, so we don't take the sun head on in the front window in the PM.

Tomorrow we start attending to small  issues.  Number one on the list is a Norcold refrigerator recall.  Their alert said to turn it off and not use it!   Not a tolerable thing to do when you're a full timer.  The recall is going to add a high temperature sensor to the chimney., about a 30 minute job by some of the reports we have read.   While we're parked here, the unit will be operating on AC, verses LP.  These RV refrigerators are the pits.   I think the manufacturers have value-engineered them a bit too much.

So  tonight we relax.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the Road to Florida

We left Congaree National Park yesterday morning for a leisure drive south. No schedule; just one goal --to  find a park with electricity..   We had targeted a campground on I-95, which was a Passport America stop.  The number one reason:  It was economical.

We drove for an hour and then called them to see if they had a vacancy?  Yep, come on in.  The campground is really part of the local Comfort Inn Motel  and my first observation was that it is too close to the interstate.   As time would tell, I was right!  But Sandy thought it was okay, so we stayed.  (Road noise is very noticeable and gets worse as you stay here.)

In the afternoon, we did the laundry in the smallest laundromat we have ever used, one washer and one dryer.   But it wasn't busy otherwise, so it just took a while.   While Sandy was busy with the laundry, Gene walked to the front desk to ask about the complementary breakfast she mentioned when we checked in.  It is waffles, pastries, juice and coffee, free.   We'll see if that holds this morning,  or if she says since we are using a discount card, we have to pay for it.

With electricity, I was looking forward to perhaps seeing some TV last night.  But it was a washout.   There are only two stations available intermittently, --poor reception.  I watched an hour of PBS and called it an evening.

With plenty of electricity available, we used our electric space heaters profusely.   It may be freezing outside, but we're toasty warm inside.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Relaxing at Congaree National Park.

blog  Relaxing at Congaree N.P.

Tonight is our 4th night here at Congaree NP.  We have enjoyed it, probably could have done more but you always want to save something for the next time.   Tonight we went to an evening walk program which had 10 re-enactment stations along the board walk.  Well done.

After our strenuous walks on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday), we have tried to take it a bit easier. Today I did my mile walk to the visitor center to renew our camping pass.  No big deal other than following the trail in the woods, which is pretty well marked.  Once I almost left it, but quickly realized I might be in trouble.

Tomorrow we head south (to warmer digs). It is to be down to 36 tonight here and that is too cold.  Our mail arrived at a little town near Jacksonville, FL, but we'll schedule ourselves through it on Monday of next week.  

Next week is a down week with hookups someplace in northern Florida, followed by a week boondocking at a Pow-wow near Fort McCoy, FL.  

Next week we need to get serious about advertising a brake controller on eBay plus we need to get real serious about a recall on our refrigerator.   I think they have a fire hazard in it and the recall just adds a over temperature sensor.    So if you're not hear to hear the sensor, you kiss it goodbye anyway!

We'll keep this one short and maybe my proof reader will finally ignore me (I hope).


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A long Hike in the Woods

Yesterday, we almost over did it.  Congaree NP is a swamp and thus everything to see is down below on the forest floor.  So like good tourist, we picked up the info and headed out on the trails.   We decided that we had best stick close to well marked trails, so we chose a boardwalk.  (It can't be marked any better!)

It was a level hike and 2.5 miles in length. Not too bad for us out of shape flat-landers.   We took our time and had no problems.  At noon, it was back to the rig for lunch, a short nap and back to the visitor center for a ranger led hike on history.

To our surprise, the ranger led hike was going to cover the same 2.5 miles.   We asked if his presentation today would duplicate what he'd cover Friday night on their big weekend Swamp Fest doings?   Yes, almost the same.  It ended up that Sandy and I were the only ones on the hike, so he asked what we'd like to do?   We asked if there was another subject besides history since we were going to be on his Friday night hike?   He said, "sure, we'll cover the forest."  So off we went.

We left the board walk for 3/4 of a mile and used an old road, which he was familiar with. (It helps to have a tour guide.)   When we finally returned,  we had enough.   So for the day, we have hike 4.5 miles, a good days hike for us!   Afterwards, we moved the motorhome back to the parking lot and settled in for the evening.  There were 3 rigs in the lot.

Today is an off day for us.   Later this afternoon, we'll do a 2 mile hike to a remote tent camp.  Not that we're going to pitch our tent there, but just to have a destination.  We'll have our GPS so if we miss a trail marker, we'll at least know which way home is.

We parked the rig in a corner of the lot, not realizing that it was shaded by the trees this morning.  So we decided to run our Honda generator and bring the batteries up to snuff.  I think we were down about a 130 Ampere-hours, which is way more than we can pick up in a day of bright sun (the sun is shining brightly today.)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chasing the Swamp Fox

We made it to Congaree Swamp National Park, one of the newer parks in the system.  Congaree NP is a swamp along the Congaree River here in South Carolina.   Early attempts to log it failed because the cypress trees were too big.  They couldn't be drug or floated out of the swamp.  So they were never harvested, giving us today a beautiful stand of "old growth" trees that are magnificent.

Yesterday we drove 250 miles from Wilson to here, almost a travel record for us.  To think that some years ago, we could easily do 500 miles and one time we did 700 miles a day.  But no more.   Yesterday, we even stopped at a rest stop and I sacked out on the floor for a few minutes.

I also learned yesterday that times have changed.   We historically have been big users of the Flying J services.  Well, we're going to change.   We stopped and fueled up at the Flying J okay.  Then as pulled out, I noticed that two adjacent stations had cheaper prices.  That is a bummer.   Then we tooled on down the road about 50 miles and stopped at a Walmart for kitchen supplies and the diesel pieces were exactly fifteen cents cheaper then what we paid.  It was my own fault, as I knew the route we were taking and my Delorme Mapping program shows all of the Walmart stores and if they have diesel service.  It was like pitching a five dollar bill into the trash can!

We are planning to stay here a day or two or three.  Perhaps even longer.   They are having a Historical Re-enactment of the old days here on Friday and Saturday and we'd like to see it.   So we may stick around.   If you remember your Revolutionary history, this was the area where one of the Patriots  (The Swamp Fox)  harassed the British and then hid in the swamps.

The camping facilities here are different from most parks.   We are parked in the overflow visitor parking lot, about the size of small basketball court.  Outside of the parking lot are grassed sites for tents.  But RVs park in the parking lot.  They are spreading 6 inches of new gravel on the lot now, so we have to move to the regular lot shortly after 8 AM.   After we move (and when it warms up some) Sandy and I are taking a mile or two mile hike (on their path) into the swamp .

Unlike many parks we have visited where you have miles and miles of scenic vistas, here you have lots of trees.   The road is like a trench.


Monday, November 8, 2010

It was Great to Visit a Relative

It was great to be parked in a location with an electrical connection last night.  We got our monies worth running the heater all  night.   (We could use the built in Suburban heater, but they are so in-efficient plus they wreck the battery charge in short order.  So we refuse to use it.)

We had a long visit with Clark and his wife Peggy this morning at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant next to the interstate.  It was on the opposite side of town from where we're at, but Ms Garmin got us there.   Of course the route we took varied some from her preferred selection.   But we got there.

We had a slight shocker this morning when we went out to get into the car, it was covered with FROST.  The real bummer was that we don't have a scraper in the car either, so we used our trusty comb.  That shouldn't happen  again this season I hope.  We're headed further south in the morning (plus it is supposedly warming up for a while.)

We made arrangements for our mail this afternoon.  Four weeks ago, our mail was not accepted by a post office because we hadn't registered with them our intent to get our mail there.  So we had to decide what our schedule is and then we called the post office (in Florida).   Yes, we had to fill out the an online form to tell them what our plans were.   But after an hour, I gave up and called them again.  This time, I got a different clerk and she offered to registered  me.  We quickly gave her our name.

Tomorrow we're headed down the road and I'm not sure where.   I told Sandy I was getting soft and ready to stay in campgrounds (with electricity) for a while.  But it was such a nice day and the local weather report is for  a  warming trend, so maybe we'll take in another boondocking (dry camping) opportunity at the Congree National Swamp just southeast of Columbia, SC.   We'll decide tomorrow when we're on the road.  Otherwise we've picked out a possible stopping location.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wilson, NC to see cousin Clark

We were slow getting up this morning and then had some confusion on which way the clock needed to be reset.  We finally worked out the details and had a very late breakfast.   During the very early morning, Gene suffered a leg cramp in his left calf.  It really disturbed his sleep.  Then closer to morning, Sandy complained that she had cold feet.  So Gene got a robe and his parka coat and added it to the stack of blankets on her feet.  Eventually, she fell asleep, indicating she was comfortable.

Gene was up before the crack of dawn (he needs very little sleep). So he surfed some and caught up on some journal notes.  We finally left Williamston a little before 10:30, and headed for Wilson, NC, the home town of Gene's cousin Clark.   We made good time and arrived at Wilson right at noon and a few minutes later, we were at the campground.   It is nothing fancy, but functional and it has electric.

Electric is important, as we are getting softer and softer.   We want electric to run the heaters to keep the interior of the rig at a modest comfortable temperature.  I guess last night I decided we've had  enough of this cold weather for a while.

There are pleanty of campgrounds around.  The problem  is finding one that meets our needs. We bought a membership into the Passport America  operation and we intend to get our money's worth.   A basic PPA park charges members half of the going commerical rate.  Since this park was advertising it at $25 a night for water and electric, we get it for $12.50 a night.  Usually there is a limit on how many nights you can stay at a park (here it is limited to one week.)

I almost forgot to mention that yesterday we toured the Wright Brother's Historical Site at Kitty Hawk, NC.  We found it very interesting and educational.    I didn't realize that they had to  develop some of the equations used to design their gliders and then the Kitty Hawk Flyer.  They certainly were two very talented men.

We also were going to tour the historical site where Sir Walter Raleigh tried to start a colony  (it failed) on Roanoke Island.   The historical site has a large area,  but between being shut down for the season and being rebuilt, it was a bummer for us.   We left after about 45 minutes.

It has warmed up considerably this afternoon and by next weekend, the highs are to be near 75 degrees and the lows only down to 50 degrees.  We'll take that.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Leaving the Williamsburg Area

Today was bright and cheery, so it was laundry time and time to roll.   We didn't hurry and  it was almost 11 AM when we finally left the park.   Then it was time to go to a gas station to get some  LP.  Boy did we get took on that one.  He charged us over $6 a gallon verses something over $3 a gallon in Iowa.    This is a tourist area and they know that you have few options.

It was a hundred mile day today.  We have ended up at a little town called  Elizabeth City, NC.  We're not actually in the town, as we're far out west of it in a SuperWalmart   Another one of those cases where the city fathers didn't let Walmart into the community, so Walmart built outside and guess what, it is a busy place.

We took a timely break today at a rest stop next to the Great Dismal National Swamp and the Dismal Canal.   While there we met a couple that was from Canada, sailing south via the inter-coastal waterway  which uses the Dismal canal.    We didn't tour their boat, but space wise, it certainly looked like it would be tighter living on a boat than in our RV..

Tomorrow is off to see Kitty Hawk and the sands that the Wright Brother's played in.  It is the area called the "Outer Banks of North Carolina".      There is lots of history in this area, such as the first settlers in the New World -they didn't make it.   We also need to reset our clocks Saturday night.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Petersburg, VA , 150 years later

Today we drove about 60 miles to the  little town of Petersburg, VA which is about 30 miles south of Richmond, VA.  Petersburg's claim to fame is that it was a railroad town.   All of the rail traffic headed for Richmond passed through Petersburg..   During the Civil war, the federal forces realized that an alternative to assaulting Richmond (the capital of the Confederacy) was to starve Richmond out by taking  Petersburg.

We followed our GPS routing to get from here to there  until we were in Petersburg.  We wanted to go to the Visitor's Center and I wasn't sure we had the correct address as a destination, but we knew the general area.  However, after driving in circles a couple of times, we stopped at a tourist information site and obtained directions to the Visitor's Center.

Once we found the Visitor's Center, we showed our Golden Age pass and asked about seeing the video.  The 17 minute video was an excellent overview of what happened at Petersburg.  We then looked at the items in the museum.

Once outside, we decided to eat our lunch as we walked to one of the intact gun batteries near the museum .  The earthworks have been in place for almost 150 years and they are still in surprisingly good shape.  The highlight of the walk was a longer walk outside of the gun battery which went down behind a hill to a union gun position.

The Union gun was a huge mortar that could hurl a 225 pound shell 2 miles to the center of Petersburg.  It was apparently not that deadly, as it was reported that the town's citizen's got used to it and even after hearing the boom of the firing, they tended to ignore it.

We then drove the tour route to see where various emplacements were located.  The last stop was where Pennsylvania ex-miners in the army dug a 500 foot tunnel from the Union line to a location under the Confederate line.   The finished tunnel was then filled with gun powder in the area under the Confederate line and eventually it was detonated.  (They had a fuse problem and two volunteers had to re-enter the tunnel and see why it didn't go off.)

They located the problem, re-lite the fuse  and beat it.   The original plan was for two battalions of colored troops to rush the Confederate line immediately after the explosion.  They had been well briefed to stay out of the blast crater and rush one battalion on each side.   However, General Meade decided that there was too much risk to the assault, and  therefore he ordered that the colored troops not be used.    His concern was what the public reaction  might have been if the assault failed and the colored troops were wiped out.

So two battalions of white replacements were selected at the last minute, "they were NOT briefed other than being told to go forward after the explosion.  They were slow in charging ahead and went in using the crater for  cover.  Unfortunately, the Confederate forces regrouped fast and occupied the crater high ground and said it was like shooting  fish in a barrel.   It was not a good day for Union forces.

Back at the campground, we were both tired from walking and driving.  More later.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Yorktown and Beyond

Today we packed up and left the Hampton city park.  As I explained yesterday, their daily rate is absurd, more than a private park.  So we used our RV freedom's and left.  On the way up here, we spent the day at Yorktown Battlefield National Historical Park.

About 30 years ago, on a Christmas time vacation to the DC area, we visited Williamsburg, VA and also Yorktown.  Looking back on it, we didn't do justice to Yorktown then and perhaps not even today.   As the park ranger said, the weather often times determines who wins the battle and it certainly helped the Revolutionaries.  If nothing else, it shortened the battle time.

Tomorrow, we are off to  see more battle sites from the civil war.   It is a little town outside of Richmond that helped protect the supply lines into Richmond.   Our challenge tonight was trying to figure out where the sites are at in Petersburg.   Sandy has the GPS programmed andd I have an idea of what is there and where the the stuff is at.

We can't sign off without commenting about the election today/tonight.  I thought for a moment that I was going to be without TV, but we finally got it working.   I'm not sure if it is a TV problem or a bad cable.   But we have a channel and I'm not changing it  One interesting observation was we had similar problems last night and I expected to have better results today.   Not so.


Hampton, VA, a One Night Stand

We made it yesterday at a reasonable time.   Getting into this area at 2 PM is a lot better than the 5 PM that we did 2 years ago.   Plus we used Sandy's GPS to run us directly to  the city park in Hampton, VA.

Early indications were that this was going to be a long term, restful stop , supposedly at $10 a night.  SURPRISE, they raised the rate to $30 a night last July.   We debated about leaving, but Sandy thought we ought to pay it for one night and get some rest.   It was probably the right thing to do.

One of our first things to  do  on the internet was to email  our friend (Guy Gipson of the Escapee's Day's End list)  and tell him about the rate change. Let's not have any more Escapee's heading this way to get taken by greedy city fathers.

We settled in to a spot, then we had to register and also ask for someone to come and unlock our electrical box.   They literally put a cable around the box to prevent its opening.   I guess they are worried about late arrivals and early departures.

There were 24 digital channels via the TV scan,  but we could really only bring in 3 or 4.  I'm not sure what is going on.  We do know that there is lots of military in the area, so perhaps they have something online that knocks out the new digital signals even though the TV will see it during the scan.

When we arrived, there was a number of over flights by Air Force fliers with their hot noisy fighter jets.  Sandy was concerned that it would go on all night, but I assured her that after the 5 PM closing, it would be quiet. It was.    This morning, they played Reveille at 6 AM.  (Sandy even decided that it was time to get up then.)    Langley AFB is about a mile west of here across the bay.

Today we're taking the coach and leaving this place for a park near Williamsburg, VA.  It has a Passport America rate of $20 a night for full hookups. The down side is that it is near a train tracks and has very crowded sites but supposedly is not busy now.   On the way, we'll spend lots of time at the Yorktown Battlefield Memorial Park just 30 miles west of here and on the way to Williamsburg, Va.

As we leave, I'd like to stop at the park office and give them a few thoughts of mine.   But they'll be left un-said!  Why get my blood pressure up when I don't need to?


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Relaxing by the Sea

Today we decided to sit tight an extra day.   So we paid the park another $8 fee, easy come, easy go.  I should have signed up for two days yesterday, but didn't.

It was a very quiet, lovely night last night. No road noise, or anything.  We loved it.  Plus I slept like a log and it was warmer this morning than we expected.  .So more to be happy about.

We went on a couple of trail walks, nothing spectacular, but we were out and about.  We walked up the boardwalk over some sand dunes to see what the seashore was like.   Just a plain sandy shore line.    Tonight I went back up there at dusk and there were two horses about a quarter of a mile south of me.   then one of them started galloping in my direction now and then.  I decided to retreat to the RV and as I arrived at the RV, the horse went running past on the boardwalk.   Supposedly, the horses are very tame, but I don't want to press my luck.  (It would be my luck that the horse would be a stallion looking for a lost mare.)


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Assateague National Seashore Park

We made it after a detour to a Freightliner dealer near Atlantic City New Jersey.  Of course, it was nearly $900 to rescue our home from him also.   Freightliner put in a bad bearing and we were lucky enough to get it.  So it was a belt,  bearings, hub, seals and what else plus about 3 or 4 hours of labor.   How the guy did it amazed me, as he had to stand on his head using double jointed arms to reach the hub from the top side.  The good part is that we were able to leave yesterday afternoon at 3 PM.

We pulled out just as rush hour was beginning and headed south.  We were going to take highway  9, but it had a bridge closed, so we were pushed onto the freeway  and I paid a toll of  6 dollars in Quarters.  (I got into the wrong lane.)

For the evening, we stopped at the last Walmart prior to reaching Cape May heading south.  To our surprise, it was not a SuperWalmart, but we stayed anyway.  The Walmart actually was sharing a parking lot with a strip mall and the strip mall side was not very busy (so we were on that side.)  There was some concern that we might get booted, but nothing happened all night.   Never the less, it must have worked on me, as I didn't sleep well until about 4 AM.   Had I asked at the customer service desk, I would have known.    But by not asking, I could plead ignorance of the rules.

This morning, we took our time before heading on down the road to the Cape May Ferry Terminal.  We were very early for a 9:30 departure, but we also got on.  

Once across the bay, we headed for another Walmart, which I also thought was going to be a Super.  Again, I had to eat crow, it was only a crowded regular one.  So instead of fresh fruit, Sandy says I'll have to put up with Canned fruit for a few days.   I can handle that (I love canned peaches.)

From the Walmart, we headed south on the coastal highway #1 in Delaware.   Sandy was not happy since she had programmed a different route into the GPS last night  (per my instructions.).   I had talked with a fellow in the parking lot who told me that it was a very good highway and I wanted to see it.  As the fellow had told me, no problem this time of the year.  The entire 50 miles is built up with condos or summer homes (and not small cracker boxes either.)   Of course the garages was always on the ground floor, so you know that they are expecting to get a major wash or tsunami sometime.

Tonight we're parked in the campground at Assateague National Seashore just off of the edge of Ocean City, Maryland.  We're still feeling the remains of the cold snap that blew in a couple of days ago, so hopefully tomorrow will be better.

There are always little things to be thankful for.  We survived 12 days at daughter's house without filling our holding tanks or emptying the freshwater tank.    I think that is called living on the edge.  So today we finally dumped and then I measured the water left in the freshwater tank, a whole 11 gallons.  We're getting this boondocking routine down to  where it works pretty well for us.

Tonight, we sleep very well.  No traffic and no question that we won't be visited by a roving guard that doesn't like where we're parked.

Tomorrow we walk the seashore and observe the wild horses here on the island.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grounded! We need a Belt!

We left Julie's in good time this morning and as we were settling in on the road, the engine coughed, dropped speed and the "Protect Engine" warning came on.    The engine temperature was max'd out.

We backed off  on the pedal, and looked for a place to pull off.   We did a brief tour of the outside and saw no leakage from the radiator and noted that we had plenty of coolant yet.  Back in the rig, we called Freightliner service for advice. they wanted to  know if the belt was on.   They also told me that I only had one serpentine belt.  We went looking and found the belt, somewhat shredded, coiled up on the front of the engine.

So it was time to call the Emergency road service, which really handled it well.  The first question was "Are you safe or do you feel threatened?"   If I was stranded in the middle  of a  freeway, the question would have been right on target!.   But we were parked along the highway at the end of a Garden shop nursery drive and off of the highway.

There were the usual questions of where are you at, our service people need to talk with you first; and finally, we'll get a tow truck out to you.   It took about an hour, but he showed up with the biggest wrecker on the road.  I've seen these babies before and it was well equipped.

The operator was a bit younger than us "old timers" like to see, but I have to admit, he knew exactly what he needed to do and did it in a very safe manner.   So shortly, he was trucking it down the road, with us following him in our Honda.

The Freightliner dealer was only 20 miles away.   Of course he didn't have a belt on hand and before he ordered one, he wanted to see if anything else was needed.  He slipped under the coach and shortly, you could hear his "Oh, Oh".   Besides the belt, the hub for the fan was shot, as it had lots of play.   We were lucky that it didn't take out the radiator.

So here we  sit.  All of the parts will be in at 9 AM and we'll move the coach around so that if it is more than a day's job, we can still spend the night in it.  I hate to think what the bill will be at a hundred bucks an hour.  It will set the check book back a dollar or two.   But it could have been worse.

If push comes to shove, we can pack up our stuff and go back to daughter's house for the weekend.  We'll cross that bridge later.  Otherwise, we're going to see what Atlantic City is like.   Sandy has already said that we're going to  the library so she can have free high speed  internet.

So today was a bit of a setback, but we'll manage.     In our 16 years of RVing, this is the first time we've really had a show stopper problem.  

Tomorrow is a new day!


Saying "Good-bye" again

We have been here at Julie's for a couple days shy of 2 weeks and enjoyed it very much.   When our family was at that age, I never really noticed the differences as our daughter's matured.   But since we see the grand-daughters so rarely, little changes are big changes.   The little girls are rapidly turning into polished young ladies

Our departure plans are kind  of flexible.   Sandy felt that we needed to get parked before the big blow  (wind and cooler temperatures)  arrives here on the east coast.   It has been interesting to watch the weather reports as this latest storm/cyclone/arctic blast wakes us up.   We hope that it isn't an indication of things to come this winter.

So today we're pulling stakes and rolling to the south to catch a ferry.  The non-ferry option is to go southeast into big city traffic, which I detest.   Once we cross via the Cape May Ferry, we'll head south along the coast to a National Seashore where the wild ponies roam. We'll be there a day or maybe two.  We really don't know.

From the seashore, we'll head on south to Hampton, VA for a few days.  they have a nice city park with electric, so it will be pleasant.  The primary goal is to visit the Yorktown Historic park where the revolutionary war was finally ended.   From there, it is a quick trip  to Kitty Hawk to see where the Wright Brother's opened the "Air"  generation.   Then to see a cousin of mine, and ultimately to a little town in South Carolina where our coach chassis was made. (I can't remember the name.)  Eventually, we'll get to Florida around the 20th of November.

We'll keep this one short.  Have a nice day!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Seeing the Big City

We did it  (and survived).   Today we headed into Philadelphia to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.   Getting there was a typical urban challenge but thanks to Ms. Garmin (our GPS voice), we were close enough so that we could use our "gut feeling" as to the directions for  the last few blocks.

Once we were near Independence Hall, we spotted the blue directional signs directing us to the underground parking lot under the Independence Hall Visitor's Center.  It was convenient  (just don't ask about the price for 5 hours of parking.)

As we were walking to the visitor's center, I realized that I had not properly prepared myself.  For starters, I didn't take my two Tylenol pain killer pills at breakfast for my hip pain.  Oh well, so be it.  The other problem was that I forgot to bring my walking cane.  I have lightly used one for years, especially if I'm going to be walking a lot, or standing around.   (When touring at national park service sites, seniors walking with a cane  get expedited service.)

At the visitor's center information desk, we picked up the tickets so we could get in line for the tour of Independence Hall.  Then we picked up a map of the area and marked the sites we intended to visit.  Finally it was time to use shoe leather to get to first site.   Okay we were 15 minutes early, but I prefer it that way.

As Sandy observed, the first tour guide did very well.  I can't say the same for the last tour guide in the morning.  His presentation was a zero in terms of enthusiasm for his subject.

In the PM, we went to the Liberty Bell site followed by the mint.  In both cases, it was "look or read".  No tour guide.  To tour the mint, the tourist is on the third floor in a very long hall, looking down  on the presses through sloping windows.  The presses are enclosed in noise reducing chambers, so there is really nothing to see, other than a belt delivering coin blanks to a hopper for pressing.   To fill in the very long hall way, they had numerous photos and samples posted behind glass panels.

The drive back to  the motorhome was uneventful; traffic moved fast (evening rush hour), but Ms. Garmin kept us in the proper lane and gave us advanced warning when turns were coming up.  GPS devices work!

Touring is nice, but getting back to the motorhome was great!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Time Marches on!

Here it is Monday morning and the last blog was posted on Wednesday of last week.  This one will not be a literary work of art, but will update you on our activities.  In short, not much.

Friday night we went to a pot luck dinner at Julie's church and then watched a good video after wards.  It did make one think, plus it had all of the pre-requisite scenes from laughing to tearjerkers.

On the motorhome, I've sorted a little of the basement, but nothing was disposed of.  Of course, it is all very important stuff, I might need it some day.   Our backup water pump arrived and was checked out.   The one we took out still refuses to run which indicates perhaps some bad electronics.  We'll carry it a while!

I've put together our travel list of places and have our route planned.   One change was to bypass a museum in Delaware, which is closed to walk-in tourist midweek.(It is opened only for school tours then.)

Our original plan was to visit Philadelphia, but after getting here and seeing urban traffic, it changed my mind. (But a higher power then voted and I was out voted!)   Well, today we're headed into the big city to see all of the historical sites.  It will be a big day.

We have our week planned we think.   Philly today.  Help Dave winterize their rig Tuesday; Do some shopping and pick up some prescriptions on Wednesday; Thursday is wrap up day and Friday is hit the road.   (We think.)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meeting some locals

We are at daughter's house for a while and last night we were invited to join a dinner party for friends of Julie and Dave.    It is a unique group of friends, tied together because the four women all had a brush with breast cancer and they then volunteered to be part of a group study.   The original purpose of the group is past, but the group clicked and they have continued to rotate potluck dinner parties every month.

So we joined in for a good old fashioned feast (well stocked  potluck dinner table).  There were 3 of the 4 couples present plus us.    I think one of the reasons we were asked to join was because two of the couples have thought about retiring and traveling.   It is a big step for them to  take.  Towards the end of the evening, I kind of got into my lecture mode and explained that yes, we have been full time for 16  years because we decided to bail out early.  Even though the company had an early out option, we knew that it would cost us some dollars in the long term.  I explained that we had discussed it and we both agreed that while we'd have less pension coming in each month, we'd have more years to enjoy it.  ((Hint, hint to them.))

For the other two couples, the husband has kind of retired and is waiting for the wife to decide to hang it up.   The wives  are breast cancer survivors, and have finished their treatments.  I didn't get personal, but hopefully I got the message across to take whatever time they have left, retire and do the traveling that they want to do.

We also shared with them some of the problems that they need to watch out for like making a residence change and losing some of their health insurance because of their cancer status.  It will be interesting to see what decisions they make in the months to come.

A couple days ago, Sandy and I drove to some local cranberry bogs and watched the harvest.  It  is very similar to what we saw in Warrens, WI.  The big difference is that these farms did not have deer proof fences around the bogs, yet we know that they have a big deer problem here in New Jersey.  The other big difference is that many of the bogs are hidden back in the forest and not viewable from the road (like outside of Warrens, WI.)

We've done a few things on the motorhome and have other irons in the fire while we're parked.  But there is no need to rush things.   We did order/buy a new water pump today that will be delivered next week we hope.  E bay comes through again.  The rework of the reworked pump seems to  be working again  fine.  So it is not critical that we get the replacement pump installed.   In  fact, the replacement pump will become a spare part, to be hauled along with the other spare stuff.

This is about long enough. I'm sure there is an error or two for the language police to ding me on.