Saturday, January 29, 2011

Now we move; then we don't

 I'm frustrated.  I was writing this online and presto, it erased what I was doing and gave me a  new blank screen.  I blame it on secret key strokes built into Windows 7 and this machine.

On Thursday, we moved from Hickory Hammock to this place, S-65C.  Actually it just a part of the Florida Water Management Area on the Kissimmee river.   This particular place just happens to have a lock and dam on the canal/river.  If you've ever wondered where your federal dollars have gone, just look at this place.   First they dig ditches to make a canal and drain the lake.  Then they seem to be undoing what they have been doing.  Their goal is to "restore" all of the wet lands that existed 50 years ago.

Friday we went touring north of here to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.  It is a very safe place, just don't pick up any strange objects, as it is an old WWII bombing range.   People have been killed when they pick up a strange object and it blows up. (It was a bomb fuse.)   With thousands of acres of space, the campground is too typical of most, squeezed in.  It did have a heated bath house, with a shower and a single washer and dryer,  at about half the rate of the commercial units.  The camp sites also have water and  50 amp electrical service, all at a very decent price.  Interestingly, it was nearly full.

Late yesterday afternoon, we realized that while our stool still worked in the bathroom, the connecting pipe to the black water tank appeared to be plugged.   So we decided that Saturday would be a good day to move to where we could flush and refill the rig.  However, apparently  during the night, the plug magically disappeared into the holding tank.  I doubt if that will happen very often.   So now the plan is to move on Monday.  Where to?  We don't know.  I could say that my navigator hasn't told me yet!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Cold wave is due in Shortly

Life has been pretty laid back and relaxing here at the Hickory Hammock Water Management District park.  We have been here 3 days in what is called an Equestrian campground (RVs are allowed also.)  In that 3 days, we have yet to see a horse.   No complaints, just an observation.

A few days ago, someone asked how we got into the full time life style with the RV?   It was kind of via the back door.   In 1974, we bought a used Airstream so that we could park it on the farm (near my folks) and use it often during the summer.  (Previously,, we had a fold down, but since it seemed to rain every weekend, and the rest of the family wasn't too happy.)

About 1982, with both daughters in or about to be in high school and not wanting to spend the weekends away from the house, the use of the RV declined.  About then a friend leaned on us to join their RV club, which we did.  (He had asked me in 1974.)       My rational for joining was to kind of force us to use the RV a little bit since our daughters didn't want to travel weekends with us.

As years progressed, we became acquainted with numerous retirees and a few full timers.  When it came time for our retirement, we had two options since we wanted a different home to retire in.   Either we buy it before retirement, move in and then travel or we sell our current home, travel and buy our retirement home  in a year or two.  We decided that buying a home and leaving it to   the care of unknown neighbors was not smart.    So we sold our home, banked the money and said we'd buy a new home when we had seen the country  (that was 16 years ago.)

How long will we continue to live the full time life style?  Our general answer is that we'll stick with it as long as our health holds out.  Right now there are a few aches and pains, but no show stoppers.  (A new hip is probably in the not too distant future for me.)

What have we learned in this life style?  There are lots of folks doing it in all kinds of RVs and with the full range of financial  resources.  What I have concluded was that early retirement was a god-send for us.  Changing one's life style is stressful.  Going full-time is stressful initially.   Giving up the neighborhood and moving in to a group of complete strangers is stressful.  The younger one is, the easier it is to handle all of the stress.   It was a move that we have no regrets about.

As I write this, the generator is humming away outside since it is cloudy here in south Florida and my solar panels are not doing the job, plus it is raining.  (If I wasn't doing this, I'd probably have to be cleaning the stuff off of my "flat file" table even tho I know where it is!)


Monday, January 24, 2011

Back on the Farm Again

The campground of Indian Prairie Campground closed today at 5:30 pm and we had to move.  (A standard procedure for this campground on every Monday.)  So we moved to Hickory Hammock, a South Florida Water Management District north about 50 miles on the Kisseemmee River.  I mentioned visiting the place a couple of days ago and one reader felt that instead of burning gas to check it out, it would have been cheaper to use a commercial park for a day.   He felt that Sandy would have enjoyed the amenities of a commercial park more!

Okay, but what about the rest of the week?   She is getting plenty of "computer time", thanks to our 400 watts of solar.  Also, since we finally wired the TV into the battery, she gets to watch the first hour of GMA in the morning and 2 hours of evening news at 5 PM.

So we are here and we feel right at home.  After all, we're back on the farm again.   There is an old barn that is in outstanding condition after 70 or 80 years of being in use.  (They did put steel roofing on it recently.)  The interior is all horse stalls and they are built for tough horses. All of the walls are concrete block with heavy steel gates.   My first thought was that it was built for wild mustangs, not riding ponies for the ranch hands.   It has a large hay mow and is totally wired in conduit (very modern considering the era it was built in.)   I suspect that the lights were from a local generator, which the state disposed of.   Currently, the only electric is from 4 solar powered yard lights.   I haven't checked to see how well they work.

Again, as you can expect, the nightly camping fee was "zero", yes, FREE.   Just register to get the gate combination and if there is an opening, you're in.   When we pulled in, a Game Warden was behind us and he jumped out and opened the gate for us and waved us in.   But a mile down the road, he turned on his lights and a mild panic set in.   We pulled over on a very narrow lane.  He went zipping by like he was in a big hurry and disappeared in the dust.

We were greeted by a temporary host who gave us a run down of the layout.  They limit the campers to 4 Equestrian users, 4 regular RV users and 4 back-country users.  they have some marked parking sites, but the basic rule was "park where you want to".  We can handle that!  Also, they bring prison labor out to cut fire wood for us.  So we will have to have a fire while here.  (There is a big pile for us to work on.)

We haven't explored any of the trails yet, but we have 4 days to do that.   Also, we will return.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

IT Was Cold Last Night !!!!!

Well, we survived last night when it was down to 35 or so with a moderate breeze from the north. We thought we were prepared, but something was different, as I froze my buns! It sure was refreshing to get up for church (real early) and turn on the Blue Flame heater.

Yesterday, we went exploring, looking for future (tomorrow) parking sites. We spent all afternoon, putting on about a hundred miles and learning some things. For starters, there are a range of boondocking sites here in Florida. The first site was a “has been” canal lock. After spending millions of dollars years ago to straighten and deepen the Kissemmee River, they are now taking out all of the improvements. It may have drained the land, but it was an environmental disaster according to the “powers that be” now in Washington. So out it comes.

What failed to really impress us was the boondocking arrangements at the site now. In summary, the host site would compare nicely with just about any bad location at the Slabs in California. Otherwise, the location was roomy and had both shaded and open areas. Solar systems will work very well.

We found the location for the second site we wanted to check out next. However, we couldn't check out the site because it has a locked gate at the road and we didn't have the key. When we register to park there, they will give us the key numbers. However all was not lost. With the information on where the gate is at, I was able to go to Google Earth and locate the entry and follow the lane to the campground. The Campground is an old farmstead, with the barns currently being used by equestrian campers for their horses. All of the other buildings have been removed.

We have to depart this campground tomorrow because of “house rules”. The campground is an old C.O.E. Campground that was abandoned, then given to the Florida Water Management District which in turn gave it to the county road department. Then to eliminate anyone from “homesteading”, they insist that everyone clears the grounds on Monday afternoon so that they can mow the grass on Tuesday and not worry about damaging anyone's RV. It may be a lame excuse, but the price is also right, “Free”.

This site is a very basic boondocking camping site. It has tables for half of the sites, crude stone fire rings for all sites, garbage containers, no water, and no dump facilities. But again, I'm not complaining, it is free.

After this is posted,, I'll make my reservation for Hickory Hammock, which supposedly has the same facilities.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Indian Prairie Campground and loving it already

Today we moved about 50 miles from the commercial park about 400  yards from the highway to this county park on the canal.  Plus this park is about a quarter of a mile or more from the highway.  In other words, there is no road noise here!   What a Joy.

Sandy still had trouble sleeping last night and was up at 5 AM.  The reason I know is that I was up at 4 AM and did some surfing until 5 AM.  Her problem is finding a comfortable position to sleep in.  For me, just keep me well covered so that I may sweat and I'll get some shut eye.

We both remember parts and pieces of this park when we drove in for a look/see back in  November of 2002.  It had all of the tables I think.  Currently, only  about half of the sites have a table.  I suspect that in the years when the park was for the most part abandoned, local thieves helped themselves to a free table, with a little bit of work.  The tables are well made supported by a single steel post  and covered with a dipped coating that really protects them.   Such is life when it isn't tied down and guarded.

There are 20 sites here and we have about 10 rigs on the grounds.  Everyone is friendly and it is really  a big happy family.  I think most of the folks have met at previous campgrounds and we intend to learn where those places are at.   I suspect that on Sunday, most of the socializing will cease when the storm front blows in.  But we'll roll with the punch!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Air Card Arrived, Moving day Tomorrow

Last Sunday was big day for me, as I subscribed to a new Internet Service Provider, Millenicom.   The new card arrived this afternoon late and by 5 PM, I was in fat city.  It's performance exceeded my wildest expectations.  So that made our day.

Sandy has been moving about a little better today and last night she even slept like a normal person in her half of the bed.   (She had been trying to sleep in the chair in the living room.)  So there is good progress, no matter how you look at it.  We will be happy to have our normal life back.

We did laundry this morning and while there weren't that many people in the laundramat, Sandy's comment was "listen to all of the coughing".   With the life style we have been leading this winter, we're rarely around many people.   There are a number of people around when we're in church and a moderate number when shopping at Walmart.  (Two weeks ago after church (12 pm), the crowd in Walmart was un-acceptable.)

It has been an interesting stay in this park. It seems like most of the people we have met are relativity new, perhaps being here a couple of months or so.  Strangely, the park went bankrupt last year and there is a new owner this year.   The other thing we noticed is that the park is heavily populated with Frenchmen from Quebec.   So while the signs are bi-lingual in parts of the club house, they are in English and French, not English and Spanish.

Tomorrow we are moving to a small county park on the north edge of Lake Okeechobee.  Considering what the weather has been like around here, we need to hurry heading north before we  need air conditioning.  (I know a few readers will take issue with that idea!)  We do give up a luxury (the electric power connection), but the rental rate drops to zero, which I like.   We may  have second thoughts about that on Sunday morning when the temperature is supposedly going down to 47 degrees here,  but only for one morning.   But I think we can handle that for one day.

Sandy was feeling much better this afternoon.  She took advantage of the electrical  connection and baked some brownies.  They do taste good! The problem is I'm restricted to one brownie in the morning and one in the afternoon. Thankfully,  they are hidden away in the freezer, so mostly, "out of site, out of mind."

It has been interesting learning about the park.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Being Nurse-maid to my wife

Here we are on Wednesday and Sandy is marginally better than Saturday.  (Probably much better then Sunday.)   The bottom line is that she must be sick as even the computer is being ignored.

Monday we made a quick trip to Walmart for groceries and some other non-essential prescriptions that had been ordered on Saturday.   But since then, life has been pretty much a stand still here in the motorhome.  But we have plans.  This morning we extended our stay for 2 more days (waiting on our new Millenicom data card plus a longer time for Sandy to recover.)   From here, we're planning to stop at Indian Prairie Campground, which is a county park with no facilities but it is free.   We leave I.P. on Monday and head to a Water Management District park NW of Okeechobee about 25 miles for 5 days.  Then it is an open book what direction we go.

This morning I attended the park management meeting, which is where everyone learns what is happening.  It was the usual reminders to pick up after your pet; don't speed;  attend the activities etc   The meeting was well attended and the park appears to be a friendly park.  At least I was very comfortable!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Since I took some static about the previous blog and had to even edit it, I'll try to do better this time around. It is really about the hazards of trying to write online.  I do much better if we write it, let it lay a while and then return to finish it.

Sunday was kind of a lost day for us.   Saturday night was a bummer for Sandy.  I think that she really enjoyed the smooth nice streets in this park that she over did it for herself with a long walk.   By Saturday night, she had a bad (really bad) case of pleurisy.  It was so bad that she didn't even want to sleep on her back. Eventually we set her up in the drivers chair which is also a recliner and rotates to be a part of the living room.   With enough blankets to keep her warm and a heating pad to give a little extra on her back or chest, she finally dozed off.

During the night she did move from the chair to the sofa, deciding that she couldn't sleep in the chair.   So her condition wasn't really extreme, as she could move herself around.   By Sunday morning, life wasn't much better.   She was not willing to visit the hospital, so it was a long day in the coach.   By 6 PM, she was well enough to go with me to the club house for their weekly ice cream social.

At the social, we met two couples who were both very new to the park.   Management is trying, but it appears that there is a high turn over in the park.   After the social, we returned to the motorhome and I became very serious about switching our internet providers from Verizon to Millenicom.   Supposedly for the same dollars, we're getting the same or better service and we are allowed to use 20 gigabytes of data a month.    We thought usage was going to become a problem last month when we nearly topped our 5 gigabyte limit.  This month is fine and we think that my old computer had a virus or trojan that was passing bits somewhere.  We have not been using it since 2011 kicked in.

Since January 1st, I have been using a Windows 7 machine that Sandy needed so that she understood the differences for her classes.    Needless to say, my frustration with Microsoft is much worse.    Things that worked fine in XP, Microsoft had the stupidity to change.  Example:  The wi-fi icon, in XP it gives you an indication when traffic is being passed.   In Win 7, it tells you the signal strength.   All I can say is 'Come on Linux, we need you badly."

Sandy is feeling better today.  She did sleep in her bed last night and when I arose, she was methodically sawing logs until nearly 7 AM.   Presently, she is sitting on the sofa, surfing, so life must be better.   Today we make a quick trip to Clewiston for some milk and prescriptions from Walmart.

Incidently, for anyone that is considering traveling, getting our prescriptions via Walmart has been a real blessing.   They have a central registry so that we can get refills as needed, no matter where we're at.    When we started this fulltime life style 16 years ago, we had to be careful to make sure we had a sufficient quantity of pills for our expected travel schedule.   Or sometimes we had to have them mailed to us, which is a hassle when you are never in any one place for long.

So we're going to be here in Moore Haven for a day or two.   Of course, I'm hoping that the new data card from Millenicom arrives soon, while Sandy would hope that it is very late (so that we can enjoy the benefits of good park roads and unlimited electrical service.)


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday night, Jan 15

(My chief critic said I've mixed to much up here. )

As reported yesterday, we pulled stakes and moved our home about 10 miles to the west side of Moore Haven, Florida.  It is more expensive by a buck, but the street is safe to walk on.   All of the streets in the park are asphalt and they have been renewed in the last year.

(This is about the park we left.)

When we checked into the park last Friday, she told us what the price was and said that the owner would collect later.   The owner finally showed up at our door step at 7:30 AM this morning.   I was hoping that she'd ask where we were heading, but she didn't and I felt that I ought not be nasty and tell her all of my complaints, like no water connection and really bad roads.  Perhaps I was in a really great mood since I knew we were  going to "blow this joint" shortly!   I also had a little pity when she mentioned that they had just purchased the park 3 months ago.     They have lots of work ahead for themselves.

(This paragraph is about the current park.)

We've only been in  this park for about 8 hours, but already Sandy has observed that there are lots of residents that are walking or riding bicycles.  It no doubt helps to encourage the members to do these exercises since the park is level as a pancake.  We have also visited the club house a couple of times to use the free wi-fi there.  We've been on faster networks (and lots slower), so we're not complaining.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Moving to the country park

We left the Dupuis Management area yesterday with much regret.  It reminded me so much of being back on the farm, in the country, few people around and some horses passing by now and then.   But with the state of our propane in the tank (VERY little), it was obvious that we needed to go find some propane before it ran out.  When you're dry-camping (or boondocking), propane is an absolute necessity.  (It cools the food or warms it, your choice.)

We had two choices, either go to Indiantown and get a load of propane or head on down the road to Moore Haven and find some on the way.  We chose the later, as then we'd be in a position to visit Paradise Park on Friday and  sit in on the annual meeting   We missed our first propane option by not seeing it along the road.  At the second option, I called ahead and she informed me that it would be 2 hours or more since all of the technicians were out on service calls.   She did tell me of another option on down the road in Moore Haven, so we headed on to Moore Haven.  

In Moore Haven, we spotted a service station that had plenty of room for us to get into to fuel up the diesel, so in we went.   When we attempted to pump from the first pump, it was a no go.   No signs on the pump, but the nozzle was locked off.  So we went for the hose on the opposite side.  That worked and we promptly ran up a hundred dollar charge  (it was expected).  When I attempted to reload for the second hundred, it refused my card.  So a trip into the store.  To shorten a long story, eventually we got the fuel but only after we left the card with the clerk!   We were happy to leave.

Two blocks down the road, we found the propane service and pulled in.  All went well until I went in to ask about a sign I saw indicating that there was a C.O.E. Recreation Area north of the highway.   The station operator informed me that the direction I was pointing to was not north, but EAST.  He was emphatic with me that the highway out front ran north and south, not east and west.  I objected, but didn't argue.   He then gave me very confusing directions.   Eventually I got the picture of where he said it was.   We paid our bill and left.

We headed back on the highway and spotted the sign pointing to the "recreation area".  It said turn here, different from his directions.   We did and found the park.  (The sign looks like a C.O.E. sign, is labeled like a C.O.E sign except it did not have the signature C.O.E. Emblem on it which I didn't notice.)     The guard at the gate did not have a typical Ranger uniform on and when I asked if this was a C.O.E. park, she informed me that it was a private park.  I asked "How much?" and she said "$32 unless you're at Passport member when it is $16."   Since we're Passport America members, we said okay, we'd stay.  

The park sites are not well maintained, very poor gravel interior roads and in general, we were not impressed. But for 2 nights, we'll tolerate it.  The alternative was to truck on down the road 10 miles to another park that we knew was there, charged $16.99 a night for Passport members and would let us stay for 2 weeks but we had no idea what it was really like.   So we saved a buck!   Subsequently, I've learned that our 3 point hookup site only has electric that is usable; the sewer connection needs a 30 foot hose and the water connection has been stolen by the adjoining sites because the water main to those sites is not on.   Thankfully, we have enough left in our tank to hopefully get us by!

Today we went 45 miles west to the park where we actually own a lot (rented out now) for there annual meeting.  A friend was to vote via proxy for us, so our civic duty was covered.  I was interested in meeting so many friends that we haven't seen for 2 years.  All went well.  (I'll not bore you with the details of the meeting which took a lot of time because everyone has to get their two cents in.)

On the return to our motorhome,  we checked out the park that was our backup park.  Tomorrow, we move from here to there.    So it is a buck more expensive, but clean, well organized, and good asphalt roads.  Plus if I want to carry the computer to the club house, they have free high speed wifi.   (We have a Verizon data card, which gives us internet access, but certainly not high speed.)


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A cold wave just moved in Again

Okay, so I'm just a bit of a complainer because it is getting cooler out (perhaps even cold).  The effects of the snow and ice up north has finally moved into our neck of the woods here in southern Florida.   We could be further south, but they are assuring us that it will only be for one day!

But we have bigger problems.  When we moved here a week ago, I checked the propane gas level and said, "plenty for now".   Well, it wasn't plenty.  Tonight I decided to check it and was shocked to realize that the little needle was resting on the "E" meaning it is nearly empty.   The refrigerator is still working and Sandy was able to fix dinner tonight, so there are a few vapors left.  But like it or not, tomorrow, we pack up and move so that we can gas up the propane tank.  I think that is called "poor planning".  Next time, I'll try to not cut it so close.

We've been here almost a week without any other snowbirds here also.  Yes, lots of horse riders, but no just plain RV users.   Well, that changed yesterday when 4 rigs pulled in, all of them are Canadians from the north.   From the brief visit we had last night, they have been boondocking (dry camping) in Florida for a number of winters.   We hope to learn a few of their secret locations, if I'm lucky enough before we pull out tomorrow morning.

Yesterday we drove south along the shore of Lake Okeechobee to the next town.  I had heard that they had a nice city park for camping.  Yes, they do have a nice park and it is leased to KOA, which runs it like a typical KOA park  (Not Cheap.)   We also asked a local why the large dike around the lake?   He informed us that back in 1928, there was a devastating hurricane that passed over the area and the winds actually pushed the water out of the lake and onto the shore, drowning thousands of people.   The dike is larger than any dike we've seen in years.  So as we have seen in a few other places, you can have "water front" property, but never see the water.

If you are in the snow belt again this time, just take it easy.  Most of us are not used to pushing that white stuff around.  If you're like me, I don't intend to get near the stuff either!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Enjoying the Ranch Life

Time marches on here north of the Florida Everglades.  We're parked on a site that is primarily for horse lovers to unload their horses and go riding in the out country.   It is lightly shaded with a few trees, some broken grass and numerous horse droppings.   The rule is that the owners are supposed to distribute  the droppings, but it is only done lightly.

Yesterday we journeyed to the closest town nearby, Indiantown , to do our laundry.   For the first time in three weeks, the Laundromat was not over run with local Hispanics.   Perhaps we were at the wrong laundry.    We also checked out the city parks for a water connection and found none.  Then while looking out the window of the laundry, there it was, a water bib and a 4 foot hose.   So we filled our 5 gallon container, not that we need it, but as insurance if we unexpectedly run out.  We now have a little reserve supply.

Back at the motorhome, we found that Monday is apparently also a good day to do horseback riding.    There were 6 trailers in the yard, with everyone out and about.  They eventually came back around noon and relaxed for an hour or two before leaving the grounds.

On and off throughout the day, we discussed what and where are we going for the next 30 days.   Life can be difficult if you have no goal or direction.   Our next scheduled event is February 15th for an impromptu rendezvous about 50 miles west of here with our boondocking friends.   So we have to decide what we're doing and where we're going in the meantime.  (We are not going back to the big city, that we know for certain.)

We were debating checking in with a park on the south edge of Lake Okeechobee for a week, just to give Sandy her electrical fix.  Considering the weather forecast for the next 4 or 5 days, that probably wouldn't be a bad idea.  (We could then use an electric heater then plus the electrical mattress pad!)

Life is tough in the back woods. We're enjoying it.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Learning the Neighborhood

We're been here at Dupuis for 2 days and slowly we're learning the neighborhood.  Today we went for an all morning drive to nearby Water Management District properties to look over their primitive camping options.   I must say, we've struck it rich right here at Dupuis.    In fact, Sandy has commented more then once about the "look of Contentment" that comes over me when I look around here.   I guess there is a little bit of farm boy still in me.

This is Saturday and the host warned us that we'd see a few other campers coming in.  All total today, there probably hasn't been more than a dozen, mostly women.    Is horseback riding a women's sport?

About 5 days ago while at the Midway campground I decided to eradicate some "Strangler trees" growing on some of the palm trees in the campground.   Well, one of the seedlings had a nest of ants in it and about 6 of the little critters got into my glove and bit me  (and it hurt.)   I quickly got rid of them, but the next day, each ant bite was a small pimple with a pus head.   They hurt very much and itched like crazy.   Today the pain and itching is finally gone.  I don't know what type of ant it was, but I don't want to cross paths with those critters again.

Tonight I decided to get some accurate information on the church we plan to attend in Okeechobee tomorrow morning.  The frustration I went through to finally get what I wanted.  The web site is under construction, but every search engine around wants you to believe that they  have the real skinny.    I finally went to the district web site, then to the church sorting and finally, we had the details.  Exasperating.

Our solar system seems to be keeping the battery charged, thank's to our very efficient usage also.  If we had more power available, we'd surf more during the day which means we'd run up a bigger data bit count which would mean that we'd probably hit the limit on our Verizon Air Card account.  Last month, we used 4.9 gigabytes out of the 5.0 gigabyte limit.  I'm not sure what is going on, as our use was around only 3 gigabytes per month.   I think the web pages are including more video which runs up the bill  even if you don't watch it.  

Have a nice day.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Moving Day to Dupuis Water Management District

We  packed up the rig and then headed to the "outhouse" post office in Ochopee for our mail from Beth.  It arrived.   On the return, we stopped at another campground that charges a fee and has no services.  It has about 30 spaces and had 3 campers.  Not a good use of facilities.   Where we're at at Midway, there are about 30 sites and we had about 10 empty spaces.  

Back at the motorhome, we finished packing and headed out.  On the way, we emptied the tanks and refilled the fresh water tank which took an age with the small hose they provide.   After 15 minutes, we had it full.   The trip was broken into two parts.  Part one was to a SuperWalmart in north Miami, where we had lunch and restocked a nearly empty pantry.  Part two was the rest of the trip, which was mostly in a moderate rain.

Once we arrived at Port Mayaca, we unhitched the toad and drove it out to the Water Management District since we had no idea what we were getting into.   We finally stopped and asked a lady who informed us that it was another half mile.  We stopped in at the visitor's center and picked up better instructions on camping and then checked it out.  

Tonight we're parked/camping next to the horse barn.  No problem, it is mostly grass.  There is a host here, but he was not around, so we just made ourselves at home.   When you arrive in a light rain, all you want to do it get parked.  Tomorrow we'll check the facilities over better and perhaps move to the family campground.   I'm not sure why, since we're the only ones here now.   This place has 21,000 acres and we're the only ones here. 

After we were set up, I told Sandy that camping here is just like roughing it on the farm.   We have lots of space, and we should have plenty of space to keep the solar panels happy.  (No electric or water here, so our maximum stay is about 10 to 12 days.)  

It is going to be pleasant sleeping tonight!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Time Marches On, Jan 5, 2011

Time Marches on and we wonder where our time went.  Yesterday I was up at 4 AM, surfed for a hour and then returned to the sack at 5:30 AM until about 7 AM.    I didn't sleep or doze the rest of the day.  So this morning, I finally rose at 4:45 AM and here I am.

Today, my early morning sleep was disturbed when I heard something strange outside the rig.   It sounded like a motor running or a gas flame burning or something.   I finally investigated and found that it was the electric water heater element probably boiling some water for us.  At least when I turned the electric water heater off, the sound just nicely quieted down.   Of course, that makes for nice sleeping, as I lay there awake wondering "now what has broken?"  After all, an electric water heater is not supposed to boil the water in the tank.  When it does, high pressure builds up and water comes out the pressure relief valve.  It is probably the small button thermostat which is stuck closed, thus keeping AC power on the heating element.

I heard the sound about a week ago and thought it was the refrigerator burner being on.  Only later did I remember that the refrigerator is cooling via electric, so no gas flame.   Now I have a good idea what is going on.   So something else to put on the "To Be Fixed." list.   RVs are nothing but a money sink!

Today we get our mail from the smallest post office in the country (so they claim).   Actually it is pretty small and back on the farm in Iowa, we'd refer to it as "An outhouse or maybe a two holer".   At least that is the size.   A wonderful example of why we need to pay more to get our first class letters.  Of course if it wasn't there, we'd have to drive another 10 miles into Everglades City to get our mail.  (It is a 15 mile drive to the post office as it is.)

Assuming the mail comes in today, tomorrow we pull stakes and move out.  We think we know where we're going, but there is no guarantee we'll get there.   The current plan is to head north to a Florida Water Management District area where they have camping and equestrian camping.  I think we can choose either one.  It is camping the old fashioned way, no services (water, electric or restrooms).   We're totally dependent upon what we bring with us.  With our rig capacities,  we are good for about 2 weeks of roughing it before we  need to find some connections.  (I was going to say "Hookups", but that word seems to have taken on a unique meaning amongst the younger crowd.    About the only restriction is "NO DOGS" allowed.   I think I can handle that.

Enough on writing this.  I have other challenges, like finding a "Get Mail" button on my Thunderbird mail program.  I did something and it ran off.  Now I have no idea how to get it back.   For those of you with Windows 7, this automatic screen sizer is about to drive me nuts.  I works nicely under command, but it also has a mind of its own.    Why couldn't Microsoft have left well enough alone?


Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year day plus 3

Here it is,  the evening of the 3rd of Jan.  and I'm not sure we've done anything really of note  (That is, something that is exciting to write about.)

We did drive over to the visitor's center and to a walkway this morning.   The one mile walk-way is an elevated trail into a swamp.  Sandy and I walked it 4 years ago and it had lots of birds and even an alligator (I think.)  Today the entire walk was almost like walking into a life-less morgue.

The call to the Dupuis Water District was very productive.   The online documentation seemed to indicate that we needed to submit something before we show up.  That is not the case.     If we want to spend more than 5 days there, we need to register (on site) so that they can tell us that our limit is 30 days a year.  We can live with that.

The campground really cleared out last night and today.  We probably have 10 vacancies out of 30 sites. I like that!

Late this afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised when a couple that was here a week ago and left for the Everglades returned and parked next to us.  We can probably use the diversion for a while.

I have spent a lot of online time looking at Florida Water Management District camping sites.    There are 5 districts, each with lots of free camping.  Many of the sites are remote, primitive, and accessible only via walking in.  They also have a number of Equestrian campgrounds, suitable for RVs.  The one downer for us is the need for a free permit which seems to indicate that it would take 10 to 12 days.  (We don't plan ahead that far.)  The call today to the Dupuis Water District  made life a whole lot easier for us.

For those of you that have missed the weather reports, our lows have been about 64 and the highs about 78. It feels pretty nice.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

The New Year Day plus 1

I think all of us survived New Year's Evening with no problems.  At least here in the campground, it was pretty quiet after 6 PM.

Some of you remember that I have been less than happy with Windows 7.   Well, I should make a couple of positive comments about Wiindows 7.   Friday I finally decided to bite the bullet and program in the network printer.  As I recall from doing it before, it is a pain and you have to get everything just right.   Well, Windows 7 almost scares you by how easy it was.

As I recall, it was select Add Printer, on a Network, select which one (only one) and say Install.  It can't hardly get any simpler than that.  It is improvements like that that make sense.

On the other hand, Windows 7 lost a notch also.  In XP, when the wifi is passing data, the icon blinks.   Well, major improvement in Windows 7.   The icon just sits there, and doesn't do anything.   That is a bummer.

The jury is still out on the simple screen enlargement/reduction function.   I can handle the Plus and the minus okay.  But too often the display seems to want to change it without my command.  I'm moving the mouse somewhere and presto, I have a new screen size.   It bugs me!

Yesterday the personality of our campground suddenly changed.  I thought for a moment we were in the middle of some bowl game, as we had all kinds of hooting and hollering going on in the grass area between the road the the lake.   There was a very active socker game going on.    It was from about 15 to 20 hispanics that had moved into the tent area yesterday morning.   The players represent only the men, so you know how many folks that there were.   It looked like an old style family picnic in my book.  I told Sandy that it was reminiscent of when I was a young boy about 60 years ago.   I remember our family reunions usually had a game or two.

So far, so good.  2011 is going to be another Great Year.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year, 2011


Let's keep this one short and sweet.  Yesterday was a pretty laid back day for us.  I think we went to the visitor's center to make a couple of phone calls that didn't happen.  (one was a closed office hours and the other was ?  I don't remember why.

Today we'll watch what ever is on FOX or NBC.  Those are the only two stations we can get out here in the wilds    Who said that "digital TV" would have the same range?    Don't believe it.

We did spend some time locating some sites to see (or stay at)  in Florida.   Not your high traveled sites, but "boondocking" or "Primitive camping" sites.    They are out there, just hidden away for the locals.  We met a local couple last night that is going to show me a book about the sites in Florida.  The sites are in areas managed by the "Florida Water Management Districts"  (five areas in the state.)

The good new is that Sandy finished her / our Annual letter.  (It is after Christmas, so it  looses that title.)  It should hit the lines today.

Again, Happy NEW YEAR!!!!!!!