Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year.  

Time just keeps marching on.  It seems like it was only yesterday that there was the great concern that the world would stop turning when  the year 2000 arrived.   A friend of ours put it very nicely when he told a news reporter when she asked what his opinion was of the Year 2000 issue. He responded "It is only an issue created by a few people so that they can write volumes of books and get everyone excited about it so that their books sell!"  Such was the case.

Sandy and I are enjoying a quiet evening here in our motorhome, both of us on the computer becoming more educated about the world around us.  I read lots of news articles and Sandy searches the internet for appetizing sounding dishes that she can make while we're boondocking.   (We leave our park (with full hookups) on Tuesday with the intent to boondock (i.e. no hookups) until April.)   We may weaken a day or two between rendezvous  That is why we have a Passport America membership.

.We had a first in the park today.   A member of the park fell off of the steps of her RV and severely gashed her head.  We learned about it when the local siren sounded off.  It was then only a minute or so until about a half dozen golf carts went zipping by.   Then it was only 2 or 3 minutes until the local fire district EMS truck arrived.  The truck was guided by a local resident who met the truck at the road gate.  In another 5 minutes, the big fire truck showed up and shortly thereafter an ambulance arrived.

In summary it was very satisfying to see how the park residents responded to the emergency, since we are several miles out of town.  Some members served as traffic control, others grabbed the medical equipment and everyone converged at the accident site.   (I didn't stick around to get in the way, so I'm not sure what caused the lady to fall.)  Considering the age of the park residents, we're fortunate to have so many willing volunteers.

Again, Happy New Year.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrapping up 2011, looking forward to 2012

We've had a moderately relaxing week here at Paradise Park.  Nothing earth-shattering that upset the apple cart.  (And we like it that way.)  We thought that there would be some comments about a "Mud Track" west of the park two miles that has a 3 day event starting today.   But it is not to be.  Friends who went into town said that everything went well, no lines or hold ups for them going either way.  Considering all of the stories that were going around earlier, we're happy to hear that it was a nothing today.

Yesterday we worked on Lavonne bathroom stool.  What a pain.  Airstream has the stool in a little room so small that you can't even get your hand down beside it.   I had to lay on the floor to un-bolt it.   Plus the water line had to be removed by feel.   We took the stool out to see why it would not hold water in the bowl.  I thought that they problem was a lime build up on the active surface of the seal.  So we used lime away and cleaned the seal as best as we could.  But this morning, she reported that all of my effort was wasted.  It did not hold water.  (I guess as a friend in the service used to say, "You win some; you loose some and some get rained out."

On Wednesday, I helped Lee replace a since faucet in Lavonne's shed behind the trailer.  This job was a little bit easier.  The problem was that we could only rotate the sink, not pull it into the open.  Miraculously, the four screw on connections held water.   I guess it helps when they are not cross threaded to begin with.

A friend came over yesterday morning with his computer and his Mi-fi card.  He had taken his computer into Office Depot to be speeded up and now he can't get onto his Mi-Fi.   It was our first look at a Mi-Fi and it was impressive.   His problem was that they had taken his wireless driver out of his startup file, so the wireless adapter never ran.   We fell into the solution real quick.  However, when we tried to connect our notebook to the Mi-Fi, it was a no go.  As we talked with him, we learned that the Mi-Fi is a replacement for him.  When they sent it too him,  they had told him to switch the "chip" from the old unit to the replacement unit. The end result is that Mi-Fi has an attached label that is wrong.  It is no problem until he needs to replace his computer and now doesn't know what the security code is.  We sent him on his way with instructions to lean on Verizon until they tell him what the code is.  He needs it if he gets a new computer or e-book.

We are really done with any productive work here in the park.  Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and it will be a quiet one in this house.  Sunday will be a quiet day as most of the folks have stayed up well beyond their bed time hours.  Monday is our last day here, so we're putting the final touches on our stuff and Tuesday we hit the road again, pull the anchor up or what ever you want to call it.  Tuesday, we're headed off to another location to join our "Boondocking" friends!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One week left to empty my bucket list!

We  leave the park one week from today and so far our list of things to get done is getting whittled down.  I think we'll make it.   Today we went with Lavonne to Arcadia for fuel (her car) and to give her moral support to pump it herself.   I feel like a hick standing there while she pumps it, but that is the only way she will learn how it is done.  One of her problems is that she has difficulty reading the LCD panels at the pumps.

While there it was grocery time, but that came second to Sandy getting her Kindle touch.  We turned in her Kindle 3G last Friday and the Punta Gorda store was out of the touch.   So now she has her toy!  She decided that the 3G version was un-necessary since we have a router and she does not intend to buy books from Amazon.   She has learned of a number of sites where she can obtain books for free via libraries and another place.   (The 3G version would also do the wi-fi to our router, but she didn't need the 3G capability, which costs and extra 50 bucks.)

Back at the park, we briefly worked on our backup LP tank connection.   We are carrying a 20 pound LP tank to use when the main tank runs empty.  At least that is the plan.  The reason is that the gauges on LP tanks are wildly in-accurate and  too often we find that we are filling when we still had nearly a half of tank of gas. Now we can run it nearly empty if we want to!  (And not be in trouble if it does run out.)

I've been kind of bragging about the weather here for the last month.  Well, the worm has turned, briefly we hope.  This evenings temperatures outside are 15 degrees lower then they were yesterday.  They may get into the 40s tonight.

Enough for tonight!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day and we're winding down

Christmas day is nearly spent and we're relaxing here in the rig.  Of course, our tummy is still well satisfied from dinner at 2 pm today.  A late afternoon walk did not wear it down either.  I guess like so many other things in life, "Just give it some time and all will settle down."

I was pleased to learn a little tid-bit about hip replacements today.  One of the fellows at our table sitting next to Sandy had a hip replaced not too long ago using a new approach.  He was ecstatic about how well it worked for him.  I was enough impressed with his comments that I looked up his surgeon online to see what was said about the surgery.   I've known for years that since my mother had both hips replaced, my dad had one hip replaced and three sisters have each had one hip replaced, it is probably something that I can expect.

The only fly in the ointment is that last summer as part of my physical, they x-rayed my hips.   The results were, "yes, I had a problem developing in the right hip, but it is the left hip that needs replacing".  I think they looked at the slides backwards!  One thing it did do is to convince me that when the time comes, I want a second opinion!

For those of you that are envious of our temperatures here in south Florida, you'll be happy  to  hear that on Wednesday, it will drop by about 10 degrees.   The days will be in the mid 70s and the nights about to the mid 50s.  I think we can hand that okay!

We trust all of our friends have enjoyed Christmas also. God bless you all.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

MERRY CHRISTMAS  (and remember the reason for the season.)

What a Joy it is to celebrate another of Christ's births.  Here we relax in the sunshine of south Florida where if anyone is complaining, it is because the temperature is headed for 85 degrees again today.   No bundling up or putting a coat on around here.   We've had our morning walk (to the dumpsters) and Sandy is currently out for her morning walk around the park. With the fog about gone and the sun beginning to appear, it  is going to be another nice day.  As a friend says, "Another great day in Paradise".

We went to the early Christmas Eve service last night at church so that we could return to the park before it was too dark.  (At 6:30, it was really dark!)   We had little time to waste, but for some reason, I was driving  with the cruise control on at 50 mph.   Suddenly we noticed a dark blob in the right ditch that was moving towards the road. Instinctively, we hit the brakes and watched a black wild hog cross the road in front of us.  We cleared it by ten to fifteen feet as it darted across the road.  One gives thanks immediately that we missed it.

For those from the farm, Texas and Florida wild hogs are usually coal black and flat as a pancake side to side, perhaps five inches at most. I suspect that they are about 200 pounds more or less.  We've often seen the results of their rooting in the ditches but this was first one that we've seen at night.  Let's hope it is also the last one.  (We learned that it is better to drive below 50 mph while in the Everglades 3 weeks ago.   The speed limit on the Tamiami Trail  between the Everglades NP and the Big Cypress Preserve is 60 in the daytime and 45 at night, in an effort to reduce car-panther collisions.)

Friday was our shopping trip to the big city so that Sandy could return her newly purchased Kendle 3G back to Walmart.   The advantage of the Kendle 3G over the cheaper model is that the 3G version has unlimited access online, but only to the Amazon bookstore to buy books, so she found out.   But why does she want that when she can get all of the books she needs free from many online library sources?  Plus the unit automatically reverts to the wifi link if there is an active wifi in range.  So since our Cradlepoint router is always on (if we have AC to the rig), her Kendle would be using our wifi, not the 3G service. When using the wifi service, the Kendle has unlimited online access via the used network.   She returned the 3G model and then we went to buy the cheaper wifi only version.  Sorry, but they were out of stock.  Come back next week!

This afternoon we'll join the others in the park for our Christmas dinner.   I was a little late again this year about pushing to change how the park does the Christmas dinner.   We sign up on a table of 8 for the dinner. The park provides the meat and gravy and the members of the table provide the rest, usually one item per couple.  I'd like to see it done in a table setting of 16 (2 eight foot tables).   Then you have two choices of everything.   However, it has always been with a table of 8 and a table of 8 it shall be!

I finally  made a temporary fixture for one of the LED lamps I've purchased via eBay from Hong Kong.  I put the lamp  in a tin can with aluminium foil to provide a reflector.  Well, the house chairman vetoed it as a suitable lamp.  The light it too blue-esh.    So I'm back in the market for a suitable fixture.  Someday we'll find one.   (I love it because the lamp is very low power and saves on  my battery when boondocking.)

Again,  Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We're getting into the park routine and out of the writing routine

I just realized this evening that we haven't been posting anything to our blog.  An even greater misfortune is that we haven't been updating our journal which is a daily diary of our activities.  Perhaps we're too busy?  Or perhaps we can blame it on the fact that we now have electrical hookups, and we're surfing too much.   But it has only been four days since the previous posting.

We're gradually getting things crossed off of our bucket list (our to do list).   I did get a call back finally from Shurflo about our water pump problem.   He asked if I needed it right away and I said "no, we are using a friend's pump!"  His reason for asking was that he'd like to  not send me a pump for about a month, after which  he'll have a new version of the pump.  (Of course, the new version will be better, more reliable etc.)  I agreed to wait a month or more so that we can have the better pump.  We hope it is better.

Yesterday, our renter from last year stopped in and returned our gate opener control.  We had asked them about it and they thought they had turned it into the park.  But they just found it and realized where it belonged.   So we returned the one we checked out from the park.  Now if we could only get the opener we have for our park in Casa Grande to do both gates!  It has two buttons.

For those of you not following the weather, it turned bitterly cold Sunday night. Yesterday morning the low was 55 degrees and we turned some heat on in the motorhome.  Tomorrow is to be a bit better.  The high today must have been up to 80, which was just fine for us.

In the cool of the morning sunshine today,  we decided to work on our black tank drain valve.   (We emptied the tanks, then use the jacks to tilt the motorhome so that there is no drippage out of the tank.  Then I can pull the valve to clean it.  The problem is that the inside of the tank, drain tubing and valve pick up a layer of lime.  The lime is rough and is like sand paper, which will eventually cut the valve seal.  We noticed that the valve was dragging some, so we cleaned it before it ruined the seal.   Interestingly, the lime problem is only in the black tank.  The gray tank lining is smooth as silk, probably the result of the various soaps that we use.

One of the joys of being here for 2 weeks is that we can get our mail and have other things shipped in.  We've ordered four LED lamp assemblies from Hong Kong, so we hope they'll make it also.   The lamp is one of the best ones we've seen for light output. (It only has 120 LEDs.) The other benefit of the lamp is that the current draw is only 0.6 Amps, about one fourth of the other lamps.

One of the downers of getting our mail is all of the "stuff" we get from our Medicare provider.  There were some major changes in our health insurance this year and we hope that we end up covered about the same way.  I'm sure we'll have less coverage and it will cost more, all part of Obama-care.  (Enough about politics!)


Friday, December 16, 2011

We're back in Paradise Park near Punta Gorda, FL

(This should have been posted last night.)

Yesterday was the last day we could stay free at Monument Lake, so we  (like just about everyone else in the campground)  bailed out.  It was a decent drive to our park with a stop at the small town of Immokalee, which is  a migrant and farmers' business community.  English is rarely heard and the town is nearly over-run with semis hauling farmers' products now.   We decided to do some exploring at the local commerical exchange for the growers.  

The first problem was finding a parking place for the RV and car.   Then I went to the market while Sandy stayed with the RV in case someone didn't like the way we were parked.   I've never seen so much in the way of  good garden product and it looked great.  We decided to price a lug of grapefruit and when she told me $6 for the lug, I decided I could carry it back to the RV.   (They may not speak much English, but they all know how to price the produce in American dollars!)

It was then another 20 miles on up the road to the next small town where we refilled the pantry.   Sandy was able to get what we needed but she complained  about the prices (not Wally prices).  We finally reached Florida highway 74 and headed west to our park.  What a refreshing drive, finally we had a tail
 wind!  (While heading north, we had a strong cross wind.)

Once in the park, we settled in and relaxed.   It is always a great feeling at the end of the day to be able to  park it, hit the automatic levelers, plug in the power cord and relax.   Friday starts our list of "to do" items, which needs to be done in two and a half weeks.  Already Sandy is complaining that she'll barely get used to living with connections when we'll pull up and head back to the world of boondocking.

Life moves on.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winding up our stay

Today has been our last full day here in the Monument Lake Campground and also our stay in the Big Cypress Swamp Preserve.   Did we do a lot?  I'm not sure but the time flew.  Did we learn anything?  Yes, duck (really duck) when there is a mangrove branch coming your way in the canoe.   Were there a lot of birds and alligators?  No, the water is too high so the alligators are not congregating at the large watering holes and it is too warm so the birds are still up north!

This morning Sandy and I served pancakes to the other two rigs here using our electric griddle and the Honda generator.  It worked fine until we ran out of gas.  Thankfully, we had more in the jug!  It was really a shake down test for our outing in about 3 weeks.

Our biggest challenge has been trying to burn the green fire wood we picked up on our first day here.  It will burn, but not willingly.  One needs to have a bed of coals to boil the moisture out of it first. Thankfully, a late arriving couple from Ft. Meyers brought us some dry oak, so we've had success getting the bed of coals ready.   The local oak is even reasonably straight and splits well with the splitting maul I  have along (If I can hit the log.)  Another fellow told me that I must have a non-standard handle because he  also  has trouble hitting the log.

The weather here has been either fantastic or the pits depending upon how you want to look at it.  The last 3 or 4 days have been somewhat windy with intermittent very light showers.   On the other hand, we ought not to complain, as they told us on the TV tonight that a year ago, the early morning temperature was in the mid 30s.  (For the last week, the night time low has been in the low 60s and the highs have often just hit 80.  We can handle that.)

We've spent each evening solving the world's problems sitting around the camp fire.  There have been a few mosquitoes, but they haven't bothered us too bad.  Perhaps the smoke from our green wood has helped control them.   (When the sun goes down, Sandy heads for the motorhome and does not fight the few bugs around.)

We've had 4 rigs here for the last two weeks and tomorrow we head in 4 different directions.   One couple headed home yesterday to Fort Meyers, Florida to spend Christmas with the children.  One of our party is heading for a campground in Everglades National Park with a trip to Key West eventually.  Another member is moving a whole 7 miles to another campground.   (This campground starts charging $16 a night tomorrow and he is moving to another campground here in the preserve that is free until January 6th.  It is classified as a "hunting camp", with no bath house with flush toilets.)   To close it out, we're heading to our RV Resort Park 100 miles  north of here where we'll be living in luxury with water, electric and sewer connections  Plus we have paved streets and neighbors every 30 feet on both sides of the road.  What a switch from our style here.  (I should add that we have to go 50 miles for groceries here verses only 25 miles from our resort park.)  Life can be tough at times!

We've had a wonderful time here at the Rendezvous with our Escapee friends.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Taking a peek at the Everglades

A group decision today said that we'd head for Shark Valley 25 miles east of  here to see the gators and what else they had.  So we piled into 2 vehicles and headed east after lunch.

Shark Valley is a tourist information area for everyone interested in seeing the Everglades. However, since today was Monday and most tourists are weekenders, it was very quiet today. Our first observation was that the tourists forgot what the day was and they all stayed home.  (Shark Valley was nearly deserted by the tourists and by the alligators.)  The speaker said that the alligators are still around, but since it rained two days ago, the alligators are still dispersed with the high water.  We also realized that the quantity of birds was really down.  Again the birds are dispersed because of the warm weather.   So we'll have to see them another day.!

It is late and I'm tired, so again a shorter than normal blog. Have a nice day.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Going for groceries

 It has been a couple of days since the last update and this time, there is real reporting to do.   We're fine and enjoying some real Florida sunshine and warm temperatures.  It turned cold last night and today the morning temperatures were in the mid 60s, (cold).  But on Thursday, it starts to warm up (to the low 80s).

Yesterday was Sandy's day to push the keyboard while Gene went canoeing on the Turner River here in the swamp.   All went pretty well although I do have a few deep scratches on my scalp.  (I lost my hat when I apparently  was using my head as a battering ram as we went under one of several low tree limbs.  It did hurt.)

We were on the water for 5 hours, of which 2 of them were in a very narrow channel that was carved out of a mangrove forest.  The route must have been laid out by a drunken sailor, as at times making the turns with the canoe was a challenge.  On the return, we used our hands on the brush instead of using the paddles.  In our group of 5 canoes, no  one tipped over although we had a very close call!  The channel depth was from 18 to 48 inches, so there was no real danger.

We were planning to  have a fire last night to relax a bit. Unfortunately, the wood we picked up is still TOO green and would not burn.  However, this morning almost all of the wood in the fire ring is gone.  I think it turned to charcoal and smoldered all night.  At least for tonight, we have some dry ends that didn't burn!

Today we went to Naples, Florida for groceries and to do our laundry.  Naples is a classy city, very neat and it looks to be expensive.  We found a laundromat for that duty and then the Walmart.   We didn't go to the nearest one, as we called in a a prescription refill to one 6 miles up the highway.   (There are 6 Walmarts in the Naples metropolitan area. )


Monday, December 5, 2011

It is 80 degrees out and NICE.

It is just plain hard to get too excited about anything around here today or even the last week.  It is in the 80s and we're loving it.   Perhaps a bit windy,  but we're not about to complain.  For you folks north and west, we're sorry to hear about your troubles.  Just hang in and it will improve.

I didn't realize that it has been 4 days since we have posted a blog.  I guess when we're having fun, the priorities get switched around.  The first day on site was a work day.  3 of us fellows put the chain saw in a pickup and went about 10 miles to a pile of wood.  The bad news is that I think it is too green to even burn, but we'll try it anyway.

Saturday was spent at the visitor's center attending some history seminars.  I didn't learn that much, but the seminars were well done and informative, especially for anyone who hasn't spent much time in the area.  But it was a good refresher for us.   Sunday night we went on a night walk on a observation boardwalk.   I hate to say it, but at my age, walking in the dark is a challenge, at least to go   in a straight line.   We had no problems, but we were aware of different environment.   There was very little wildlife seen or heard.  But the lead ranger gave a good tutorial as we went.

Tomorrow we're going to check out a museum in Everglades City.    Then to a sandwich shop for lunch followed by another museum near by.   On Wednesday, I'm going on a 5 hour canoe trip.   We have been told to bring a change of clothes in case we roll the canoe.  I also understand that the path is not always very wide or tall, so we may have a few battles with the brush on the way.    

That is about enough for one report.   Our solar panels seem to almost do a good job.  About every other day, we need to run the generator an hour in the morning.   The downer has been a couple of days with a heavy cloud cover.  But we're doing well otherwise.

Have a great day (we are!)


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Monument Lake Campground and loving it

Today was moving day and we went a whole 120 miles, from our RV Resort park near Punta Gorda to Monument Lake Campground, on highway 41 or the Tamiami Trail or we're in the Cypress National Preserve or we're just on the north edge of the Everglades National Park or 20 miles east of Everglades City.  But let it be said that we have lots of room, it is quiet and the alligators haven't bothered us at all.

We had a pleasant drive here and an even better one when our friends from the Pow-Wow arrived (very late) to tell us that they had two blow-outs this afternoon on the interstate.  It was not a good day for them,  but no  one was hurt and road service took good care of them.

We stopped in Immokalee for my  B-12 prescription and took care of that little issue. We had stopped earlier to  top off the pantry stocks so that we'd have enough food for the next two weeks.   We're parked in what used to be the group camping area.   However, they have changed the rules and will only let us have one RV per picnic table.  So far we're okay.

But I dare not complain, as we also asked about a campfire on the ground, which they said no, no!   The local host said he'd see if he could find a fire ring for us, which I doubted if it would happen.  However, 2 hours later, in comes a maintenance worker with a brand new campfire ring with a grill on top.  Now my problem is to get some firewood.  The host has told us where there was some available,  so we'll check it out in the morning.  I have the chainsaw along plus a splitting mall and a wedge.   We're going to have a fire!

We're mighty  happy to be here, especially when we hear about the winds in California and the cold air in Colorado and Iowa.  We have been blessed to be here, with a predicted low next week to be 68 each day.  (I can handle that.)