Saturday, July 28, 2012

Please be patient

As most of you know by now, Gene Teggatz passed away unexpectedly on Friday, July 6th, from a massive stroke.

Sandy, his beloved wife of 51 years, is hoping to continue this blog eventually, but she's a bit overwhelmed at the moment as she learns all the ins-and-outs of the mechanical side of the RV.  As her daughter said the other day, "If the key to keeping the brain from atrophying is to continue to learn new things, Mom will be in good shape for years to come."

Stop back here in the future to see insights into the world from Sandy's perspective.

--written by the younger daughter

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rockwell, IA on the Fourth of July

We really didn't want to travel today, but the schedule just seemed like we ought to. So we arrived here today and found a nice level camp site down by the river.  It had been vacated by another party who came for the Fourth, saw the fireworks last night and decided to skip the rest and go back to the house where I'm sure the temperatures are much more moderate.  (There are 12 empty spaces out of 40.)

We stopped here for two reasons: a) Sandy has a brother here in the care center and b)It is the last place before the Mason City Walmart with a hookup for our air conditioner.  Sandy said that we would park where there was AC to power the air conditioner.

After getting parked this afternoon, we went to the care center only to find that her brother was out for the day.   That is really good news meaning that he is well enough to be out and about some.  So it was back to the park where we pretty much hibernated in the camper and kept cool.  We'll go back to the care center to see  Buford in the morning.

Our stop at Walmart is to fuel up our rig plus to lay in a supply of food for the full timers rally that we're hosting next week.  Since prices are much better at Walmart, Wally gets our business to the extent that we can plan.  We'll still buy plenty of stuff in Forest City.

Before we left the farm, Sandy and I hung a blanket up behind us with the intention that it would retain more cold air up front around us.  However, as we neared Rockwell, I told Sandy that I didn't think the engine air conditioning was working very well.  However, once we had parked the rig and I stepped back into the living room area, I decided that the engine air conditioner was working well.  The temperature at the kitchen area was a cool 92 degrees and definitely warmer than where we were sitting.  Once we were plugged in, it didn't take long for the coach air conditioning to make it livable inside.

After visiting with her brother tomorrow morning, it is on to Walmart to fuel up the motorhome, lay in a supply of groceries and then head on up the road to Forest City.  Hopefully there will be space at the Visitor's Center for us, otherwise we'll have to pay good money and stay in the city park for two nights before we check in. At least we'll be off of the road as all of the Holiday travelers burn up the rubber.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back on the Farm, another Hot afternoon

The rally was over today and we headed back to the farm. It was a pleasant drive, only about 84 miles and we arrived shortly after noon.  Near Albia, we met several pickups, each pulling a heavy duty utility trailer carrying  an old restored tractor.   There was a bit of an urge to return to Albia so that I could admire all of the restored tractors.

It has been 3 or 4 days since the last blog and there were events that I was intending to remember to write about.  But here it is, and I don't remember a thing that we saw, talked about or what ever.  During my employed years, I used to carry a couple 3 by 5 cards in my pocket to make notes on.  Perhaps I ought to do that again.

Saturday was spent touring the Iowa State fish hatchery by Lake Rathbun.  Afterwards we toured some of the lake surroundings before returning to the motorhome. One of the items I wanted to see was the "Resort" park that Iowa built about 10 years ago. The Chamber of Commerce lady said that it had been good for Albia. I'm not sure that it has been good for the State of Iowa. (Sometimes it has been referred to as a Money Sink!)

A few years ago, I was told that the original rules for the C.O.E when they developed the adjoining campgrounds was that one of them had to be free.  There is indeed a free campground on Lake Rathbun.  It had 3 tents and a church youth group using it.  In other words, not busy with only 5 sites out of 35 being used.  The other campgrounds were packed with wall to wall campers.  I guess most of the campers wanted to have AC so that they could use the air conditioning!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

A real Mouse Trap tour

We're at a rally in Albia, IA at the fairgrounds.   For our RVing friends, this is a super fairgrounds (level, 50Amp, and water)  but sadly, no dump.  They don't really have a building.  However, they just finished building a new swine building and poured the floor last week. So guess what we used.

Today we toured a local factory that has been around for 75 years, and is still  wholly owned for the founders offspring. It makes mouse traps, lots of them.  It employs about 50 people, which is a fair number for the small town of Albia.  Their popular snap trap is fantastic.  It is a one hand setup.  I'm really impressed.  You  can release the dead critter and reset it via one hand.

What really impressed us was that when the tour was over, everyone on the tour was given a unit. It isn't often that you see a business doing that.  They have several traps of different sizes.  The largest live trap is suitable for wily coyote.   However, they sell very few of them because the shipping cost is just too much for a box the size of an adult coffin.  In the mouse size, they have a large live trap that can catch up to 20 rodents in one setting.  The next size can catch 7 critters before it has to be reset.  On the single mouse size, that have a simple rocking trap that catches one critter and then it has to be reloaded.  Most of their traps are only sold by small  vendors.  They don't sell via big box stores because big box stores want too many custom changes, such as packaging, size, etc.    The product name is Kness.   They have some concealed cases that allow resturants to use the traps without making it obvious.  The case looks like an air vent cover.

Okay, let's see how well we did this time.  Sandy gave me a small at-ta box for the last blog posting. So after about 3 or 4 years, one finally passed!!  Something must be wrong.  I'm sure there are one or two minor errors here, but I think you'll get the message just as well.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

It is our big day anniversary

Here it is June 17 and Sandy and I are both inside the RV with the A/C running.  Something about keeping cool or being lazy.  Actually, it is keeping cool for Sandy and being lazy for Gene.

It was 51 years ago  today when we were married in northern Iowa.  I think it was about as hot then  as it is today!  But we made it.  Of course, there isn't too much I really remember of it.  Sandy  remembers the details like what gift someone gave us.

We both have had our annual physicals and I think we've passed with flying colors.  At least Sandy is cleared and I'm waiting for the blood test results. (I'm not sure if they'll call no matter what or only call if there is a problem.)  So far, no call.

Last weekend I attended a conference on solar and wind power.  As a result, I'm hot to add some more solar to my solar farm on the roof top.  Prices have come down dramatically since we first started adding solar.  My heart burn now is that I really need only one more panel and the shipping cost is about half of the cost of a panel.  Perhaps it will become a winter project when we're back in Florida and there will not be a shipping cost.

I don't remember if  I told you about our need for a new waterheater.  The old one did a "back burn" when wind blew in the exhaust.  The result was that it melted some of the wires together and knocked out the controller.  I wanted to hire someone to replace it, but the RV shop I was going to use went out of business, so we decided to do it myself.  It involved a fair amount of laying on my back, but we got it done.

The next day the local electric service came to replace our power pole and they left the old pole for me to burn.   So naturally I needed to start the chain saw, which went pretty well.  We cut a number of sections and then I split them for easier burning.  Then when I was going to restart the saw, I pulled something in my left shoulder. and quickly decided that we'd done enough cutting for a while.  I guess I'm just not as agile as I used to be.  (The bummer is that they gave me 4 other posts to burn and they need to be cut up.)

It is very dry here on the farm, as it is in the rest of the Midwest.  We have been blessed with two recent  showers of a quarter of an inch of rain each, which has been a blessing to the crops, which really need about 2 to 4 inches more.  I guess we'll let the Lord take care of it for us.  In the past, it always seem to arrive a day before it is too late.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A quick trip North to Mason City (by toad)

About a month ago, I got myself in deep trouble when I told our Escapee Chapter President that we would host a July rally  if no one else came through for him.   One little detail I forgot was tell Sandy about it.  So for the last couple of weeks, I've been suffering from verbal abuse because we don't have our rally planned and "what are we going to do?".   So today we changed that.  We took the Honda and drove to Mason City.

All went well really.  It is a long drive, but we survived it well. On the way (nearly there), we stopped at a care center to visit with Sandy's brother.  He had stroke last summer and he is what he is. At least he can talk, which is a blessing..

Then on to Mason city where we located an eating establishment, then a Frank Lloyd Wright hotel and bank building (together) and a FLW house.  On the way to the hotel, we also said, Yep, there is Music Man Square which we'll also tour (Meredith Wilson memorabilia).   It looks like we'll have enough tours for the rally.

We then headed north to a County Nature Center to see if it was high on our list of "we need to tour it!"  However, after spending 30 plus minutes there, we decided that it didn't measure up.  It does have lots of stuffed water birds and birds of prey, but nothing really pulled our chain.

It was then on to the county park that we intend to use.  It was as expected and if we can occupy  the sites near the shelter, it also will be ours for the duration.  (No reservations allowed.)

Then it was a long drive back to the farm.  I gave up part way and turned the job over to Sandy and I guess I sacked out.   I did take over the driving later.   We are  home, safe and both of us are very tired. We'll sleep very well tonight!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Water Heater is replaced

The title says it all!!!!!   I was able to  replace the water heater today.  I removed the bad one and installed the replacement and quit at 3 pm.  I have some minor things to put back, but nothing serious..  To top it off, I think the heater works on both gas and electric.  That is what I'm really thankful for since the origin of the package was a bankrupt motorhome factory.  When I say package, I should say that it was an "un-packed" stock item.  So there is always the possibility that it didn't work for the first user.  However, looking at the unit, it has never been installed or wired in. I think I picked up a winner!

I do need to give credit to Winnebago for the way they installed the unit.  The two water lines were not quick disconnects, but they were reasonable to access.  What a joy to have that task out of the way.

We are patiently waiting for a good spring rain. Sadly, the weather man isn't giving us much hope for any moisture soon.  But as I've told a local, it always has rained at least the day before it is too late.  We'll leave it to the Lord again for us.

Yesterday was Cedar Rapids for a physical for Sandy.  Tomorrow it is Cedar Rapids for a dental appointment for both of us.  They Friday it is again Cedar Rapids for Sandy for a heart check up.   Perhaps that will be it until fall when I let the doctor have a shot at me.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

I had this entry about 80 percent written and I think that I took a short cat nap.  Anyway, presto, what was written is no more. What a revolting  development.

We finished the light pole project on Friday.  The REC folks insisted that we needed to  have a new replacement pole because they felt that the old pole was too rotten.  They  did that part of it for free.  However, I have to pay for the local electrician's time to remove and replace the wires.  When they were done, I then finished the ground  level hookups and then we had to clean up the area. But it is done.

The corn that was planted two weeks go, was sprouted last Sunday and is growing nicely. We'd like some rain, but Mother Nature will have to take care of that department.  What mother Nature  has provided us with is lots of heat.  It was warm last week and hot this weekend.  Supposedly, it is to cool down to more seasonal temperatures this week. We are ready for it.

Later this week, I need to get the replacement water heater installed.  We wanted to take it to a local RV repair shop nearby but on Friday when I tried to visit with him, we found out that he is out of business.  So I'll save my dollars and do it myself.  We'll blog it when I'm done (I hope).  

Before I lose this copy, here it is!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Ready for the weekend

Isn't it amazing how time flies!   I just wrote the last blog and here it is a week later.  But who should complain, we're healthy and wise!  The asparagus is still producing fresh tender shoots, the sun continues to shine and mother nature gave us a brief shower yesterday evening to calm our fears of an impending drought for the summer.

Going back wards, yesterday was a busy day on the hilltop.  A month ago, the REC inspectors treated our yard light pole and then condemned it for replacement.  So yesterday, the REC shows up with 3 bucket trucks and the local electrician shows up with one bucket truck.  But in about two hours time, they had stripped the old pole, pulled it, planted a new pole and had it fully restored.  Now I'm in charge of restoring some of the little stuff that seems to grow around the pole.  But we can handle that.

Earlier in the week, the local ditch digger was here to repair a field tile.  The tile has probably been in the ground for 50 years and now it decides to break, then collapse and impede the flow of water.  Of course when there is more water higher up, it naturally rises around the blockage and creates a mud hole that can't be farmed.  It is now fixed!

(Yes, we have a backhoe on our tractor, but crawling back and forth from the tractor to the bottom of the tile hole just isn't fun any more. It is just too easy to ask Hopp (the local fixer) to fix the problem and send me the bill.

Today is laundry day for us.  While Sandy is doing the laundry, I'm going on to a neighboring town to see about getting the local RV repairman to install our new water heater.  Yes, I'm sure we could do it.  But again, laying on my back, under the motorhome working on the water lines through a 8 by 12 inch hole for an hour or two is just not something that this old guy looks forward to. So again, we'll see if money talks and he'll do  it for us. (Of course, it will be after a dozen others that want it done yesterday!)   At least we have no departure schedule to work around!

It is 5:43 and the sun has just cleared the horizon. It looks like it will be a bright shinny day today.


Friday, May 18, 2012

On the Farm, catching up on stuff

Okay, as you can see, we're not the most prompt of writers.  But then considering the pay, it is about right.

We returned from the Don Williams County Park last Sunday to the farm, where we found all of the corn and beans planted.  Now we need some rain, which has really been turned off for the last two weeks.  However, it will happen in time.  Trust mother nature (all farmers do.)

Now that we're back on the farm, it was time for me to get serious on fixing our water heater.  We found out while at Don Williams that the controller was shot, so Monday we dug into the problem.  The fire that had erupted on the outside of the heater had melted some of the wires and there was a black mess.  We separated the wires and attempted to use the gas heat.  It refused to work.  So we probably cremated the controller (another $150 bucks).   Secondly, we learned that after the wires were separated,  the electric heating element also wouldn't work.    So we fiddled around and was able to enabl                                                                                   e the heating element relay manually and presto, we have hot water.  What a relief!

So now we have it fixed.  If we turn the water heater AC switch on about 45 minutes before we need hot water, it works. Doing it that way also removes the internal thermostat, so we have to remember to turn it off after 45 minutes.  That we can handle  with the help of a timer.

So after considering our options Tuesday and Wednesday, we finally looked for a source of a replacement controller or water heater.   The second RV salvage yard we called had a brand new water heater of the same model as we have.  We thought about it for a night and called him this morning and bought it.  It ought to be here next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Getting it installed will likely be a real challenge also.  The problem (or challenge or opportunity) is that all of the connections are in the back and must be worked through a 10 by 15 inch opening from beneath the heater.  We start the task, but if the going gets too rough, I just may call on the RV repair shop in a neighboring town and ask him to finish it (if he will)!  But digging in is how we learn.   Since all of it is outside under the RV, it is almost certain to start raining next week.  So I have to wait a week?  I can handle that!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Don Williams County Park (Odgen, IA)

Sandy and I decided to move to the May Rally site a day early.  I'm not sure why, but we're here with lots to do.  It's called "Make work", since nothing is schedule really until Saturday's Luncheon.  But this gives us more time to visit with all of our friends that we haven't seen since last fall.

It is a nice park and in the area we're in  (I think there are about a 100 sites), it has or will have about 10 members of our group and 3 or 4 others.  To put it another way, There is lots of room!  But I like it this way.

There seems to be no end to our trials and tribulations with something on our motorhome.  A week ago, we had a back flame in the water heater compartment and it burned the safety fuse after scorching several of the wires in the compartment.   The day was saved when the safety fuse opened and shut the gas off.

So we obtained a replacement 2 days ago along with a new thermostat.  However, being a bit skittish  on just turning it on, we've been using a timer when we enable the electric heating element.  So yesterday when we arrived, I told Sandy to turn it on, since we're not billed for our electric usage here.  Well, guess what. After a couple of hours, water suddenly started to spray out of the temperature/pressure relief valve on the side of the tank.  The heater was stuck on and was boiling the water, thus over pressuring the system.  So we put a quick end to that.  We'll not do any testing until we get back to the farm.  Then we'll try to determine why the new thermostat didn't shut the system off properly.  At least my water pump continues to work!

Right now, lunch is over and it is time to get outside to make sure I don't miss any of the latest news


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Puttering along

Okay, I had no intention of writing an entry this noon, but when searching on information about myself, the "blogger" entry came up.  So here I am.

For starters, I yak about the "new face" of Blogger, which I don't like. It seems like a disease of the computer world that after something has been out and in use, they have to give it a new face.  (Windows is the first one on my list.)  I suspect that it is a new crop of programmers who are really justifying their existence.

We had a big family gathering for my mother last Sunday which I really enjoyed.  She is at the ripe old age of 101 and hanging on.  She is ready to meet her maker any time.  I didn't think that she'd be up to it at the care center, but my sister went to see her and the next thing we knew, they wheeled her in.  It is very difficult to converse with her as her hearing is shot and she won't wear a hearing aid.  (Sandy can converse with her but my voice tonal range is out of her hearing range.)  What I especially enjoyed was visiting with all of the nieces and nephews that made it.  What a diverse group of people.

We're perched here on the hill top where the wind seems to never die down much.  It used to be a gentle breeze but not lately.  Of course the way we're parked on the lawn, with trees on the east and the west gives a southern breeze a straight shot to us.  Perhaps it even acts like a funnel to the wind!  But it is good clean fresh farm air (no livestock to help it out).

It is a great day to out and about.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm very late posting again

Woh, here it is Saturday and I haven't posted for a week or more.   All was going fairly well until this weekend, when the bottom fell out of the temperature range  Plus we've had a few wrinkles to get worked out.

In reverse order, last night when the wind was blowing like crazy against the side of our RV ,where the water heater is, the water heater failed.  Because of the wind, I assumed that it wouldn't stay lit.  However, this morning, it was quieter and still no gas heater action.  I did some checking and found that we did have a problem.  Eventually, we found a schematic and determined that the high temperature thermostat was blowing.  So we jumpered around the failed unit and presto, we now have some hot water.  The bad part is that we have to warm the water by time verses using the thermostat.  The good news is we have a replacement part on order already.

It was then to Cedar Rapids for our weekly grocery run before returning to the farm.   We didn't waste much time outside, as the weather has changed to cold and windy!  Today, colder and windy still.

I was thrown a curve this evening when I tried to get into Blogger.  It let me read it, but didn't want me in to create another posting.   The real problem is that Google has a new face on Blogger and I don't  like it.  But we eventually got in and here we are.

Have a great day.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

It is Friday already!

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2012

We're at the Beed's Lake State Park campground and until today, we were the only customer for about 70 sites.  Traffic is not too plentiful.  However, today we've seen a massive influx of customers, perhaps 5 or 6 other RVs.   We welcome the company and everyone seems to want their space, so no one is crowding in on us.

We came here so that Sandy could have lunch with a distant relative who finally  arrived yesterday afternoon. So today we met them at a local diner for a good meal and lots of conversation.  Marty is on her spring travels I  guess, as she was in Houston earlier and now Iowa, followed by Minnesota.   She puts on a number of miles each year, both with her car and with air travel.

While here at Beed's Lake SP, I've walked around the lake twice.   It is a two mile path and fairly level except when it crosses the outlet creek.   The outlet has a unique spillway that is about a 100 feet wide and perhaps 30 feet high.  The lake level is such that it spills over the dam across the entire 100 feet and then cascades down a stair step sandstone spillway.   Needless to say, it makes a lot of racket and today was even worse with yesterdays rain raising the lake level by an inch or more, not counting the inflow to the lake.

The trail crosses the upper end of the lake using a causeway which is really the original dam.  On this causeway, there were 3 pairs of nesting geese.  Needless to say, they let it be known that my presence was not welcome.  But they didn't attach me either.  One pair abandoned the nest for the water while a second nest was vigorously defended by a hissing mother goose who stood her ground at the nest.  I walked on the other side and I didn't waste anytime passing by.

Tomorrow we head for Williamsburg again.  I don't think they've had the rain that we've seen here in northern Iowa, so we should be able to park on the lawn in our regular spot.  And a week later, we join  Gene's mother for a celebration of her 101st birthday.  We have a while before we get even  close.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Moving again (We think)

We've been here at McIntosh Woods State Park for 3 days and already we're getting itching feet.  Actually, there are more  opportunities to visit relatives if we move.  So we're planning to move to Beed's Lake State park near Hampton this afternoon.   It would have been in the morning,  but Sandy's cousin just suggested that we go out to dinner with her in Clear Lake.  So in the PM, it will be.

There was great news on the home front yesterday.  We're not even really settled in since our winter travels yet, but it is always time to make travel plans for next year.   So yesterday, we got an email from a couple wanting to rent our lot in a park in Arizona.  So naturally we responded and before the sun went down, the lot was rented.  So I guess we won't even consider going to Arizona next winter.  That is good news as far as we're concerned.

We didn't do much yesterday.  I did go for a couple of short hikes in the woods, but nothing in the open.  the bitter cold wind from the NW was just too much.  In the late afternoon, we went to see Sandy's brother in the care center in Rockwell for a nice visit.  On the return trip, we got our Walmart fix.  Gas at Murphy's was only $3.40 yesterday.  Diesel was $3.80, a very good price.  So when we leave today, do we fill it up, or gamble that fuel prices will continue on downward?

I think it is time to get some fresh air.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

It is spring in Iowa and time for a Thunder storm or two

We left Forest City this after noon with overcast skies and a light wind from the SE.  Of course, we were headed south, so it was a head wind again.  Tonight we're safely parked in a woods near Clear Lake, IA.  It is actually a state park with developed sites and electricity.  So while I write this, we have spent the last hour watching the Lawrence Welk Saturday evening program.   Of course, we need to keep the TV on so that we get the latest weather updates. (We also have a Wx Radio.)

We took our time leaving Forest City so that we could visit a winery just out of town.  Would you know it that they were closed.   We had trouble finding it because the road signs pointing to winery were not in place.  Once we found it, it was obvious why the signs were down. They are closed during the off season!  Had I called them yesterday to discuss our plans, it would have worked out better for us.  Next Time I will call first!

Our plans are to relax here at McIntosh Woods State Park near Clear Lake for 4 or 5 days.  Or at least until Sandy's cousin blows into town so that they can have some face to face time.  Then we'll probably head south to the farm again.  Mother's birthday (101) is two weeks from tomorrow and we intend to be there to help her celebrate.  (I'm not sure how much celebrating she will do, as she can hardly stay awake to eat her meal!)


Friday, April 13, 2012

We haven't blown away yet!

Here we sit in cool, breezy, wet Forest City, waiting for some nice spring sunshine.  But it won't happen today. A front has moved through and the word is "button down the hatches!"  Our main awning is in, but there is an awning over each slide out and they are taking a beating in this wind.  Plus they create a lot of noise so it makes us think that the place is going to fall over or something.

Our reason for coming here was to get the motorhome serviced and to make firm plans for this summers' rally of a fulltimers club which we are chairman of for the year.  Sandy and I discussed our tentative plans with the current past president who also was here earlier in the week.  Then it was up to us to resolve our differences.   I think we've worked it out okay and we have three or maybe 4 tours on tap plus 4 breakfasts and 2 dinners.

This afternoon we visited an office that has been a good supporter of club activities and while talking with the receptionist, she mentioned that her children were in high school.  I then asked her what she knew about the wind generator that the school has on their property.  I was floored when she told me that she was on the school board and the wind generator was a very good investment.  In fact, at the last board meeting, they voted to install another generator as soon as they can get one.

The generator they have is a reconditioned Belgium unit purchased directly from Belgium.  They have had their name on the list for a second unit for some time and still have no idea when they can get it.  Apparently the rule is that once it is removed from service in Belgium, it can not be re-installed.  The Belgium's are no dummies,  they want the newest and best unit re-installed to generate more power.  So the old units are available for reconditioning and our applications.

I'm assuming that the school has records detailing the cost, and the return.  Obviously, since they have ordered a second one, they must like it.  It would be very interesting to hear it from a user of wind power.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Keeping Warm in Cold Northern Iowa

We sure walked into this one  this year, it is cold HERE.  We moved to Forest City yesterday to the Winnebago  Industries Visitor's center.  Thankfully, they have 30 Amp connections for us to plug into.  (So we're using an electric heater for keeping warm.)

The drive yesterday was one of the worst days we've had on the road in many months, perhaps years.  We had a strong wind out of the northwest and all of our driving was either west or north.  But we made it by slowing.  Most of the time, we were in the 45 to 50 mph range.  But we're here!

We're here at Winnebago to have the motorhome  serviced and to make plans for next summer's all Winnebago Rally.  We're committed to doing a seminar on fulltiming and a second seminar on boondocking (no hookups) with some emphasis on using solar power.  In addition, we're the current president for the fulltimer's sub-club in the group.  So with that obligation, we're lining up 3 tours and deciding on three breakfasts and two dinners for the group.  Traditionally, the group has not had any tours.  But Sandy and I agreed that we need to do something besides eat and talk!

We went to the customer service desk this morning and expressed our desired to have the coach serviced, if they could work on it  this week.  We were told to have the coach in the parking lot in one hour to be on standby for service.  At 10:15, they called to tell us they were ready.  I had also asked for them to do a few other small items (I thought) and tonight, they are only half done. I guess re-sealing the roof is a bigger job than I expected!  But it needs to be done.

They returned the coach to us at 3:30 pm so that we can use it tonight.  The bummer is that we have to return it to the service center at 7 AM tomorrow morning.  But then we're good to go for another year.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Another Water Pump down the tubes

Okay, things have been just going great as we've settled down here on  the farm.  Actually, we're quietly looking forward to heading north to Forest City to have the motorhome serviced and make plans for a summer rally that we're hosting just prior to the Winnebago Grand National Rally (GNR).   After all, we've been parked here for 2 weeks and hitch itch is beginning to set in.

So we jerked into reality this morning when I attempted to get some water out of the sink faucet. Zero, nothing, not even a drop of the wet stuff.  Our brand new Shurflo water pump wouldn't supply even a drop.  Believe it or not, I was actually hoping that the problem was an electrical connection problem.  But it was not to be.  After breakfast, we suited up (it is cold outside) and went outside to check it  out.  However, all was well with the connections, so we replaced the pump with my backup pump, and all is now working.  My only regret is that I  don't have a diary of all of the issues I've had with our water pumps in this coach.

Thinking back on it, we  have been in this coach for 6 plus years and have been averaging a pump problem about once every year.   Interestingly, in our first 12 years of fulltime living, we had two different RVs and we never had a water pump problem.    All three pumps were manufactured by Shurflo, about the only manufacturer for RV water pumps.  Did somebody say that Shurflo has value-engineered their water pump line?

Today ought to be a relaxing day.  We're getting ready to travel on Monday and Sunday we're going to Amana to see my mother in the care center.  We've then decided to go on to Cedar Rapids to the spring flower show in Knollridge Park, something we've heard about for 40 plus years.  I don't think it will hurt us to tour just a little bit.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Keeping Busy on the Farm (Doing what?)

We've been back on the farm for about a week now and loving it.  Sitting on the hilltop, we get lots of fresh air and a steady breeze (Sandy says a strong wind.)  But I love it.   We had to jumper the lawn mower to start it, but we've mowed the lawn twice already.  However, it is nice to see it green.

We had wanted to burn the old stalks and leaves off of the asparagus, but there is just too much wind.  Perhaps if we had a real water pressure system, I'd risk it.  But with the old windmill pump jack that pumps a half gallon per minute with no pressure tank, it would be a lost cause.   The reason to burn the asparagus is to blacken the soil so that it warms up faster and the new shoots sprout forth faster.  But I guess we'll wait.

Actually it is almost too late now.  We're leaving on Monday (after Easter) to go to Forest City to take care of some items at the Winnebago service center plus meet with the WIT club representatives.  We're the elected leader of the full timers subgroup and plans need to be finalized for 2012. When we finish those items, it is head south 50 miles to visit with some of Sandy's relatives.

We have a minor problem trying to  work out our schedule.  All of the county parks that we have used in that area are still closed for the winter.  It may be an early spring, but they are not encouraging residents to use the county parks. (All we really need is weekly access to the water supply and the dump station.)  Our ability to live without hookups during the winter in Florida will serve us well there also.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On the Farm, taking a break

It is great to be off of the road.  Today, we mowed some lawn, but otherwise we did little to nothing. I had intended to finish the lawn mowing this evening after the wind died, but after my second nap, I decided it could wait another day.

We did drive over to the silo to see if the turkey vultures had returned to their nest on the silo roof top but they haven't.  So my idea of a vulture cam can be suspended for now.  We'll continue to watch the silo in case they return later in the season.

We also moved our water barrel out of the garage and ran the deep well pump jack to fill the barrel.  I always pump the well after returning north to flush out the pipes.  It was very obvious that it hadn't been pumped all winter as the initial water was very rusty. But it cleared up after about 20 or 30 gallons were pumped, probably about the amount of water standing in the pipe all winter.

My biggest issue tonight was doing the editorial corrections to yesterday's blog. My chief critic absolutely does not like double spaces between sentences or an extra space between words now and then. She claims to not have a program turned on to put a period in at every space so that she can find them easier. I guess if that is her biggest complaint, I can live with that!


The Pony has reached the Barn, now what?

It was about noon yesterday when we pulled into the farm yard.  What a joy, relief and blessing to all.  The blessing was that we were off of the road and not a danger to anyone else and vice versa.  The cross wind blowing from the south was very aggressive and moved us and others around on Interstate 80.

We had been at the HWH service shop/factory less than a day and I think we were the only customer for the day.  Perhaps that says that the HWH system is getting more reliable as they age. (If you believe that one, I'll sell you a freezer for use in the Arctic!) I think it is one of two things, either the motorhomes are still in winter storage or they are south for the winter yet.  The actual repair was very quickly done, just replace two special valves in the rear jack lines. My question was why did both valves plus another different kind of valve in the pump assembly all independently fail on the same day?

The pump assembly valve controlled the slide extension/retraction action and was repaired at a dealer's shop in Florida.  We had decided then to not repair the jack problem until back at the factory.  So for a whole month, we lived with only being able to use the front jacks. It was a bit of a pain, but I'd much rather have someone work on my rig that understands what he's working on.

When we're away from the farm, we turn all of the breakers off at the meter pole, since there is nothing here that needs any light.  A farmer friend goes to McDonalds at 5 or 6  in the morning driving a road about a mile away, but keeps track of our travels by observing if the yard light is on or off.  So yesterday I decided to not show our presence and left the yard light breaker off.  So who drives in from the field, but our farmer friend on his tractor who was here to do some field preparation work. So much for hiding from the neighbors!

One of the reasons we returned a bit early was the failing health of my 101 year old mother.  So after we had the motorhome parked on the farm, we drove to  the care center to  visit her. It has been almost 6 months  since we've seen her, but we'd say that she is the same as last fall.  Other than an antibiotic pill recently given to her for a "boil" on  her back side, she takes no medications. I wish I were that well off.  Ten days ago the report was that she was not eating and very lethargic.  But yesterday she was eating (desert first) in the dining room in her wheel chair.  She also recognized us and that brought a smile to her face. We briefly visited with the care center nurses to let them know that we'll be in the area and left.

It was then time to do our laundry and head back to the farm.  So on the return trip, it was via the laundromat, a necessary stop for those of us without built in washer/dryers.  (If it was built in, then we'd have to visit the RV park more often, plus we've seen some RV parks that prohibit the use of laundry facilities in your rig. It overwhelms the disposal system.)

I best wrap this up, as there is work to get done outside!


Monday, March 26, 2012

There has been a weather change and it isn't warmer!

We were up early this morning after a very relaxing night in central Illinois on a farm.  However, the temperature was just a bit lower.  We used the electric heaters and made it pretty comfortable for breakfast.  However, when we started putting stuff away  for travel mode, Sandy noticed that the driver's window was wide open and a good breeze was coming in.  No wonder it was cool when we got  up and the heaters just didn't warm the rig.

It was 49 degrees on the outside when we were back on the road.  When we arrived here at HWH at 2 pm or so, the outside temperature was only 43 degrees, with a stiff NE wind.  It must be about the same this evening.

A friend of ours posts a blog  entry every day a few minutes past midnight.  Nick and Terry hosted a rally in Yuma last week and have been kind of beaten and in need of serious rest.  This morning was one of Nick's classic blog posting about having too many friends.  Nick took control of the day and has told some friends that "No, Nick and Terry are too tired and don't want any visitors".  With that kind  of a welcome, some of his friends have become very offended.

As I've had all day to reflect on Nick's problem, the thought occurs to me that friendship is a two way street. What many people don't understand is that there are levels of friendship.  We may think of someone as a very close friend while that person thinks of us as one of their many acquaintances.   That is especially true in this RV life style.   We know hundreds if not thousands of people via our computer classes, rallies and Escapades that we have attended.   We had a case this past winter of a fellow introducing himself as an old friend of ours.   He had attended a seminar of ours at an Escapade 5 years ago.  He remembered the time and the place and it still didn't ring any bells for me.  I'm sorry folks, but my memory just isn't that good.

My memory is great if you get it on the right subject.  Let's talk electrical circuits, solar charging or some historical items.  But some historical items don't register, such as the sequence of things from the 9/11 report that I'm in the midst of reading.  It is a fascinating document to say the least.

Bring on the warm breezes that the weather man promises tomorrow.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Timberview Lakes Campground RV Park, Bushnell, IL

 We headed north on Wednesday shortly after visiting with Bob and Karen at the Flying J in Tallahassee.  We're trying to hold it down to 200 plus miles per day.  (We seem to be doing a few more than that.)

Thursday was a short day, as we ran into a difficult rain storm as we neared Birmingham.  By the time we cleared Birmingham, I told Sandy to find us the nearest Walmart, it was time to quit.  We ended up at Jasper, Alabama and the Walmart was happy to let us stay in the lot.

Friday was a big day, as we exited Alabama, passed through a corner of Mississippi, crossed Tennessee and   Kentucky and ended up in Ft. Massac State Park on the southern edge of Illinois across from Puducah, KY.  However, this will most likely be our last time there, as Illinois has raised their fees for state parks and it isn't worth $20 a night.  (A lot of Passport America Parks are more economical than that.)

We declared Saturday to be our day of rest and laid low at Ft. Massac all day.  What a joy to not face the interstate traffic.

Today (Sunday) found us back on the road, heading north in Illinois. Since our original destination had been a state park also (Jupiter College SP), we went looking for another PPA park and had two options.  When we called one this morning, they bluntly said that they were closed.  The second one said they were open and the price was $13 a night.  So here we are (it really isn't open, but a good business man isn't about to turn a customer away).

We're trying to take it easy, but Sandy said that we put on 4 more miles than either of the previous days headed north. So be it!   Sandy jokingly says that when the horse is headed for the barn, there is no stopping it.

We are a half day out from HWH where we have a Wednesday appointment.  We'll call tomorrow morning and see if we can get squeezed in early.  If we can get in early, perhaps we can get to the farm by Wednesday.  (We're in no hurry, but sooner is always better!)

Once parked on the farm, we'll make a quick trip to Amana to see my mother and talk with the care center personnel.  The last we heard, she was doing much better (but not eating!)  She is only 101 years old.  Once we have that issue squared away, we're off to Forest City to the Winnebago factory to meet with the rally folks about a seminar I'm to give plus a few other things.  Life just doesn't seem to be slowing down for us.

This park we're at is really out in the country. The road went from a state highway, to a county road with a painted center strip, to a county road with no center strip to something slightly more than one lane (but all asphalt). The grass is green, the doves and birds are sounding off and there is no road noise. Plus we just saw a buck deer walk through the middle of a plowed field.

I'll sleep well tonight!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jaaper, Alabama and heading north

We left Dothan, AL this morning in a thin overcast.  The sun poked above the horizon sometime after 7, but shortly was blanked out by the overcast.

As the day progressed, the thin overcast became darker and darker.  As we approached Birmingham, AL, the showers started in with gusto.  Of course, when we were in the thick of finding our way through Birmingham, it really came down.  But fortunately, there was little to  no wind.

As we headed northwest from Birmingham on 78W, it continued and I told Sandy to find us a Walmart.  So here we are in the parking lot of the Jasper (Alabama) Walmart and  happy to be off of the road.  We checked with the customer service desk and they readily agreed that we made the right decision, plus we were welcome to stay all night (my intention)!

Since we're headed north and I assumed that it would be cooler, our plans were to stop at a Corp. of Engineers park about 50 miles up the road (and treat Sandy to electrical hookups and an electric heater if we needed one.) But I'm sure there will be no need for a heater again tonight.

Actually we would have made our destination if we hadn't been delayed by semi rollover in our lane south of Birmingham.  Initially, traffic was dead in the water and then after 90 minutes, it was moving slowly. Going through major cities is almost a no sweat deal when Sandy has her trusty Garmin GPS with the route programmed in.  She is able to tell me when the next turn is and if it is right or left.  I still read the street signs just to make sure.

Tomorrow's destination is an Illinois state park just north of Paducah, KY. If not there, we'll probably stop at an RV park, as the Walmarts are kind of scarce south of there. (It may be cold and I'll need some electric heat.)


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On the move north finally

Spring is here.  It is time for all of the birds and other migrating animals to be heading north. So guess what we are doing?  Our long slow north bound trek has begun.  We did 200 plus miles today on mostly Florida interstate highway 10 and two words can describe it:  "Not busy".   We could also say that the speeds were relatively modest.  Yes, there were a few crazy folks, but for the most part, it was moving very sanely.

When we left the national forest this morning and needed to get onto I-10, the highway department had nicely blocked the entry ramp from the south bound traffic only.   Before I reached that point,  I noticed a car entering the west bound ramp from the south.  So when we couldn't enter the ramp from the north,  I slowed way down and decided I could use the ramp from the south. It was a tight turn, but we made it.  Otherwise, we had smooth sailing all day.

Tonight we're enjoying the good services of Wally World, otherwise known as the Walmart parking lot in Dothan, AL. Right now there are 4 very quiet RVs and one semi with his engine running.  Of course, we were here first and he had to put his nose in among us  The nerve of some people!

Our last four days in the forest were also marked by one inconsiderate RVer.  She plopped herself down almost in the middle of our group and quickly made herself like a bad penny.  As she talked on her telephone, she let her tiny (but very fat) mongrel run free.  The mongrel stayed close to her van, but not  close enough.  It was observed relieving itself far from her van.  A member of our group joined our afternoon social circle and the unlucky fellow stepped on the dog pile and tracked it to our group.

One of our group immediately took the unlucky fellow in tow and the two of them headed to her van to explain a few things to her.  I guess she was understanding of the problem and quickly gathered up the remaining residue. Her excuse was that she had been too busy talking on the telephone to watch her dog.  When a member of our group  heard of her excuse, he commented that "I guess there is one woman that can't multi-task!" (She can't talk on the phone and watch her dog that is supposed to be on a leash at the same time.)

 We had two rigs with dogs and I should comment that they did practice the group rule (unwritten) that dogs are not allowed in the group when food is around.  For some people, it is no problem, but many of us don't like the idea of handling your dog and then using your fingers to reach for finger food out of the bowl.

The semi has left and I need to wrap this up. The extra hour of daylight from the time zone change is about to catch up with me.  Another hard day of driving north again tomorrow.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Making plans for the future Rendezvous

The last 3 days, I've been making mental notes about what I can post in the blog (when I'm doing it.)  Well here I am and my mind is blank.  Absolutely zero.  It is most frustrating to say the least.

Sandy keeps commenting to me that I'm an idea person and she ends up being the follow through person.  It may be so.   To help the group some, I suggested that we ought to  have an ice cream social.  Everyone thought that was a great idea and one member is picking up the ice cream this noon at Walmart. The social is scheduled for 3 pm this afternoon.

The bad news is that I'm now the bad guy for ruining the diet of our members.  I guess I'm the fall guy.  However, we've got big shoulders, so we'll take the licking and keep on ticking!

We have about a dozen rigs squeezed into this campground, counting everyone.  However, everyone is so laid back and considerate of each other, it is no problem.   One lady made a broom out of some palmatto leaves and every morning sweeps out the restroom.

Yesterday evening, we were given an education on hiking the trails here in Florida.  They don't have porta-johns along the trail, so users have some guidelines to follow.  The issue becomes more interesting when there are multiple users of the trail, such as a group hike.  In our good American culture, we don't talk about some things, so someone may make an off hand comment which others usually pick up on.   The classic one was a guide telling the party to "wait here while he checked out the blue berries", meaning he needed a potti break.  But as he did a side route off of the trail, one lady charged after him saying that she wanted to see what Florida blue berries were like. For some people, you  have to be very direct.

Yesterday found us driving to the East Tower Campground just to see the area again. It is really better than this one with one big short-coming.  For most people, there is no cell phone service, thus no internet.  We found a tent in the campground plus one toy hauler trailer.   To get there, we used our GPS (Garmin) to find our way. It sure would be nice if the road names (used by Garmin) were the same as the forest service signs.  In both Ocala NF and here in Osceola NF, the roads are numbers.  However, Ms. Garmin calls them all by strange names that are never on our pamphlets.  (I suspect that the county 911 committee gave them names and the forest service has chosen to ignore them.)

With that I better quit rocking the boat.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday potluck, venison and a hog ham

I'm still moving slowly after another big meal with the group.  Tonight we had a designated potluck (everyone shared ahead of time what they would bring).  The main course was a well smoked deer hind quarter and a large ham from a wild hog.  They were excellent.  The meat source was a local boondocker that is no longer RVing and then one of our members smoked them.

The meal brings out the best of everyone for social interaction. Plus we have two foreign couples that either spoke no English or at least very little. One couple is from Quebec (French) and the other couple is Austrian (German).  The couples were welcomed to the group and join in with what we do.  Don lead them on a 5 mile hike on the Florida trail this morning and they were not the worst for wear this afternoon.  Yesterday Don led us on a 2 mile hike which I survived very well.

Spring is definitely here.  The day time temperatures are close to 80 degrees and the nighttime low is usually above 58 degrees.  There is no need for a heater under those conditions.  (I understand the Midwest is seeing similar temperatures.)  Perhaps we'll check it out in 2 or 3 weeks.

We plan to leave here mid next week and stop in the Apalachicola National Forest.  (It is spelled right and I typed it correctly the first time.  I did check it to be sure.) The spelling of so many of the names here in Florida really taxed one's memory!  A Yankee has to wonder how they came up with the name and the spelling!

Enough for tonight from the West Tower Campground, Osceola National Forest, Florida.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

West Tower Campground, Osceola National Forest, Lake City, FL

 We arrived at this jewel of a campground yesterday noon.   The area is about half the size of a football field or smaller with a few trees here and there.  Plus there is a forest service fire tower near the road.

Based upon our experience of last year plus having visited with some campers at Three Lakes WMA, we were expecting about a dozen other campers here. To our pleasant surprise, there is only one car, a Quebec couple who speaks zero English.  So there is little conversation with them.  (Linda Hayes is able to converse with them some.)

Presently we have 5 rigs with two or three more expected.  We  have plenty of room.  The generators will hum a bit more because of the trees but we'll all tolerate that.  Don has been calculating which trails he'll explore again and all of us will go on a wood gathering mission this morning at 9 AM.

Wood gathering should be pretty easy as it looks  like the forest service has cut down several dead trees that presented a hazard to the road.  Or perhaps the wind toppled them and the forest service sectioned them and laid them in the ditch. Either way, they will make good firewood in our pit.  I have my electric chain saw along, so all should go smoothly.  Plus I have the splitting mall and a wedge along, so we can cut some larger trees and still reduce them to burnable sizes.

Incidentally, someone commented to me personally that they can't post a comment to my blog.  I'm not sure why not, but now that we have good internet service here in the forest, we'll try to remember to see what the problem might be.

The weather has been fantastic this winter here in Florida.  We've only endured two cold snaps so far.  The really good news is that we have only had to refill the propane tank once all winter.  Perhaps global warming is a reality.  But time being, we'll enjoy it.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Palatka, FL for a night at Walmart

 The title could have also been "parking on Sam's ground" as we are staying in the local Walmart.  We've been by the store on several occasions and there have always been trucks and RVs in the south west corner of the parking lot.  So tonight, we add one more to the total.

Our stay at Shanty Pond came to an end this morning under some trying circumstances.  Last night one lady accused me of intending to "Kill the stay at Shanty pond".  She had her wires crossed and I  informed her that we were working on how we could extend the stay in  Ocala NF by using second site also.  I don't think she believed me.

Three of us went out late in the day yesterday to look over some sites recommended by the forest service manager. In our absence, she tried to get the group to vote on using Shanty Pond by saying that we knew that it was to be discussed so by being absent,  we gave up our right to vote.  However, others would not allow her to proceed, so we got to attend a meeting at 9  AM  this morning and vote on the use of the site.

Not only did we vote  to return to Shanty Pond again in 2013, but to make it a 3 week stay.  It is amazing how people react when they hear only  half of the story.   There was  no secret about it that we were looking for another site.  The intent was to have two sites in the Ocala NF that we could use, two weeks at one and another two weeks at a second.

A big plus here at the Palatka Walmart is that the air card works wonderfully.  We have real internet now.  No waiting and waiting for an update.  Surfing is a pleasure again.

Tomorrow we go to West Tower in Osceola NF, a site with good internet service.  Yuppee!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday, March 5, Shanty Pond, Ocala NF, Florida

 Okay, I think we dodged another one again.  Sunday morning arrived with gusto.  We had a very heavy shower that didn't last long. What  however much it rained, they loved it here in Florida.

From our viewpoint, it brought some cold weather that made me make sure that the bed covers were in place. It was 51 degrees in the bedroom, 45 in the living room and apparently 35 or so outside. I'm really amazed that body heat can provide that much heating in the RV.

Today was an even better day; it warmed up some more, we had more solar sunlight and are batteries were recharged completely without running the generator.   Life is good when that happens.

We were joined this afternoon by a couple that we met at our computer rally in May.  They needed a reasonable place to stay here in Florida and knew where we were based upon reading this blog.  It was great to see them.  (We were a bit taken back by their arrival.)  But we have lots of space  available.  In our campground here, there are about 60 sites total, with 9 of them  occupied by our group and only two or three other RVs.  In other words, where are the people?

We are planning to depart for another park on Thursday or Friday, so we have little time left to get our plans finalized for next year.  So Sandy and I will probably do some more driving around in the park.   Supposedly, there are some large campgrounds around here.  We need to find one that has lots of sun and is level..  We do like it here because of the closeness of the shopping, laundry and restaurant.   Where we've previously been spending our time, we'd have to drive 25 miles one way for a store.  We're also paying a premium price of $4 a night.  (Not too bad, but it isn't free like the others were.)

Life is not too bad.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Very Poor Connections, may not get this out

We are at Shanty Pond Campground in Ocala National Forest, northern Florida.   Very poor connectivity, so you may not get it.

All is well at this end.  A big pot luck dinner tonight.  Earlier in the day, we supported a member who had his solar power system setup wrong.  Another fellow resolved all of the issues we think.

Have a nice day.


Monday, February 27, 2012

It is raining here again

We've been in Florida since Thanksgiving and we have not had a really good rain until today.  It is pouring, straight down and we're loving it.  Actually it is a slight inconvienence, but it keeps us inside. Actually, it isn't bad.  It is warm out and we're surfing.

I forgot to post Saturday's blog until an hour ago, so make sure you read it also.   This one is probably no barn burner, but since we're confined to quarters, why not bore you also!

I forgot to mention that when we came in, there was a large turtle in the middle of the forest road. So we stopped and I asked Sandy to to herd it off of the road.  Well, a lot of good that did!  She poked it on the head and it turned and ran under the motorhome.  (Of course, you know how fast a turtle can run.  She just stood there and watched it.)   She may have been raised on the farm, but she certainly doesn't know how to heard livestock.)   It was not about to come out from under the motorhome, so I asked Sandy to get in and drive it slowly forward while I made sure it stayed in the middle.   I think she put it in gear and never looked back!   In the end, everything worked out fine.

We found out at the visitor's center that the turtle is an endangered species, the desert gopher tortoise and this one was no juvenile.   It was a good 10 to 12 inches across the beam.  They told us where the home borrow is so we'll try to see if it made it home.  Or since it is spring, it may have been out catting around and who knows which borrow it ended up in!

We're about 60 miles west of Daytona Beach and the Daytona 500 race.  The race was delayed yesterday and if this rain is any indication, I think it will get delayed again today.   One of our members here is a race fanatic and she said that the race is never canceled or delayed until the concessionar runs out of food.  They were at a race  when they noticed that the TV crews were packing up, but nothing had been said about delaying the race.  When they asked the TV crews, they were  told them that yep, it was canceled.   I guess that since the concessionar is part of the race track owner, they want to make sure that all of the food is sold before the people go home.

We are expecting two more rigs to come in today.  However, I suspect that they'll not arrive until tomorrow, after the rains have cleared.  (Both of them are in a full hookup park at the moment and have no idea how good the roads are here.  So if it were me, I'd sit tight until the sun shines.)

This is going to be a quiet lazy day inside.


Shanty Pond, Ocala National Forest, Florida

On Thursday, we moved from Bushnell to Shanty Pond Campground in the Ocala National Forest.  So we're back to living the good life without hookups and loving it.  We have 8 RVs as part of our group, with 2 or 3 more expected.

Surprisingly, there are only two other campers in the campground suitable for about 60 rigs.  I guess folks are just not camping in these difficult economic times  The two other rigs are "homeless folks" according to the campground host.   If you have the camper, I guess it is cheaper to park  it here verses a commercial campground.
(I wrote this Saturday and forgot to post it online.  Sorry.)

Our stay in the campground at Bushnell was rewarding to say the least. Sandy used the opportunity of having electricity  to bake a  short cake (for strawberries) plus some cornbread. They both go well with my diet.

Today we checked out the local flea market, only 8 vendors with nothing of any value or interest to us.  We checked  over the fruit stand and at least remembered the hours  It isn't much, but when we run out of grapefruit, there is a possibility of perhaps getting some fresh ones there maybe.  The supply on the shelf today looked like they have seen more than a few days of waiting for a customer. We'll be back there on Wednesday when our mail should be in from Beth, Sioux Falls and Williamsburg.

The weather continues to be unreal, with the temperature in the range of 55 to 75 degrees.  We love it.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Time Marches on even if I don't

Looking at the history file, I see that it has been over a week since I've posted a blog.  Woh, time flies when you're having fun.  Only in this case, it was more opportunities or challenges.

A week ago Monday we went to the Webster Flea market 10 miles east of here to acquire a super-duper TV antenna.  It had all of the bells and whistles that we thought it should have and the price was reasonable.  So we bought one, just like 6 others in this park have done over the course of the winter.

Once back at our rig, it was dive in and check it out.  However, nothing went right. We had no picture on the TV and it was a wipe-out.  Eventually the neighbor offered to substitute his unit for mine and presto, we had a picture on the TV.  It took a couple of days for us to realize that the red light on the antenna head wasn't illuminating like it should.  So while the rotator part worked, the amplifier part wasn't.   So a call to their tech support only offered me a replacement board for cost since I didn't have a receipt number.  Rather then pay and wait a week, it was easier to just return our unit to the seller at the flea market and get a replacement.

So Monday morning, we were off to the flea market again.   We thought it was busy a week ago, but it was nothing compared to this Monday    We expected a bigger crowd since it was President's weekend and it was bigger.  But we made it into the market and found our dealer.

Of course, he denied that it could be bad and said he'd hook it up and show us.  Yes, they hooked it up and yes, the light didn't come on. "Oh, that means it is a bad cable" was his response!  So he grabbed a replacement cable and hooked it up.  (I wanted to see it work.)  He finally got the new cable unwrapped and installed.  Then without making an issue of it or an apology or anything, he quietly told his wife to "get them a new unit".   So finally, we left with a new unit under our arms.

Back at our rig, we proceeded to hook up the replacement and it works.  Will we like it?  I'm not sure at this stage.  The built in rotator does not have a read out as to where it is pointed, and that is a big short coming.  It would not be a problem with the old style TV format, but it is a problem with the new digital format.  The TV takes so long to lock in, that the antenna has rotated past the opium direction.   It has an automatic reversal but who knows where it will be pointed.   It won't be a problem if we mount it on top of our old mount and manually point it.

With the TV issues put to bed, yesterday was my turn to get under the weather. It is an inner ear infection that I've had before.  It makes walking difficult because I get dizzy.  But we had some pills left over from the last time it occurred 3 years ago and we took some.  Later in the day, I was so tired.  Sandy checked on what the side effects were.  One of them is being extremely tired!   That certainly was me yesterday.  But today it is a whole new world.  (And we are up-right and not spinning!)

Today is to be a busy day.  Sandy says it is time to do the laundry (I'm out of fresh clothes) and we need groceries.   Perhaps tomorrow we leave for Shanty Pond in Ocala National Forest and more boondocking with our friends.   I'm ready!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Baby, it's cold outside

Okay, Florida got its "come uppance" or what ever you call it.   Old man winter zapped us a good one last night.  Tonight is to be warmer, but it is still cold.  After tomorrow morning, the lows are low 60s and the highs are upper 70s.

Today we went to the flea market in the neighboring town of Webster and I picked up a TV antenna which included a built in rotator.  Well, as luck would have it, I got a bummer.  It rotates about 30 degrees and dies.  So back it goes next Monday.  There are 6 here in the park and everyone loves them.

We were amazed by some of the prices in the fruit market. At Immokalee, (the source) a half lug of strawberries sold for $8.  Last Sunday we bought from a road side vendor near the park and paid $11 and thought it was reasonable.  Today one of the vendors was selling strawberries for $6 a half lug.  (We didn't get any,  as Sandy said we had plenty in the refrigerator yet.)

Let's keep this one short.  Perhaps more tomorrow.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ouch, the cold wave is arriving tonight!!!!!

Well, winter is showing us that it can get cold around here.  Supposedly, we'll have frosty temperatures by morning.   But we have hope that in a couple of days (they promised us), the daytime temperatures will be back into the 70s.  What I really love is that the night time temperatures are to be in the lower 60s.  Folks, that isn't bad!

Supposedly, there was a drive way sale this morning.  However, after having pancakes in the club house, I walked all of the streets.  Not one lot was selling anything.  I'm beginning to think that the only  place for fleas is the market about 15 miles east at the little town of Webster.

It is to be bone chilling cold until  Monday morning.   My neighbor has a new fangled TV antenna  that he claims works like "gang busters".  We need one, as this piece of junk we have is a sad  excuse for an antenna.  I originally thought it worked well, but we're currently not happy.

So here is a short blog.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bushnell, FL for a few days

I've been very busy and haven't written a blog entry since Jan 30.  I'm not sure what I've done, but it was obviously very important.    We have really been relaxing out in the prairies of Florida.  I'm sorry about neglecting other more mundane things, like writing a blog.

Today we left our spot at Three Lakes WMA (Wildlife Management Area) and headed for civilization again. For starters we passed by the southern edge of Orlando and was on the highway just south of Disney World.  I didn't want to be there, but there was no other way.  So we grinned, bit our teeth and intended to bear it.   What a joy to finally clear highway 27.  We  headed west on a good county road.  From a very urban environment (Disneyworld traffic) to lots of country peace and quiet.  It was a contrast one rarely sees.  It was another hour before we arrived at the Sumter Oaks RV park and checked ourselves in to the last motorhome site.

Actually, what happened was that I observed a bit of burn out in Sandy as far as roughing it with limited electricity.  So we are taking break between two rendezvous, so why not live in style for a little bit.  While here, I'll update my part of Quicken so that we can also get serious with our taxes.  (Quicken does a nice job of grouping related entries together if they are recorded!)

At the social hour this afternoon, we met another couple that is a member of the Escapee Boondockers.  However they  haven't attended any of our  east coast rendezvous gatherings.   So we have a week or so to do some arm twisting.   We had a wonderful time comparing notes on where they have traveled with the boondockers out west.

For those of you that remember we had hydraulic slide and jack problems a couple of weeks ago.   I'm happy to report that the slides now work flawlessly.  However, the jacks are still a problem, but we are not letting them be a show stopper.  (We know how to open the emergency return valves to retract the jacks if need be.)  We can ride with it this way until we get back to Iowa and then we can visit HWH at Moscow, IA.   We'll let the real factory experts fix it verses paying some shade tree mechanic to make an educated guess!

This is long enough.  When I posted the previous blog, I got myself into lots of problems.  My resident critic was not too happy about what had been written.   So it was fixed a couple of days later.  Proof reading is not one of my strong points!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Three Lakes WMA and watching the world pass us by!

We are having a delightful time here at Three Lakes WMA, relaxing and visiting with others.  What a way to spend one's time, just watching the world go by.   I didn't realize that it has been 5 days since the last time I blogged.  My apologies for neglecting you.

Yesterday, the fellows made a trip to another WMA about 45 miles north of here.  We were met by the volunteer at the gate who was checking in (and out) the hunters.  It looked to me like it was a very slow day for him and he was delighted to have someone stop in and ask lots of questions.

The first question was "tell us about the campground."  It is rather small compared to Three Lakes, but very nice with just a few rigs and the grass was mowed short.  He explained to us what days we could camp and and for how long.  During the general hunting season, the campground is open from Thanksgiving until about January 22nd.  From then on, the campground is only open on some weekends from Thursday until Monday evening.

What we loved to hear was that we could schedule  our rendezvous there if we were inside of that time frame.   We'll work on that. There are a number of trails radiating out from the campground, so there are adequate opportunities to go hiking.  There is much more we can do on our stay there.

In the mean time, we are planning to  visit it once we leave Three Lakes, which is in early February.  We could stay in this WMA until about the fourth of March if we wanted to.  (Our next rendezvous starts February 25, so we have a little time to work in something extra.)

Today was laundry day in our household and it was obvious that we're in tourist country, as the washer and dryer fees were the most we've ever paid.  I guess they want to make all of their profit in the short winter season.  If you have been following the weather here in Florida, it is almost unreal.  The low was 46 this morning, it was 56 in our living room and 60 in the bedroom.  I've never paid attention before on how much impact our body heat has on the bedroom heat.  It does make a difference.

There is not much else to say, so we'll call it a day with this one.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Three Lakes WMA and loving it

We were able to leave the repair shop yesterday afternoon at 3 PM.   A little late to hit the road, but I was ready.  (Sandy really wasn't all that in favor of such a late start for a 100 mile run.)  Traffic on Florida 27 was moderate, and we quickly exited to a county road, east bound through more orange groves.  It felt good to be on the road, away from the traffic noise at the repair shop and soon to join our other boondocking friends.

Thanks to the GPS co-ordinates and Sandy's trucker's version of the Garmin GPS, we went right to the location.  (The car version suggested a different shorter route that I wanted to use, but Sandy said "no way".  We found out today that the short route has 8 miles of dirt road, with three soft spots.) Our friends saw us coming and waved us in; what a great feeling to be back among friends.  We parked the rig on the interior road and walked the group's area before deciding where we'd park.   What a joy it was to hit the right buttons and have the jacks go down and the slides go out.  (I did notice one error but chose to ignore it for the time being.)   We then joined the group for a brief social hour before breaking for dinner and then I went to the campfire hosted by another group that they have become friends with.

The error that I noticed last night was that one of the jacks didn't extend.  So today we borrowed a can of ?? to coat the jack shaft so that they would work better.   Things went from bad to worse.   Then we had one jack that refused to retract once the coach weight was off of it.  We pushed, pried and finally using a different switch combination were  able to make it retract some.  We didn't push our luck once we had the coach mostly level.  Perhaps tomorrow we'll try it again.

Since we were intending to visit an area south of here, we had some mail sent there earlier.  But we aren't there, so I made a phone call to the post office to have the mail sent to the local post office.  Sorry, but they will only do it if I submit a "change of address card" so that they know where they have sent it.   So we went to the local post office to fill out the card and spent 5 minutes trying to convince her that there was only one mailing envelope involved.  Finally, she agreed with me.  In the process, I did lay my sunglasses down and lost them.  Oh, the challenges one faces in life.

Officially this campground is an unregulated "hunt camp".  Hunters are allowed to bring their rigs in and leave them for the duration of the season.  So  while the camp appears to be full, about three quarters of the rigs are un-occupied except on weekends, if then.   In a walk about the camp this morning, we met a couple from Iowa that has been here since early December and plan to remain here until the end of February.  The campground is roughly a 20 acre field with a few trees scattered about with a loop road through it and no specific parking sites.  Everyone parks to  suit themselves.

I need to mention that while there is some truck traffic on the road, but it stops at 6 pm or so.  It is very peaceful here tonight and as we used to say as kids, "Dark as the Ace of Spades!"  Once I stepped outside tonight, it was  black.  There are no street lights anywhere near here.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Patiently Waiting for a part

We're still here in Avon Park, patiently waiting for the replacement part for our HWH hydraulics.  I know we shouldn't complain, but it is tiring to think we're spinning our wheels here when we could be out in the rough with friends.   But the weather has been fantastic and we have electric (which keeps Sandy very happy).  The lows are about 58 and the highs are close to 80.  It is just very nice.

Supposedly, the part we need is coming in tomorrow.  At least Tuesday is two business days from Friday and we asked for 2 day delivery.  Of course, who  knows what the nasty weather in Iowa has done scheduling.  However, we'll wait!

Today we went to Walmart to replenish our stores and pick  up two prescriptions.  Sandy did a good job of getting the groceries.  On the prescriptions, thankfully they are not critical.  We did get Sandy's prescription.  But for prescription, they were to get a new prescription from the doctor and they claimed it didn't happen.  I won't bore you with the details on Sandy's prescription, but suffice it to say, it wasn't just a walk in and pick it up.  We also stopped at a small auto shop and had the Honda serviced.  So now we're good for another 8000 miles more or less.

We're going to think positive tomorrow morning and top off the water tank early. We'll also put the rig into travel mode by storing stuff.  I shudder to think what our GVW has done to in the last few years.  We have lots of books, files etc that  occupy space and weigh something!

What we won't miss leaving here is the highway noise. It is constant from about 6:30 in the morning to about 9:30 in the evening.   But again,  we know it will end.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Slideouts -- Be careful when buying them in your RV

If you have been reading our blog, you're well aware that we had a major system failure last Tuesday.  The hydraulic system that controls the jacks and the slides failed.   Let me tell you folks, it is a very demoralizing event.  As our motorhome sat there with the slides out, it couldn't be towed down the road.  (It is much too wide.)

Since we have RV'd for more years then we care to remember, we had a good idea of what we needed when we purchased this motorhome.   We wanted access to the kitchen and refrigerator so that we could use it during the noon breaks.  We also needed access to the bathroom facilities.  (Isn't carrying your own potty one of the advantages to using an RV?)   We are the owner/moderator of a yahoogroup called Walmartrving and many of its members get very concerned about the use of a slideout in a commercial parking lot.  How are they going to sleep overnight if the slide does not go out?

We have seen some units, especially fifth wheels, where you couldn't access the refrigerator or many of the kitchen facilities while the slides are in.  With that in mind, how do you expect to resupply and store your groceries when you make a quick stop at Walmart while enroute?  It doesn't work very well.

Those are the short-comings that the trusty salesman won't tell you about.  All he is looking for is that commission check when he sells a unit to gullible you.  Remember, it is buyer beware.

So how did we fare with our three days of living in a compressed RV?   Well, it was challenging.  The meals were fine.  We did have to change the seating arrangement slightly for me.  (Slides in or out, Sandy has full access to the kitchen area.)   Where we were slightly inconvenienced was in the bedroom.  Since our plan had been to do the laundry on Tuesday, Sandy had set the laundry bag out of the tall closet.  Sandy had been able to retract the bedroom slide, but that was it.  Had the laundry bag been left in the tall closet, our clothing supply would have been  zip!   The hanging things in the short closets were available.  Anything in the bedroom chest of drawers was kind of available via a 3 inch opening of the drawer.  However, they were empty as we were headed to the laundromat.  We had lots of clothes after visiting the laundromat, just no place to store them!

This morning at 8 AM, the mechanic showed up with the cap to make a slight change in the hydraulic pump to see if the problem was the pump or a valve.  Thankfully, it was the valve (easier to fix) and it was music to our ears when I pushed on the "Extend" button and the slide moved out.  Sandy and I both wanted to let out a shout that it works.  Sandy then tried the bedroom slide and it worked! HURRAH!!!   (Finally after three days, Sandy could make sure that the bed covers were all properly in place and stretched.)  This afternoon, we even tested the "Retract" button and it works.  Amazing what technology can do.

Tomorrow morning Sandy wants to vacuum and then we need to move from this location to another one.  (In the beginning, we were told that if we stayed, we might have to move after a couple of days.  We can handle that.)  Our new location will be closer to the highway but very level.  I failed to mention that the slight change on the pump plumbing was to leave the jacks disabled.   So we have no leveling jacks right now.   (They will always come up, but they need the pump to go down.)  Our new location is in their work area, so they'll want to get us in and out.  The replacement part is scheduled in on Tuesday (providing old man weather doesn't mess things up!)

Remember, if you're going to purchase an RV with a slide-out, seriously consider how you can live in it when the slide fails.  (Murphy is alive and well.  It will fail sometime.)


Thursday, January 19, 2012

We're patiently waiting in the dealers lot

Here we sit, patiently waiting in the service shop's lot.   But we're living high on the hog by Sandy's standards.  We have electric, water and sewer connections.  So Sandy gets to cook with her convection oven.  That opens up a whole new world for meals.  So we're not complaining about that either.

We did keep busy today with housekeeping chores.  First on the list was getting our laundry done at a laundromat.  No big deal if you bring it (the laundry) along.   When we arrived at the laundry, Sandy asked, "where are the towels?"   She had rolled them into a roll in the bathroom and I had carried them forward in the motorhome, stopping to put my shoes on. The towels never made it to the car.   So I had to return to fetch the towels from the driver's seat.  Thankfully, it was only a mile one way and traffic wasn't too bad.

I've always thought of Avon Park as being a kind  of upscale area for snowbirds.  Well, we walked out of the first laundromat, a first for us.   The floor was dirty, water was leaking from some machines and even the machines were dirty on the outside.   So we found another laundromat only a half mile closer. It had a unique wall on two sides (just an iron grating).  It was a little better.  Sandy's big complaint was that one of the dryers had very little heat.  Also, I was surprised to see that the change machine was mounted in an iron framework on the outside of the building.

With the laundry done and our letters mailed,  our next task was to make ready to travel again.  So since we have plenty of good water available, we emptied our fresh water tank and refilled it.   So  now we're ready to leave if the rightful owner of this lot returns early.  (He is off site attending a "flywheelers' gathering" in the next town south.   Flywheelers are old steam engines and antique tractors.)

It was about 5:30 when the shop manager showed up and asked if they could take a look at our problem.  Obviously, we invited them in.   It was readily apparent to me that the mechanic that was along had worked on  HWH systems before.  A quick call to HWH in Iowa and a short discussion between the mechanic here and the service tech at HWH quickly identified what had to be done.  Unfortunately, we were stymied for the night because they need a brass cap from someone's tool box so that they can pull a hydraulic line.  With that line pulled and capped, they can point to the failed unit if certain things happen.  They'll finish that part of the job in the morning.

They left and I was assigned the task of unwinding the emergency mechanical retraction screws that pulled the slide in.  Sandy and I figured that it would take about 300 turns on each of two rods.  The retraction rods need to be released so that the hydraulic system can retract and extend the slide.  I have the needed tools and it just takes some time to make that many turns on the rod.

Let's just hope that tomorrow morning they decide that the bad item is a small valve, which HWH has in stock (they have already checked)   The next issue is getting it here.  Thankfully, our schedule for the next few days is very flexible.   Sandy likes the services here, so she is in no hurry to head back to the boonies.  

But we both are getting tired of living in a very confined space!  It is tight quarters!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We're at the dealer, a-waiting service

Just as planned,  this time we actually pulled out of the park and headed "down the road".  Since we had some prescriptions being ordered a the  Clewiston Walmart, we went north via Clewiston.   In Clewiston, I suggested that we skip the laundry task and wait and do it at the dealer today or tomorrow.  Sandy reluctantly agreed.  (I had surfed and knew that the dealer we were headed for in Wildwood had a launtry facility in his mini park for the customers.

On the way to Wildwood, my plan was to stop at the dealer at Avon Park in case he was willing to take on our problem.  We arrived at Avon Park at 3 PM.   I talked with the dealer and yes, they'd put us in the Que as long as I understood that it might be a while.  We happily agreed.

So here we sit, parked in his mini park with 3 point hookups.  As Sandy said, "you mean I get electric for a while?"  While Sandy was shopping this morning, I was looking up information about the dealers.  I also called HWH for more advice about which dealer to use.   The tech that I've been working with commented to me that it is probably not the pump, but the shuttle valve.   Okay, so it is a smaller item, but it can be a show stopper just as well if they have to order it from Iowa.  

We are very much jammed in here at the dealer's lot.  I told Sandy that his show room is similarly configured.   There is no wasted space in the office area.   Also, no big inside work area that is spic and span.   The "shop" is on some old concrete in front of the office (in the sunshine).   The reason we came here was that online reviews and a personal friend who lives in an adjoining town that said "Go to Stuarts".  So  here we are!

We really enjoyed our stay at Dinner Island Ranch.  Yes, it is a rustic place, but it has what we needed, open space to spread out and make maximum use of the solar sunshine.   The ranger stopped by yesterday afternoon and filled us in on more of the background of the area.   What we'd really like to see is installation of a dump station and a fresh water source.    But we're happy with what it is, basic camping that is free!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A show stopper, No Hydraulic slide retraction power

Today was to be one of those days when you venture forth and do a lot of things and in the end find a new site to park the rig for a while.  But a-lass, it was not too be!  We had returned everything to its rightful place, filled in the fire pit, stored the firewood and the last thing I had to do was bring in the living room slide and we're ready to roll.  Major problem--- The hydraulic power unit to drive the slide seems to run, but no retraction action takes place.

We called HWH and they gave us some directions.  But nothing worked, so we decided to explore the services of a Mobile RV Service Tech.   Well, his prices were just a bit more than we wanted to spend  ($200 service charge to just drive out and  look at it.)  So we decided to pull the slide in with the mechanical override.   Yes, it can be done, but it is not fast.  So now we have the slides in and we're living in cramped quarters, not fun!!!!

Since this was to be a moving day, we  had left the laundry clothes out.  Also, it was necessary to move, as the holding tanks are about full.  Our fresh water tank was also about empty.  (We dumped a 6  gallons of water before we knew we had a problem.)   Also, last night I noticed the "stink" oder of the LP flame.  So it is time to find an LP supplier.  But here we sit!

We've located three possible dealers that we'll call in the morning.  One of them will get a visit from us, hopefully late tomorrow.  (Before we get there, we need to buy groceries, pick up some prescriptions, get the LP tank filled, find a hair salon for Sandy and fill up the motorhome with diesel.  And then drive another 100 miles plus.  But life could be worse.  The low tonight is to be about 60 and tomorrows high is about 80.  I think we can handle it okay.

I guess we'll look back on today as just another "bump on the road".    At least we're healthy.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Great Day in Southern Florida

Today is a great day here in southern Florida.  Admittedly, it was a bit cool this morning (frost  on the Honda), but this noon it was delightful.   The breeze was a bit much, but we can handle that when we're parked here at Dinner Island Ranch.

This morning while we were sitting in the down wind side of one of the motorhomes, we had another couple come in. So  naturally, a couple of us went  to meet them and help them get parked.  One of his first words to me was "I'm here because of what you've written in your Blog!"  (   Okay, I knew a few friends have read it, but this couple was a stranger to us.  (We soon became well acquainted.)

They are snowbirds from Illinois and hoping to spend the winter in Florida without getting themselves bankrupted by camping fees.   It didn't take long for the group to welcome them and perhaps overwhelm them with where we're planning to park (in free or nearly free locations.)  Like ourselves months ago, it is hard to imagine that this place (and many more in Florida) are completely free other than our expense to dump and load up with water.  Before we part company tomorrow, I'm sure we'll have them convinced to become members of the SKPs.

Yesterday while browsing on the web, we found a place close to Punta Gorda (and our park Paradise Park) that also has free camping. It has two locations (one immediately off of the interstate) that are free in November, December and the first two weeks of January.  It is part of the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management area.  Officially, it is a hunt camp, but I think open to all users.  A friend has already volunteered to check it out for us.

On Tuesday we leave this park and go  to  the Dupuis WMA for a week. It is free, and includes a water hydrant and a dump  station. Frankly,that is hard to beat.  As a friend has said, "We're always looking for low cost parking locations, cheaper is better and free can't be beat!"  While at Dupuis, we intend to check out another WMA called J.W. Corbett WMA.  Supposedly, it has free camping, but we'll have to pay a yearly entry fee of 29 dollars  (or a daily of $3).  The entry fee is good for all of the WMA areas for one year.  So the price becomes a non-issue.  After Dupuis, we go to Three Lakes WMA for two to four weeks, so we'll get good use of our entry permit.

When I  use the abbreviation of WMA, it can mean "Water Management Area" or it can mean  "Wildlife Management Area". Yes, confusing, but I didn't name them.


Friday, January 13, 2012

We're well into Week II of the Rendezvous

We're entering the wind down mode here at the rendezvous and there seems like so much to do.  Today we had one of the members leave.  I thought he left before telling us where his secret find of grapefruit was.  However, he had told one of the members and so this afternoon, all of us went "grapefruit picking".  It is no easy task, as the grapefruit trees are in a forest and very tall!   I had a 20 foot pole and many of them required the full length of the pole to reach the fruit.  

When we returned to our rigs and eventually sorted the haul, I think all  of us were nearly overwhelmed by how many we had obtained.   Now our only challenge is to eat them.   (We already had 40 grapefruit purchased on Tuesday when we visited the market in Immokalee.)     The site also had an orange tree, with all of the oranges above the 20 foot line.  The reason the citrus trees are so tall is that they are in a tall cypress and palm tree forest.

We are heading to a Florida Conservation park that requires an entry fee or the purchase of a yearly pass.  I've visited their web site a couple  of times and became frustrated trying to find the route to purchase the permit.   Today, we were successful at purchasing the permit with our credit card.  Obviously, we don't have it yet.  However, they give you an online receipt that you print and keep in your vehicle.  The receipt includes a validation number that someone can use to verify that we purchased the permit.

One reason we wanted to get the permit early was so that we can use it to explore another area owned by the same Florida division.  As we explore  various online Florida divisions, I find that they have a number of campgrounds.  There is the Florida Water Management Districts (5 of them),  the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service,  the Florida State Forests and I suspect a couple of others.  Of course there is the over used   Florida State Park system, which is very popular (and VERY expensive).

I suggested to Sandy today that perhaps we ought to go into Immokalee on Monday and get some ice cream and enough strawberries from the market to serve everyone.   Her reaction was that everyone is probably about filled with strawberries after Tuesday.  Tonight we took a brief  count and everyone is still working on the strawberries that they purchased on Tuesday. We still have two days to think about it.

Tonight a cold wave arrives and is supposedly changing our daytime temperatures.. The low tomorrow morning is to be 47 and 45 on Sunday.  The day time temperatures will be in the mid 60s.  But by next week, the temperatures will rise to mid 70s during the day.   We kind of like that, especially after seeing what is happening in the northern snow belt states.  Florida isn't too bad!