Sunrise in the Florida Keys

Sunrise in the Florida Keys

Friday, April 30, 2010

An Eventful Few Days

We are having such a nice time here at Keaton Beach, that we decided to extend our stay an extra night.
 
The other night we were outside when I felt the familiar feeling of a cat rubbing my leg. It took a second to realize that isn’t supposed to happen.  Our cats do NOT go outside and one must have escaped! I looked down to see one of our cats beside me. and I panicked.  I made a quick grab for that cat, knowing I would probably have one chance to catch it.  The cat panicked and  started fighting me and then bit down hard on my arm.  At that point I made the decision to let it go.  Al ran inside to do a quick head count,  and he confirmed our 4 were  accounted for.  Of course I had to go inside and do my own count.  Yep, all there, so that explained why that cat bit me :)  It wasn’t mine!  The poor cat was frightened when  some crazy lady suddenly grabs him!  I went back outside, and called  “kitty, kitty” and he came right up to me and rolled!  He forgave me, and of course I forgave him because it really wasn’t his fault.  We checked with the owner and confirmed it was her cat, and he had his shots.  I doctored my arm and then had to laugh at the situation.
Anyway enough excitement for that day.

Yesterday we got up early and went for a kayak paddling trip.  We stored the kayaks on the dock right outside our front window, so it was an easy launch.

Keaton Beach consists of one main street, which leads to a point which has a pretty beach park.
There is a picnic pavilion and restrooms.
Image012
There is a long pier right next to the channel.
Image021
The beach here the best is gets in Keaton Beach because this area sits in the middle of the Oyster beds. There are no white sandy beaches, but it is a very quaint and laid back town and we love it here. The people are very friendly, both the residents and the visitors.

Image011
The next few photos are from our kayak trip. 
Image042
P1010072
Al was trying to be a good Samaritan and pick up a floating beer can. He leaned a little too far and this is where it got him!
P1010062
Unfortunately he had his binoculars around his neck.  You can see how deep the water was.
P1010066
We walked up towards the park last night for some sunset photos.  There were a few palm trees that I felt would make for some good photos.
What do you think?
Image062

Image066
Image070
Image063
Image068 Image069
Notice how the sun appears to melt into the ocean?
Image073
Image076
Image086
Once the sun set, we went back to the RV and took a few pictures right out of our front window.  The tide was going out to expose the oyster beds.
P1010157

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kayaking at Keaton Beach

We had wind gusts of 45 knots last night with sustained winds at 35 knots.  We got a pretty nice sunset and the winds calmed down.
P1010041
P1010043
P1010056
Our view from the MH front window, Miss Squeaky watching the sunset.
P1010051
We got a little rain, later in the evening.   I tried a new idea for the persistent leaks we have had on both slides.  No leaks last night, but it didn’t rain much, so I don’t know if our latest fix worked or not.  After the winds died down, the temperature dropped pretty quickly.  We were told it got down to 49 degrees.  Brrrr.
We got up early and took a short walk up the “strip.”  This is a one main street town. There is a marina/convenience store and one restaurant, that is supposed to have excellent seafood.
It started warming up nicely so we took a short kayak trip before lunch.  We put the boats in at the boat ramp then headed up the canal in front of a row of houses on stilts.
P1010084
P1010037
P1010086
We then  headed over towards the campground beach area to take the kayaks out. This is not the typical Florida beach most people think of. 
P1010065
This is a picture of our  “beach” with Al in the foreground and the motorhome in the background.
P1010089
This part of Florida is full of oyster beds, so there aren’t really any sandy beaches.  We pulled the kayaks up to the floating dock and then just hauled them up on the dock which is right in front of our RV.  When the tide is low, we can’t even launch our kayaks from the beach.  There are just too many oyster beds. The water stays very shallow for quite a while offshore, so we were having to worry about hitting oyster beds quite often. 
P1010100
P1010091
We didn’t do much except visit with a few of the other campers here at the campground.  Most are people in our age group who are either snowbirds or long term travelers.  It’s interesting to find out where they have been.
After we finished our paddle, we came back to the Motorhome and this is what Al saw right out of the front window.
P1010078
By the time I got there, it had flown away, so I never saw the Bald Eagle.  Hopefully, it will come back.
Al bought his fishing license, so he’ll try his luck tomorrow.
We really like this campground, but people that expect beautiful white sandy beaches would be disappointed.  The few available sites on the gulf are nice, but the rest of the CG is full of mostly week-enders and they are pretty close together.  We would not want to be at any of those sites. The town of Keaton Beach is very remote, as are all the neighboring towns, and there is nothing much to do except, fish, kayak and just relax.  The nearest grocery store would be in Perry, which is about 25 miles away.  There are 2 convenience stores where you can get the basics and a few frozen items, but basically Perry is it.  Steinhatchee Florida is just 17 miles from here and is a very popular place.  The Steinhatchee River flows right into the gulf and is supposed to be a very nice kayaking river.
The storm clouds that partially blocked the sunset, were gone tonight and we had a beautiful sunset up on the dock in front of our campsite.
P1010139
P1010133
P1010151
P1010153
More tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Keaton Beach, Florida

We arrived at Old Pavilion Rv Park around 11 am.  It’s only about 100 miles and an easy drive.
We’re in site number 23, right on the Gulf of Mexico.  There aren’t too many waterfront sites, but a lot of non-waterfront sites.  Many of the sites have permanent rv’s on them for people that just come for the week-end. The fishing is supposed to be excellent here right off shore.
We were told low season rates were $35.  We called last week to make a reservation and were told to pay when we get here, check or cash, no credit cards.  It’s unusual nowadays not having to pay up front. There aren’t many of these kinds of places in business now, especially on the beach in Florida.
The lady that runs the place is very nice and easy to get along with.  It’s a very pet friendly place.  She has 3 dogs and a very cute kitty named Cotton.  I’ll have to post his picture later.  He has no tail…I would probably have named him Stumpy!
We set up, and when we went to pay, she asked if we were Passport America members.  We aren’t but she said she’d give us that rate anyway!  So instead of $35, we’re getting $20 per night!  Can’t beat that!  I guess we will join Passport America.  We never have because we usually camp at State Parks, but just coming here it will be a good savings.
The hook ups are all set up for backing into the site, but with a beautiful view of the Gulf, we wanted to pull in forward, so everything is on the wrong side. We needed an extension cord for the electric.  We haven’t even attempted to hook-up the sewer yet.  We may just run a gray water hose right into the sewer and just dump the black water before we leave.  It was worth the little inconvenience for this million dollar view right from the front window.
P1010026
Here we are on the left.
P1010039
The guy in the Minnie Winnie next door has been here fishing all month.  He gave Al some tips and even a few lures!  What a nice guy. He and his wife are from Tallahassee.
We were kind of tired after lunch, so we took the opportunity to try our our new bed (again). Boy do we love that bed!
The wind is strong today. The weather report says the winds are variable at 5mph.  I can tell you they are a lot more than variable.  I would have to believe the gusts are approaching gale force.  The motorhome has been rocking with many of these gusts.   We do have a wonderful breeze blowing in though!  It’s a little rough to kayak but hopefully this is just afternoon sea breezes and it will lay down soon.  We want to take some sunset pictures without blowing away.
The kitties are loving this nice breeze and were kind of surprised when they saw their new view!
P1010027
There is a nice boat ramp which leads to a canal, which goes right into the gulf.  Of course we can put our kayaks in right in front of the campsite, although there are some large rocks to navigate around.
P1010034
P1010035
Right across the street there is a marina with convenience store.  You can buy the necessities, like beer, fishing equipment, ice cream and sun screen! 
If we don’t blow away tonight, I think we’re really going to like this place. 
They advertise cable tv and wifi, but neither are working right now.  No problem, we were able to get our Direct tv set up, but the wind has messed up our signal.  I just called Verizon and activated my tethering feature for my phone internet, so we’re good.  I’m sure once the wind dies down, we’ll be able to pick up our satellite tv again.  In the meantime, we have new books to read.  More later.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why Get a TPMS

This post on Rv-Net Forum was what finally convinced us to bite the bullet and buy our Tire Pressure Monitoring system. It is a sad story, but one that can help educate us all and hopefully prevent others from the same fate.

Some of you may have missed it, so I decided to put the link here.   They determined the rig blew a right FRONT tire,  lost control, the coach burned and the three people inside were killed.  Very sad story, but it gives us something to think about and possibly learn from.

Some people suggested Steer Safe System



or a Safety Plus Front Stabilizer   may have helped keep the MH on the road in the event of a tire failure.  I checked two different systems out, and that will probably be something we will eventually have installed.  Of course all this takes money.  Evidently these systems help to keep the MH on the road in the event of a blowout or even an accident.

After reading about this accident, I wondered,  if  they had a TPMS on their coach,  would it have given them enough time to realize there was a problem and prepare for it?  Even a second or two could make the difference.

There were some other posts explaining what to do IF you have a front tire blowout.  I was a little surprised that they advised to stay on the accelerator!   After reading  this, and thinking about it, we are trying to keep this in our mind.  Please take the time to click on the above link and watch the video.  It was very informative! 

So Margie, maybe this is something you could show Roger to help him come around to your way of thinking about a TPMS!  They are on sale now at CW for $299 for 6 tires.  That would cover the MH and the toad can be seen in your rear view camera.  Al says what he thinks will be nice on the TPMS, is that he won't have to check the tire air pressure before we go on a trip. He will know what the air pressure is at all times!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Installed TPMS

We purchased the Truck System Technology Tire Pressure Monitoring System from Camping World yesterday.

Today we decided to install it, and were pleasantly surprised to find it was easy to install!  Sometimes this type of gadget can be tricky to understand the directions.  We went with this brand because it has a temperature reading as well as tire pressure.  We felt this was important for safety reasons.  A hot tire is a dangerous tire and we prefer to know it before there is a major problem, or blowout.






The system comes with an antenna, and 12v adapter.  You can use the monitor with or without the 12 v adapter.  The monitor has a built in lithium battery that has about a 3 hour battery life.  It recharges when hooked up to 12v.  The monitor can be taken out to tell what the pressure is when you are adding air to the tires. 


This is the monitor and two of the sensors.  They just screw onto the valve stem by using a special tool.  They are not completely theft proof, but you need the installation tool to remove them or put them on.  Better not lose it!  They highly recommend metal valve stems. 


The system we bought only has 6 sensors in it, so we will need to order the extra four.  We need 6 for the Motorhome and 4 for the tow car.  The TST system is on sale at Camping World for $299 with 6 sensors.  The other 4 sensors will cost $150.  It's not cheap, but we feel it's good insurance.

One thing we found out about all of these TPMS is that the sensors have a battery with a life of about 5 years, and the battery is not replaceable.  You have to purchase new sensors when the battery goes.  I feel this is something they could resolve, but I guess it keeps them in business!  I believe more people would buy them if they didn't face replacing sensors every few years.  One thing I learned though, was that the sensors don't all go at the same time, so you can replace them gradually :)  When the vehicle is stored for a period of time, if you take the sensors off, you will save battery life. 

Anyway, as far as installation.  You just turn on the Monitor and program in each sensor.  The sensors each have a specific number on them and you program that particular number into the corresponding tire position showing on the monitor. You give it a minimum and maximum setting for pressure and a maximum temperature.  When Al was putting on the sensors, he let a little air out, and the tires were a few pounds low to start with.  So when we programmed the tire in, it gave us an audible alarm and flashed a red light that the tire pressure was low!   I guess it works.  The temperature of the tire was also there.  I need to do some research and see if exactly what temperature we need to have as a high temperature warning.  The tire temperature will change with the weather and movement.  I don't want it beeping for just normal heat.  The RV-Net Forum is a great place to find that kind of information.


We decided until we get the other 4 sensors, we'd put 2 on the motorhome front, and two on the outer rear tires, and two on the toad front tires.  That would give us a pretty good warning on the most dangerous tires.  We don't have a backup camera on the MH, so if the toad blew a tire, we might not know about it for days :)

Memory Foam Mattress

If anyone is wanting a memory foam mattress for their home or RV, go to  Bed In a Box  and become a "Fan" on Facebook.    They are giving away free mattresses and pillows!  They are trying to build their business through the internet and each time they hit a certain number of "fans" they have a give a way!   They also have sporadic give-a-ways and I'm trying to win another one for the house!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

We went to Camping World today and found the Truck System Technologies tire pressure monitoring system on sale for $299.  It only included 6 sensors though and we will need to order 4 more for another $150.   It was basically the same price as we could have gotten it through their website, but it was there at Camping World and we are planning another trip, so we went for it.

It was the one we had decided on after researching several different systems.  The main thing that sold us on this was the fact that it not only monitors tire pressure, but temperature.  If you should have a sticking caliper, which I hear is fairly common if the MH sits for a little while, then the temperature sensor will let you know before you have a problem. There are many things that can cause the temperature to rise and I would prefer to know about it as soon as possible.

Anyway, tomorrow I guess we will see how easy/hard it is to install.  When we were coming back from our last trip, I wondered how long it would take us to realize it, if the toad had a flat tire!  Hopefully, we won't have any blowouts or other problems, but it is just a little piece of mind.

We bought another little gadget at Camping World, but I'll go into that later. 







 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Suwannee River State Park

We’re home from our recent camping trip.  This is one of our favorite parks.  It’s in the northeast portion of Florida, near the city of Live Oak. It’s one of the few Florida State Parks will sewer hookups!  Boy am I getting used to that.
We arrived Sunday afternoon and got set up on site number 10. 
Rain was predicted Monday, so we just hung around the campsite most of the day.  We took a few short hikes.  We got rain one day and had problems with both slides leaking!  We thought we had that problem resolved, but apparently not. Our slide toppers ripped and we took them off, so that doesn’t help, but still there is a problem  We ended up bringing in both slides for the evening.  We need to go up on the roof and figure out what the problem is, or God forbid, take it to Camping World.  I don’t have much faith in the CW in Tallahassee, but there is another one in Dothan, Alabama and it’s not too much further.
Anyway, we finally got two good days of kayaking in.  This part of the Suwannee River has very high limestone banks.   This part of Florida used to be under the ocean and that’s why you see limestone.  There are also lots of artifacts that are thousands of  years old.  It’s kind of fun looking for them.  Al found a Mastodon tooth when we were diving in the river many years ago.
Here is Al, digging and sifting for treasure!
Image022
P1010090
P1010091
You just sift through the stuff and hope for the best.  We were hoping for some shark teeth or arrowheads, but unfortunately didn’t find any of those.  He did find some old Sea Biscuits and a few bones though.  I never got any pictures taken of his treasure!
The spawning Sturgeon Fish are known to be in the river and have injured and even killed people.  The worst problems with them is in April!  They can be 6-8 feet long and hundreds of pounds.  They like to jump straight up in the air.  That can be a problem if you are flying down the river in a boat, or even just gliding along in a kayak.  I guess I’m getting to be a coward in my old age, but I am always a little nervous on this river.
P1010042
We paddled VERY close to shore to avoid being hit by a flying fish. There are a LOT of them too, it’s not just something you occasionally see.  This was the first trip that both of actually saw one come all the way out of the water right in front of us.  Usually we just look in time to see them going back into the water.  Both of us got a good look at them in the air this year.  Unfortunately, no pictures..it just happens too fast.
The huge oak trees grow on the bank of the river and the roots grow right into the limestone rock.  It’s amazing they can live. 
P1010095
Image008
Here’s a cabin, I was a little afraid to paddle under.
Image011
Image020
The weather was nice and warm and was a great kayaking day.
P1010002
P1010015
P1010079
You can see here, we’re definitely staying close to shore :)  If we were any closer, we’d just have to walk!
P1010049

P1010009
P1010084
The campground was pretty full.  There were a lot of returning snowbirds coming and going.  Usually when we go on a Sunday, the campground is pretty empty.
The kitties enjoyed watching squirrels.  This is Little Noogie.
P1010039
and here is Squeaky.
P1010001
This is our little pregnant friend, who will miss us (and our peanuts).
P1010036
We  really enjoyed our new Bed In A Box Mattress.  It is 3 inches of Memory Foam on top of 8 inches of support foam and is wonderful!  It was our first real camping trip since we got it and we both love it. We took a gamble on this mattress.  We usually don’t order comfort type items from the internet, but I had a hunch this would be good and boy was I right!  We LOVE this mattress!  If anyone is in the market for a mattress for your home or RV, give this a try.  We have a fairly new mattress at home which is pretty comfy, but if we had a spare $600, I’d order a new king size BedinaBox mattress!
We came home, unloaded the motorhome some, and then came in and made reservations to head to Keaton Beach next Tuesday.  We have a Gulf front site for 4 nights during the FULL moon!  Can’t wait!