Dry Falls, Highlands, NC

Dry Falls, Highlands, NC

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day.

We had nowhere to go and nothing we had to do.  It was the first time we've had a day like that for a long time and we were looking forward to it.

We got up early, had breakfast and drove to a local equestrian/bicycle'/hiking park.  It’s all part of the Hillsborough River watershed area.  The Hillsborough River is where Tampa gets its water so the land surrounding it is protected from building.

We stayed on the main road which was mostly dry and sandy.  On the way back we saw an armadillo so I left the trail to take a picture…picture hasn’t been downloaded yet. 

We got back in the car after our 3 mile hike and I felt something crawling on my hand.  I thought it was a tick, so I quickly grabbed it in a paper towel for Al to identify when we got to our next stop.  Sure enough, he said it was a “Brown Dog Tick” which is the most common type of tick.  Lyme disease is caused from tick bites so I certainly didn’t want to see that!  We had only left the main trail for a minute, but we figure that was when I got the tick.  Florida does have a lot of ticks, so it’s something to be aware of, both for people and pets.  Al gets quite a few tick calls from the veterinarians that he sprays.

The tick hadn’t bitten me (yet) but after that I kept feeling like bugs were crawling all over me!  We came home and had showers.  No more ticks were found!

After lunch our plan was to sit outside and read.  It was in the mid 70’s and sunny, so it was a beautiful day to be outside. 

We decided to each take 5 minutes and straighten the house.  Well that 5 minutes ended up lasting the rest of the day.  Al decided to clean out all his storage bins and I pulled out the vacuum and cleaned up cat hair, did some laundry and organized.  We’re still trying to figure out how to best organize this place and constantly tweaking it. 

Today we’re meeting a bunch of other rv people that are in the area now.  We’re meeting in Lakeland for lunch.  It was put together by Donna/Froggi and should be fun to meet other rv’ers/bloggers.

 

Did you know the saying "God willing and the Creek don't rise" was in reference to the Creek Indians and not a body of water?  It was written by Benjamin Hawkins in the late 18th century.  He was a politician and Indian diplomat.  While in the south, Hawkins was requested by the President of the U.S. to return to Washington.  In his response, he was said to write, "God willing and the Creek don't rise."  Because he capitalized the word "Creek" it is deduced that he was referring to the Creek Indian tribe and not a body of water.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Lesson Learned

Yesterday was a relaxing day visiting with our friends Rhonda and William.  Rhonda and I met back in 1998 when we first started working at USAA.  We have been friends ever since.  They have come up to Georgia in their 5th wheel and visited us several times.  We went to their house yesterday for hamburgers.  It got a little cool in the evening so William started a big campfire to warm us up.  It was the first campfire we've had since we've been in Florida, so it felt really good.  It was a relaxing day and a nice change from the week we had!

We decided to go for a hike today.  It's supposed to be in the 70's and nice and sunny, so it should be a nice day for a hike.

Yesterday when we were getting ready to go to Rhonda's, it was hot while I was trying to put my make-up on.  I opened the bathroom door and turned the fantastic fan to flow in rather than out.  It brought some cool air onto me and cooled me off.   I thought to my self....remember to change it back so that the air blows out before tomorrow morning :)   Well, I forgot until this morning when Al was in there!!!  All I'm going to say is OH MY GOD!  It didn't take me too long to realize the air was coming IN!

Lesson learned...always leave the fan in the bathroom venting OUT!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lazy Days Campground

Before all the drama with our missing cat, we took the time to check out the campground at  Lazy Days.  As many times as we’ve been there, we just never got over to the campground.

One of the main reasons we never went there was because of the rates.  They range from $29.99 – $34.99 per night, depending on the season.  You can only stay 14 days and there are no discounts that I could find.

We got a coupon for a free stay while we were at the rv show, so maybe we’ll get there one day.

One thing Al really liked was the box with free newspapers right by the clubhouse!  I guess you can get free delivery at your campsite too.

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It’s very nice and everything is beautifully maintained. 

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The pool is a very large caged and heated pool and there is a hot tub as well. The pool was warm too.  Some of these “heated” pools were not heated enough for me.  I don’t consider 80 heated!  I’m a 90’s kind of girl!

In Florida most everyone has a caged pool.  It cuts way down in maintenance and makes for a nice addition to your house.  I haven’t seen this done much in other areas. 

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The campground area is nice.  The sites are fairly large for this type of campground and all are full hook up.

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The usual shuffleboard  courts.

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The clubhouse is huge and set up for rally’s. 

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Inside the clubhouse, they are building a “motor home” that will be a snack bar.  It’s an actual replica of a motor home complete with slide outs.  It appears to be made of the exact same things an actual rv is made of.  It’ll be interesting to see it when it’s finished.  You can see it in the picture below…its quite large.

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We spent yesterday getting settled into our new campsite.  As I mentioned, we weren’t too happy with the campsite we had chosen because of the traffic going through all the time.  Our site was an overflow site and kind of in a large empty lot behind the maintenance shed.  It was our fault for picking this site, but we never dreamed there would be so much traffic in the site.  The people in the park models aren’t rv people and do not respect a campsite.    They are used to having this lot for parking, dog walking, turning around and driving through and just because there is a motor home there, they are not going to change their ways.  They were very nice people, but we just got tired of this.  We didn’t want to start a war, so we just kept our mouths shut.

The park we were in was a “Carefree Resorts” park and we found another Carefree park a few miles away.  It was a little more expensive, but had a row of strictly rv’s.  We put down a deposit and intended to move there.

When we went to the office of the park to notify them we were leaving, we very nicely mentioned that we didn’t like the spot we were in because it was like grand central station.  They understood and were aware of how the park model people  behave and has told them numerous times not to park in rv sites.  She says in some of this type of park the park model people are quite nasty to the rv people!  That wasn’t the case here, thank goodness.

Anyway, she said there was now a new site open, and that we could have it if we wanted.  She could get with the other Carefree park and get our deposit moved over.  We looked at the site and it was perfect.

It’s in a row of strictly rv’s.  We are on the end and in full sun.  Perfect, so we moved there.

It was only about 2 blocks from the old site, but immediately we felt a different vibe.   It was definitely the easiest move we’ve ever done!

Best of all this morning, there is no one driving, walking their dog or parking in our site! 

We’re happy campers again!

Oh yeah…before we moved I discovered a little secret that a more honest person might have reported.  There is one dryer in the laundry room that doesn’t take your quarters!  Yeah….free dryer!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lazy Days, Lost Cat, and Tornado’s

I haven’t posted on the blog for several days.  We’ve had a whirlwind of adventure here and things are just now settling down. 

We dropped the motor home off at Lazy Days on Sunday to fix our problem with leaky slides.  That is the only day they don’t serve free breakfast and lunch!  We had taken the cats over to Mom’s house so they would be out of the motor home and safe.  That in itself was a hassle.

We left our kayaks and bikes at the campsite and our good neighbors (the same ones that walk through our campsite) said they would keep an eye our for our stuff.  Yep, these Canadians are nice people!  In all fairness, they mostly walk through the empty campsite next to us, but they do park in our campsite.  They are not campers, so they just don’t realize a persons campsite is sacred!

After we dropped off the motor home, we toured the Lazy Days Rally Park Campground.  It’s quite a nice place.  I took some pictures and will post them later.  This post is already going to be too long!

It wasn’t any time at all after we dropped the motor home off that we got a call from Tina, our service writer.  She said they did a quick visual check on the slide seals and didn’t see any obvious problems but would need to put it in the “rain bay.”  They noticed that our slide toppers were missing and said they couldn’t put it in the rain bay until we put on new slide toppers.  Tina explained that the toppers keep 90% of the water off and are very important on slide outs.  I don’t know that I buy that because I’ve seen many 5th wheels and some motor homes that don’t have slide toppers.   Our slide toppers had gotten damaged from years of sun and we had intended to replace them ourselves, but just hadn’t gotten it done yet.  I found a place called Rv Slide Toppers where you an order the fabric.  It would have cost about $270 for the fabric, plus tax and shipping.  Of course we would have had to do the labor ourselves.  Much cheaper than Lazy Days price, but that is normal, I guess.

The price for Lazy Days to do this is $650.  At this point we either had to replace the toppers or go pick up the motor home, do the job ourselves and then bring it back.  They were insistent they would not be able to do anything until we had slide toppers. 

We opted to let them replace the fabric, but they wouldn’t have anybody there that could do it until Monday.  We were going to need a place to put the motor home that night, and Tina managed to find a site for us that night. 

Lazy Days is such a huge and busy place.  You just can’t believe how many rv’s there are there at any one time, even on a Sunday.  It’s truly an interesting thing to see!  Tina said they have 273 service bays and over 500 employees.  It wasn’t quite as busy on Sunday, but on Monday most every service bay was full!  Motor homes are parked and driving around the service center, delivery sites, campground and all the roads nearby.  It’s an amazing thing to see….kind of like Disney World!

Tina found us a spot to park the motor home Sunday night at the delivery area, where you get to stay a night if you buy a new/used rv.  We got back there and were pleasantly surprised to find the motor home all backed into the spot, the electric hooked up and the slides out!  They didn’t hook up the water because we had left the water hose at the campground.  We opted to stay the night in the motor home instead of my Mom’s house since all our stuff was there and we felt we’d be more comfortable.  We knew the cats were safe so we didn’t worry.  Monday morning we managed to get the free Lazy Days breakfast.  It was hot oatmeal with peaches and dry cereal.  Not too bad for free!

The picture below is our view.  This is a 45 foot high end Prevost motor home that is only shown by appointment!   I sure would have loved to have driven it home!  What a beautiful coach!

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Monday they had to cut and install the fabric on the slide toppers, but didn’t get that finished in time to get it into the rain bay to check for slide leaks.  They have 2 rain bays where it simulates rain.  The water comes from above and the sides, we were told.

So this left us needing a place to park another night.  Tina wasn’t sure they could find us a spot as the delivery sites were all full.  Remember, there was just a big Rv show here and Lazy Days seemed to have sold a LOT of rv’s there.  Tina finally called and said we would be in bay 98 and we could come back to the MH after 6pm.  We had to drive around a while to find bay 98…remember, they have 273!  I didn’t see many empty bays and many had rv’s parked in front of them that were also hooked up to electric.  It’s amazing how they keep track of all of this!

The bays are lighted well and the lights stayed on all night.  It’s a good thing we are not  bothered by lights when we sleep! Our view was  of tool boxes and other motor homes.

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The above picture is where we spent night two.  There are rows and rows of service bays.

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IMG_1925 Tuesday morning we left the motor home and went and got our free breakfast.  We figured we needed to get some free meals to make up for the $650 awning topper bill!  Breakfast on Tuesday was eggs, bacon and grits!  Yumm! 

We intended to hang around for the free lunch but I got a call from my Mom that one of our cats had escaped and was outside!   He had gotten out late Monday night and she didn’t bother to call us until Tuesday morning.  She reasoned that there would have been nothing we could do until it got daylight.  Wrong!   We could have, and would have been out searching.  We were not happy that we weren’t advised he was outside.  This is an inside cat and we were expecting severe weather Tuesday afternoon and evening.  Al and I were extremely upset.  We flew over to Mom’s house and started searching for him.  We walked around, went into the neighbors yards, looked anywhere a cat can hide and called his name.  Nothing.  Then it started to rain, so we resorted to driving around looking for him.  We looked for him most of the day and night Tuesday night.  That was his 2nd night outside. 

There was a cold front moving in from the Gulf of Mexico.  Conditions were right to bring us possible severe weather and tornado’s.  As it turned out there were a few tornado’s that touched down in the area and a few others sited.

Later in the  in the day Tuesday, we got a call from Tiny at Lazy Days to let us know they “rain bay’d” the motor home for 30 minutes and there were no leaks now that the slide-out toppers were replaced.  Okay…but now our bigger issue was our missing kitty!  We decided to take a break from kitty searching, to go pick up the motor home and take it back to the rv park.  We have a freezer in it that needs electricity and we wanted to make sure everything was ready for the big storm that was coming. 

We picked up the motor home, dropped it off at the campground, secured our bikes and kayaks and went back to Mom’s house to look for our kitty.

It started to rain heavily so we had to wait that out.  We spent most of Tuesday night outside driving around looking for him.  We had no idea where he could have gone.  We didn’t know if he wandered off or stayed close to the house.  He’s an inside cat and didn’t know Mom’s area so we didn’t have much hope that he would find his way back to the house.  Plus, we knew he would be terrified and probably wouldn’t come if he heard us calling.

We were exhausted.  I hadn’t eaten anything since my Lazy Days eggs and bacon breakfast.  My stomach was in a knot so I couldn’t eat.  There were lots of tears.  Mom felt real bad.  I was not mad at her for letting him get out…things happen and she didn’t do it on purpose.  I was angry that she didn’t call me right away. He had a 10 hour head start before we even knew he was missing.

On Wednesday, Mom had been walking around her back yard  looking for him.  Al and I just knew he wasn’t around the house because we had covered that area many times.  She came in and said,  “I think I found Noogie.”

We flew outside and sure enough…it was Noogie!  More tears!   He was perfectly fine, but not coming when he was called!   We had searched this area many, many times, but there was a large hole in the ground, possibly from a dog, a gopher tortoise, or an armadillo.  It was deep enough that he could go down inside it. There were two other entrances exits that he could get out.  There were fences from the neighboring yards and it was difficult to see him.  I had to sit out there with a can of food and coax him over.  He finally came to me, I grabbed him and brought him inside!   A happy ending, thank God!  It’s amazing how well a cat can hide and we knew that so we looked very carefully, but he still managed to hide from us.

We spent last night inside the motor home in our campground and it felt so good to be back home with everyone accounted for!  Today will be a day to relax!

It’s been a long hard week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slide Repairs, Cold Weather and an Education From Canadians

We had heavy rain two nights this week and with our leaking bedroom slide it was not what we wanted to see.

We were hoping not to get any more rain until we were able to get the motor home into Lazy Days for repairs.  The other morning we were awakened by the sound of rain.  We quickly jumped out of bed and pulled in the bedroom slide.  Fortunately this time there were no leaks with the slide it.

Today we take it into Lazy Days and I'm hopeful we won't have the "B" team doing the repairs and they'll get it repaired correctly so we won't have to do it again.  With animals, it's not real easy making arrangements to take your home in for repairs.

We got up early this morning with a little of a surprise.  A cold front moved in and it was supposed to get down to the low 30's last night.  We decided not to unhook the water hose.  When we woke up our thermometer said it was 23 degrees!  The weather on my Droid phone said it was 33.  Al went out and unhooked the water hose and we put another thermometer out.  Yep...it was actually 23 degrees.  Another lesson learned....it it's close to freezing, unhook the hose.  Fortunately it didn't freeze or split.

The other night Al and I got to talking to one of our many Canadian neighbors.   This place is more of a mobile home/snowbird park than an rv park and many of the mobile homes are owned by Canadians.  There are a few rv sites mixed in with the mobile homes.  There are a LOT of Canadians here, many from New Brunswick and Ontario.  We got quite an education from him on Canadians...are you ready Rick?

Al asked him if there were any French Canadians here and he replied, " oh no, we wouldn't allow them."  What?  This neighbor is from New Brunswick, many others are from Ontario.  He went on to say that they didn't like the French Canadians and they had their own park.  I did not know that.  It's a good thing we didn't accidentally get into a French Canadian park because we might not like them either??   He said they are kind of demanding and get mad that Americans don't speak French like they do.  We found it very interesting because as Americans, we kind of lump all Canadians together and apparently they are not all the same!  This is just what he told us and we have never met any French Canadians, so we certainly aren't judging anyone but we just found it interesting.  He went on to explain their Canadian Health Care system and he couldn't understand why a country as big as the United States couldn't provide health care as well.  It was an interesting conversation, but boy were we surprised when he told us they wouldn't allow people from Quebec!  He did say there was one guy in the park, but he was okay, so they allowed him here :)

We are leaving this park on the 29th and moving to another one in the area.  We chose this site because it is open large and completely sunny.  We wanted lots of sun and no shade to help keep it warm on those cooler days.  We are near the maintenance shed but thought the workers would come in the morning, get their equipment and then leave.  It turns out the maintenance men tend to hang out by the shed most of the day and we most always have people right outside our rear window.  It's a bit annoying that we can't even leave our shades open.  Also the people in the mobile homes (those darn Canadians) use our "campsite" as a parking lot and drive through.  They are not rv'ers and don't understand a person's  campsite should be respected!

We are tired of people walking right by the motor home, cars driving by and parking right in front of and beside us.  We have a rental car parked in front of us now that we don't know who it belongs to.  We won't be able to pull out forward to leave today, with the car parked there!  Anyway, we have a reservation for the 29th at another park where the rv's are separated from the mobile homes and there is a privacy fence behind the site.  We may just go there when Lazy Days gets finished with the repairs instead of coming back here for a few nights then having to move all over again.  We like our neighbors and they are all nice people, but I wish they would respect our campsite a little!



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hats off to Lazy Days!

Zephyrhills, Florida

We finally decided our leaking slide was something we weren't going to be able to fix ourselves.

We bought our Rv at Lazy Days and wanted to use them for the repairs.  We haven't been overly impressed with Camping World, but to be fair we've only used the one near Tallahassee, Florida.  After our trip there the other week and seeing just how busy their repair bays were, we didn't expect to get an appointment very quickly.

I called them yesterday morning.  The "schedulers" were on the phone and so I left a message.  I made sure I left our "customer number" so they would know we had previously purchased from them.  Several hours later I got a call from Ron.  We discussed our problem and he said "how about coming in tomorrow?"  What a shocker!  I was expecting some time in March.

There is no way we could have gotten the motorhome (remember our kitty Medium?) over there that soon, so we made an appointment for Sunday.  They currently have Sunday hours for "quick" and urgent repairs.  He was hoping they could get us in and out the same day, but said it depends if they have the right parts or not.  He explained they carry a lot of parts and hopefully they would have what we need.  We're thinking the seals on our slides need to be replaced.  Hopefully we won't have to rob a bank to pay for it!

Hopefully we won't get any more rain before Sunday.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Orlando

We headed towards Orlando yesterday morning to meet with Al’s cousin Jack and his wife Karen. 

They were supposed to be touring Epcot yesterday, but took the time to meet with us for lunch.  They took a cab to Downtown Disney (thanks Margie for the suggestion) and we spent a few hours together.

We had never been there but it’s basically a bunch of shops, and restaurants all along a boardwalk. 

Jack and Karen wanted to try Bongo's Restaurant for lunch.  It is a Cuban restaurant/club and it turns out is owned by Gloria Estefan.  There is another one in Miami’s South Beach.  It was relatively quiet yesterday during lunch but I understand it gets quite loud when the entertainers are playing.  Jack and Karen had a shrimp meal with rice and Plantains.  I had pork with plantains (yummy) and yellow rice, and Al had a Cuban sandwich.   Thanks Jack and Karen for treating us to lunch!  We really enjoyed visiting with you!

Karen, Jack, and Al

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Another Restaurant-Fultons Crab House

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Jack wanted to get a Harley t-shirt for a friend.

Jack, Karen, Al and me

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Karen (the other one) on a Harley

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Planet Hollywood

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We had a good lunch and enjoyed visiting with Jack and Karen.  They live in North Dakota, so we don’t get to see them very  often and unfortunately, usually at funerals.  After we parted ways, they headed back over to Epcot and we took a drive to check out a few campgrounds in the area.

 

Since we just bought a Thousand Trails membership, we wanted to check out the park in Orlando.  It’s actually in Clermont, but they call it the Orlando Thousand Trails…???  With the discount they offered at the Rv show, this campground could be $6 a night.  We chose to add 6 additional Florida parks so it would cost us about $12.

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Pool & Hot tub

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Both were heated and pretty warm! 

It was a very nice campground and we were impressed.  The campsites are pretty large and you’re not crammed in right next to your neighbor.  The people were friendly and there appeared to be a lot of activities.  The people seem to be a big younger than geezerville where we are now :)

This isn’t a good picture of the campground.  I felt funny taking pictures of peoples homes (when they were looking) and most sites were full.  The sites are spaced pretty far apart, but there is no privacy between campsites.  All the sites looked to be angled nicely for ease of getting into.  The lack of trees is a plus in January, not so much in July!

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Cabins

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There were other campsites that reminded me of state parks (our favorite).  They were wooded and there was a lot of privacy between sites.  There were a lot of them as well.  These would be the ones we would prefer.

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Another Pool picture

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With the Thousand Trails membership, we can stay up to two weeks at a time here.  After 14 days you have to vacate for 7 days before you can come back.  We definitely like this park and it is one of the nicest “regular” campgrounds we have seen.  We usually prefer state parks, but since we’ve been snowbirds and living in the motor home so long, we’re finding we really like sewer hook-ups :)

After we left the Orlando/Clermont Thousand Trails, we decided to head to the Thousand Trails park in Wildwood.

On the way we ran across Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont Florida.  It’s evidently a new park and has been designed very well.  The campground reminded us of Silver River State Park.  It was designed right and with the larger rigs in mind.  The sights are angled correctly so you can get into them easily.  I didn’t see a bad site there.  It’s a huge park, some 4500 acres, I believe.  Here is the description from the website.

A short drive from Orlando, this park is noted for its six beautiful lakes, rolling hills, and scenic landscapes. Lake Louisa is the largest in a chain of 13 lakes connected by the Palatlakaha River, which is designated as an Outstanding Florida Waterway. Lake Louisa, Dixie Lake, and Hammond Lake, the park's most accessible lakes, provide access for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Anglers can fish in four of the park's six lakes, but gasoline-powered boats are not allowed; only boats powered by trolling motors or without motors are permitted. Camping facilities and more than 15 miles of horse trails are available for equestrians. For hikers and backpackers, the park has over 20 miles of hiking trails with excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. Dixie Lake has a fishing pier, canoe/kayak launch, and a picnic pavilion.The park also has a full-facility campground, fully furnished cabins for rent, and primitive campsites. Lake Louisa State Park is located just seven miles south of State Road 50 in Clermont on U.S. 27.

campsites

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cabins on the lake

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You have to drive a long way to reach the campground.

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This part of Florida is in the main citrus belt.  There are acres and acres of citrus trees on rolling hills.  It’s a very pretty part of Florida and one where we had never been until recently.  It’s nearby where our friends Margie and Roger winter on their Rv lot.

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Lake Louisa State Park is a great place to camp.  There are 20 cabins, and an Equestrian campground with a 4 horse paddock. 

There are 60  50/30 amp campsites and some have sewer hookups!  The campsites are $26.64 with taxes and no extra charge for the ones with sewer connections.  Since it’s a new park, there isn’t a lot of shade because they are trying to restore it to it’s natural state and have planted native trees/shrubs which are still very small.   It’s close to Orlando so it would be a nice location for seeing the sites.  The lake looked to be pretty nice to kayak.  I don’t think any site would be bad and they can accommodate rigs  up to 115 feet!  

After we left Lake Louisa, we headed to the Wildwood Thousand Trails park. It was nothing like the one in Clermont and certainly would not be our first choice.  The first impression was not nearly as nice as Clermont/Orlando, but once you got in, it wasn’t so bad.

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We never did go to the clubhouse or even find the pool.  It would do in a pinch, but since it’s only about 50 miles from the other park, we would only use this one as  a last resort.

Phew…long post….sorry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rainy Day

We had planned on driving over to Orlando to meet with Al's cousin and his wife yesterday.  However when we got up, it started raining pretty hard and it looked like we would have a stormy drive across the state.

We postponed our visit and it's a good thing we did because our leaky slide was still leaking...a lot.  We keep  thinking we have found the leak and have it fixed, but then the next time it rains, we still have a leak.  We're now thinking the gaskets may need to be replaced.  Usually when we pull in the bedroom slide, the leak stops, but not yesterday.  On top of the bedroom leak, our front window by the drivers seat leaked.  There is a track that has little holes for the water to run out.  We keep them cleaned out, but yesterday the water in the track was coming through the screw holes that hold the window into the frame.  That was a new one~  We tried to tighten the screws but that didn't help.  We used some tape around the screws and hoped that would help.  It slowed the leak down, but didn't stop it.  After it quit raining, Al put some silicone caulk (goober) on the screws and hopefully that will solve the problem.  Al got on the roof and checked out the gasket.  We sprayed on some rubber seal conditioner on all the rubber and cleaned out the track.  We don't know what else to do.  We're going to call Lazy Days and see how soon (yeah right) they can get us in for service.  It doesn't look like it's something we will be able to handle ourselves.

So today, we're again planning on driving over to Orlando and meeting with his cousin.  They are on a three week bus trip from North Dakota, to Orlando, Space Coast, St Augustine, Savannah, Ga and lots of other places.  They have a pretty busy schedule and a little busy for my taste, but it seems like a nice trip.  They'll be ready for a vacation when they get home.  Of course in North Dakota in the winter, they have lots of time to relax!



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Visitors from North Dakota, Two Minute Diner and Sand Cranes

Zephyrhills, Florida

We got up early this morning (before daylight) and went to breakfast at the Two Minute Diner.  It's a pretty popular restaurant here in Zephyrhills.  It's run by a Chinese/Japanese? man.  They get large crowds and if you go during the prime time, you will wait in line.  He comes out and jokes, your table will be ready in "two minutes."  Of course everyone laughs because they know that won't happen.  It's so popular that if everyone just offers to let others sit with them.  We were there last Sunday and joined a family of 5 at their table, at their invitation.  Most of the people here are snowbirds so they are very friendly.  The food is good and very reasonably priced.  We had a breakfast this morning with eggs, bacon or sausage, grits or hashbrowns, toast and coffee for $2.99.  Now you see why people don't mind the wait.

After breakfast we saw a  group of several hundred Sand Cranes.  Evidently, they roost overnight at this little pond and then head off in the morning.  We witnessed many groups of 3-4 birds taking flight and heading out.  It was quite interesting...and noisy.  I got some video and will post it later on. I'm still having problems downloading videos from my camera directly to my computer.  I think the last time, I had to post it to YouTube and then post it to the blog.....I'll figure it out one day when I have the time.

We are having visitors from North Dakota tomorrow.  Al's cousin Jack and his wife Karen will be in Orlando.    They are on a tour bus visiting and seeing the sites.   They have been quite busy seeing all the Disney World/Orlando sites.  It's been a little cool here, but I'm sure much better than North Dakota.  We're going over to visit them tomorrow.  We had some logistics to work out, but I think we've figured out where/when to meet and are looking forward to seeing them.  His wife Karen and I have the same first and last name!  There will be two Karen Lueck's tomorrow!

We may visit the Thousand Trails campground in Orlando while we're there.  Now that we're members we can spend up to 30 days there for free and for any nights over the 30 nights, it will only cost us $3.00.  Pretty good deal, we think.

It's a beautiful night tonight.  The moon is almost full.  We have the windows open, and I'm having a glass of wine, and there is a good smelling roast in the crock pot.  Pretty soon I'll be going to the bedroom so Al can watch his football game.  The magic of  Tivo.  He can watch the game when it's convenient for him and zip through all the annoying commercials.

Orlando tomorrow!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Guns and Realtors

I spoke to our Realtor yesterday and we agreed that she would talk to the buyers Realtor and explain their offer was too low and we really didn't want to start any negotiations from that point.  This Realtor is a new one and in my opinion she should have talked her buyers into a more reasonable offer.  This is the same young woman that came to the house and was going to make an offer weeks and weeks ago.  I think they have had a little trouble with their financing.  We're not holding out much hope that this will work out and frankly, we're not really wanting anything to happen quite yet.  We'd prefer to spend another month or so in Florida, head back to Georgia, continue downsizing and have a closing around May.  Do you think it will work out like we want?

Al has a few more pest control accounts to do this morning and then we're going to figure out something fun to do for the rest of the day.  The weather is warming back up and it looks like it's going to be nice and sunny.

Al has a friend who is a collector.  He collects guns, knives, antiques, toy cars, and just about anything collectible.  Apparently he has a pretty good eye for anything of value.  He purchased an antique gun for $1200 and took it to his gunsmith to check it out.  The gunsmith called him after a few days and wanted him to come over right away so they could talk about the gun.  He told Skip that he did some research on this gun and that it's going to be worth a lot more than he thought.

It turns out it is the missing gun of a collection that they have at Ellis Island (Statue of Liberty).  They called the curator of  museum to tell them they had this gun.  The woman they spoke to became very excited and said they would be able to offer him $50,000.  After doing some more research figures he can get $100,000 for this gun!  Skip has decided to loan the gun to the museum though and will probably donate it to him after he passes away.  Isn't that a nice thing to do?  Skip says that every gun he has purchased is worth more than he paid for it, and that we could do it too.  Of course he rarely sells any of his collections, but they are worth more on paper than he paid for them.  I don't see that working out well for us though since we know nothing about guns.  Some people just seem to have a knack for making money.

Friday, January 14, 2011

We Got an Offer on the House!

Imagine my surprise this morning when I checked my email and found we had a offer on the house!

Oh no…we just reserved a campsite for February!  When will we learn!  Oh no…we don’t want to go back to Georgia until it warms up.  Oh no, we should have sold way more stuff!  Okay Karen, just read the email first and panic later!

After reading the email completely, I don’t think we have a problem.  It’s $40,000 lower than our asking price.  It’s actually insulting, but I know how those things work, so I’m trying not to get my berka in wad (as Al would say).  I’m not even sure they have their financing approved yet and it’s with FHA, which can be a real PITA.   Our Realtor wants us to decide our bottom line walk away price so that  we can make a reasonable counter offer.  They want to close February 24th, if we accept the offer.  We don’t want a contingency based sale.  I don’t want to go back up there, sell everything we have, and then find they can’t get the financing approved.  I guess we’re not desperate enough, but we want a sure thing before we go through all the effort.

So in the meantime…I plan to do some cabinet cleaning/organizing today.  I have a big pantry that holds tons of stuff, but it’s not organized right and I can never find anything.  Al is working all day, so I’ll be stuck here without a car.  I walked to the Laundromat yesterday and did two loads of laundry.  I’ll probably do more today.  It’s not too far of a walk.

It was sunny and cool yesterday, but since we’re in a sunny spot, it was nice and warm inside the motor home.  The cats found themselves a nice warm sunny window and spend the day snoozing, as usual.  Al said he about froze all day long because of the wind, but we were nice and warm.  I think the worst of our cold front is over and it’s going to be a nice week-end.

We haven’t done anything fun lately to take pictures of, so I thought I’d post a few older pictures.

This is a day trip down to the Boca Grande area (west coast of Florida, south of Tampa).  The water was very pretty and clear that day.

 

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lighted pier

The next few were taken at SeaWorld a few years ago.

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I guess we need to get out and do something fun so I’ll have some current pictures!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rv Supershow

We spent the day at the  Florida Rv Supershow, in Tampa.  It’s billed as the largest rv show in the country, with over 1100 rv’s and 350 vendors.

It’s normally very crowded, no matter which day you go.  Our plan was to get there when it opened, and visit the vendor booths first, as that is where you really have to fight the crowds.

Unfortunately, the powers that be for the show,  decided to reward the people who arrived early by forcing them to park in the “back forty.”  We were directed right past the best/closest parking in the front (where the vendor buildings are) and around to the back.  We had to park a a long away from the main part of the show and around to the rear entrance gate.  They had a tram, but needed two or three of them.   The people who lounged around in their warm beds got the best parking and the early birds got the shaft.  We knew we would have to make a trip back to the car if we bought anything, and the car was a long way from the main show.

Al made the first  trip back to the car to drop off some rv polish/wash, while I visited the Thousand Trails booth.  This is the camping club that we considered joining last month.  You join and can then camp “free” for 30 days annually.  After you use your “free” days, the cost is $3.00 a night.  They had been selling each zone for $499.  The southeast zone consists of Texas, Alabama, Florida, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, and are 24 parks in the south east zone.  For an additional $199, you can purchase 6 extra Florida parks.

Thousand Trails was offering a “show special” for $199.  That was the exact same thing that we almost bought for $499 last month.    We decided to go ahead and join and try it out for a year.  It will cost just over $13 a night for the first 30 days.  We can cancel in writing after the first year is up.   They have some rules you need to be aware of, and plan for.  You can only camp in any park for a maximum of 14 days, then you have to go somewhere else for 7 days.  You can get discounts at other Thousand Trails parks though.  I think we can work with that.  We’ve done some research and it seems a lot of people like the club and use it often.  I think we’ll get our moneys worth, and probably before we even leave Florida.  We opted for the 6 additional Florida parks as well, so there are 9 to choose from in Florida.  One is in the Keys!

By the time we left Thousand Trails, the vendors were getting really crowded.  We ended up buying some mirror covers made from the same sunshade material as our front window shade.  Al got some Boeshield lubricant (good stuff), some rugs for the outside stairs, and some velcro straps.  We also got some free tickets for Homosassa Springs Park.  I think we have to listen to a sales talk, but the tickets are $13 each, so we can sit there a while for free tickets!

By the time we went through all the booths, we needed to make another trip to the car to drop off our very heavy bag.  Of course by this time we were at the main part of the show and the car was way, way, way far away!    There were shortcuts to get back to the car, but they had “guards” around to make sure you went the long way.  You want to make sure to aggravate everyone, don’t you?  Our bag was really heavy and we were not happy campers by this point.  By the time we got to the gate, you were supposed to get your hand stamped in order to get back in.  The stamp pad was there, but no one was around, so we proceeded to stamp our hands ourselves.  I was in no mood to wait for someone to show up.   While we were stamping our hands a lady came over and gave us a bit of a hard time…hey, you want to stamp my hand..you’d better be there!  Of course when we came back in, she was there and we got in trouble again for trying to go through the turnstyle!  Brother!!

After we got rid of our heavy bag of goodies, it was time to look at the rv’s….the fun part.  Of course after carrying a 500 pound bag a thousand miles, we were getting tired! 

There are so many rv’s that you really have to do some walking.  There are trams you can catch, so we took one to the far part and worked our way back.  There were sure some beautiful rv’s.  We found a really nice one for only $674,000.  We never even got into the really expensive ones.  We actually found several we really liked in the 225-300 range.  (of course we did).   We looked at Winnebago’s, Itasca, Holiday Ramblers, Newmars, Damons, Tiffin, Fleetwood,  and I can’t even remember the rest.  We looked at a LOT of rv’s, but didn’t even see all the class A’s.  We did manage to get inside a few 5th wheels.  We went inside a 5th wheel that a had a “living room” upstairs where the bedroom normally is.  It was open so you could see up into the space.  The dining room was downstairs right across from the door. It really seemed like a separate and private dining room.    It was very nice and a totally different concept.

We finally wore ourselves out  by about 4:00 pm.  Of course, we were on the opposite side of the facility from where we parked, so we had another long walk back to the car.  This time, we decided to take the shortcut, security guards be damned!!!   They had left their stations by then, so we got out without being arrested!

We had a cold night last night, so Al unhooked the water and we hit the bed pretty early.  It didn’t get quite as cold as predicted and was only 32 this morning when we got up.  I think we should be back into the mid 50’s today…and sunny. 

 

oh….by the way…we didn’t buy a new motor home!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Florida Rv Supershow

We decided today would be the best day to go to the Tampa Rv show.  We're sure it will be very crowded, so we intend to get there when it opens and try to get through the booths before it gets too bad.

Our cold front is here and it is 39 degrees out.  It might be a little chilly at the show today, but it was the best day for us to go.

I just checked my lottery tickets to see if there was a winner hiding anywhere.  I would hate to go to the rv show and not know I was a millionaire!

I know a lot of other bloggers will be at the show today, so maybe we'll run into someone we "know."


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rain and Cold Front Coming

Yesterday we checked out a few more rv parks in this area.  We've about decided to hang around the Tampa area through February because Mom is still having those "spells" and we're concerned about her.  She is on the new sleep apnea machine, and we're hoping it will help, but she's still having these bad spells.  We're thinking that since she has picked up a cold, she may still be breathing through her mouth at night and the machine isn't helping her.  The CPAP machine she is using only covers her nose.  I did a little internet research and found they make masks that cover the nose only, mouth and nose or full face mask.  We're thinking she may need a mouth and nose mask.  The doctor wants to see how she does after she gets rid of the cold.

There are a LOT of senior mobile home/rv parks in this area and they are mostly full.  Many of them have converted over to strictly snowbird mobile home parks and most have more mobile homes than rv's.   I think many of these people used to be rv'ers but as they aged, they traded in the rv for a mobile home. They own the mobile home, but rent the lot.  From what we've seen, the average annual rent is between $2500-$3000.  You can buy a mobile home fairly cheap.  It's really a pretty inexpensive way for them to spend the winters in warmer weather.  The problem is you have no control on the rent and they can sell the park and you'd end up with a mobile home with no place to park it.  It's happened to many people in Florida.  With the real estate market like it is now, I don't think it's as big of a concern as it was a few years ago.

We found two other parks that we like, but only one has an opening.  Yes...it's very busy here in the winter.  It's amazing the peninsula of Florida doesn't just sink right into the ocean!  Maybe that's why we get these sinkholes! Too many snowbirds!  

I think we're going to move to Waters Edge Rv Resort.  We don't have the best site here.  It's large and sunny, but we're right by the maintenance shed.  We knew that going in, but we didn't know the guys would constantly be hanging around the shed.  We have no privacy out our back window.  Waters Edge has a nice site available in an area where there are only Rv's.  It's in the sunshine, there is a fence behind the site (privacy) and a dog walk/park like setting behind the fence.  It's only $465 a month, so the price is right.  It's nothing fancy, but seems to be a decent place.  It's not a resort or park like setting like Rick and Paulette, but it'll work for us for  now.

We got some pretty heavy rain yesterday and today we're expecting a cold front.  We should get to the upper 60's today, but the next few days we won't get out of the 50's.  Of course it's just in time for the Rv show which starts tomorrow!

Howard and Linda managed to get some tickets to the Rv show and were nice enough to share them, so we have free tickets.  Thanks Howard and Linda.  We're not sure when we'll be able to go though.  We were hoping for a warm day!

Al is off doing some pest control business, so I have the rv to myself.  I plan to do some house cleaning after I have my coffee time and phone time with my friend in Arkansas!    It's going to be kind of nice to have some alone time :)  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Propane Issue Resolved

We got our propane issue fixed Saturday, by Dale Sumner of Mobile Rv Medic.  We were extremely impressed with him and recommend him highly!  He is very knowledgeable and we immediately felt comfortable with him.   From the minute he walked up, he was giving us tips and pointers.  His charge for a service call is only $20.  It was worth it to us to have someone come to us.  The final bill was very reasonable and we felt like he really knew what he was doing.

Dale and his wife are full time rv’ers and travel most of the year on the rally/show circuit.  He gives seminars on LP and electrical systems.  He sells Progressive systems surge and volt protection (like the one we bought), as well as Solar systems.  He writes,  and sells rv instruction books , and does seminars at rally’s.  He is a wealth of knowledge.  We will definitely buy a couple of his books at the Rv show this week.

They are in the Tampa/Zephyrhills/Lakeland area from November to March.  He specializes in LP systems and has all the required training and licenses, including the Florida 04-07 license.  That license costs $5000, so many LP “repairman” don’t have it.  It’s a 3rd degree felony to work on LP systems without it, but you can bet many don’t have it.  Personally, I prefer someone that’s fully trained and licensed!

Dale was there 3 hours and gave kept giving us tips and pointers the entire time.  I just hope we can remember some of the things he told us.

The first tip  was on our “Extend a Stay” kit.  It’s a connector that allows you to run your rv propane systems off of a spare propane tank.  The propane tank on a motor home is permanently mounted so you have to drive to get the tank refilled. 

He suggested that when we connect the Extend a Stay kit, we turn off the propane on the main tank and only use the spare tank.  That  way we’d always have a nearly full onboard tank of propane for emergencies.  We had it set up to use the motor home’s propane first and then use the spare tank if we ran out.  It really did make more sense the other way.

He also noticed that we had screens on the exhaust for the furnace (not good) and the refrigerator and hot water heater.  He said these rv propane systems need all the air they can get and you only use the screens when the rv is in storage.

He did some adjustments to the water heater flame and plugged a hole that might have allowed some exhaust inside the rv.  He did a whole house pressure test and said we had no leaks.  He checked out the work done on the recall for our Dometic refrigerator, because some of the recall fixes he has seen were not done correctly.  Ours was fine.

He found no leaks and thinks the odor I was smelling was just exhaust and improperly burned gas.  He spent a lot of time checking our LP system and I feel comfortable that we are okay.  The propane detector isn’t going off anymore.  He couldn’t get the detector to  sound even when he put a butane lighter (unlit) right next to it.  He strongly recommended changing the propane detectors out every 5 years. We knew that, and had been intending to do it, but hadn’t found the right size unit that would fit in the space the old one was.  Dale is going to order one for us.  He gave us his cell number and said to call if we had any more problems.  He will be a vendor at the Tampa Rv show this week, but we feel if we have any serious problems, he’d come and help us out.  He’s a great guy and anyone in the area that needs any work,  we recommend him.    You are supposed to have your rv LP systems serviced annually.  He is certified to do that and I’m sure he’d be cheaper than Camping World.  We will have our annual service done by him every year when we are here in Florida.

Another issue he noticed was the outside door to the hot water heater.  He said there is a design flaw on the Atwood water heaters, and the door closes too tightly and somewhat restricts the airflow.  He told Al to bend the arms out so that the door doesn’t fit quite as tightly, which would allow more airflow.  You could pull the door out a little bit and notice a difference in the sound of the water heater flame.  It definitely sounded better when we pulled the door out a little.

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Al is pointing to the little arms that are on the bottom of the door.  These are what need to be bent out a little bit to allow more airflow.

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You can see some soot on the outside of the door that because of improper airflow.  Hopefully it’s all fixed.  At least I don’t smell propane and the detector is not sounding.

Dale gives seminars and  and has written several books.  We intend to buy a couple of his books when we visit him at the rv show.  He will be at booth B220.  Stop by and tell him we sent you!   

Saturday night was the “big” 50’s dance here at geezerland. It didn’t start until 8pm and guess who pooped out at the last minute?  It was cold and by 8pm, we lost interest and just stayed home.

Sunday, we made a drive towards the east coast, to try to find a new campground for February.  We want to head east towards the space coast.  Of course it still depends on how Mom is doing.  We didn’t find anything quite like we were looking for, sunny campsite, cheap and close to the east coast and no further north.  Anybody have any suggestions?  It doesn’t have to be right on the coast, just close enough that we can easily drive there.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Another Doctor Visit

I took Mom back to her primary physician for a follow up visit.  It turns out she has severe sleep apnea and will need a CPAP mask to sleep.  They did a 3 night in home study and found that she had many episodes every night.  It turned out she stopped breathing around a hundred times a night, and for up to nearly 2 minutes!  The doctor thinks that may be causing a lot of her problems.  I can't imagine an 81 year old woman holding her breath for 2 minutes, yet she was doing it while she slept.  It's amazing she woke up.  The doctor said if you snore you should be tested for sleep apnea.  I think we'll get Al tested pretty soon because he snores a lot.

We have occasionally noticed a faint propane odor in the motor home when we turn on the water heater.  I don't keep it on all the time, just before we want a shower, or I need to wash dishes.  We checked the fittings and found a small leak.  We tightened it,  but we're still noticing the smell.  We've tried to trace the water heater propane line, but it goes under the floor and we can't get at any connections in that area.   Now the propane detector has started to sound too, so it's even more alarming.   I think the detector is working properly because when it sounds, I also smell propane.

I found a mobile Rv repairman that was recommended to us.  He's coming this morning.  In the meantime, we're not using the hot water heater.  Hopefully he will be able to find the problem and repair it without us having to take the motor home into a shop.  It's much more difficult with animals.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Doctor Visit

Yesterday was Mom's visit to the Cardiologist. This was actually the second one as the last Cardiologist said her heart was fine.  This one reviewed her records and agreed that her heart was fine.  That's good news, but she is still having problems that to her, feel like it's her heart.  She took her off one of her medications and made a follow up appointment for 3 weeks.

After the doctor appointment, we made a trip to Sweet Tomato's for lunch.  It's a big salad bar on steroids and is a wonderful place to eat.  There are all sorts of salads, home made soups, pasta, and breads.  Yummy!

We came home, watched a few episodes of Dexter, and  even managed to stay awake past 10pm!

We got some fairly heavy rain overnight and our slides leaked again!  We've tried to figure out where the water is coming in, and evidently we haven't got it right!  The temperature is 62 degrees now and should approach 70 by the end of the day.  We sure can't complain about the weather right now.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Lazy Days

It was a cloudy yesterday, so we decided to postpone our kayak trip.  It was plenty warm, just no sun.

We bought our motor home back in 2005 from Lazy Days Rv in Seffner, Florida.   The dealer started in 1976 with “two trailers, $500, and a dream.”  Now it sits on 126 acres and has at least 1000 rv’s and 1/4 million visitors annually.

Several years ago the owner decided to give all the employees a piece of the company.  The employees that had been there a long time ended up becoming instant millionaires! 

It’s quite an impressive place, with a huge campground, lot’s of rv’s, and many, many service bays.  It looks more like a park than a business. We decided it would be a good place to spend the afternoon.  Camping World is next door and we needed to go there.

Once you buy from them you are a “customer for life” and are entitled to some of their benefits.  They serve a free breakfast and lunch everyday for previous customers.  We decided to take advantage of the free lunch.  It was a chef salad and was actually pretty good.  This is the huge cafeteria.  You can see, there were a lot of people.

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The area where the salesman’s offices are is huge.  They have street signs to help you find your way.  The place is huge and very impressive. 

We decided to walk outside and look through some rv’s just for fun.  The salesman will take you around in a golf cart, but we just wanted to look.  Several of them offered us rides though and everyone is very friendly.

You can catch a shuttle bus from the campground to the main building.

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There are lot’s of  motor homes.2011-01-04_13-30-15_944

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5th wheels and travel trailers.

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Many, many service bays.

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Park like setting

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It’s so big, they even have comfort stations with a bathroom and water fountain.

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All the rv’s are open with the key inside.  Most had the slide’s out.  It was a nice way to spend an afternoon and dream about what we’d buy if we won the lottery! 

We noticed a trend that we like.  It seems the manufacturers are finally getting the message that many people don’t like carpet in rv’s.  Most of the ones we looked at had little if any carpet.  We noticed a lot had a sink in the toilet room as well as another one.  That seemed to be a waste to me. How often do we both need the bathroom sink at the same time.  Several had two toilets.  Many of them had the tv’s in an area that would make it difficult to watch.  We never actually found the “perfect” one, but one was close!

It was an enjoyable day just walking through rv’s.  No salesman hassled us and we were free to explore wherever we liked.  The only time a salesman spoke to us, was to say hello, welcome to Lazy Days, or offer us a ride in the golf cart.  That’s my kind of dealer!  I know their business is hurting and they don’t have nearly the number of rv’s they used to have.  I’d sure hate for them to go out of business.  If and when we get another motor home, we’d definitely go back there.  In the meantime, it’s a good place for a free meal!  Of course that “free” meal is 25 miles away!  At least it was a cheap days entertainment.  The big Tampa Rv Supershow is coming soon and we’ll definitely go there as well.