Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tire Covers…Plan B

Zephyrhills, Florida   (high 75, low 44)

It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday, so our mood lifted and we started on some projects. 

I thought making some tire covers would be a quick little project, but it didn’t turn out that way at all.  Naturally.  Smile

I initially wanted the covers underneath the fenders, rather than on top.

The plan was to roll the fabric onto a pvc pipe, then clamp it on with a piece of plastic, like this.  That keeps the fabric attached to the pvc.

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I painted the pvc and the clamps black.  You roll the fabric onto bottom so that it hangs nicely.

I also used this method on the top of the fabric, thinking the pvc would just sit on top of the inside of the fender.  I thought it might even sit there without velcro.  It was worth a try.

Here is what it looked like.  It would have looked better once the fabric smoothed out because it got a little wrinkled during the project.

tire cover with pvc

The lug-nut covers stick out a bit and they didn’t allow the fabric to hang nicely.  It was okay, but not how I had envisioned it looking.  It would not sit smooth due to the lug nuts.  I had trouble getting the hem to hang nicely too.

Plan B.

I always knew we could attach the covers to the outside with suction cups, but I really wanted the covers behind the fenders.  It looked like that was going to be better option, so we decided to give it a try and see how it looked.  We could always go back to plan A if we needed to.

The place we got the fabric sells these special little suction cups that allow you to attach the suction cup to the fabric.

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The little white dot on the top comes off.  You pierce the fabric then place the suction cup behind the fabric and use the white top to attach it to the suction cup.

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It’s quite a clever system.  We made a shade for the rear window in the other coach using the same method.  It gave us privacy during the day and still allowed you to see outside, and it looked nice.

For the tire project, I sewed a hem around all four sides of the piece of fabric.  I had no trouble sewing the fabric…other than the fact that Baxter wanted to help.  "Smile

The seams helped it to lay nicer.   We placed 3 suction cups on the top and one small one on both sides. 

Here is how it looks.

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The little white dots you see are where the suction cups are attached.  We will paint them black to match a little better. 

We like this look better than the other method and we ended up using the same piece of fabric, so there was no waste.  The wrinkles will come out as they hang in the sun.

We’re happy with them.  The fabric was $1.00 a running foot, so it didn’t cost too much.

I never liked the vinyl tire covers they sell at Camping World.  I wondered if they would be hard on the tires since they are vinyl and wouldn’t allow the tire any air.  Yesterday, during this project, I have to admit, I wished we had gone with those kind of tire covers!

Another project we did yesterday, was to get out, and reassemble the pvc clothes line Al made for me last year.

Of course the lines got all tangled up in the move, and we had to figure out where all the  5 separate pieces of pvc went.

Al  got it re-assembled and I was able to dry some towels.  This is what it looks like.  It breaks down for storage.  I find it handy to speed up the drying process.  My little washer/dryer is wonderful, but it does take a while to dry some things.

pvc clothesline

While we’re on the subject of “improvements"  here is what our front window sunscreen looks like.

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We got it from a company called Magne Shade.  I had done some research online, but never actually saw one in person.  We are happy with it.  It’s attached by very strong magnets that are glued to the windshield on the inside. 

One person can put the sunshade up by themselves.  I know, because this installation was done by me!  We normally put it up together, but Al was gone last week and it was getting pretty hot inside.  I decided to give it a shot and I was able to install the shade in about 2-3 minutes. 

The mirror covers were purchased at the rv show.  I could have made them easily if I had only known about the fabric store at the time.  The window wiper covers came from Magne Shade also.  We also purchased side window shades from them, but have never even put them on.  I guess we shouldn’t have gotten them.

Here is another type of tire cover.  They are on a coach belonging to a neighbor.  We had never gotten a chance to talk to the owner, so I zoomed in with my camera.  It appears they are made by MCD.  I believe they much attach with some sort of fastener.  I didn’t want any holes drilled into our coach.  I’m sure they were not cheap.

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They fit nice and tight and look nice though, don’t they?

We’re not sure what we’re going to do today.  Projects?  Visit Mom?  Go Kayaking?  I guess we’ll see how the day progresses.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cold Front, Rain, New Chairs

Zephyrhills, Florida  (high 75, low 49)

A cold finally made it’s way down to central Florida, bringing  rain and some severe storms to our south.

We got very little rain or wind, but the sun never did come out yesterday.   It was dreary all day, and we were both kind of depressed all day.

Our “cold” front is predicted to bring more seasonal weather, so we’ll be back into the low to mid 70’s for a few days.  Not a bad cold front, huh?  This certainly has been a wonderful winter in Florida this year. 

Al noticed  some neighbors had some nice patio chairs.  We found out that they  got them at Camping World last year.  After we checked them out for comfort, I ordered two chairs through Camping World online.  I don’t recall ever seeing them at the stores.  They have a high back,  recline, they’re lightweight aluminum and are made of the same fabric as we found at the fabric store the other day.  We figured they would be perfect for sitting under the awning, or taking to the beach.

Worldwide Merchandise Company   Lightweight Adjustable Folding Arm Chair   D09 1008   Outdoor Chairs   Camping World

Camping World offered free shipping so the total cost for two chairs  was $70.60.  We have the bag chairs and they really aren’t comfy.  We have bought several  other chairs over the years and can’t seem to find ones we like.  We always think we’ll like them, but after we have them a while, we find they are not comfortable. I hope these will be the ones.

We considered this type, but sometimes I want my feet and head up at the same time….besides they take up a lot of valuable basement storage.

Worldwide Merchandise Company   Roasted Olive Recliner and Chair set   D09 1115   Outdoor Recliners   Camping World

I hope these will be the last chairs we buy for a while!  

It’s sunny today, and I can already feel my mood is better.  It’s funny how that works.

We haven’t gotten the tire covers done yet.  We needed some black spray paint and some pvc pipe. We just got that bought yesterday. Hopefully today will be more productive!

So glad to see the sunshine!   Smile

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rv Sunshade Fabric

Zephyrhills, Florida

We took a drive over to Center Hill, on Tuesday to pick up some rv sunshade fabric to make tire covers.

This place remote little place in a small unknown and apparently dying town in Florida….but boy do they do a good business.  It is your American success story. 

Rv Travels With Karen and Al  Rv Sunshades  Manatees and Rv Lots

No website, no advertising, and they only have regular hours during snowbird season.   They come to the Webster flea market every Monday.  They do an amazing business just from word of mouth.

They will ship fabric, so if anyone is interested and can’t get there, you might want to call them.  I spoke to him about shipping for a friend in Arkansas.  He said he would help her figure out what she needed and could even send some samples. 

If you go in person, they don’t take credit or debit cards.  Cash or checks only!

They sell hundreds of rolls of the same fabric that is used for Rv’s for front window covers and MCD shades, as well as patio furniture.  There are lots of applications for this fabric.  My friend is getting some for the top of her arbor, to block out a little of the hot sun.  You could put them in the back window of a car to keep the sun off the baby.  You could use them to shade the plants in your garden.  

We bought some last year for a patio mat.  We like it better than the thick ones you get at Camping World.  They snug up against the ground, don’t blow away,  and don’t kill the grass. 

They sell so many colors and patterns that is very difficult to choose.  The prices range from $1.00 to $2.00 a running foot.  Cheap!

Rv Travels With Karen and Al  Rv Sunshades  Manatees and Rv Lots

We bought some black to make tire covers.  We haven’t exactly figured out how to install them, but we have a few ideas.  We want them behind the fender, and we don’t want to drill holes into the motorhome for snaps.  They sell all the hardware for attaching all the things you can make with their fabrics. 

A lot of people get the fabric and attach it to the awning to provide additional shade when the sun is low.  Since we have a Girard awning which has the wind sensor on it, we can’t use one of them….although it would be nice to have. 

We haven’t gotten the tire covers completed yet.  I’ll take some pictures when we do.

Al spent Sunday afternoon working on the Eternabond on the roof.  He  didn’t make me help him.  Smile  He spent a few hours working, but didn’t get finished before he ran out of energy. 

I asked him to take some pictures of the roof for me…since I may never see it up close and personal!

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You can see there are a lot of cut-outs to seal.  We had a 50 foot roll of Eternabond tape, and it looks like we’re going to need a little more.

Here is what the shower sky light looked like prior to the Eternabond.  Al found a tiny little hole which was plenty large enough to cause a big leak.  We wouldn’t know we had a leak on this motor home since we have a dropped ceiling with a vinyl roof inside.  In the older motorhome, with the carpet ceiling you knew anytime there was the tiniest leak.

You can see it appeared to be well caulked.  It was done back in July.

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The sky light was where we had the biggest problem on the old motor home.

Here is what is looks like now. We won’t ever have to worry about it leaking. 

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He didn’t remove the old caulking.  We removed it last time (as best we could) , and it didn’t really look any better, so we didn’t bother this time.

The following picture is a little Dove that sits in our yard.  She helped Al put on the  Eternabond.  Isn’t she cute?

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mass of Hu-Manatee

Zephyrhills, Florida

Yesterday, we headed northwest about 65 miles to the town of Crystal River.  Crystal River is famous for their winter  Manatee population.  People come from all over the world to swim with them.  In fact they had a Manatee festival last week-end.

There is a wonderful little kayak shop called Crystal River Kayak Company, on highway 19.  You can rent  kayaks from them, or launch your own.  We launched both kayaks and parked the car for $7.00.  There is a real easy place to launch with shallow, clear water.  You can take a short 10 minute paddle to the famous “Three Sisters Springs.”

We were there in October and only saw one Manatee at that time.  Manatee return to the warm spring waters starting about November and are here until the gulf waters start warming up….usually in March.

We paddled through a shallow and narrow canal about 10 minutes towards the open Crystal River.  The water was clear with no currents or winds. 

We paddled under a bridge.

heading towards Three Sisters Sring going under bridge

Saw some orange trees.

Florida oranges heading towards Three Sisters Spring

A Lucky Duck…..and you know who I thought of.

Lucky Duck

Once we got out onto the main river, we were almost to the spot we were looking for.

We knew we were at the right spot when we started seeing all the boats.

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There is an area where large boats cannot enter.  It’s just wide enough for a Manatee, or a kayak.

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Before I entered this area of no return. I noticed an area that was roped off.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed these “rocks” all over the place.

mass of Hu-manatee

Once I looked a little closer, I realized these rocks were actually Manatee….and a lot of them!

Manatee

They were sunning themselves.

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It’s roped off so that the Manatee have a place to go without people bothering them.  There was a ranger up on the bank making sure everyone stayed out of the area and no Manatee were disturbed.

Poor Al had just paddled right by, never even realizing this area was full of Manatee.

We paddled up the narrow canal with the turquoise water making for a post card like setting.

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The water was shallow and there were some large boulders all along the way. 

We were told there were no Manatee inside the main “Three Sisters Springs”, because the tide was too low for the larger ones to enter.

That is why so many were in the little holding pen outside the spring. 

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Once you get down this canal, it opens up to two huge “rooms.”  

It’s incredible…even without Manatee.  The pictures just don’t capture the beauty of this place.  It’s amazing.

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Unfortunately there were some very noisy women nearby that pretty much killed the moment.  We were glad when they left the area.

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We finally paddled over to the other “room” after we were told a Mother and baby were there.

I got a few pictures of the Mom.

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The youngster seemed to really like Al.  I think the baby was trying to nurse from Al’s kayak.  Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the kayak to get any great pictures, but in the next picture, if you look carefully at Al’s hand, you can see the baby coming right up to his hand.

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Two guys were standing nearby on a sandbar and said the baby tried to nibble on his toe.  I think he was trying to nurse again.

 

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We ended up only seeing two Manatee inside the spring area, but it was okay. It was so beautiful that it didn’t matter.

Al got pretty comfy.

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One reason we love our Sea Eagle Kayaks is because they are so comfortable.  Much more comfy than the old hard kayaks.

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We piddled around there for quite a while and when we came back out to the “bull pen” it was so much more crowded….with people and Manatee.

This is where the mass of Hu-manatee came in. There were so many people and so many Manatee. You couldn’t get away from the Manatee to save your life.  It was a regular traffic jam.

You are not allowed inside the pen and you are not supposed to paddle over the top of a sleeping Manatee.  Easier said than done.  There were so many Manatee in such a small area that it just got to be too much of a traffic jam, and we left.

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We made the short paddle back to the launch site and packed up and went to the Homosassa River where Al had an account to do for some friends.

I sat on their dock with my feet up and watched more Manatee swim by.

It was a beautiful day.

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They also have a upper dock overlooking the river.  It sure made for a beautiful view.

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See the Osprey nest right across the river?

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We also saw a Bald Eagle flying by, but I was unable to get a photo of it.

It was a wonderful day.  We’ll go back to the Three Sisters Springs again before we leave for the Keys.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rv Projects

Zephyrhills, Florida

We spent yesterday shopping….Wal-Mart, Lowes, a flea market, and groceries.  By the time we got home, we were both pooped.

We watched the movie Ides of March, with George Clooney.  It’s a story about a an election.  It’s maddening knowing it’s actually how politics works. 

I have plans for today.  Al is resisting.  We’ll have to see what happens.

My plans are to start putting the  Eternabond tape on the roof.  I figure, we’re not going to get any better weather to do it.  If we wait too long, it’ll be too hot, and in two months we will start traveling again, so I think this is a good time.  I want to get the vents and  seams taped up so that we won’t ever have to worry about doing any re-sealing again. 

The Florida sun is very hard on the caulking.  Our roof was re-caulked at Lazy Days when we bought it and Al already found a few small areas that needed re-doing.   When we did the old motorhome with Eternabond, I got up there and helped Al.  It’s really much easier with two people.  This motor home is much taller than the other one and every time I look up there, I panic.  I think I’ve lost my nerve.  I don’t know if I can force my self to climb that ladder. I know it’s really not that much higher, but it’s scary!

I finally got a trowel to apply the mastic for the backsplash tiling project.  I might even work on that today.  It’ll probably take all of 10 minutes.  (famous last words)

We also have to get the kayaks inflated because we’re leaving for Crystal River early tomorrow.  I understand that there were tons of people kayaking there over the week-end.

We’re looking forward to another beautiful warm sunny day.  I am so glad to be back in Florida for the winter.

My picture of the day.  Al at Red Coconut Rv Resort in Fort Myers.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

It Must be Hitch Itch?

Zephyrhills, Florida

We can’t complain at all about the weather here in the Tampa Bay area.  The sky is clear and the temperature is predicted to be in the upper 70’s for the foreseeable future.  However….

The Florida Keys are calling our names!

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I just made a two week reservation back at Sunshine Key Rv Resort,  starting March 21st.   We plan to stay 30 days, so we’ll have to be out of the system for 7 nights and then book the rest of the trip.  Thousand Trails doesn’t allow you to book anything further ahead than 60 days, so we can’t book the second part of the trip yet.  I’m thinking it is to keep people from booking up all the sites.

We’re hoping they will give us a good deal on the 7 nights in the middle.  I have seen a special of $299 a week. (yikes)  I assume the $3.00 nightly resort fee will also be included.  It’s not real cheap, but the State Parks are just about as expensive there in the Keys, so I don’t see many options.

Our summer plans are  still up in the air.  We have considered Washington, DC,  but now are thinking maybe just to hang around in North and South Carolina.  I hate to drive right by areas we haven’t explored on the way to DC, so since our time will be limited, we’re thinking of postponing DC this year. I’m pretty sure it’ll still be here next year.  I have family in both of the Carolinas', so it might be nice to do some visiting.

Today is play day, but we haven’t decided exactly where to play.  Al is insisting on the good breakfast I promised him, so I guess I’d better get busy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oops

Zephyrhills, Florida

I guess I am a slow learner. 

When we first got this motorhome and I started using the washer/dryer combo.  I didn’t tighten the screw on vent properly and got a small water leak, that I noticed right away.  It screws on with a rubber o-ring.

Yesterday, I ran the carpet shampooer in the living room and went to grab a small fan that lives in the bedroom near the washer/dryer.  Uh oh….the fan was wet!

I had been having a stiff neck all morning, and it was killing me by this time.  I was just getting ready to lay down on a heating pad for my neck.

But no…..I had a very wet carpet because I didn’t quite get the valve screwed in quite tight enough.  I had washed and rinsed one entire load.  I don’t think all the water leaked out, but enough to soak the carpet around the washer.

So my heating pad had to wait. 

I clean this little vent out every few loads and it’s kind of difficult to turn it to get it out. The last time, I decided to not tighten it back quite as tight.  BIG MISTAKE!   I tightened it plenty…but not as tight as I could.  Lesson Learned.

I towel dried it as best as I could and left three fans running overnight.  It appears to be mostly dry this morning.

Never did get the bedroom carpet shampooed….but it got a good rinsing.  Smile

 

my picture of the day.  Kayaking under a bridge in the Keys.

kayaking from bridge at sunshine key

Snow in Tampa

Zephyrhills, Florida

35 years ago yesterday, it snowed here in Tampa.

It was quite a shocker.  There were accidents everywhere because no one knew how to drive on the snow.  The bridges and overpasses were closed down due to multiple accidents.  No one knew that bridges got icy faster than the roads.

Kids and adults got out and played in the snow.

Photos  Snowfall of 1977 was quite the dusting   Tampa Bay news topic forum  Let s Talk   Tampa Bay Times

Floridians do not have ice scrapers.  Credit cards were used instead.

Weather blog  Snow in Tampa  Jan. 19  1977

This happened on January 19, 1977.  Al and I had moved from Nebraska just 3 years earlier, so we weren’t impressed at all with the falling white stuff!

Except for a visit to North Dakota one February, and one snow in south Georgia a few years ago, that is the last snow I have seen.

I’d like to keep it that way. Smile

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Little Flea Bag

Zephyrhills, Florida

A “cold” front moved in yesterday bringing a little rain.    The temperature today is supposed to get to 71 today,  and then back to upper 70’s and low 80’s  for the rest of the week.  Perfect weather.

Next week, we’re planning a kayak trip back  up to Crystal River,  to the Three Sisters Springs.  We paddled there back in October before the Manatees arrived.  It was such a beautiful trip that we planned on going back once the manatee arrive.

  Click here for the link on that blog post.

The water by the springs was absolutely gorgeous and it didn’t even matter that there were no manatee there at the time.  Have you ever seen such clear water?  It was a lot deeper than it looks.

three sisters springs

We also want to get back to the Weeki Wachee River while we’re in this area.  It’s one of my favorite rivers in Florida (and that is saying a lot because Florida has some beautiful rivers).  Click here for a link to last years blog post about this river.

weeki wachee

So anyway, once Al gets his accounts done, we will be able to play.  I  just hope the weather holds up.

By the way, I just remembered a comment from Rick  a while back, about kayaks and canoes being “tippy.”  I have only been in a canoe once and I did feel it was a bit tippy, but our Sea Eagle Fast Track 385 kayaks are very stable.  It would be very difficult to tip our kayaks, and we try not to go places where that is a possibility.  Tipping over in my kayak is not my idea of a good time.  We made sure that our kayaks we purchased were stable.  There are some cheap kayaks out there that may tip a little easier, but not ours.  So, if you have a chance, give kayaking a try.  It really is a safe and easy sport.  There is no better way to get wildlife photos and see some amazing scenery.

Another comment I remember was about bringing your camera on the kayak, and the possibility of getting it wet.   I have never kayaked without my camera and believe it or not, I have paddled with both my video and my digital camera.    I would sometimes hold the video between my knees and my digital in my hands.  It got a little tricky paddling though.   I crashed into more than a few trees!  Smile

Several years ago, we bought several small black vinyl waterproof camera bags at Wal-Mart.   They sold for about $10 back then.   They roll up and close with Velcro,  and a snapping mechanism.  I put my camera in there while I am entering and exiting my kayak, and if it gets too rough or it rains.   Other than that the camera is around my neck and covered with a small towel. I no longer bring a video camera since my Canon has video built in.

My waterproof camera bag looks something like this that I found at Amazon.

Amazon.com  camera dry bag

I don’t know if Wal-Mart sells them in the stores anymore.  I didn’t find them on Wal-Mart's website.

 

Yesterday, I spent around the house cleaning, and doing laundry.  It seems we have picked up some fleas and they seem to prefer the soft long fur on Baxter.

My little flea bag!

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I don’t know how in the heck we got fleas. It was either from when we had him at the Vet getting neutered, or we brought some in on our clothes, but for the second time, we have a flea issue.

Al is going to have to spray the house and today I am going to shampoo carpets.

So today, my plan is to shampoo the carpet.  Did I mention that I really hate carpeting?  Fortunately we don’t have much, so it doesn’t take much time to shampoo.   No playing today.