Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Night at Boondocks Grill and Tiki Bar


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 78, low 72)


We’re settling in and getting back in the groove of Key’s time.  The weather has been warm and we even had to run the AC at night one night, for the first time since last year.  WE much prefer to have open windows at night, but we know that’s coming to an end pretty soon.

Al’s physical therapy and shoulder injury has sidelined many activities, including biking and boating.   We have been checking out high and dry marinas the past few days, but haven’t found one that was in a convenient location and also had the customer service we expect.  Our rv lot here is what’s known as a “dry lot” which means no water.  There are more canal and ocean front lots here than dry lots, and many of the water lots don’t have a boat docked on them, so if one of our nice neighbors would offer us a place to keep our boat on the water, it would sure be nice.  So far, no luck there!

On our way up to Marathon yesterday, we stopped at Sparky’s, which is one of our favorite waterfront restaurants . We both had yellowtail snapper and it was yummy.  The view wasn’t bad either, even though it was a little cloudy.


The restaurant is next to a marina where the fishing charter boats stay.  I got a kick out of all the pelicans on this boat.  Maybe this is where the term “poop deck” comes from?  Maybe Paul can help me out.


These pelicans those to balance on the rail.  Doesn’t look like a very comfy place to nap, does it?


We came home, took a nap, then Al headed back to Key West for his therapy.  I stayed home and continued my nap.  :)

When Al got home we sat outside on the patio for a little while watching the pelicans and frigate birds put on a show.  There were about a dozen of each at one point, but I never could quite get them all in the shot.


It always surprises me to see pelicans from my “yard”. 

Our view from last year changed some, since our neighbor rented out his site, which is right in front of ours.  Last year there was no rv there, so we had the appearance of a much bigger lot.


We headed up to Boondocks Tiki Bar on Ramrod Key to watch our favorite entertainer, Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24  band.  He is quite the local celebrity and writes many of his own songs.  He always draws a big crowd, so you need to get there early to get a place to park and a seat at the bar.  He put on his usual great show and we stayed until about 10:30……very unusual for us.   It was another fun night in the Keys.

We’re heading to the clubhouse for their pancake breakfast and them maybe into Key West.  It’s fun to walk the streets and listen to the different bands.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fog, Fatality, Tutu’s, and Oofoo’s


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 82, low 68)


Man, was it foggy yesterday morning.  I’ve posted the following picture quite a few times.

Venture Out

This was what it looked like yesterday when we went for our morning walk.


After our walk, we took a drive up to Big Pine Key for breakfast, and to check out a marina to store the boat.

We’re considering putting the boat in high & dry storage for a month or so while Al continues his physical therapy. He is still not able to put a lot of strain on his shoulder, and cranking a boat back on a trailer would be too much.  We are thinking this would be a good alternative until he’s able to do a little more, plus we wouldn’t have to worry about him slipping and falling on a slippery ramp.  They have a forklift to put the boats in and out of the water.  You call them a few minutes before you arrive and your boat is in the water ready to go.  When you get back, they will put it on a rack so that you can clean it and remove your stuff, and then it’s put away until next time. There is a marina nearby, but they aren’t very accommodating, so we’ll have to drive a little further, and maybe into Key West.


This is what it looked up on our drive on the Overseas Highway.


The fog hung around quite a long time, and I believe it was still foggy on the 7 Mile Bridge when there was a fatal accident.  A man, his girlfriend and dog were trying to pass on the bridge and hit another car head on.  The man and dog were killed and the girlfriend was airlifted to a hospital on the mainland.  The elderly elderly couple he hit were airlifted to a local hospital. I hope that means they weren’t injured as badly.   Why people have to pass on that bridge is beyond me, and especially in fog.  Passing is allowed, but I don’t think it should be.

Al had his physical therapy at 4pm, so on the way to Key West, we stopped and checked out another marina, then headed to PT.  Afterwards, we caught the bus into town and walked around Duval Street and the cruise port.  The cruise ship was just leaving.


We walked along Mallory Square, to watch some of the street performers are there for the nightly sunset celebration. 


I like to have my camera handy when we’re there because you just never know what you will see.

Case in point.   This guy must have been in his 70’s.  He was in good shape and had a nice “figure” don’t you think?



He was standing there talking to those people very nonchalant, like it was perfectly normal to be standing in a crowd in a pink tutu with your butt hanging out.  Only in Key West.

We walked along the pier and checked out a few street performers.



One guy had an act with cats.  I’m not sure how I feel about it, so we didn’t stay long. 


This was my favorite performer, but later we saw this man buzzing down the street on a scooter, with this poor puppy on a leash running along beside him.  It worried me.

The dog would come up to people, take a dollar bill out of their hand and put it in his tip jar. After he put it in the jar, he’d walk over to the owner and get a treat.  If the dog happened to drop the bill, he would stop and pick it up and put it in the jar.  Smart dog and he was still just a pup.


We walked around for a while and I finally found some shoes that I had heard about from Sherry.  They are called Oofos.  They are supposed to be really comfortable, but until I could actually try them on, I didn’t want to buy any.  I tried them on, liked them and this morning found some on e-Bay for $5 less, plus no tax.  They have a squishy feeling, but with a really good arch support. They come in various colors, but I chose brown.  I think they might take some getting used to, but I think I’ll like them.  They have the slip on style too.


Soon it was time to go back to the bus stop, but we got a little turned around and almost missed the bus.   We went back to the same stop that we were the other night where we met our new friend Kevin.  He had recently started a new job, so we didn’t expect to see him again, but there he was!  We’re gong to meet him at Blue Heaven one night for drinks, so I guess we’ll be seeing him again.

Today is an off day (no PT) so I guess we’re going to check one other marina and then hang around the house.  We’ve been going too much and need a day to relax.


The End

(sorry, I just couldn’t resist)



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What a Fun Night in Key West


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 78, low 68)

We suddenly went from winter to summer.  When we left Tampa we were wearing our heavy winter coats, and sleeping with an electric blanket.  We had two days of “cold” temperatures here in the Keys and it actually got down to 49 degrees. The record cold temperature in Key West was 41 degrees back in 1981.  Now, it’s shorts and t-shirt weather. 

The Keys are having record numbers of tourists this year.  The hotels are all booked and it is much too crowded for our taste.  The good news is that February is typically the most crowded month, and it starts to thin out a little in March.  By April, most of the snowbirds start heading out.

We made two failed attempts to visit Key West,  but quickly gave up after trying unsuccessfully to find a parking space.  Once you get parked, the crowds aren’t really a problem, but parking is definitely an issue.

We decided we need to take advantage of the wonderful Keys bus service, if only we could figure out all the schedules.

Yesterday, was Al’s first physical therapy appointment in Key West. His appointment was in upper Key West,  away from the craziness of Mallory Square and Duval Street, so parking was no problem.  We were a little concerned the new therapist wouldn’t be as good as the one in Tampa, or that she would overwork or injure Al’s shoulder   It turned out fine and we are both comfortable with her.  He has pt three days a week for the next month, then they will decide if he needs to continue.  It’s really going to cramp our style.

After therapy, we decided to leave the truck in the parking lot near the therapy office and catch the shuttle into  downtown Key West.  The bus is cheap and runs often, so it’s much nicer than fighting for a parking place. With our senior discount, it cost us $.50 each for a one way trip.  We can also take the bus from near the campground into town for $1.50.  You can’t really beat it.

We heard great things about a little food truck called Greta’s.  It has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and is highly rated on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately, after walking quite a distance, we found them to be closed. 

We walked down towards Duval Street looking for a place to have drinks and dinner.   We found a Mexican restaurant called Amigos.  The waitress had a bit of an attitude and screwed up my drink order, but once I got the frozen margarita I ordered, it was delicious.  So delicious in fact, that Al decided to order one.  (big mistake).  Al ordered fish tacos, which were mediocre, as were the enchiladas I had.   But….oh how good that frozen margarita was.  So, good in fact that I ordered another one to go.  After all, we were in Key West!  (another big mistake)

When we got the bill we were shocked at our $72.24 bill.  Most places have happy hour specials, but apparently not this one.     It turns out the beer and margaritas were 22 oz and  $7.25 for the beer and $9.99 for the margaritas.  Whew…..a tad pricey for happy hour.   Lesson learned. 

Amigos is an open air restaurant and a nice place to people watch.  While we were there a 40 foot motorhome came driving up the street. Remember, these streets are narrow and crowded with cars, bicycles, people, golf carts and scooters. I don’t know if he was lost or was an idiot but it is not a place for a larger motorhome.

A few minutes later another interesting vehicle came by.  It was a truck pulling a utility type trailer with sides and a red canvas roof on the top.  Inside the trailer were three big furry black dogs, which were darn near as big as the black bears we see in Georgia.  I think they were Newfoundlands.   I didn’t get up in time to get a picture, but I understand they frequent Key West quite often, so I’m hoping to see them again.

Can you imagine 3 of these guys, in a trailer behind a car in Key West?


After dinner, we strolled along Duval Street for a while listening to the many different musicians, window shopping and people watching.  After a little while, we walked over to the bus stop.

There was a nice looking young man sitting at the stop.  We got to talking to him and enjoyed getting to know him a little bit. He moved to Key West from Las Vegas about a year ago.  He was from an Army family, so we compared notes about growing up as a military “brat.”  Nice to meet you Kevin Jones!

While on the bus another guy got on.  We got to talking to him and discovered he was one of the Mallory Square street performers.  His job was sword swallower, and as it turned out, we’ve seen his performance before.  You just never know who you will meet in Key West, or what you will see.  He had a story about finding  “square grouper” many years ago.   Apparently he traded in a square grouper for a bundle of money and bought a boat!   There are lots of those stories here in the Keys.

Years ago, drug trafficking was pretty prevalent down here.  There were a lot of boats that ran drugs.  When they would get intercepted by the police, they would throw all their bales of marijuana and cocaine overboard.  Those bales were known as square grouper.

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We had the best night in Key West and are anxious to go back tomorrow.  Key West takes a little getting used to.  At first, all you notice is the crowds.  After a while you start to notice the people, and that is where the fun is.  Mostly it’s the locals that are the typical Key West characters.  Key West has a flavor all it’s own.

The boat club here at the resort had “fun day” today at the marina.  They had burgers and hotdogs and free beer.  They had a few games like anchor toss, water balloon toss, kayak races and a few others.  We went up for a burger, but stayed away from the games.




We’re sitting outside on our patio now, enjoying the rustling palm trees and cool breeze.  The pelicans and frigate birds put on quite a show for awhile.  It was another wonderful day in paradise.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

We Blew into the Keys (literally)


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 75, low 65 )


Burrrrr..   It was cold our first morning in the Keys.  It got down to 49 degrees and was the coldest  since we’ve been coming down here,  It already started warming up and will be approaching 80 in a day or two.

We left the Everglades at 8:30 Thursday morning.  I think that might have been a record for us.

The wind was pretty strong when we left the Everglades, and it was predicted to be worse in the Keys.  We knew we were going to be crossing many bridges, some high, and some pretty long.  We considered staying another night, but there were no available spaces at the campground and the winds were predicted to slow down in the Keys by the time we were to arrive. Unfortunately, the prediction was wrong and not only did the winds not calm down, they actually got stronger. 

Driving a high profile vehicle in the wind is no fun, especially when driving over bridges with nothing but water on both sides.  It wasn’t bad until we got to Key Largo (which is the first of the many Florida Keys).  Our first bridge to cross was a tall one, but thankfully it was pretty short and the winds weren’t bad.  That was the bridge Al was most concerned about.

I was more concerned with the very long 7 mile bridge.  The Weatherbug App told us the winds were 33mph with 44 mph gusts.  Yikes.


The next picture is the 7 Mile Bridge.  It was a little intimidating.  :)  One lane each way and passing is allowed.  I don’t quite understand why they allow passing on this bridge, but they do. You can see the high portion coming up.  That was the part we were concerned about.

7 Mile Bridge

Crossing the 7 Mile Bridge wasn’t too bad, despite the winds hitting us broadside.  The traffic was flowing slower than normal, so we cruised along with no issues.  Al did have to grip the wheel pretty tight, and that  bothered his shoulder a little.

Despite the winds, it was still a beautiful drive.



Once we approached Big Pine Key (which is only about 15 miles from our rv site) the traffic slowed down to a crawl .  We inched along for quite a while.  We were so close to home, but couldn’t get there. By this time, Al was getting a little grumpy.  :)

We crept along and finally ended up stopped at the beginning of another bridge.  This was when the wind really picked up.  Our coach literally rocked back and forth sideways, like a cradle.  Thankfully, we were stopped because it was a bit unnerving even at a standstill.

We finally got to Venture Out, got partially settled and then Al decided he deserved happy hour after his stressful day. I agreed.

We are so happy to be back in the Keys, but there are record visitors this year and it’s pretty crowded even down on Cudjoe Key where we stay.  February is usually the busiest month, so we’re hoping it will be better next month.  By April most of the snowbirds will be gone and it will improve greatly.


Our first sunrise in the Keys was nice.


The wind is still blowing strong, making it feel colder than it is.  Everyone (including Al and me) are wearing long pants and jackets.  It is warming back up, but it’s going to be windy for the next few days.

We went into Key West yesterday afternoon to go to Home Depot and with the intention of walking around Duval Street for a little while.   It’s always fun to people watch down there, but there were too many people and not enough parking places, so we gave up and came home.

The plan for today is to go to the local flea market on Big Pine Key (about 10 miles up the road from us).  They have wonderful and inexpensive produce there, and there are always cool things to see.

We’re hungry for a hogfish sandwich, so that might be on the agenda for lunch.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Lucky Day and Florida Keys Bound


Ochopee, Florida

Despite our best efforts to get an early start, we didn’t leave Tampa until around 10 am on Tuesday.  We decided to  fill the propane tank.  Our gauge read 3/8 full, but we weren’t sure it was correct.  The tank took 19 gallons and we have a 38 gallon tank, so I guess the gauge was pretty close.

Since we had been sitting still since early November, it’s always nice when the slides and levelers retract, the engine starts, and the truck driveshaft disengages.  We got on Interstate 75 and happily headed south.

The day before we left was a busy one.  The guy finally came back and put the framing around the new refrigerator. It turned out well and I’ll post some pictures later.

The non-working water pump turned out to be the defective relay switch like Al suspected.  As it turned out, we had a spare relay on hand so we just changed them out. It’s a simple plug in and is the same relay used on several other things on the coach. outs.  We will be ordering a few extra relays, just in case.   They are pretty cheap insurance, and we’re glad we had one of them for the water pump.

We left Tampa just ahead of a strong cold front which was bringing rain, wind, and very very cold weather.  Fortunately, we stayed ahead of the rain, but we did have some pretty strong winds.  

We arrived at Midway Campground on the Big Cypress Preserve/Everglades. It was 80 degrees when we arrived.  The cold front was predicted to bring temperatures down to 38 degrees last night, but the lowest it got was about 47. 

Yesterday was rainy, so we decided to take a drive to the Miccosukee Indian Casino, about 40 miles east of the campground.


We did a little sightseeing on highway 997/Krome Ave.  We considered taking that route south instead of the turnpike like we normally do, but we discovered the traffic was pretty slow due to all the agricultural interests. They grow a lot of crops and ornamental plants in the area.  The fields were green and healthy looking, and the area was bustling.  I”m sure this  is where the wonderful produce we get at the flea market in the Keys comes from.


It was kind of interesting seeing all the different things they were growing.  We saw groves of what we think were avocado trees.  I didn’t know they grew so many of them in this area. 

picking squash


After a little sightseeing, we headed to the Casino.  They have a large parking lot and we understand you can park Rv’s there for free.  There were several Rv’s there and a few of them seemed to be staying more than one day.   I guess they probably spent some money in the casino, so the camping was not really “free.”



We went inside the Casino and were instantly reminded that smoking is allowed in casinos.  Yuck. They had a pretty good air filtration system and you couldn’t see any clouds of smoke, but it stunk and soon we started coughing a little.

We were told they give first time visitors free gambling coupons, so we decided to tough it out for a little while.  How long could it take to lose all our money anyway?    We were each given a coupon for $30 for gambling, plus a half price coupon for the lunch buffet.

We found a non smoking section of the casino, which was a little better.  We went over to a slot machine and couldn’t figure the darn thing out.  It’s not just a matter of inserting your coupon in and pulling a lever. We quickly lost a few of our own dollars without even figuring out was happening.  No, we aren’t gamblers, and this wasn’t fun for us at all. I wondered  how anyone could get addicted to these things. All you do is put money in and it’s gone. You could do the same thing flushing it down the toilet but at least you could watch it swirl.  :)   Later we finally found a machine that was a little simpler to use.  We used my coupon first and we won a few dollars, but quickly used up my $30 coupon.  Then we started on Al’s coupon.  All of a sudden the machine started buzzing and things were happening.  ding, ding, ding, buzz, buzz, buzz.  Before we knew it, we had won $45.60!  Woo Hoo!   Ok…NOW I see why people like these machines.  This IS fun!!!!!   We took $10 of our winnings and played a little longer, but before long that was gone too. We ended up cashing out about $35 ahead.  Not bad for playing with the casinos money.  You could sure lose a lot of money in that place, not to mention a lung.

We headed back to the campground after stopping at little  Indian Village tourist trap.  They had alligator wresting shows, and airboat rides among other things.  We looked around the gift shop a few minutes and went on home.


I thought this picture inside the store was nice, showing all the colorful clothing of the native Americans.


We will be leaving soon for Cudjoe Key.  The winds are a little high in the Keys, and that isn’t a fun thing having considering how many bridges we will have to cross today.  Al is more concerned with the very high bridge right before Key Largo, and I’m more concerned crossing the very long 7 Mile Bridge in Marathon. 

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We’re hoping the winds calm down before we get there.    If don’t hear from us again, call the Coast Guard.   :)

Cudjoe Key, here we come.


(We arrived safely in the Keys yesterday, but oh what a ride.  I’ll post more about it later)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Doesn’t it Figure? A Visit From Murphy


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 68, low 45)

We awoke the other  morning to an outside temperature of 34 degrees.  We didn’t get the freeze that had been predicted, but it was plenty cold for us.  The heat pumps on our motor home quit around 40 degrees, so they were no help overnight.   We ran our Quartz heater, instead of the furnace because we hate the noisy propane furnace.  Unfortunately, we left the other heater in Georgia not thinking we would need it, but it sure would have felt good both yesterday and today. 

Another cold front is expected this week with expected temperatures going down to 28 degrees.  Glad we’re heading south.  (hopefully)

We’ve been busy finishing up all of our chores here, and trying to be ready to leave for the Keys on Tuesday.  I guess Paul Dahl is right when he talks about Murphy following you around, because our water pump suddenly quit working.   Al replaced it about a year ago, so it’s still fairly new, and should not have failed yet.  We were hoping it was a loose wire or something easy.  The water pump is located in an area which is impossible for Al to work on with his bad shoulder.  Either I will have to fix it, or our Rv tech will.   We’re hoping this is the worst/only issue we have before out scheduled departure.


So yesterday, we had a chance to check the water pump. It has power, so we think the pump is fine.  Al told me how to check for power and I checked it.  I was pretty proud of myself.  :)    I am doing a lot of things I normally don’t do, and I guess that’s a good thing. 

There is a little relay near the water pump that we think is related to it.  It clicks when you press the switch for the water pump.  It’s like it’s trying to make the water pump work, but can’t.   Al thinks the switch may have failed.  We just happened to have another relay switch that we think is the same thing.  We tried to remove the old relay and compare it to the spare we have, but unfortunately we couldn’t pry it loose no matter what we did. We didn’t want to exert too much pressure on it, so we gave up that idea.

I did some online research this morning and I’m more convinced this is our problem.  Isn’t the internet wonderful?

The relay switch is used in rv’s that have more than one switch to operate the water pump.  We have 5 separate switches.  I guess it ties them all together somehow.

The little square black box with the lines on it is the relay switch.  Apparently, they are prone to failure.  If any of you have one of these, it might be a good idea to pick up a spare. 

We checked all the fuses as well. There is an inline one, and these two you see here.  The one on the inside panel is also ok.


Fortunately, Tim, our Rv tech is coming this morning, so we should be good to go.   We usually only use the water pump when we’re on the road, but we have reservations at Midway Campground in the Everglades and they have electric only…no water.  I believe we’ll be needing our water pump!

With any luck we’ll be leaving Tampa tomorrow!   It doesn’t look like we’ll be escaping the cold however.  It’s supposed to be down to 38 tomorrow night in the Everglades, and 50 in Key West!   Burrrr.  I was hoping to leave our electric heater and winter coat here, but maybe not???

I believe the record low for Key West is 46 degrees.  It’s getting close!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Reluctantly, the Doctor Released Al to go to the Keys


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 58, low 32)

Although we haven’t had any freezing weather, it seems it’s been consistently cooler than normal.    It’s even been much cooler in the Keys, which is usually around 80 in the day and 70 at night, but the Keys seem to be running about 10 degrees below normal.  

I just wanted to post a few of our “back yard” bird pictures.  We have always had a lot of wildlife in this site, from deer, to otters, and fox. We are sure are getting a crowd of Wood Storks and herons. We started with one, and now there are 6 of them that live here all the time.  I guess we’ll be gone before there are any babies.


There were a lot of reeds in the pond area behind our site and they were about to consume the pond.  They sprayed and killed the reeds. The birds sure have been attracted to the  water.  You can see from the picture above that it’s a long narrow strip of water.  The heron’s and wood storks use it like a runway.  You can frequently see them flying along the water like a plane on a runway.   It’s kind of cool, but I haven’t taken the time to get a picture.



Wood Storks have  faces similar to the buzzard and most people think they are ugly birds, but they have some very striking black coloring on the edges of their wings that is visible and very beautiful when they fly.  I’ve been trying to get a better photo of that, but so far haven’t been successful.

I like how the reflection of both birds shows up in the water on the next picture.

woodstork and great egret

Despite them spraying an herbicide to kill the reeds, there still appear to be plenty of fish in the pond.  This Great Blue Heron had to fight off another to keep his prized catch.


We had about 20 turkey earlier in the winter, but we’ve only seen 9 lately.



We’ve been taking Baxter out in his cage.  He enjoys it, but on this particular day, he kept meowing at me.  I caught him with his mouth wide open a few times. 

Baxter with meowing

Baxter meowing

Baxter meowing

We have a campfire and happy hour most nights with our friends Stephanie and Barry.  I need to remember to take a photo of them one night.   We sure do love our little propane fire pit that we bought at Lowes.  It provides a lot of heat and is so much easier than a wood fire.


The plan is to head down to the Everglades next week for 2 nights, and then on to the Keys.  We have reservations at Midway Campground, and campground reservations usually jinxes us, so we’re expecting a delay.   :) 


Al had appointment with his surgeon on Monday. The doctor preferred that Al stay here and continue the physical therapy with Bobby at Select Physical Therapy.  The doctor was concerned the therapist in the Keys wouldn’t be as qualified, and since Al had such a bad injury, he needs a therapist that is particularly skilled in shoulder rehab.   As it turns out Select Physical Therapy also has an office in Key West.  Bobby checked and found out that there are two therapists at their Key West location that are more than qualified to continue to rehab Al’s shoulder.  We trust Bobby and feel more comfortable heading south  south.  Al just started phase 2 of his therapy and finally is able to take off his arm sling.  Phase 2 is a critical stage in the rehab of his shoulder, so it’s imperative it’s done right.  He is still not supposed to lift anything heavy, so I’m having to do a lot of his normal pre trip chores.   :(

We’ve spent the week doing all the pre trip chores, like checking fluids and airing up the tires.  I’m doing as much as I can, and all the heavy lifting. 

Al has been driving since a few days after the surgery, so he doesn’t think driving the motorhome will be any problem for him.  We’re breaking up the 400 mile trip to the Keys with a stop in the Everglades, which is about half way. 

We’re still waiting for the guy to come back and put the trim around the new refrigerator.  Sure hope he doesn’t stand us up!  I’ll post pictures when it’s complete.  Right now, we have a pillow stuffed in the gap!

Hopefully, this time next week, we will be back in the Keys and enjoying the beautiful crystal clear water, and hopefully warmer temps.


Of course, Al can’t swim, pull the boat anchor, crank the winch to load the boat, or ride a bike… I guess I’ll be doing anchor duty!   It’s looking like we’ll be doing a lot of happy hours in Key West for awhile.  Al set up his pt for just before happy hour! 


Jimmy Buffet is doing a private performance on April 1st for a small group of people.  Tickets can only be won, and not purchased.  I just signed up. Wish us luck. Wouldn’t that be fun, attending a private concert by Jimmy Buffer, in Key West?    

Friday, February 06, 2015

Residential Refrigerator Installation


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 65, low 42)


Stratton Mobile Rv arrived about 9am Tuesday to begin the installation of our new residential refrigerator.

We didn’t have much choice in refrigerators that would fit into the space previously occupied by the Norcold, which was sitting on top of a compartment that housed the furnace and a few wiring harnesses.


This is the old Norcold.  It turns out those wood front panels were custom made for our coach and are the same walnut  that the rest of our cabinets are made from.  We kept them thinking maybe they will be useful in trimming out the new refrigerator.


We had to find a refrigerator that was no taller than 64 inches high.  Most are a minimum of 66 inches.

We had about 3 choices and the only real differences we could find on those three were the handles.  Since our refrigerator is located in the hall to the bedroom, and would extend further than the Norcold, we decided recessed door handles would be better.

Here is a the new Hotpoint.   Someone asked the model number.  This is from Home Depot.  We bought it on “sale” for $449, but afterwards they had it on “sale” for $430.  Now it’s on “sale” again but for $478 this time.  

Product Comparison Page


The first step was to remove the living room window, being careful not to drop it.

They covered the floors with canvas and put boards on top of the canvas to protect the floor.  The furniture and window sill was covered with blankets, as well as the side of the coach.

refrigarator install

He had a lift gadget to raise and lower the refrigerators.  It was pretty handy.

The next picture is the Norcold leaving.


Good riddance Norcold.  In the picture below you can see the yellow/green powdery substance that leaked.  The Norcold was cooling perfectly fine one day, and then it just quit.  Tim said part that went bad would have cost about $2400.  I’m not sure it that was with labor or not.  A new Norcold like we had was over $4000.  


This is the Norcold without the custom wood door panels.


I took a few pictures of the empty spot.  I didn’t realize there was wiring running down both sides of the walls. 


The next step was to bring the Hotpoint inside.  Tim was doing some measuring on the Hotpoint and doing a little head scratching.  Uh oh.  Did we measure wrong?  Was the Hotpoint  going to fit through the side window?  We certainly didn’t want to have to remove the front windshield.  

Fortunately, his measurement was right on and the Hotpoint slipped right in.


The problem with the installation is that the Norcold is about 4-5 inches wider than the Hotpoint.   So now with the Hotpoint installed, we have a gap wide enough for a nosy kitty to get where he isn’t supposed to be!

We found a friend of a friend who owns a cabinet shop and has been highly recommended.  We were hoping to have him build us a pull out pantry/spice shelf in the gap left by the Norcold, but unfortunately after measuring it and figuring out how much space he would need to install brackets and shelves, we would have less than 3 inches of shelf space and at a cost of $300, we decided to skip it. There is a a gap on the top and both sides that need to be covered and trimmed out.  He took the measurements and one refrigerator panel to help him match the color of the rest of the cabinets.

In the meantime, I had to stuff pillows on the side of the Hotpoint to keep Mr. Nosey out of trouble.



I think we’re going to be happy with the new refrigerator. It’s nice and cold and we even bought ice cream just so that we could actually have hard ice cream for a change!

So, if you have a Rv refrigerator, I recommend you do some research as to your options if it should fail.  Like I said, we got absolutely no warning that ours was failing.  I’m glad it didn’t wait until we got down to the Keys.

There are other options if your Rv refrigerator fails, besides  a residential refrigerator.  Some people choose to have an Amish Cooling Unit installed. Your rv refrigerator will still run on propane just like the Norcold or Dometic, but they are supposed to be safer and better made.  I’ve also heard that there have been some early failures on them too, so do your research.  They aren’t particularly cheap either.

Many of you are happy with their Rv refrigerators and have had many years of good service from them.  I’ve heard the older Norcolds were better than the newer ones.  That may be true because ours was only 3 1/2 years old.  All I know is that ours was working fine one day and the next day it died.

The installation labor cost to remove the Norcold and install the Hotpoint was $516. Part of that was the mobile service charge.  Nothing is cheap with rv repairs.   The cost to reframe the new one is supposed to be about $100.  I’m sure we could have framed it ourselves, but we wanted it to look nice.  :)


Now that the refrigerator is installed, we are concentrating on wrapping things up here and hopefully we’ll be down in the Keys soon.