Friday, January 31, 2014

Not a Beautiful Day in The Keys and Birds Dropping out of the Sky


Sunshine Key Rv Resort, Ohio Key, Florida (high 78, low 71)


I am up at 4:30 again this morning.  Al’s still in bed.  I love the early morning quiet with the promise of a new day.  I love to watch the sun rise, especially if I’m in a beautiful place like the Florida Keys.  So, in answer to a few questions about why I was up so early, I guess I’m just so excited to begin a new day that I can’t sleep.  I can take a nap in the afternoon if I need one.

As much as I like to watch the sun rise, I also like some coffee and computer time in the morning, so if I don’t get up early, something has got to give.

Yesterdays plan of walking the bridge for the sunrise never materialized.  A big batch of rain was sitting right off shore and it rained off and on all day and evening.  It wasn’t heavy rain, just enough to be annoying.

Al made some phone calls and finalized the purchase of a new boat motor.  Unfortunately, the marina closest to us doesn’t have one in stock. That marina is 5 miles away. The one in Key Largo has one in stock, but they are 70 miles from here.  A motor could have been ordered, but with the bad weather up north, we decided not to wait and just purchase it in Key Largo. Supposedly it could get here in a week, but you never know with all the ice storms, and we don’t want to delay our boating days any longer than necessary.   Al needs to repack the wheel bearings before we make the long trek.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate today.  There is still a 30% chance of rain and the big rain mass is still sitting offshore, but it looks like it may be moving a more northerly direction.

We went on a grocery run yesterday and took a little of a ride to up the highway to see the sights.  Not much else to do on a rainy day.

We saw this interesting sign.  Wow.  You really can boon dock in the Keys.   It’s pretty cheap for the Keys too.


Of course since it’s a fenced storage lot, you don’t have too many amenities.   :)


On the way back we saw these very cool dogs.  When we first saw them both had their “arms” hanging out the window.  By the time we got over to take their photos, one dog just had his head on the window.

Aren’t they cute?


Look at that attitude.


They got real excited when their dad came back out to the car for a minute.   (probably to check on the two crazy people taking pictures of his dogs)  There was someone else that evidently thought they were cute and they were also snapping away.


We didn’t do much exciting the rest of the day.   Al worked on the boat a little and finally got everything working except the motor that won’t start.  It’s probably just a loose connection somewhere, and it’s not a big problem since we’re going to have the motor removed anyway.  

We finally got tired of being inside, so we put on our rain jackets and walked around the park in the rain.  There was no lightning, and the rain wasn’t heavy, so it was kind of enjoyable.

As we were on our walk, I saw a large seagull flying over head and then just drop straight down to the ground.   Al went over to check it out and said it was dead.  One minute he was flying, the other minute he was dead.   There were some power lines over head and we think he must have hit something he shouldn’t have and got electrocuted.   I never heard any buzzing noises or anything like that though.  Poor guy.  We felt bad for him.

We’re hoping for better weather today.  We never saw the sun yesterday, so no sunrise or sunset.


We finalized our reservations here through April 9th, and we get to keep the same great site.  Al wants to stay through the end of April.  I guess we’ll see how that works out.   Right now, this park is nearly full.  We have never seen it so full and it appears to be the same throughout the Keys.  I guess the bad winter weather has driven a lot more folks south.  I’m hoping some people will be leaving soon, but I’m not really counting on it until March.


When we checked in here at Sunshine Key on Tuesday, they gave us a bag of information about the park and the area.  I didn’t look through it until yesterday.  One of the things in the bag was a post card that said greetings from Sunshine Key Rv Resort and Marina.  Does this photo look familiar?


That’s the same picture I took two years ago, and that Thousand Trails uses all the time for their promotions.   We went back to the office and asked them for some more of these post cards.  I told her that I had taken the picture and she said they wondered who had taken the picture and that they have seen it a lot.   Should have sold that picture, I guess.   I decided I am going to work at taking a similar photo and see if I can’t sell it for more than the $50 I got for this one.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Laid Back Day in the Keys


Sunshine Key Rv Park, Ohio Key, Florida  (high 78, low 67)


Now that we’ve been here so many times, we haven’t felt the rush to hurry up and do and see everything right away. Yesterday was more of a laid back day.

It’s been nice and warm since we’ve been here and in fact the first night we had to run the a/c all night, which we hate.  We really love sleeping with the windows open, but it needs to be 73 degrees or lower before we can shut off the a/c.   Last night was another story.  It cooled down nicely to the mid 60’s, so we turned on the whole house fan to suck the air out.  When you do that and open just one or two windows, it pulls that cool air right into those open windows.  I ended up cold in the middle of the night and had to shut the window.   Love it.

It has rained pretty hard overnight both nights that we’ve been here.  Fortunately, there was no wind and just occasional lightning.   I guess if it’s got to rain, night time is the best.   It was cloudy all yesterday, and will probably be the same today with rain predicted.  

Yesterday morning, we went by and picked up our little boat from the storage lot.   Then we stopped by a local marina to talk to them about repowering the boat.   The boat and motor are pretty old, so we would feel better with a new motor.  We have debating spending that much money on such an old boat, but we really like that boat.  It’s very comfy for offshore napping….I mean reading.   It’s easy to trailer and launch.   I guess we’ll make the final decision today, but for now we’re leaning towards repowering this boat.  The problem the motor has to come from Wisconsin and it will take a week to arrive, then several more days to install. I imagine the ice storm up north will cause a shipment delay.  We hate losing all that boating time, but we were afraid to order the motor before we knew if we would even get down here.  You know those jello plans that all rv’ers seem to have.

After picking up the boat, we decided to have some lunch at this food trailer place on the main (and only) highway.  A couple of women have a nice yellow utility trailer that has been converted into a food trailer.  They have a covered area to sit with a sand floor and reed walls.  It’s pretty cute, and everything is sparkling clean.

Yep, this is what we were looking for.  If you have never eaten hogfish, and get a chance, I highly recommend it.



The next picture is what a hogfish looks like.  The males are white and black and the females are this red color.


Unfortunately, they were out of hogfish, so we had to settle on yellowtail snapper.  


Al really liked it, but I thought the fish was a little mushy. You could tell it was fresh because there was absolutely no fishy smell and it was very mild.  I only recently learned to eat fish, but I’m a little fussy.  I don’t want it to smell fishy, I want all white meat and I want it cooked well.  Oh….and don’t bring me one with a face and eyes!

It’s a little pricey at $11.99, but that’s the going rate for fresh fish down here.

We’ll try it again when they have some hogfish.

After lunch, we went back home and took a short nap.  Al got up before me and started working on the boat.  He charged the batteries, but the motor won’t start and all the electronics don’t work.  The only thing working is the power trim that raises the motor.  He is baffled.  Yes, he turned on the battery switch.   No big deal I guess because with a new motor it will be fixed.


Our motor home is an unusual color, and we’ve never seen one like it anywhere we’ve been.  Until Tuesday.   When we got here I immediately spotted an exact duplicate of our coach in the row in front of us.  Later, on a short walk, we spotted another one.  I can’t believe there are three of us here in the park.  

The owners of one of them came by and visited last night. They were interested in our outside led lights.  I sent them to Amazon.


While Al worked on the boat in the late afternoon, I went outside and continued to read my book about Steve Jobs.  I’m really enjoying it.   It amazes me that some of these pot smoking, acid tripping guys managed to accomplish what they did.   Steve Jobs said acid changed and enhanced his way of thinking, even though he couldn’t remember any of his acid trips.  Maybe there is something to that, because he certainly had vision, didn’t he?   I never took any acid in the hippie days in the 60’s.  Maybe if I had I would have been a billionaire too.

As I was sitting there reading and the sun was going down, I started getting pretty chilly.  The thermometer was saying it was 71, but sure felt colder.  I guess it was because of the humid air blowing off the ocean.  I ended up in jeans, a long sleeved shirt, sweater and light jacket.   We didn’t mind the cool evening.  It felt pretty nice actually.


After it got dark, we decided to walk around the park, and we ended up meeting Beth and her beautiful young dog Jethro (because he’s dumb).  We learned they also have a Golden Retriever, which is our favorite dog, so she invited us back to her house to meet Hooligan, aka Hoolie the Golden, husband Tom, and noisy, but beautiful bird.  The bird was in his cage and when the dogs got too much attention she let out a deafening shriek to let Tom know she wanted attention too. It was funny….once you could hear again!  They are here with an Alfa Rally, and are from St Pete Beach (near Tampa) in their beautiful 40 foot Alfa motor home.      

It’s 6:00 am and I’ve been up 2 1/2 hours.  Al didn’t share my excitement about the upcoming day, so he’s still in bed snoring. It’s about time for our sunrise walk along the bridge, so I guess I’d better go make some noise so Al will wake up.   :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We Made it to the Keys…Despite a BIG Traffic Jam.


Sunshine Key Rv Resort, Ohio Key, Florida (high 78, low 66)


We left Tampa Monday around 11am, heading south on I-75. All was smooth until we got to Sarasota and then both north and south bound lanes came to a complete standstill. I checked my handy little Florida 511 traffic alert phone app, and it said there was an emergency road repair with lane closures.  Uh-oh.  We moved maybe a half mile in over an hour.  We were worried about the motorhome overheating, and kept a close eye on the engine and transmission temps.   After about an hour we finally got to an exit, where they forced us off the interstate.  Another Uh-oh. In a big motorhome pulling a toad, the last thing you need is an unplanned detour.  Fortunately, once we got off there was a woman cop standing there with a sign with an arrow that directed us right back onto I-75.   It turns out that a tractor trailer dropped his load on the overpass and it damaged the road service so badly that there was an actual hole in the road where you could look down and see the road below. Concrete was falling onto the street below.   Despite the long delay, we were thankful the road was closed and no one was hurt.

Midway campground in the Everglades, is our favorite place to stop on the way to the Keys.  Until recently you couldn’t reserve a site, and you just had to hope something was available.    We had reserved site 21, which was easy to get into, but we had to trim a few tree branches before opening the slides.  Our old favorite site 17 had a pretty big tree that had grown together with the palm tree and made it difficult to get into for a larger rig. 

Midway is an electric only campground.   Perfect to explore the Everglades or just spend a night on the way. 

Map picture


Entrance to Midway Campground

Our site.  

site 21 at Midway

We went for a walk and couldn’t help but notice this really cool camper.

van camper with kayak

Of course, we had to go over and talk to them and ask about their rig. It turns out they are French Canadians (with very cool accents) and have spent the winter in Florida.  Just like us, their favorite place is in the Keys.    Lise and Michel gave us a tour of their cute little home. 

I took a few pictures inside but it is hard to get a proper perspective.

van camper

They have a toilet, cooking facilities, closet, and even hot water.    It’s such a cute rig and the size allows you to be a lot more spontaneous than with these larger rigs. 

The kayak you see is a very long sea kayak.  It fits on the roof when traveling, but has to come down so the roof of the van can lift up in their living area. They have a screen door on the opening. 

We sat and visited with them for awhile and really enjoyed talking with them.  We exchanged Facebook and email info.  Hope to see you again sometime soon Lise and Michel.

oops…picture was blurry.  It was almost dark and I didn’t realize it.

Michel and Lise

The next morning we got up early and headed out to the Oasis visitor center.   We’ve been there many times, but never tire of seeing all the gators, birds and fish that hangout in one place.

It was very foggy, so we drove extra carefully in case any of the rare Florida panthers were out and about.


It wasn’t as foggy at the visitor center.



There were hundreds of these little fish, floating on the top of the water. 


fish in canal alongside road

This one looks like he’s smiling, doesn’t he?

fish in canal alongside road

There were plenty of gators.

gator eye




Plenty of birds.



I thought this next picture was interesting.  I didn’t even realize when I took the photo,  that a gator was in the background.

spider web and gator

These are all wild animals. The alligators are free to come and go.  This just happens to be a place where they congregate.


Notice the rail in the picture below?  Notice how clean it is?  No bug poop anywhere. 

It’s because of this nice volunteer couple, but unfortunately I can not remember their names.  Thanks guys.

volunteer camphosts at Oasis Center at Big Cypress

They have full hook up rv sites behind the visitor center. 

They have been volunteering there for a few years and enjoy it. They are required to work 3 days a week, but said they often work more hours than they are required because there is so much to do.   I asked them about the wildlife programs for the volunteers (thinking of Judy) and they said they have bird counts and things like that all the time.  This might be a good spot for you next year Judy instead of all that snow and ice in Louisiana.  It was in the 80’s yesterday.

We always enjoy our stay in this area but were also anxious to get to they keys, so we reluctantly left to pack up and head south.


As we traveled along the Overseas Highway, we noticed both the bay and the Atlantic were flat calm.  How we wished we had been out on the water instead of driving by.


Overseas Hwy

Up and over the 7 Mile bridge.  Our campground is just down the road.

7 mile bridge

On the way down we passed other rv parks and noticed they were packed full.  When we got to our park, it was much fuller than usual.  I was praying nothing got screwed up with our reservation and that our site was awaiting us.  It was.  We are on site 266 this year because our old preferred sites were unavailable.  As it turns out, I think this one is even better and we even have afternoon shade.

We did a partial set up and went down to the boat storage to check on our little boat.  It was safe and sound and just like we left it. 

Next on the agenda was a visit to the Sunset Bar and Grill for their wonderful sunset celebration.

Wow….was it crowded.  There was no place to sit in the upstairs or downstairs (by the pool) bar.   Al went to the bar and ordered us a drink and I cozied up to a couple who looked like they were leaving.  We talked a while and they left, so we got their seats.  :)   By this time the sun had set, happy hour was over, so people started leaving.  Note to self…go earlier next time!

Despite the crowds it was beautiful as usual.  The upper bar over looks the pool. Beyond the pool is a boat dock and then the Atlantic ocean.

This was our view from the bar. You can see on the right side of the picture the 7 Mile bridge.

happy hour at the Sunset Grill

Maybe I should have edited out the ketchup bottle?

happy hour at the Sunset Grill

The next picture is for our friend Pat.  They even have a soft white sand corn hole area next to the pool.  Pretty nice place to play, with the ocean in the back ground.

happy hour at the Sunset Grill

I don’t know if you can see him, but in front of the huge TV screen is a guy playing a guitar.   It’s quite a lively place.  People eating, drinking, swimming, playing corn hole.

happy hour at the Sunset Grill

There is a boat dock for people who want to come by boat. 

They put some green lights in the water which allows you to see some fish at night.


For some reason, the current was really ripping, so we were careful not to fall in.

happy hour at the Sunset Grill


It was a lovely night until we remembered we needed canned kitty food.  If we went home empty handed, there would surely have been a revolt.  They expect their canned food in the evening, which is their happy hour.  Off we went to the grocery store and when we got home they were dancing around waiting for the cans to be opened.  Little happy campers.

Sorry for such a along and photo laden blog post, but I knew if I didn’t catch up, I’d never get caught up, since I expect we’ll be pretty busy.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

We’re Happy Campers Again


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 73, low 56)


We’ve been busy around here trying to get ready to head south tomorrow. 

Yesterday, Tim, our mobile Rv repairman, came and installed our new a/c unit.  That was a pretty big job, and took him several hours.  I don’t know yet exactly what we’ll have to pay, but he said the extended warranty company is covering $1431 or something like that.  I don’t know if there will be any additional costs that we will be responsible for, because we haven’t paid Tim yet. The warranty company bases their payments on their costs for the parts, and not freight or any differences in parts prices.   They also have a set amount of time for the labor, and Tim had a little trouble since the new unit had some differences that had to be made to work with our old thermostat.   Anyway, it’s installed but Tim needs to check with the manufacturer on Monday,to make sure he has it wired correctly.  He was a little concerned because the old unit had had 5 connections/wires/something?  and the new one had 12.  It needed some sort of conversion unit to make them match up.  He explained it to me and it made sense at the time, but I can’t exactly remember what he said.  Anyway, I trust him to make sure it’s right.  He will be back first thing in the morning once he calls the manufacturer.

The shroud on the new unit is white and the old one was painted to match the coach.  We could paint it, but I don’t know if we will.   I wish I would have thought to ask him if the shroud came in black.  That would have looked fine.   I guess it’s too late now.  

After he finished with the a/c unit, he had to start on the toilet replacement.   The extended warranty company agreed to pay for the replacement of the circuit board, which is almost $400.   With labor and minus our deductible they will pay around $370, if I remember correctly.   Since we were never happy with the old Aria II Deluxe electric toilet, we opted to replace, rather than repair.   Tim found that they make the exact same toilet in a non electric model.    It’s solid porcelain, including the base.  No plastic shroud around the base.  Just what I wanted. The only thing plastic is the foot pedal and the seat.   It looks exactly like the old one, except for the pedal.  Tim said his cost for the new toilet was $639, so we’ll have some out of pocket expenses there.  The old toilet was nice when it worked, but it was so darn noisy.  

We are both thrilled with this new toilet.  Doesn’t take much to make us happy.   A toilet that flushes is good.

Yep, we are happy campers now!    Isn’t it pretty?



In a previous post I mentioned a naked man.   We didn’t actually see him but our neighbors Pat and Ron did.  The other morning, they were sitting in their coach having coffee and they happened to notice a guy in a motorhome right down the road.

Apparently, he came out of the bathroom butt nekkid with the curtains open!    Pat called me and told me to hurry over because she wanted to show me something.

By the time, I got over (then went back and got my camera) the excitement was over.   Darn.    :)


This was the woman.  It looked like she was cleaning.  Pat said the man must have come out of the bathroom after showering because he was completely nude.  You can see with those tall windows, that it wouldn’t have left much to the imagination.  What were those people thinking?  Do they think no one can see through the windows?


How about this next picture?  

Al with helmet

Al was actually wearing his helmet.  Of course, right before this picture was taken, he got busted for working in the storage bays, without the helmet.    He has hit his head too many times on those darn slides, so he really needs to get into the habit of wearing this helmet.  

The problem with the helmet it that it’s kind of big and difficult to work in a storage bay with that big thing on your head.

Pat found this on Amazon.  It’s a baseball cap with a built in hard hat.  They also sell just an insert that fits into a baseball cap.   I think he would be more apt to wear a baseball hat than the helmet.

Not a bad idea, is it?   Wish I would have thought of it.  Black Baseball Bump Cap   Lightweight Safety hard hat head protection Cap  Office Products


Al did manage to successfully replace the water pump, and without a head injury.  We picked up the pump at Lazy Days and got the exact same one, so that all the hoses and screws would match right up. The new one pump seems a bit noisier, but as long as it pumps,  I don’t care.


So, now all three of our things are replaced.    Hopefully that’s it for awhile.


The other night, we rented the movie “Jobs” from Red box.  It was the story of Apple founder, Steve Jobs.  That was a very interesting story and we loved the movie.  Ashton Kutcher did a terrific job portraying Steve Jobs.  The only thing we didn’t like about the movie was the ending.  It was too soon, and we wanted more.

I went online yesterday morning and bought the eBook from Amazon.  In seconds we had it uploaded to my phone, laptop and Al’s Galaxy notebook, for a mere $6.99. 

Walter Isaacson, the author did a great job researching the book.  It is well written and very detailed.   I hope it doesn’t end as early in Steve’s life as the movie.    Can’t wait to get to the Keys, sit outside at the beach and finish the book!


So……I think I have caught up on all of our news.    The plan for tomorrow is to head down to Jonathan Dickenson State Park, near Palm Beach.    Of course our history with reservations at Florida state parks, something will probably happen and we’ll have to cancel the reservation.   If by some miracle we get there tomorrow, we’ll stay there one night and then we’re off to the Keys on Tuesday.    We love the drive from Key Largo down to Sunshine Key.    It’s a beautiful drive along the Overseas Highway.

Can’t wait.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Good and Bad News


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 55, low 31)


The forecasted low for last night was supposed to get down to 32, but we never saw it lower than 42.  Maybe the prediction for tonight won’t materialize either.  


Al went back to the doctor for a follow up on his MRI.   It was just like I thought.  He had a subdural hematoma caused from the bump on the head last November.  There is a small amount of blood between his scull and brain, but the doctor felt it should be re-absorbed and cause no problem.   No surgery, no brain tumor.   Good news.


There is not so much good news on the motorhome though.  We did get an authorization from the extended warranty company, for the replacement of our rear a/c unit.    I was a little worried after Merikay mentioned that they have the same company and have been denied for two out of three claims.   Before this, we had only used  the warranty for two different items, and they paid for both with no issues.   We’re pleased with them so far.   We have it through  Allegiance, and purchased it through Go Rv Network, in case anybody is interested.  It cost a little over $5000, so it was pretty pricey.  At this point we have not gotten our money back, but of course we got some peace of mind.  We still have a few more months to go, so we may still get our money back. 

I can tell you from personal experience from the perspective of being a retired claim adjuster, and from one experience with our precious extended warranty company, read your contract.  If you have a problem that you think is covered, find our from the repairman exactly what the problem is, and what caused it.   If they deny your claim, understand exactly why.   On our old MH, the generator went out due to a broken internal bolt.    Our contract specifically excluded broken exterior bolts.    I went a few rounds with the adjuster, but I eventually won the battle and they paid the $1500 to repair our generator.  They finally agreed that the broken bolt was inside the generator compartment and was no where we could have seen.      If I hadn’t have read the contract, and known exactly where the problem was, the outcome would have been different.


Okay, back to current issues.

Problem number two with the motorhome is the toilet.  Thanks to all of you who chimed in on which toilet you have.   We’re waiting for Tim to see which toilet will fit and get the authorization for the new toilet.  

Problem number three started yesterday.   We have disconnected the water the past two nights due to the predicted freezing temperatures.   The first night, we noticed the water pump making noise.  It had always been  pretty quiet.   Last night, it kept humming even when we weren’t running any water.  It wasn’t cycling on and off like it had a leak, but just like it was continually running, but noisier than normal.   This morning, it isn’t running at all.    We think it died.  The water pump is only 2 1/2 years old, as it was another of the many things Lazy Days replaced for us after we bought the coach.   

The good thing about all three of these things happening at once, is because our deductible for the extended warranty is per occurrence, no matter how many items are repaired at the same time.    If we get three items fixed at the same time, we only have one deductible.  

The problem is that Tim, our repairman is extremely busy this time of the year and we are planning on leaving town Monday.    Doesn’t it figure?


This is just a part of living in an RV.   The water pump is really no big deal except when we are traveling.

These issues are a bit aggravating, but since we got good news about Al’s head injury, we aren’t going to complain about a few minor inconveniences.


Feel free to chime in on the water pump issues.  Any idea for quick fixes?


and my Keys picture of the day.

Bahia Honda SP view from bridge

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Medical Issues and Our Two “oops” moments.


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 61, low 32)


Despite the very chilly (for Florida) weather, the skies have been blue and the sun has been shining.  These cooler days feel pretty good and we’re not complaining, too much.

We’re hoping to head south to the Keys in a few days, but unfortunately it’s not been too warm there either.

As always when we plan to go somewhere, we never know what will change our plans at the last minute.  The old plans are written in jello thing

Right now, we are awaiting a new rear air-conditioning/heat pump unit.   We have an extended warranty, but they wanted to send one of their appraisers to inspect it before giving the repair authorization. I’ve heard horror stories about  taking weeks for these appraisers to come out.   Fortunately that wasn’t the case here, and he was out yesterday.   We haven’t gotten the authorization for repairs yet, but Tim, our repairman doesn’t think there will be any problem.   We have tentatively scheduled it to be done on Saturday.  We need a new unit, whether or not the warranty covers it.  If it’s denied, I’ll be reading the contract and reason for the denial. 

Of course, when you’re trying to leave things always pop up.   We have a Thetford Aria II Deluxe electric toilet in our rig. It was one of the many things Lazy Days so nicely replaced for us when we bought the coach less than three years ago.  They are about $900.    There are two buttons.  One to add water, one to flush.  No foot pedal.  In theory it sound nice.  It’s a all porcelain, including the base.  No cheap plastic front.   It’s a nice looking toilet, much like what you would use for your home. It’s noisy, but the  problem is we’re having problems getting the valve to open when you push the button to flush.  There is a manual override knob underneath, but lately Al has had trouble even getting that to open the valve.  Not a good thing, when you only have one toilet!  

So, yesterday when Tim (the rv guy) came by, we had him look at it, and of course it worked perfectly.  In fact it worked perfectly all day long, until last night.   Tim thinks it could be the control board, which he priced out at $400.   Yikes.  So, now we’re probably just going to get a new toilet.   We’re hoping the warranty company will cover the cost.   We’ve been doing some online research, trying to find another porcelain toilet without a plastic base.  We would prefer a non electric one with a foot pump, but want one with no plastic.  Evidently one of those does not exist, so we’ll likely have to go with a plastic base and porcelain bowl.  Oh well….as long as it flushes.



Our next issue is with Al.   If you remember, he hit his head on the slide-out  in November.   He bled a bit, but a nurse neighbor dressed the wound and didn’t think he needed any stitches.   He didn’t have any headaches, and I watched him for a few days to make sure he wasn’t having any issues.

A few weeks ago, he started having bad headaches that wouldn’t go away and didn’t respond to any type of pain meds.   He finally went to his ENT doctor.  He though it was a sinus issue and gave him some nasal spray.  He said if that didn’t help he would need an MRI.   The headaches continued, so we scheduled the MRI, but by this time, his headaches had gotten much better.

It turns out there was an issue with the MRI, so he has an appointment with the doctor today.  We had to pick up the CD from the MRI to bring with us to the doctors appointment today.   We also got the written report, which we attempted to interpret.   Of course, that can get interesting trying to Google what each medical term means.   After much Googling, my interpretation is that Al has a subdural hematoma that is 6.5 mm in size, and probably caused by his head injury.  I don’t think surgery will be necessary, but I guess we’ll see if I’m right after we see the doctor today.   He is feeling much better, so we’re taking that as a good sign.


Now, for our “oops” moments.  I had mine first and the next day Al had his. 

I had an appointment last week to get  the pressure in my eyes checked.  I had laser surgery over a year ago due to some issues with closed angles and high eye pressure, and needed a follow up visit.

I never carry a purse anymore, since Al drives, I have no need. I put my drivers license and insurance card in his wallet in case I need them.  Before I got out of the car, I put my license and insurance card in my pocket, walked in the door and up to the window.  She asked for my insurance card but not my license.  I signed in, grabbed my insurance card and walked to the waiting area where Al was waiting.  I reached into my pocket to give him my license and insurance card and my drivers license was missing!   I walked all of 50 feet from the car to the desk to the waiting area, and lost my license.  I searched everywhere multiple times and could never find my license. 

The only thing I can figure is that when I pulled out the insurance card, I dropped my license.  A lady came up to the desk right after I did, and I wondered if she picked it up.  If she did, she must have had a reason for not returning it.  That is the only scenario I could figure.    I am a little concerned about it, but at this point, I don’t know what else to do.   I ended up getting a new drivers license for $25.00.     Oops.


This post is getting too long, but next time, I’ll have to tell you why you should close your curtains before you come out of the bathroom naked……especially if you have some of those long windows.   And, NO, it wasn’t me or Al.


The next day, Al was putting on our new hose that we got at the rv show.  It was one of those that squeezes back up when you turn the water off.  The ones we got at the show are black, and have brass fittings which hopefully won’t break as quickly as the cheap green ones.

Anyway, we had a hose hanger that fit over the top of the spigot.   I am not quite sure what happened, but it involved a rubber  mallet.   Have you ever seen when they open a fire hydrant?   Well, that’s exactly what it looked like.  There was a big gusher of water flooding right out and down the street.   It was way more pressure than when you turn on your faucet all the way.  It was huge!   I called the Rv park, and Herbie came right away, but had a hard time finding out where to turn off the water.  We have city water from one spigot, and well water we use for watering plants, cars, etc.  He apparently didn’t know where to turn off the well water and it took him 15 or 20 minutes.   Of course there was water everywhere and that brought seemingly about everyone in the park.     Oops.   Herbie was not happy.  Sorry Herbie.


And since we’re dreaming of the Keys….a picture of what is to come  (hopefully)

sunset at sunshine key marina

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fire From 9 Volt Battery

Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 76, low 61)

I would imagine most everyone has seen this video about how a home was burned down because of a 9 volt battery.

If not, here it is.   The moral of the story is:   If you have any loose 9 volt batteries, be sure to put some electrical tape on the ends to prevent them coming in contact with any metal objects.

We did not know this.   If you do a Google search, you'll find all sorts of information about the danger of 9 volt batteries.

We've been very busy around here.

We went to the Tampa Rv Supershow last week and found a few interesting things to buy.   No, we did not get a new motor home.  In fact, we didn't see any new rigs that we liked all that well.

We've each had a few doctor appointments,  and are trying to get things wrapped up so that we can head south next week.  

Al's headaches have gotten better, but he did get an MRI yesterday.   We're certainly hoping all turns out well there.  I'm thinking it's sinus issues, and hopefully I'm right.

I have an eye appointment this morning, so I don't have time to write about all the news.  We both had an OOPs moment last week, but you'll have to wait to hear what happened  until I have more time.

We have some rv repairs we're waiting on this week.   As usual, we've been sitting here for 2 months, and everything gets put off until right before we're due to leave town.    I guess, we like the added stress.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Movie Theater Shooting in our Backyard


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 75, low 44)



When you hear about a deadly movie theater shooting, you never expect it to be in your own backyard.  Yesterday it was.

The theater is about half mile from us.


Movie Theater Shooting in Florida Over Leaves 1 Dead   View photo   Yahoo News

The little town of Wesley Chapel, Florida made the national news yesterday.   Apparently, two married couples went to the afternoon movie showing of The Lone Survivor.   The younger man and his wife were sitting in front of the shooter and his wife.  The victim was texting on his phone to his 2 year old daughter.  This was during the previews, but the texting and noise bothered the shooter.

The shooter was a retired Tampa police captain.   There was some sort of confrontation and the younger man was shot and died right in the theater. His wife was also shot with the same bullet while attempting to shield her husband with her hand.

The suspect was subdued right away by an off duty police officer.

I heard about the shooting about 30 minutes after the fact, but by that time the suspect was in custody.  It could have been a little scary if he would have been on the loose, since the theater is to close to our RV park.

There were news helicopters hovering above all afternoon.   I don’t know what they expected to see since the victim was taken to the hospital and the suspect to jail.

As it turns out, the wife of the victim was employed at USAA, which is the company that I retired from.  

What a tragedy. The lives of two families changed forever.

The shooter was a police captain, who was instrumental in getting TPD’s  SWAT team started back in the 70’s.  He would have had plenty of weapons training and should never have let that kind of situation get so out of control. 


The big Tampa Rv Supershow starts tomorrow.  We always like to go, even though we are not in the market for a new RV.  Between doctor appointments, and trying to wait for our mobile Rv guy, we aren’t sure when we will be able to go.  It doesn’t matter which day you go. It’s always packed every day.

If you go to the show, look out for a booth with Gripstics.

We got some last year and love them.    We’re hoping they will be selling them again this year, because we need a few more.


You put them on bags to close them.  Once they are on the bag, even liquid won’t spill.  We use them in the freezer, refrigerator and cabinets.  They are great for closing up chip bags, and any kind of plastic bag you have.  I saw a three pack on Amazon for $1.98.   I’ll be checking the prices at the show before I buy more.  I’m thinking they might be cheaper on Amazon, but I’ll check out the show prices.

How about you?  Have you found great things at RV shows?   We always seem to find a new gadget every year.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

RV Park Co-op?


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high , low 46)


I believe the first Rv blog I ever started to follow was written by Howard and Linda Payne and their blog  RV-Dreams .  The blog and website has some very good information for anyone that owns a RV.  It’s particularly helpful for people new to the RV  lifestyle, or contemplating going full time.   I can’t think of a subject related to RV’s that Howard hasn’t written in detail about, from sewer hoses, to campground reviews.   Whether you use your RV for vacations, or you live in it full time, you’ll find useful information on this site.   If you’re considering going the full time route, you might want to attend one of their rallies.  If you can’t attend a rally, they also put on seminars at many RV shows around the country, and I believe they will be at the Tampa RV Supershow next week.

Howard always does very thorough research on any subject that he writes about.   He has recently  been looking into how Obamacare/Affordable Care Act affects full timers.

Check out Howards blog about the insurance exchanges in South Dakota here.   It appears that at least one company that writes SD health care policies, wants proof of residency in the form of 9 months of utility bills.  Since most of us wouldn’t be able to do that, it would be a problem.  

He also mentions that the companies that write  health policies in South Dakota do not allow coverage across state lines.  For a fulltimer, this would be a problem if you get sick in another state.  Since most fulltimers with residency in South Dakota, rarely go there, it would be like having no health insurance for a majority of the year.   If you are in the market for subsidized insurance under Obamacare, you might want to check out Howards post.  I found it very informative. 

For the time being, we still have coverage under USAA’s retiree plan.  However, with the extension on the employee mandate portion of the ACA set to expire next year, I am very concerned that we may lose our wonderful health care plan, and be in the same boat as many others.


On a different subject, but still something I read on Howards blog, they are considering starting a RV Co-op Rv park.

Would you be interested in buying into something like this? 

Many of you know about Escapees which is a club for Rv’ers.   They have campgrounds around the country that offer very reasonable rates for members.  What some don’t know, is that they also have eleven Co-Op Rv Parks around the United States.  The owners own their own sites and help to run the parks.  These parks are very popular with waiting lists years long just to be given the opportunity to purchase a lot.  There is only one in Florida and it’s in Wauchula, which is not my favorite part of the state.

Howard and Linda are in the beginning stages of exploring getting something like this started in south Florida.  Howard was an attorney in a previous life, so he understands the legalities involved, and I would trust him to do the required research.

Read more about it here.

Howard put a quick online survey on the site to see if there is enough interest.  It would not be an investment to try to make money.  If it’s run like the Escapee Co-ops, you would get your money back out of the site when you sold it, but would not make money on any appreciation.  What you would get is a very cheap place to spend the winter, or if you decided you needed to hang up your keys for whatever reason, you could live there in your RV on a permanent basis. 

So, if this is of any interest to you, check out the Rv-Dreams website and see what you think.


Well, I didn’t quite get to my goal of organizing the linen closet yesterday.  Thanks to all of you that had some organization tips.   I definitely think I need to pare down some of “linens”.   I have way too many towels, rags and microfiber towels.    I find I need a few extra towels for hot tubbing,  boating and kayaking days, but I probably have too many.   The main issue is getting to these items that are on the top shelf or in the back.  A sliding shelf might help, but I’m reluctant to give up a few inches of space on each side.

I planned on tackling that job yesterday, but we ended up going to see Mom and my day got away from me.

It was hot and muggy yesterday with temperatures in the 80’s and sunshine all day. Another approaching cold front finally brought the predicted rain to us in the evening. 

As soon as the rain quit, the temperature started dropping and its currently only 60 degrees.  Just how I like it!  I don’t think we’ll see any 80 degree temperatures for the rest of the week, but as long as it’s sunny, it’s okay with me.

The big Tampa RV Supershow is next week. Anybody going?   It’s one of the largest RV shows in the country, and fact some claim it’s the largest.   We’re happy with our rig, so we don’t go into many Rv’s.  We spend most of our time at the vendors, and usually find interesting things to buy.

If you go, don’t forget to look for the picture of Al kayaking in the Keys.   I’m not sure they will be using the same poster, but keep an eye out for him at the Thousand Trails booths.  



See ya there.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Found Money?


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 78, low 56)


The Florida sunshine finally came back yesterday, bringing beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the low 80’s.   Of course, that also meant turning the AC back on, but it cooled down nicely last night and we were able to sleep with the windows open.  The only bad thing about that, was that sometime during the middle of the night, I was awakened by a croaking frog.   If you don’t know that about me, I am afraid of frogs it sounded like the frog was right on the other side of the screen.  Game me the willies….

More rain is possible today, as another cold front is on the way,  but for now I see blue skies.  Yay!


Al has been having bad headaches ever since New Years Eve.  He finally went to the ENT doctor last week.  He had sinus surgery a year or so ago and went back to that doctor.   The doctor thinks it’s sinus related and gave him some nasal spray.   Al has been using a saline solution, taking Advil, Feverfew, and anything else he can think of, but he’s still getting headaches.  Just when we think he’s getting better, the headache comes back.

If you remember, I posted sometime mid November that he hit his head on the slide-out and put a big gash in his skull.  He was fine after that, so we don’t think it was related.  We did mention it to the doctor though, but he didn’t seem to be concerned about that.

I’ve finally convinced Al to hot pack his sinuses/head and hopefully that will bring him some relief.  If not, I guess we’ll have to go back to the doctor for an MRI.

So, since Al has been down,  and hasn’t felt like doing much of anything, our projects have been put on hold.

Yesterday, he finally felt good enough to get up on the roof and clean the coils on the rear AC.   We have been noticing that we have no heat or cool from the rear unit.   We didn’t think dirty coils would have caused the issue since neither the heat or cool is working, but we thought we’d give it a try before calling the repairman.

Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to help, so we have a call in for our local mobile RV mechanic.  We were afraid he would be booked up too far in advance, but he said he would be by early next week.  I hope he shows.   He’s a very busy man this time of year.

We are doing fine with only one AC right now, but when we get to the Keys, we’ll need both of them to be working properly.  

Once he cleaned the AC coils, he still had enough energy to flush the water heater and install a new anode.   So, that was two items checked off of our list.

I have been working on cleaning and organizing drawers and cabinets.   My goal today is to tackle the linen closet.  Of course that was also my goal yesterday and I managed to ignore it.  Maybe today will be the day!   I need to figure out some way to keep that thing organized.  It has three shelves and they are kind of deep.  If you need something in the back on a higher shelf, you tend to mess up everything else getting to it.  I guess I might need some pull out bins so that I can see what’s there.   If anybody has any good organizing tips please let me know.  The closet has 3 shelves.   I’m thinking i need to get rid of some of the linens and make room for my electric fry pan and some kitchen items. 


A friend of ours came to the door the other morning flashing a big smile and a big pile of cash.   Those are all 5 dollar bills.


It seems that they saw something on the Oprah show a few years ago that started their unusual method of saving money.  If you save every 5 dollar bill you get, it will add up over the period of a year.  That’s what they do.  Anytime, they get a 5 dollar bill in change, they save it.  The first of every year, they take their loot to the bank.  This year, they had $1500.00

Of course since we almost never have cash, we’d probably only end up with about $15.00, but it’s a good idea for those of you that actually use cash.   It’s almost like found money.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

New Garmin RV 760 GPS


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 64, low 54)

We survived the arctic blast that has covered most of the country.   Yes, the cold made it down here to Florida and even the Florida Keys had some pretty chilly weather. I think our blogger friends Rick and Paulette were in the only place that actually had warm temperatures.

Despite the prediction of record lows, that didn’t happen, although it was plenty chilly.  I don’t think our overnight low the past two nights was below 35 or 36, but you would have thought we were expecting below zero temperatures because of all the fuss that was made before hand.  

We started to get caught up in all the pre-cold front hype, until we remembered just a few weeks ago we were up in the mountains and lived through a few nights where the temperature dropped to 17 degrees.   We’re tough, we can take a little cold weather!

Now, by the week-end there is a possibility that we will be having record temperatures again.  Record highs!   The prediction for the week-end is 82-83 degrees.   It will sure feel nice!  Remind me not to whine about the heat, will ya?


We have been Amazon’s best customer lately.   Yesterday we got a new ladder for the boat and a new GPS for the motorhome.  It’s sure fun getting deliveries, isn’t it?

Our old GPS for the motor home was the Garmin Dezl 560 truckers GPS.    We liked it a lot, but after seeing Pat and Ron’s Garmin RV 760 GPS, we decided to upgrade.  Here is the Amazon link.   Please note, this is the one for RV’s, and lifetime maps is included.   I believe they also make a 760 that is not made for RV’s.

Some of the features:

  • Large 7" high-resolution touchscreen display: 800 x 480 pixels; WVGA TFT color display with white backlight
  • Includes free lifetime map and traffic updates - Provides RV-specific services and vendors, repair shops, truck stops and a comprehensive list of nationwide repair and tow facilities (including those offering after-hours road service)
  • Specialized RV routing based on customizable restrictions including height, weight, width and length
  • Cautions and advisories include risk of grounding, lateral wind, narrow road, sharp curve, steep hill, tree overhand and state borders
  • Voice-activated navigation means RV 760LMT responds intelligently to your verbal commands. Just talk to it. Comparable with Garmin wireless back up camera

    The larger 7inch screen is nice in a motor home, since you’re not sitting as close to the dash as in a car.

    You can see how much larger it is compared to our old Garmin 560 Dezl.   The old Garmin actually looks larger in the photo than it does in real life.


    760 GARMIN GPS

    The feature that sold us on the upgrade was the fact that it’s supposed to guide you as to which lane you should be in.  In a large city, that’s a nice feature.   I’ll let you know how that works out when we test it out a little more. 

    As in our Dezl GPS, it allows you to put in the length, height and width of your rig.  Hopefully, that will keep us from any low bridges or non rv friendly roads.

    Pat and Ron love theirs.  Pat is the driver, and she says having this one took a lot of stress out of driving in big cities.   It has voice recognition, so you no longer have to program it with a keyboard.

    I’m not so sure I love the voice recognition on the new 760.  It doesn’t seem to work nearly as well as my  Droid phone.   We’ll have to see how it works out as we use it more. 

    One improvement Garmin made was their new “Garmin Express” link.   It registers the new product for you and then you can update the maps directly from there.   It works with all of your Garmin GPS’s.  I never downloaded the maps on the old unit, because it never would work for me.   I’m happy to say with Garmin Express I was able to download the new maps to both the new unit and the old one. Yay for me!

    It also allowed me to download all our favorite places onto the new GPS.  Yay again!   

    Here is the link for Garmin Express.  If you have an older Garmin, this will allow you to add it, and upgrade maps, or transfer your favorite locations to another GPS.  


    We’re off to the gym today, and hopefully we’ll be able to take another kayak trip when it warms up this week-end. 

    Monday, January 06, 2014

    Sasquatch in Florida?


    Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 78, low 60)


    For as long as I can remember, I have heard about Sasquatch, the abominable snowman,  or Bigfoot. 

    Yesterday, I may just have spotted him (or her)!

    We were up early as usual having our coffee and computer time and when I looked out my window, this is what I saw.


    Could it be?

    Is this Sasquatch?

    In Florida?


    pat grubb

    Sure looks like Sasquatch to me.

    pat grubb


    (just so you know, I got permission from “sasquatch” to use these pictures)    I am not going to identify this person, to protect the innocent.


    While I was photographing Sasquatch, Al was making our morning green smoothie. 

    Baxter loves fresh spinach and always insists on having a few bites.   He ate 5-6 pieces before he was satisfied.  I guess you can tell he’s been raised in a vegan household.  

    Baxter eating spinach

    Our temps warmed up nicely yesterday, and the park started to come alive again.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see too much sun, but everybody was outside cleaning and polishing the cars and RV’s, and playing corn hole.  

    The predicted temperature today is 78 degrees, but then it’s all down hill from there with a predicted low on Tuesday night of 29 with the high only at 52.   Brrrrr.  


    I read a blog post yesterday about a couple who was at the Tiffin factory at Red Bay, having some body work done on their motorhome.   It seems he took a right turn too sharply and drove over a large boulder.  Then when they were leaving the service bay after having the repairs done, he cut a corner too sharp again, had to brake hard, and ended up knocking her down into the step area.  They decided she will be driving from now on.  I sent her the following link, hoping she wouldn’t be offended.  (she wasn’t and sent me a thank you email)

    I was remembering when we bought this motorhome, we took a free driver confidence course at Lazy Days here in Tampa.   The best thing we learned is that for our particular motor home,  before you make a right turn, be sure that the object you need to clear is at least beside the drivers hip.  If you do that, the rest of the motorhome and toad will clear that object when you turn.  Before you rely too heavily on the “hip” method, check out the online videos to make sure it works on your particular coach.  It depends on the “wheel cut” of your particular motorhome.  Some have a 45 degree wheel cut and use the front bumper as a reference.

    I think we can all learn something form this course, but if you’re not in Tampa or Arizona (2nd Lazy Days facility), there are online courses that are most helpful.  

    Check out this video to learn about the hip method for making right turns. 

    Here is the link for the entire online series. They were very well done in my opinion.


    Yesterday, we learned something interesting about our Norcold refrigerator.   We have the big 4 door Norcold refrigerator with icemaker.  It was installed brand new when we bought our new to us coach from Lazy  Days.  So far (knock on wood), it has run fine and keeps the food cold.

    We happened to be talking to a neighbor about our electric bills, and discovered our electric bill  last month bill was double theirs. We couldn’t figure out why since our we are similar in size, facing the same day and run our AC about the same amount.  We started checking our meters and noticed ours was spinning at least twice as fast as theirs.  We compared what electric items we had running, but it was only when we shut off the refrigerator that our meter slowed down.  Pat and Ron have a residential refrigerator, which apparently is much more energy efficient than our Norcold.   We were shocked that our  Norcold refrigerator took so much more power to run.  It’s not as large as their residential refrigerator, but it sure uses more power.

    That might be good info for anyone who is on the fence about switching to a residential refrigerator.

    We considered going to a residential refrigerator about a year ago, after seeing a motorhome that had caught fire due to a faulty refrigerator.  You can read about it here in a blog post I did last year.

    Since our refrigerator is only a couple years old, and works well,  we decided to keep it and add  automatic Halon fire extinguishers.  While residential refrigerators are very nice, they have their own issues if you need to have repairs done.  Blogger Judy can certainly confirm that.

    Here is the link where we bought our automatic fire extinguishers.  They are temperature sensitive and will discharge when it senses a temperature of 165 degrees.  I believe we paid $170 for ours.  Expensive, but worth it to me.

    SS30 90 hi def

    One extinguisher went in the outside compartment behind the refrigerator, and one in the generator compartment.  Of course we have extinguishers inside as well. 



    It’s about 65 degrees this morning as I’m drinking my morning coffee, but the temperature is supposed to drop all day long and get down to 30 degrees tonight, and even colder tomorrow night.  I guess the Farmers Almanac was right when it predicted a colder than average winter.   Love this global warming.

    Stay warm everybody.