Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Cold, Cold and travel plans

March 30, Saturday, 2013

Since my last post last Friday the weather has dried up but it has been real cold.  We had the coldest temperatures of our RV life here in Tampa Florida.  Last Wednesday morning it was 39 when we got up at 7 am with frost in the surrounding areas.  The temperature in NJ was 35!   Then it only warmed up to 57 in the afternoon.  Also, it was very windy.  We took the lights off the awning and rolled it up.  Even though we have the awning tied down, we were afraid that the awning would separate from the RV!  They reported last night on the local news that this is the 3rd coldest March on record for Tampa.  The last coldest was in 1969!  Anyway that cold stuff seems to be over now.  It got up to 75 yesterday and it supposed to be in the 80s for the foreseeable future,  yea!

This cold weather is very good for adventures with clothes and for chores.  We took advantage of the cold and did laundry one day and went food shopping another day.  Yesterday we went to the Jay Starkey Wilderness Bike Trail and rode 5.5 miles one way and then back for a total of 11 miles.  The trail is mostly flat and with lots of turns and is all paved.   We had to drive 17 miles to get to it but it was worth it.  A beautiful day in the mid-60s to start and it was low 70s at the end of the trip.  We are going back to finish the entire trail with is 6.5 miles which will be 13 total for us.  We didn't know there was only a mile and a half left to finish when we turned around.  Oh well, next time!

Not good pic, but the blue is the trail we rode on yesterday.

Picture from the trail

Another picture from the trail.  Patty in front.

Last picture from the trail.  Patty in center.

The cold also allowed us to do a little more planning for travels this year going in to next year.  Patty and I have a method we use when we are planning our trips.  We use Google maps in a shared mode so we can both see the map on our computers.  Patty does the campground searching and I use Google calendar to lay out the timing.

We like to keep our travel to just under 250 miles a day, preferably 200-250 a day.  There are 2 reasons for the mileage limit.  One, 275 miles is about the limit of the fuel tank and I don't like to stop along the way if I can plan around doing that.  Number two, 200-250 miles is around 4-5 hours of driving which is more than enough behind the wheel.  Almost forgot, there is also a third reason.  We like to travel in mid-day from 10 am to 3 pm.  We don't want to rush in the morning leaving and we don't want to drive after dark or even arrive in the dark. We also like to stay a minimum of 2 nights when we are traveling.  So this means if we want go 2000 miles it will take us a minimum of 10 travel days and 10 rest days for a total of 20 days.  We can and have moved much quicker than that but we use that slower pace as a cushion.  I think our fastest move to date was 1200 miles in 3 days.  Way too much driving, however we liked it while we were doing it.

This is the basic plan we laid out :

Paradise Pines in Lutz FL (where we are now): Leave May 28th
Disney Wilderness Park: 5/28 – 6/7  (Grandkids and Parents with us 5/29 – 6/6)
Crawfordsville IN (Grandkids and our medical appointments): 6/16 -25
South NJ with Friends Debbie and Ian: 6/28 – 7/1
Sunny Rest RV park in PA: 7/1 – 15
North NJ with Friends Cindy and Rob: 7/15 – 29
Elmira NY visiting friends Sandy and Jim (We will be in a campground there): 7/29 – 8/1
Grand Island NY visiting family: 8/1 – 8/15
Clarkston MI visiting family: 8/15 – 18
St. Ignace MI to explore Mackinaw Island: 8/18 – 21
Yellowstone National Park: 9/5 -12
Grand Tetons National Park: 9/12 – 21
Grand Canyon: late September early October
Shangri La Campground near Phoenix AZ:  Week in early October 
Texas State Fair in Dallas TX: Early  to mid-October
Buffalo NY/NJ/IN: Thanksgiving – Christmas
Natures Resort in Edcouch TX: 12/28 – 3/28/14

The dates can change some after the Sunny Rest PA stay in July.  We know we want to be in Yellowstone for about a week and we don't want to be there later than the end of September due to weather.  After that we have some time to explore the New Mexico and Texas areas before our hard deadline of November 28th when we fly back to the Northeast for the holidays.

Year 2014 we're not sure about but are thinking we will do the East Coast down to Florida.  That is just something to ponder in the future, just never know!

Coming up this week we hope go to the Caliente and Lake Como resorts one night each.  We have been waiting on the weather to get nice before we go to these places.  I think today we will get some sun time in at the pool as we haven't done that yet here!

We walked to Lake Como one morning.

Picture of the lake at Lake Como Resort.

Stay tuned!

The Big Move: Davie FL to Lutz FL and Settling in

March 22, Friday, 2013   

Ok, the big news first, the park we just left is changing to a KOA after over 30 years of being a nudist park! Last night there was an emergency meeting at Seminole for all of the residents and campers where they were told this was the last season as a nudist park. The park is packed in the winter, (November – March), with nudist French Canadians. Most of them have been coming to this park for many years. The owner is not a nudist or even an RVer so he really doesn't have a clue about this park's customers. This change seems very risky to us. Oh well, we weren't coming back next year anyway so it’s OK for us. Changing to a KOA probably puts this park off our future list also. For us, the PROS for this park are its close location to Haulover Beach, being nudist and the weather. It’s CON is that it is managed so poorly. Now as a KOA it will have kids running around and will probably still be managed poorly. This will be difficult on most of the full time residents there. We hope the best for all of them.

Last Monday was our big move day. We hadn't pulled the rig any distance since Mid-November last year, 4 months ago. We took our time and went through our tasks slowly. By the time we were ready to move, we had a good sized crowd watching and saying good bye. As we drove through the park we had people waving good bye and some even followed us to the exit to say good bye.

Here we are at the exit to Seminole in front of the office.  We left them our last bit of trash.

We headed North West to Lutz Florida, 250 miles away. We took the advice of a resident truck driver, Nicki, and took state road 27 up to Tampa. The entrance to State Road 27 is just a couple of miles from the park and runs straight through the center of Florida and around the edge of Lake Okeechobee. SR 27 runs through lots of orange orchards and cow/horse farms. It was a very flat road and the wind was going our way so we didn't need to stop for fuel.

We left Seminole a little after 10 am and arrived 5.5 hours later, 3:30 pm, at Paradise Pines RV Park in Lutz Florida. We will be here at Paradise Pines until after Memorial Day when we move to Disney World for a vacation with the Grandkids. Paradise Pines is also a gated co-op nudist RV Park. All of the sites have individual owners who either rent out the sites or they use them for themselves. The park is situated next door to the Lake Como Nudist Resort and Paradise Lakes Nudist Resort. It’s less than a 10 minute drive to either of these resorts. The Caliente resort is also close at 8 miles north.

Entrance to Paradise Pines RV Park

Paradise Pines is an upscale park with many permanent RVs owned by Snow Birds from all over the country and Canada. The park has a club house and a brand new swimming pool which we have not had a chance to use yet. All of the streets are paved and 90% of the sites have a concrete pad with paver driveways.

Our site for the next 10 weeks in Paradise Pines.

Another view of our site.

So far the weather here has not been so nice. Only one day so far has it been in the 80’s. Most days it has been 50 over night with just 70 in the afternoon. As I’m writing this at 10:30 am it is 58 outside. We also have had on and off rain the past couple of days. This area seems to be a little less tropical than South Florida but it is still windy this time of year. With the winds here, we still like to have our awning out all of the time so we need to put hold down bracing on it . The first time we did this was at our last place in South Florida. There we had holes already drilled into the concrete patio to put the hold down straps. Here it is paver stones which are not conducive to doing that. All around us people are using large flower pots with concrete poured in them to hold down their awnings. Most are decorated with shells or plastic Flowers. We went to the local WalMart and got a couple of plastic decorative bucket/baskets and bags of pea gravel to put in them. This seems to be working for us. We didn't want to use concrete as we would then need to leave them behind; too heavy to carry around. We can pour out the gravel and then refill at our next stop with more gravel or just rocks.

Our homemade awning tiedowns.

Wednesday night is Karaoke night at Paradise Lakes with no charge to get in the resort after 5 pm. So we took advantage of that and went over to have dinner and see what the resort was like. Just a note, all nights after 5pm Paradise Lakes is free to enter. First we had drinks in the large tiki bar by the pool and then dinner in the restaurant that opens at 6pm. The restaurant was a good value for the price and the menu had a good selection.

After dinner the karaoke started in the main dance room next door to the restaurant. As with most karaoke places they seem to have a following of regulars. This means if you want to sing you need to get there early and sign up. Patty went up a few minutes after the start at 7 and got a time of 9:12 to sing.

I'll try to describe the karaoke scene here. There is a fairly large permanent stage with a KJ at the far side. Center stage is a stand with 3 mics on it for the singers. In front of the stage is a large dance floor, 400 sqf, with a large rectangle bar on one side and multilevel seating around the other 2 sides. The idea here is to sing dance music.

The very first singers were very good and we all danced. Then came the people singing very old and depressing slow songs, many we never heard before. There is a lively crowd here so there was still a few dancing. The evening ended up costing just under a $100. Not bad for drinks, dinner, dancing, and a little karaoke. We ended up leaving around 8:30 pm. We will go back again.

We will probably do the much more expensive Caliente next. Caliente is never free with exception to their “free” day pass where you have to participate in a sales pitch for a vacation package. Otherwise it’s $100 per couple for the day or $30 after 6 pm. They do have a special on the Thursday evening Ladies Night. On Ladies night the cost is $10 per person after 6 pm and drinks are half price until 7 pm and then ladies drink for free until 10 pm. We will do a Thursday night first and then probably do a regular $100 day pass. We have done the sales pitch thing before other places and it is really not worth it. We would just rather pay and not be bothered.

Yesterday we went on a 10.5 mile bike ride on the Suncoast Trail. The trail is 41 miles long and starts in Lutz. The trail head is 7 miles from our site so we need to drive there. We got a lot of exercise but the trail was not scenic. We are going to ride another trail in a few days that goes through the forest which should be more scenic.

Sign for the entrance to the Suncoast Trail.

They have a parking charge to help maintain the trail of $2.00.  Not bad.
Patty went to the clothing boutique called Under the Sun about 2 miles from here.  They gave us wine while we she shopped.  This was the waiter to put your glass on while you shopped.

This pic is a guy thing.  They are cutting down some overgrown pine trees in the park and we happened to be there to watch this one take it's fall.

Next, we hope to finally get some golf in.

Stay tuned!

Packing up and Moving on

March 17, Sunday, 2013 

This is our last day here in Seminole Resort in Davie Florida. We have been preparing for the “big leave” over the past couple of weeks. Last weekend we spent some time rearranging the basement and giving it a good cleaning. I also checked each of the 10 tires and put air in 6 of them. Then I lubricated the 4 slides with silicone.

Entrance to the park.  The carving was made this season by one of the guests.

Yesterday I filled the truck up with $4.05/G diesel fuel, washed the truck, and then filled the bed with the ladder, my bike, and the Rolleez wheelbarrow. I folded up Patty’s bike, put it in its carrying case and put it in the back seat of the truck. I also washed the awning yesterday, inside and out. That just leaves the grille, the accent lighting and our pet plant Rosie to put away on Monday morning. 

Last week we went to Haulover Beach for the last time in what may be a couple of years. We have been going to Haulover every year except one since 2003. It really is amazing how similar Haulover is to Sandy Hook in NJ. You can leave for the season or several and it’s like you never left. You walk on the beach when you have been gone and it’s like you never left, time seems to stand still. 

Haulover Beach in Sunny Isles Florida looking north

Also last week, we finally played Petanque with all of theFrench Canadians. They had their second friendly tournament and we decided to enter it. The tournament started at 9 am and went on until 4:30 in the afternoon. Petanque is played in teams and this tournament had 10 teams of 5 players in each for a total of 50 players. Our team didn't win but we had a great time and made some good shots and made a couple of points, yea us! 

The Pentanque roster with our names on it!

Left is a Bocce Ball and on the right are Pentanque balls.

We also went to what is billed the largest flee market on the East Coast, called the SWAP Shop. The market is open every day until 11:30 at night! We were there for about 3 hours and only saw maybe half of it. Patty picked up some really nice light weight summer clothing. I bought a wire stripper to replace the one I left somewhere in our travels. 

View of part of the SWAP Shop in Plantation Florida

I couldn't resist taking this picture at the SWAP Shop.

Cool cars on display at the SWAP Shop.

Last night we had a big St. Patty’s day party at the bar here. We had a meal of shepherd’s pie with broiled cabbage seasoned with bacon, YUM! Then to top it off the meal came with a green cake. All of that for the low cost of $8. Of course, Patty tended bar and was comped her meal and the tips paid for mine. After dinner we played a couple of games of Left Right Center (LRC for short). We didn't win but it was fun all the same. 

Menu for the St. Patty's Day Dinner and Party

Andre and Janelle playing while we played LRC

While we were playing LRC, Andre and Janelle played music in the background. After playing LRC, a bunch of us joined Andre and Janelle to hang out. sing and laugh a lot to finish the night off. That was great way to end our stay here.

Below are 2 video links of the fun singing last night

Ryan and Lisa relaxing at the end of the St Paddy's Day party.

Today, Sunday we will mostly relax and say our last good byes. We have made many friends here at Seminole and many have asked us to please return next year. Last night Patty and I discussed coming back next year again and came to the same conclusion that we needed to move on. We have other experiences that we need to have first before we return here. One note about the park: This RV Park is made good by the customers who live and visit here in spite of the poor and non-customer friendly management. It really is a shame that the owner of a hospitality business just doesn't seem to understand people. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the future. 

We are now ready to hitch up the wagon and move on down the road. For me, the Bob Segar lyric “and they rolled clean out of sight” will no doubt be playing in my head as we roll down Griffin Road to Alligator Ally (I75) toward Naples Florida on our way to Lutz Florida. Our plan right now is to be moving by 10 am tomorrow morning.

Some final pictures around the area.

Picture of the many horses we have seen since we arrived.  This is a walk last week near the park.

This an Iguana that we see here on most days we bike along this path.  At first I thought it was a baby alligator!

Another picture during a morning walk.  Can you see the horses ass?

New friends Peggy and Walter.

Davie city limit sign.

 Stay tuned! 

RV Washing and Parties

March 06 Wednesday, 2013   

We are getting close to the end of our stay here in South Florida. Just 11 full days left here at the Seminole RV Resort in Davie Florida. We really are ready for a change but it will still be hard to do the good byes on St. Paddy’s day weekend. We really have become good friends with a lot of people here. But life goes on and things change. We have more people to see and things to do. 

Last Wednesday we made our second trip to Haulover Beach while the weather held up. After that it got colder and it rained. So in between the rain and the extreme cold, (coldest night of the South Florida winter at 42, brrr), I got the roof washed and I put a UV protectant coat on it. It’s so much better doing that kind of work when it’s not 90 degrees! I did the roof cleaning one day and the UV protectant the next day including washing the entire exterior of the RV. I was pretty done with manual work after that. I called it my exercise for the 2 days.

In the last couple of years the resort here put in a new sewer system. Originally Seminole mostly had only electric and water hook ups. We would not have stayed here in those days without a sewer hook-up, at least not for 3 months anyway. Well, last Thursday the sewer system in our part of the park backed up and we were told not to use it. It wasn't too bad as we had just dumped our tanks so we would be OK for a week or so. Also, we could still use the bath houses for everything. 

Saturday they had a septic pump truck come out to clean out the tank. Seems that the tank is cracked and that the ground water is filling the tank! So, no more using the bathroom in our RV! Then Yesterday, Tuesday, we find out that they have “fixed” the problem so we can again use our RV sewer connection. I don’t know how it was fixed but there are pipes running from the sewer tank into the woods behind the park. In the mean time I am making sure that my tanks are not full at any given time just in case. 

We had a couple of small parties this past week. The first was when Bruce left for his home in Newfoundland last week. Then, since it has been cold we decided to make chili and have some people over for that. These small parties and the events at the bar have made it increasingly necessary to schedule a liver transplant very soon! 

Yesterday, Tuesday we made it to Haulover Beach again. Haulover Beach is about a 1 hour drive with any route we have taken. We have gone the interstate route and it gets backed up and is very stressful. The best way we have found is to take the side roads. It takes the same time, even with stoplights, but is less traffic and is more scenic. It was a number 10 day on the beach with upper-70’s and a light breeze out of the south and clear blue sky and water. We will probably go one more time next week before we leave to go up north to Lutz FL. 

This week we are entered in a Petanque tournament with the French Canadians.  Next week we start to organize the RV for traveling again!

Danny, Bruce, and Patty at Bruce's going away party

Andre playing Guitar

Andre and Danny

Dan taking a turn on the ugly stick

Good pic of Danny

Nicole, Germain and Nicole

Time for Chili - Janelle

View of Petanque being played from our back window

Turtles stacked up to get warm 

poor guy has a hole in his shell!

Nice pic of the ducks in the pond here

Robert won LRC last night

Stay tuned!