Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Getting ready for DISNEY!!

May 25 Saturday, 2013   

We will be leaving Paradise Pines this coming Tuesday after being here for 10 weeks on Monday.  Florida has been our home for a little over 5 months now! We doubt we will stay still anywhere this long again, at least anytime very soon.  Three months is long enough to stay put and out of the cold. 

Sitting still has a couple of advantages though.  You get to know a lot of people and you save some money.  We save money in 2 main ways, much less fuel in the truck and campground fees are roughly half the cost of daily fees.  Since I wasn't really watching how we spent money when we started I'm not completely sure about our spending habits when traveling.  However, I believe we are spending more on entertainment and clothing sitting still.  Still, we are saving more than we are spending.  This will allow us to spread out the spending on fuel and higher camping rates as we travel this summer.

This past week, we spent some time making breakfasts to freeze for Disney with the Grandkids next week.  Monday we made 30 slices of French toast and froze them. That should be enough for 2 breakfasts. Then on Thursday we made the 1st batch of pancakes and then ran out of mix.  So on Friday, we went to Wally World (Wal-Mart) and got more mix and made the 2nd batch for a total of 50 pancakes.  That should be enough for 2 more breakfasts for a total of 4 so far.  We plan to go to Wally World to finish up food shopping on Monday morning by getting fresh stuff.  We are planning to have most of the breakfast meals at our site.  The rest of the meals will be out.

Tuesday we decided to get the front side windows tinted the same as the rear and rear side windows on the truck.  There is a lot of competition here in Florida for tinting so we got a good deal here.  We did it for a couple of good reasons like making the interior cooler and making it easier on our eyes with the sun while driving.  We also did it because the truck looks so much better with the windows the same tint now.  We like it very much. 

You can usually tell who is leaving the resort when they wash their rig.  So Monday I washed ours so everyone would know that we are leaving.  Too make sure everyone knows, we washed the truck on Wednesday.  

This morning, I am going to top off all of the tires with air.  I already know from the tire pressure monitor that I have 3 low tires, 2 on the truck and one on the RV.  After we post this I will be right out getting this done before it gets too hot.  Did I say it was 96 yesterday!

Tonite we are invited to our new friends', John and Christiana, place in Lake Como for pink cocktails.  We are told these are made with tequila rose, vanilla and vodka.  This should be a good time to see them once more before we leave.

Then tomorrow we will pack the truck.  Packing the truck requires putting my bike on its side up near the cab, the ladder goes behind the 5th wheel hitch, and I'm hoping that our friend Cindy’s bike will lie on top of the ladder under the 5th wheel.  Patty’s bike will sit folded behind the driver’s seat.  Next, we will put the big red cooler with all of the drinks we have for Disney on the other side of Patty’s bike.  Monday we will get Ice and fill the cooler.  

Monday, we finish up packing the RV.  When we sit for a long time we tend to use the basement (outside storage compartment) for storing sun screen, bug spray, and extra beverages.  Now we need to put away the grille, camp stove, chairs, and outside lights in the place of those other things we have in there now.  It’s all very easy, just takes a little time.

Leaving day Tuesday, we will follow our usual leaving scenario.   Patty does the inside stuff like securing the cabinet doors and pulling in the 4 slides.  This time she the added job of putting our plant Rosey in the shower.  She has gotten too big here in Florida to ride in truck with us.  I do the outside stuff like draining the tanks, putting away the water and sewer hoses, and then putting away the electrical cable after disconnecting it.  Then we connect the truck and we are off to Disney.  All of this takes us about 45 minutes; but maybe an hour this time since we haven't done it for a while. 

Next week the Grandkids and their parents arrive at Disney on Wednesday Morning.  I am thinking that making a Blog post next week may be hard to do.  

Patty with her cousin Lee who lives in Tampa.

Us at the comedy club Slide Splitters on Thursday night.  We won free tickets.

Ok, so I saw this at Wally World and thought it was funny!

Stay tuned!

Truck Maintenance, Sunsets and “Bye Bye Love” Bugs that is!

May 17 Friday, 2013  

The love bugs are all but gone now!  Yippee!! The damn things were so bad on Monday and Tuesday we didn't really go outside.  

I took the truck to Wesley Chapel Ford on Monday to get the AC checked out.  I found out that the AC is covered under the extended warranty with a $100 deductible.  Believe me there is nothing under $100 on this size truck!  Even an oil change is $107 last time I had it done.  Come to find out I need to have the condenser replaced at a cost of $425 which I thought was very reasonable.  Also found out that the truck has a leaking pinion seal.  All of this work would be $750 but just cost us $200 under the warranty from Wholesale Warranties.  So far I am very pleased with this warranty company.

I waited at Ford until noon when they told me that truck would not be done until around 6 in the evening.  So Ford gave me ride back to the RV.  Then around 5 Ford called and said that the wrong condenser was sent so the truck would be done first thing in the morning.  Not a problem for us at that point.  The next day, Tuesday, Ford called and said the truck would be done by the end of the day.  They said that the shop air compressor failed and was being fixed.  The mechanics didn't have air to run their air tools.  Then at 5 Ford called and said the air isn't fixed yet and asked if I would like a loaner car.  I took them up on the loaner as we needed to get some stuff at Wal-Mart and it would be easier to go get the truck when they were done with it.  

The truck was finally finished on Wednesday evening and the AC works great again!  A good thing as it was 91 degrees when I picked up the truck.  Just want to say that I really like driving the truck over a car.  The loaner car, Ford Focus, was very low to the ground and has huge blind spots with little mirrors.  In the truck I don’t need move my head much at all to see all around and over everything on the road.  Cars now just seem so unsafe now!

Friday we went for a bike ride on the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.  The trail is about 12 miles south from us.  This is another Rails to Trails trail.   We have come to love these trails as they are mostly flat and do not have motorized vehicles on them.  The Upper Tampa Bay Trail is just over 7 miles long.  We accessed the trail about ¾ of a mile from the north end and rode all the way to the South end and then back for a total of 13 miles.  That is a good ride for us.  The ride took us around 2 hours with water breaks and me taking pictures.  

Patty's folding bike rides here behind the drivers seat.

Bridge over the highway

Rickety wooded Bridge

Water break

Another cool bridge

Tree canopy along the trail, Patty way up ahead.

Bridge under the RR tracks

The bike trails here in Florida are absolutely GREAT!  We are going to miss these when we go north.  Between the many free beaches and pedestrian paths and sun, Florida makes so very easy to be outside.  We are not so sure Texas next winter can live up to our experiences here in Florida.

Friday night we took a sunset wine cruise at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach in the Gulf of Mexico.  The weather and sky were perfect for a sunset.  We have seen sunsets in Hawaii but the one last night was the best I have ever seen.  It was 80 degrees with just a light sea breeze from the west and smooth water.  The boat just glided effortlessly out into the blue/green waters of the Gulf.  As the sun set behind some light clouds the whole shy lit up with streams of light. For about 15 minutes all you could hear were cameras and ooos and ahhhs.  The cruise lasted about 2 hours and just cost us $35 which included unlimited wine and beer!  Of course we prevailed ourselves of the neverending glass of wine!

Signing people in for the cruise

This is the sunset pirate cruise.  Lots of kids with paper pirate hats

Another sunset cruise with a shark boat

Patty checking out construction on our new beach house, NOT!

Our beach house under construction, we wish!

Heading out to the Gulf of Mexico

Pier 60 from the water

Then there was this!

Then it was gone

Patty taking in the sunset and views

Now, a note about rig maintenance.  The RV refrigerator developed a broken door handle.  We can still use the refrigerator but the top part of the freezer handle is broken.  We had planned to have the RV wheel bearings repacked when we are in NJ in July at Camping World of New Jersey in Lakewood.  We called them this week to get an appointment for our time in NJ.  We also asked if they could replace the refrigerator handle under warranty while we are there.  They said they could replace the handle but it would take up to 2 weeks to get there.  Also, we found out that the handles are now made of metal instead of plastic like we have.  We called Dometic (the manufacturer) and were told the replacement would be metal.  

I sent an e-mail to Jeff Rank at Primetime Manufacturing, who built our Sanibel 3500, explaining our issue.  The next day Camping World calls us and said that Prime Time is shipping them 4 new refrigerator handles for our Sanibel RV.  They will put the handles on when we arrive in July! We have had nothing but good service from Prime Time during the build and while we are on the road.  Thanks Jeff!! 

Our fridge.  A little cluttered.

The broken part of the handle is at the top just left of the middle screw

This week while staying away from the Love bugs we are just about done with our 2013 travel plan.  The basic plan is as follows:

June: Disney World, Indiana, New Jersey

July: Sunny Rest in PA, Friends Driveway in NJ

August: Elmira NY, Buffalo NY, Detroit MI, Mackinaw Island MI, Badlands SD, Devils Tower WY

September: Cody WY, Yellowstone WY, Bryce Canyon UT, Grand Canyon AZ, Petrified Forest AZ

October: Albuquerque NM Balloon Festival, Texas State Fair, Brownsville/South Padre Island TX

November: Rio Grande Valley TX, (Store rig and fly North for Thanksgiving – Christmas)

December: Natures Resort in the Rio Grande Valley TX (This will be our winter spot until March 2014)

This is just the basic plan.  We have dozens of stops along the way we add in as we go along.

This week we will be getting ready for Disney and starting our 2013 travel season.  This involves, among other things, checking tires, batteries, washing the rig (truck and RV), and repacking the basement storage.

Our plant Rosy is doing great here in Florida.  She has over 30 blooms on her!

Stay tuned!

Love Bugs, Beach, and Grateful Dead

May 12 Sunday, 2013  

This week has been the week the Love Bugs came out.  Millions and Millions of the fornicating bugs.  They look like lightening bugs in the north without the light.  They are 99% mated together and fly in tandem.  They don't bite or sting, they are just annoying.  The swarms can get so big that they can stop traffic by completely covering your windshield and they can cover the radiator making your vehicle overheat!  They are also very fragile so when they land on you and you try to push them off their bodies just fall apart.  Yuk!  The love bugs are all around the pool and outside our RV.  To get away from them you need to stay in the pool.  We are told that they will be gone in a few more days.  They come back again for a couple of weeks in September.  We won’t be here for that, thankfully!

Love Bug on the towel with it's mate stuck to it.

This week we finally got to a Gulf beach.  We went to one of the highest rated beaches in the country, Caladesi Island.  The only way to get on the beach is by boat.  We took the regular ferry over to the island which leaves every ½ hour starting at 10 am.  The island also has a 2.5 mile nature trail that we walked for a total of 5 miles walking.  I bring the 5 miles walking up as we also walked a mile to the ferry first. We parked outside the park on the causeway and then walked in with our new beach chair back packs.  Anyway, we walked 7 miles in 86 degree heat!  We were ready for the AC in the truck for the ride home!

The ferry to the island cost $14 each, $13 each with our dollar off coupon, for a total of $26.  It was also $2 each to walk into the park to get to the ferry.  Sort of expensive for a day at the beach.  The nice thing about Caladesi Island is that the amount of people is limited by the amount of people on the ferries.  So you really do have the beach to yourself almost.

We left the truck on the causeway so we could walk into the park to get the ferry.  It only saves $4 but we like the exercise and to enjoy the views.

Ferry to and from Caladesi Island
A pair of dolphins followed us to the island.  Could only get this picture.

Entrance to Caladesi Island

The beach is all natural.  No sand cleaning machines here.  The sand is like powder.

View on the nature trail.

Another scenic view on the nature trail.

We waded into the water but it was a little cold for us at 77 degrees.  It’s a weird thing, but we have become accustom to the warm weather here in Florida now.  Water and air below 80 is now cool.  We never thought we would become like this with the air temperature.  We were freezing one evening during our walk after dinner when it got down to 69 degrees!  What are we going to do up North now!

Thursday night we went to see the musical group Uncle Johns Band at a local Restaurant/Pub called Skippers Smokehouse.  We attended with our friend, Christiana, from Seminole who is now living next door at Lake Como.   Christiana also reads Tarot cards so Patty got a reading while I finished getting dinner ready for us before we went to see the band.  The band played just like the Dead did at the only concert I saw them at in NY many years ago.  After each song the musicians tuned up for a few minutes and there was a significant intermission; can instruments go out of tune that quickly .  Also the same were the large amount of people dancing and small kids were dancing too.  The Dead just makes everybody feel happy.

Skippers Stage

Christiana getting ready for the show

Patty and Christiana during the show

Yesterday, Saturday we went to Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach.  This is sort of the Tampa areas South Beach.  There are many vendors and street performers and beach type restaurants.  We picked Crabby Bill's for dinner and weren't disappointed. The food was very good for beach food.  Our impression of the Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater area is that it is very family friendly and Pier 60 backed that up.  There are lots of stuff for kids and for adults to do.  The area also feels so much safer than the Miami area.  It’s less about Bling and more about a good time by all.

Dolphin art in Clearwater beach

Looking back at Clearwater Beach from Pier 60


Old ship just off the beach

More sunset.  The sunset is one of the reasons to come here.

Getting ready to show a movie at Clearwater Beach.

Crabby Bills

A lot of the restaurants use these to ferry people around at the beach.  This is also what we have rented for Disney,

2 of these toads were on our RV last night when we got back from Clearwater Beach.

One down side yesterday was the truck AC.  The truck has exceptional AC but yesterday when we started to leave the RV park the AC just wouldn't get cold.  It got cool enough to be comfortable with the outside being about 90 but not to the usual standard.  Even at 90 outside I should be turning the AC down in 10 minutes of driving.  Not this time.  So it looks like a service run to Ford this coming week.  We bought an extended service contract on the truck and the RV before we left last year, now I need to check if that is covered.

Lastly this week we finally got a golf cart for the 10 days we are at the campground in Disney.  From all of the reviews we have read we really need to have a golf cart because the park is so big.  Ok then what might Disney charge for a cart, $85/day!  So, we shopped around the area and got a cart for $55/day from a dealer outside the park.  There are 7 of us so we got a 6 passenger cart.  We are thinking that since the kids are small we will be OK with that.  We will see how this goes as Disney does not allow, supposedly, outside dealers to do business on their property.  The cart dealer we are using is bringing the cart to us at our site inside Disney.  We have read other reviews where people have done this successfully with this vendor so we will see!

We have just 2 more weeks here and we don't have much left to do.  We have a couple more bike trails we want to ride, a sunset cruise in Tampa Bay that we have tickets for, and we still need to get some BBQ from  Hungry Harry's BBQ just up the road.  Hungry Harry's is reputed to have the best BBQ pulled pork around so we just have to have it!  Then the last week we will be getting ready for Disney and for starting our 2013 travel plans.  More about that next post.

Stay tuned!