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Thursday, January 31, 2013

What Is Your Opinion?

I’m not going to start a debate on overnighting at a Walmart, Flying J or other parking lots where RVers are welcome.  Instead, I wonder what you think about the Parking Etiquette Letter that is found in each issue of the Escapees magazine.

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I understand the idea behind the letter, to educate RVers that are doing things in these free parking areas in poor taste that potentially could result in RVs no longer being welcome.  A few ruining a good thing for everyone.

Things such as staying for many days, parking in areas that are too close to the store entrances blocking customers, taking up way too many spaces, or the famous allegations that you read about in some RV forums, like setting up barbecues, and dumping tanks on the pavement.  I’ve never seen anyone set up a barbecue, chairs or dump their tanks, I think the tank dumping is an urban legend (with the exception of the Dave Matthews Band tour bus dumping its tanks off a bridge, which was well publicized and which they received a huge fine for).

If you are far away from store entrances in the corner of the parking lot, what does it matter if you put out a slide?  I conducted a non scientific poll once, in four Walmarts that I overnighted at, when I asked for permission, I asked if they would mind if I extended my slides.  Three of the four managers had no idea what a slide was, the fourth said no problem.

Common sense rules, I treat the privilege of staying overnight as I’m guest.  Sometimes I’ll pick up some trash on my way into the store, or move some shopping carts from outlying areas of the lot to the cart corrals.  I also spend money in the store (often way more than the cost of a campsite!).

What I’m not going to do is print out the Parking Etiquette letter and go around sticking it on RV’s windshields if I see their slide out, or if they’re parked wrong, or whatever.  I’m not the parking police, I’m not going to tell somebody else what they should or shouldn’t be doing.  That’s a good way to hear some unpleasant words at the least, or earn a black eye or more from someone that doesn’t appreciate my attempts to “educate” them. 

What do you think?  Should we go around and place this letter on RV’s windshields?  Isn’t overnight parking something better discussed around the campfire or on an RV forum?  Sure there’ll always be that one person that pushes the envelope of good taste, but that is something the store manager should handle.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grounded

We’ve been sitting here at our South Carolina “home” since 1 December (an new record for us) and were looking to roll out in February for warmer destinations in Florida.  We were staying longer to get our medical check ups and eye appointments out of the way.

Yesterday, I had a visit to the Veterans Administration Hospital (VA) for an eye exam.  Seems my prescription needed an update as my right eye was a little blurry.

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A new set of glasses was not in the cards, I have an early onset cataract in the eye.  This is not what we expected.

Now we’re going to have to stay here longer.  The VA will schedule me an appointment with an ophthalmologist to have them re-check the eye and then after that schedule surgery.  Not a big deal, except that it takes weeks to get appointments.  I had to wait over a month for this one. 

The one drawback with the VA is you have no control over appointments, they schedule them for you and you have no input as to when.  If we took off now for Key West, with my luck, I’d get an appointment as soon as we arrived and would have to high tail it back.  So, for now it’s the smarter thing to remain in place and wait until all the eye issues are resolved.

I’m  glad that it will be taken care of at no cost to me, so I’ve got no room to complain.  Plus, there are many more geocaches to find so we’ll have more time with our grandsons.  That’s always a good thing  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Farmville Must Die

Another Sunday afternoon with the grandsons, Andrew and Owie.  Sunday afternoons are reserved for geocaching with Mimi and Pa.

We set off for a cache that has stumped us several times before, called Farmville Must Die.  It had clever instructions on the Internet, you had to solve a number of questions and riddles, each one leading to a number.  When all the numbers were collected, it gave GPS coordinates to where the cache was located.

Except every time we hunted for this cache, we came up empty.  The boys daddy, Brian, used Google Earth to help narrow down the spot where the cache should be.

We arrive at the area armed with “poking sticks”.

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Off we went, poking and digging in the woods.

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A rabid pine cone attacked but Owie quickly dispatched it with his stick before it could bite any of us.

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Phew! That was close!  More hunting the woods.

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Then something caught Andrew’s eye.

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A little digging and victory!  Finally we found Farmville. :c)

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It had some cool trade items in the box.

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The boys picked out a couple of items and we left some trade items from our geocache swap box.

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Signing the log, then on to the next geocache.

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The next cache was full of water.  Oops!

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Oh well, the hunt was fun.

We ended the day with two finds and one cache still unlocated.  That will required some more hunting on another day.  It was close to a McDonalds and the smell of french fries was somewhat distracting.  Not a good cache to hunt when you’re hungry…

We celebrated the Farmville victory with, what else?  Ice cream, of course. :c)

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Not every day is meant to be rolling down the highway to a new location or campground.  We prioritize our full time RV life with the ability to spend quality time with all our grandkids.  And it’s working great! 

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Remedial RV Education

Looking at our busy schedule, we discovered that we had nothing pressing to do today.  Not to let the free time go to waste, we quickly filled it up, hopped in the Element and drove 109 miles to North Carolina.  Why?

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The North Carolina RV Show.  Now before you think we’re out shopping to replace the Journey, we’re certainly not.  After being on the road fulltime for almost 14 months now, we’ve finally found a place for everything and everything in its place.  A new RV would turn our system upside down and we’d probably never be able to find everything we’ve squirreled away while moving to the new RV.

It’s always fun to look, but we came for another reason.  Using my new Cannon camera was one, but not the main reason.

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I had to retire my Sony point and shoot camera, it’s gotten so much dust inside it, the picture quality was bad.  Looking at the Sony website, to have it repaired would cost $91, plus shipping.  The camera only cost $110 new and I could buy a new Cannon on sale for $99.  It was a no brainer, even for me.  All the pictures in this post are with the new camera, I’m pretty pleased with it.

But there was another reason.  Keep reading.

The show was about 90% pop ups, travel trailers and fifth wheels.  There were many nice units, for all price points.  Lots of fancy fivers,

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with some serious outside kitchens for tailgaters.

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Some toy haulers had beds in the garage for the kids, or the husband when he misbehaves.  Better than being banished to the couch by the lady of the (house) trailer.

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There was a micro pop up for a tight budget,

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And a real bare bones unit for tighter budget.  Sides and roof were optional.

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We looked at the new Winnebago line of travel trailers, we were impressed with the quality they had built in to them, just like their motorhomes.  Of course, the colors were not something I’d choose.

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On the motor home front, I was very impressed with the Winnebago Vista, it had a great floor plan, compete with bunk beds and full body paint for a very reasonable price.  The Vista is an entry level unit that has great value for the money.

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There were vendors, but most of them were not RV related.  Gutter covers, bathroom fixtures, cooking ware were among the vendors.  RV supplies were pretty lacking.

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There was a new Class B built on the new Nissan van.  It has a pop top roof like the VW buses of years ago.

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We even met the only honest RV salesman in the whole place.

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The real reason, though that we came was to see Howard and Linda Payne from RV Dreams. They were at the show to present their excellent seminars on full time RVing.  We’ve been to a couple of their rallies where we learned about the ins and outs of the full time lifestyle.

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We sat in their seminar to review how we’re doing.  Fortunately, we’re doing great.  It wouldn’t be a good thing to find out we’re doing everything wrong after full timing for about 14 months. Phew!

We passed on the few outside RVs on display.  There was freezing rain and we decided we’d better head for home because of the bad weather.

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The roads were slick and we crawled home.  Slow and steady but we got home in one piece. 

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A good day, despite the bad weather. Even better, a new RV did not follow us home. ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Home From “Vacation”

My boat shoes squished as I walked again, well at least my right one did.  Another disaster like the last time when my sewer hoses disconnected in my hands as I was dumping the black tank?

No, but to prove I can have a mis-adventure anywhere, while driving the car back from visiting our kids in PA and NJ, I managed to dump a whole, large Diet Coke into my shoe.  That will certainly keep you from getting groggy behind the wheel.

Our two sons, Ryan and Corey live just 107 miles apart, in PA and NJ, respectively.  After our visit with Ryan’s family, we had to say good bye to the girls, Taylor and Kierra,

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and little Rebekah, who was getting quite annoyed at me for trying to get the perfect picture of her.  For some reason, she doesn’t like the flash on my camera.

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Okay, here’s one I did manage to get before she threw some Cheerios at me.

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We hoped in the Element and drove the 107 miles to see little Anabelle.

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She’s having fun learning to walk, she is almost there.  We had a good visit with her and Corey and Amanda.

While we were in NJ, we took a drive down to the nearby shore to see the damage from Superstorm Sandy.  We lived at the NJ shore for 11 years and wondered how our Coast Guard base at Sandy Hook faired.  We couldn’t even get out on the peninsula where the base and our old home is (was?) located.

We drove along Main Street in the next two towns, Long Beach and Monmouth Beach and were saddened to see all the destruction.

Long Branch has a huge parking lot behind the fire station.  It was filled with tons and tons of sand removed from the streets.  The little dot on top of the sand over the mirror is a man. (Click to enlarge)

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All the Main Street stores are boarded up where the ocean waves washed through.

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Houses were severely damaged, too. 

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Some homes were being repaired.

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Others still had blue tarps on their roofs.

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It was heartbreaking to see the damage and the challenges the people that live here are going through.  Most houses are not habitable and the police are enforcing a curfew, from 5pm to 8am to prevent looting.  I hope that FEMA, Congress and the State of NJ can act fast to help these poor people.  I hope too, that the insurance companies don’t drag their feet and screw these people around.

We enjoyed the two and a half day visit to Corey’s, but when we awoke to this, we knew it was time to head South!

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We split the trip to our South Carolina “home” into two days, just like we did on the trip up.  712 miles is a long way to travel, even in a car and even with my PDD.

We enjoyed the night in another Hampton Inn and the ride together talking about things.  We enjoyed the sights, too, including this driver next to us at a gas station.

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Passing The Anchors

One of the sayings in the Coast Guard is you should be training your replacement.  I took it one step further…I fathered mine.  My son Ryan has been in the Coast Guard now for twelve years and I got to partake in another time honored tradition.  I passed on to him my Chief Petty Officer anchors now that he has earned that promotion.

These anchors were mine and I wore them proudly on my uniform.  They proudly adorn Ryan’s uniform now that he is also a Chief.

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Ryan is stationed in Philadelphia on the USCGC CAPSTAN, an ice breaking harbor tugboat.

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We spent a little time visiting the tug prior to Ryan’s promotion ceremony.  Taylor and Kierra had to try out the helm.

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The engine room brought back memories for me.  It has a 500 HP Cat diesel and two Onan generators.

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Finally, it was time for the promotion ceremony in the conference room.  Many people were crammed in to see the action.

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The Officer in Charge of Ryan’s cutter read the promotion certificate.

Then I had a chance to relate the story of my anchors and remember the Chief that had taken me under his wing and mentored me in my career.  He had passed these anchors to me years ago.   I wished Ryan to have the same great success as a Chief Petty Officer as I had.

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Next, Ryan’s wife, Amber and I placed my anchors onto Ryan’s uniform.

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The Chief Petty Officer (E-7) wears a different hat, too than the junior enlisted (E-1 to E-6).  It has an anchor on it instead of the Coast Guard shield.

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Taylor put the Chief’s hat on her daddy’s head.

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An emotional moment for the new Chief.  (Marti was fighting back tears, too).

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After the ceremony, we had some family pictures taken.  Ryan, Amber, Taylor, Kierra and little Rebekah. A happy Coast Guard family on this special day.

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And proud parents of the new Chief.

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The hat and the promotion certificate.

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Then next Chief Petty Officer in the family?

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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