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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

At The Finish Line

We continued our slow trip to Missouri, making another two day stop in Illinois at the Crab Orchard NWR to visit with our friends Denny and Mary.  They work with us at the J. Strom Thurmond COE project in the winter months and volunteer at Crab Orchard for the summer.

We had a great visit and took a trip to the Giant City Lodge for an all-you-can-eat chicken dinner.  The lodge was built by the CCC during the 1930's.  It is an amazing building that has withstood the test of time.  To think this stonework was done without modern tools by hardworking young men.

 
There is a monument to those hardworking young men whose sweat and hard labor has given us so many wonderful parks and places for us to enjoy today.
 
 
After our two day stay, we hit the road, traveling just a short 175 miles to see our four granddaughters that live in Missouri.  The trip went well, but we're still plagued with that alarm whistle that goes off whenever it wants to, caused by that defective wiring harness.  Thank goodness it is intermittent, and we have a radio that we can turn up to help drown out the noise.  We won't be able to get to the Freightliner Service Center in Gaffney, SC until mid September to get it repaired so I'm going to see if I can get the new wiring harness sent to me and install it myself.  It's not a big job and the peace and quiet will be worth it.
 
We have adjusted our travels, our plans to go to the Winnebago Factory Service Center fell through, the earliest appointment we could get was for mid August, when we have to be in New Jersey.  I have to figure out if I can do the work myself on our large slide, the plastic slide guides are cracking and need replacement.  I have to research if there is a way I can do this myself without heavy lifting equipment.  Or I can put it off until a later date, but the cracks are worrying me.
 
However, it's not all bad.  We are looking forward to a great month with the girls.  It's worth it all.
 
 
Me and 1 year old Charlie (Charlotte), my new BFF.
 
Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.
 
 
PS:  Sorry if this post doesn't come across properly, Live Writer is out of sorts and I had to do this post on Blogger.   :c(

Monday, May 25, 2015

Never Forget

 

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Holiday Weekend Travel

We try not to travel on weekends, period, because many repair services that one could potentially need are unavailable.  So how is we we’re not only traveling on a weekend, but a Holiday Weekend?

Sometimes priorities take precedence over smart practices and there are four lovely granddaughters anxiously awaiting our arrival in Missouri for the next month.  So the heck with weekend travel, we’re going to push on through.

Of course, a holiday weekend means a scarcity of campgrounds, house bound folks use this opportunity to get moving and enjoy the great outdoors.  Unusual for our point-to-point style of travel, this month long trip for us has found us traveling shorter daily distances and making good use of our Passport America membership.  We’ve been extremely pleased with the campgrounds we’ve used that have been very nice, while saving us a great deal of money.

Tonight our luck ran our and no campgrounds we looked to stay in had any openings, including an Escapees campground.  But we were not deterred and are tucked in for the night at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Tennessee.  The management graciously gave us permission and we get to enjoy not only dinner but breakfast, too.

It’s a tough life we lead.  :c)

Around five hundred miles left to go, but we’re going to do that over two (maybe three!) days, it’s almost like I’ve been cured of the PDD driving style…

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Cedar Key, Florida

A visit to this wonderful little island on Florida’s West coast has been on our bucket list for a long time.  Since we were traveling up said coast, we pulled the trigger and drove over.

Cedar Key has a reputation of being a place where the 1950’s visited and never left.  After our stay, we’d agree with that.  All incredibly friendly people, small businesses and colorful homes with nary a Wal-Mart in sight.

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Humorous signs were all over the town.

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I’m not sure if the buzzard by the “Marriages  Performed” sign had anything to do with how long wedded bliss would or wouldn’t last.

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I even got a pelican to remain in one place long enough for me to actually get a bird picture.  How’s that, Judy, Nancy and Sherry?  :c)

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One of the main reasons we wanted to visit Cedar Key was to meet Pat and Cindy Bonish, who write the blog Every Miles a Memory.  I’ve been a reader for years and they’ve settled down in Cedar Key and run the Low Key Hideaway Motel and RV Park.

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The best part of their business is their Tiki Bar right behind the motel.

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It is a wonderful, colorful, eclectic place where locals, friends and travelers gather with Pat and Cindy for a great social time.  We enjoyed getting to know Pat and Cindy and in no time felt like we’d been friends forever. 

The Tiki Bar is covered with all kinds of hilarious decorations and license plates from every American state as well as many international ones.  We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to contribute and we gave Pat one of our old “R SANITY” license plates that adorned the Journey when we lived in Virginia. (You can see the plate on the Journey in our header picture, taken before we retired and changed our domicile to South Dakota).

We left this morning to continue our trek to St. Louis.  Both Marti and I felt if we ever had the opportunity to buy a slice of Florida, it would be in Cedar Key.  :c)

PS:  I neglected to mention the best Key Lime Pie I found in Key West was from the Key Lime Pie and Coconut Factory.  A big slice of frozen Key Lime Pie on a popsicle stick dipped in dark chocolate.  Nothing can be more decadent than that…and delicious!   :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Attacked By A Gator

After two days of chillin’ in Naples, we hit the road this morning heading North along the Florida West coast.  A lovely day, the sun was shining and the Journey purred along the highway.

Then it happened!  Out of nowhere, we were attacked by a vicious “Gator”.

The truck in front of us ran over a large piece of a truck’s tire laying on the road, throwing it right in front of us.  It was a split second and there was no where to maneuver even though I tired to move as far to the right as I could, but the Journey’s left front wheel hit it. 

As we ran over the about six foot long piece of rubber, I heard it bounce underneath the Journey and then saw it being thrown out the side as the rear wheels ran over it.  I slowed down and kept scanning the gauges looking for any signs of damage to the radiator like happened to Bill and Nancy's motorhome, but everything stayed in the normal range.

A little further down the road I pulled in to a Flying J to look over the Journey to see if there was any damage.  There was a bit, a scuff mark on the compartment door behind the rear wheels,

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a bent mud flap,

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and a further scuff mark on the front left bumper of our toad.

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I bent the mud flap back as best as I could, I’ll have to take it off to straighten it perfectly, a job for a later time.  The scuff marks will buff out, so all in all, the gator attack left us with some superficial wounds.

It could have been worse, like we saw today as we traveled.  At an RV dealership near the highway, there was a motorhome fully engulfed in flames on the lot, with motorhomes on each side of it burning as well.  It was a reminder that even when some unexpected problem strikes you, it could have been worse.

We’ve stopped for two days in Cedar Key, Florida, we’ve had this place on our bucket list for a long time.  We’re looking forward to enjoying this quant little town and getting a wee bit of rest.  :c)

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

So Long, Key West

It only took us ten years to return to Key West from our last visit.  We’ve vowed not to wait that long for our next visit, we’re already talking about next winter.

We had a good time, strangely our visit became more of a social experience, meeting up with blog friends, new friends, and of course our niece and our long lost “daughter”.

We did get into downtown Key West on a number of occasions, I really enjoyed looking at the treasure at Mel Fisher's store.  I tried to convince Marti that a Spanish Piece Of Eight coin would make a wonderful item to hang on a necklace, but the several thousand dollar cost made her nix that idea.

Mallory Square at sundown was really interesting, seeing some of the street performers.  Some were interesting, like this girl who twirled flaming hula hoops while wearing a bikini (how does one embark on such a career?).

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Most of the performers (and for some I use that term very loosely) forbid you from taking any pictures.  Then they wanted to sell you their own DVD.  Um, no thanks, your show wasn’t that good in the first place…but here’s a dollar, go buy yourself some soap and take a bath.

One guy our niece, Emily wanted to see.  The “Cat Man”.  My opinion of him was somewhere a mental institution is missing a resident.  All he did was chase around his cats, who for the most part didn’t want anything to do with him instead of perform.

But, it’s all part of Key West’s charm and was worth checking out.  I really got a kick out of some of the vehicles that reside in Key West.  This one apparently is parked under a coconut palm on a regular basis.

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We met Emily and her boyfriend Brandon and had dinner with them up on Stock Island. 

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Marti has a severe sea food allergy, so she had fried chicken instead of the fried Hogfish and Grouper the rest of us had.  Big mistake.  Evidently they fried the chicken in the same oil as the fish and she paid for it.  I was worried that I was going to have to take her to the emergency room, but after a bad night, she bounced back.  Next time, she said she’ll stick to salads.

We laughed over the way they forecast the weather on Stock Island:

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We spent some pleasurable time with our other “daughter”, Jen.  She grew up with our daughter Heather, and they were joined at the hip until they both went off to college.  Jen married a Coastie, who was stationed in Key West and had just retired.  They are moving back to New Jersey and Jen’s husband had already left to job hunt while Jen remained behind to finish out her school year teaching job.

We  sat each evening and ensured the sun went down while catching up on each other’s lives and families.  The last night I tried and tried and tried to get a picture of Jen and Marti, but Marti kept closing her eyes.  It became hilarious, so this is the best I could get out of about ten tries.

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We rolled out at 9:30 this morning and headed back up the long bridges towards the mainland, enjoying the beautiful blue waters.

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So unlike us, we only traveled 235 miles and we stopped for the next two days at the Naples RV Resort, where we stayed on the way down.  We actually arrived at 2:30, too. 

Probably as close to the 2-2-2 system that we’ll ever get.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Social Butterflies

Not only have we been enjoying the many things to do around Key West, we’ve had a bunch of visits with friends and relatives here.

Our niece, Emily, lives in Key Largo and works as a tour guide for an ocean kayaking business.  She is an amazing young lady and quite an adventurer.

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She is a certified scuba diver and loves to spend as much time under the waves as she does above them.  She told us recently she was diving and a hammerhead shark swam right over her.  She reached out and touched it as it swam by.

Marti, not to be outdone had to reach out and touch a hammerhead shark, too.  I think she is touching the wrong end…

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We went to Mallory Square,

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and even had our own tour guide.

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Some of Key West’s sights are amazing.

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Not just the decorated trucks we’ve seen around town, but the sunsets right in front of our campground take your breath away.

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In my quest for the best Key Lime pie, I’ve tried a slice from Publix that so many gave a thumbs up to.

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It was okay, but it didn’t have that sharp lime zing to it.  So far, my favorite is from the Key Lime Pie Factory.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped looking (tasting) yet!  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Finally Set Up In Key West

We spent just two nights in the boondock section of the Naval Station Key West campground.  They have generator hours from 7am to 11pm, which made for some interesting sleeping conditions.

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We cranked up the air conditioner (actually set the temp way down), closed off the bedroom and shut all the registers in the front of the Journey to force as much cold air into the bedroom as possible.  At 11pm, I had to shut everything down and turn off the generator.  The cool air in the bedroom lasted a couple of hours, then it got hot (93 degrees) and sticky.  I have a 12 volt fan that we put in a window to try and keep some air moving and it worked fairly well.  I also set my alarm for 7am, so when it went off, I jumped up, started the a/c and we enjoyed another hour or so of cool sleeping before starting our day.

I found a note stuck in our door saying we had an assigned spot in the FHU area of the campground as of 10 am this morning.  We pulled chocks and got over there a couple of minutes after 10.  It’s a nice spot, and the FHUs are just great.

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Because we’re right next to some palm trees, I had to break out my portable satellite dish, the rooftop receiver was unable to get a clear signal.  As I went inside to connect the cable to the DVR, I left a basement door open from where I store the dish.  When I came out, there was a 2 foot long iguana poking his nose into the compartment.  I said “Boo!” to him and he ran off and climbed up the palm tree next to the Journey.

Note to self:  Add check all basement compartments for stowaways before leaving Key West.  ;c)

The FHUs are wonderful, with the a/c running, it should be a great night’s sleep.

We were happy to break away from the cool inside of the Journey to head a few miles up the Keys to meet up with Karen and Al, fellow full time RVers, who have an RV lot nearby. 

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We’ve gotten to know them via our blogs and Facebook, but nothing beats sitting down and chatting in person.  They had a favorite eatery right on the water where we met and had a great time.  They introduced me to a Hogfish sandwich, which was just great, a new favorite for me.  I can see a few less hogfish in the ocean and on my plate while I’m here in Key West this week.

We have a niece, Emily, we’re going to meet on Wednesday, who lives up in Key Largo, as well as a young lady, Jen, who grew up with our daughter when we were stationed in New Jersey.  She is married to a Coastie who is stationed here in Key West.  Jen was our “second daughter” and we’ll enjoy seeing her, too.

 I have another mission to accomplish here in Key West.  I have to find and sample the best Key Lime pie, should be a fun task.  I didn’t gain any weight on our recent cruise, so this is a chance to make up for it!  :cD

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.                    

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Key West, Baby!

We did a look back, the last time Marti and I were in Key West was in December 2004.  We were there over New Years Eve, where they dropped a conch shell from a pole over Sloppy Joe’s Cafe to celebrate the New Year.  Only in Key West.

We talked about returning for years and we finally made it.  (Phew!).  After our glass repair, we headed on down the Florida West Coast.  We tried to stay off the toll roads and ended up on many local roads, lots of traffic and stop lights.  We’ll certainly plan our route back North much more carefully.

But all was not lost.  We found a great Passport America Park in Naples, FL, the Naples RV Resort.  The word “Resort” is usually means “expensive” but with the Passport America discount, we had a FHU 50amp site for $22.  Can’t beat that.  Plus, they had a great pool, where we cooled off for quite a while.

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When this park was built, they kept lots of the natural trees, so it made it even more beautiful, as well as cool and shady.

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We set off this morning at 10:45, and drove 225 miles to the Navy Base on Key West.  Along the way we made a stop to say hello to a Florida native, he even smiled for the camera.

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We enjoyed the beautiful sights of the ocean as we crossed many of the Overseas Highway Bridges.

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Unfortunately, the road wasn’t always a clear as this, there was lots of slow moving traffic.

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We arrived at the Sigsbee Naval Air Station Key West Campground.  Of course, there are no FHU sites available right now, so we had to go into the boondock section.  They use a rotation here so in about two days we should be able to rotate into a FHU site.  FHU sites are only for two weeks and then you’d have to go into the boondock section until another FHU site opened up.  It’s a fair system and everyone takes a turn. 

Generator hours are from 7am to 11pm.  With temps right about 93 degrees right now, it could be a tough couple of nights sleeping without a/c.  Thank goodness we have a nice 12v fan and three big batteries to get us through the night.

Of course, you can’t complain about the view!

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We’ll be meeting some RV friends down here and our niece who lives on Key Largo.  Hope we don’t wear ourselves out from all the fun!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Window Repair Shop

I went on the tour of how Suncoast Designers repairs fogged windows.  A short, 15 minute tour, but interesting all the same.

First, the removed windows are brought into the shop and taken apart at a large, rug covered table.  One tech will do all the windows on each job, whether the RV has one window or fourteen.

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Some windows have the glass “etched” by the moisture inside it and cannot be used, so the glass is placed in the discard pile.  Yep, both of my panes were in the pile.  It doesn’t take long for moisture to damage the glass, our window started fogging just about three months ago.  Rats!

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The shop orders new glass to replace the damaged ones, they don’t make the glass here and because the glass is tempered, it has to be made to specific size.  Tempered glass cannot be cut.  Fortunately, they keep a large stock of standard size RV glass in stock, so having to order a pane isn’t too common. 

The next step is to run all the glass, both new and used, through a special washing and drying machine.

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The cleaned glass is then sent into a special, humidity controlled room, where both pieces of glass are assembled with a new seal.

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There are three sizes of seals used, depending on the RV window manufacturer.

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Once the new seal is placed in between the glass panes, the assembled window is sent to an oven/press to heat and permanently bond the panes together.

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After the glass has cooled, the new seal is in place.

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The finished window is placed in a rack awaiting reinstallation into the RV.

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Suncoast does not put any gases inside the windows, unlike some thermopane window manufacturers that do, they just leave low humidity air in the windows.  Their process must be good, because they warranty their window repairs for ten years.

Later, three techs came out to install my new window.  They carefully aligned, sealed and screwed it in place.

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Fifteen minutes later, it was done.  Now the sealant will cure overnight.  Tomorrow morning they are going to water test it and ensure there are no leaks.  Then we’ll hit the road (after I pay the bill) down the West coast to Key West.  Hope to be there in three or so days.  :c)

Update:  The window passed the water test, the techs cleaned it up so it’s spotless.  The bill for the repair:  $247.  I was expecting $300-$400, so I’m pleased.  Money saved for Key West!  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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