Catching Up With the Blog

Yes, I have really been slacking off when it comes to blogging and even reading the email lately.  I had been staying up too late and losing sleep.  It’s a bit too late for beauty sleep but, I’m feeling more refreshed these recent mornings.

Aside from looking at houses, we did have a couple nice visits with friends recently.

Bill and Mary Snow, neighbors in Key by the Sea in Marathon stopped in Newport on their way south.  Normally, they would have taken I-95, but the hurricane encouraged them to plan a different, more westerly route. We took them to Big Creek, where they met the famous Spence.  He was furiously blowing leaves off the roadways when we pulled up.  Then, we took them to the second best attraction in the area, Mellow Mushroom for pizza. Here they are in Big Creek.

b01-andy-with-bill-and-mary-snow
Andy with Bill and Mary Snow in Big Creek

I was looking at houses on the internet one night when I realized that we probably had been very close to Bob and Marthanne Foster when we were out driving around.  I looked up their address and realized we had been about fifteen minutes from their house.  I called them up and arranged a visit.  Bob and Marthanne were boat neighbors in Solomons, MD one or two summers. Notice that  sling.  Bob recently had rotator cuff surgery. Like a couple of old people, we compared surgery notes.

b02-andy-marthanne-and-bob-foster
Andy with Marthanne and Bob Foster

 

We said goodbye to Lee and Roseanna, our excellent neighbors for two months in Newport, Tennessee.  Ack!  I didn’t get a picture of them.  Maybe they’ll accept my offer of our hide-a-bed for a visit to Marathon this winter. Then, on November 1, we left town at 0907.  We took the scenic route around the park and followed Rt. 411 south through North Carolina and north Georgia.  It is beautiful country.

I was agog when we drove through Madison, Georgia.  Just do a Google image search of Madison, GA and see all those beautiful houses.  It was enough to make me reconsider the Tennessee idea.

Andy had picked out a campground for the night but, then decided to spend the night in the Cracker Barrel parking lot in Perry, Georgia.  That’s fine with me; I’m a cheap skate. We left at 0907, arrived in Perry at 1745 and had driven 307 miles.

On Tuesday morning, we took off at 0840.  Most of the day was on Interstate 75.  We stopped for fuel in Ocala, Florida, just half an hour north of our destination, when a truck driver told Andy that we were leaking oil.  Sure enough, the back of Sao and the front end of the car were both covered in oil spatters. Fortunately, we were at a truck stop and the mechanics determined it was the oil filter. They changed the filter, Andy added some oil and we were back on the road.  We got to Alliance Coach in Wildwood at 1805 after driving  279 miles.

There is an RV washing crew here at Alliance and they washed the car for us this morning.

b021
RAV4 Clean and Shiny Again

Here are our surroundings this morning.

b022-view-forward
View Forward
b023-view-starboard
View Starboard to Garage Building
b024-sao-in-wildwood
Sao in Space 32 at Alliance Coach in Wildwood, FL

Northwestern Florida is magnificent with huge Live Oak trees and Spanish Moss. This view was from behind the motor home this morning.

b025-sun-on-spanish-moss
Sun Lighting Spanish Moss

 

Today, we drove to Conestogas Restaurant in Alachua for hamburgers. An excellent meal!  Then, we drove to Gainesville for Andy’s four-year cancer checkup. All is well.  Andy and Dr. Mendenhall posed for me at the end of the examination.

b03-andy-and-dr-bill-mendenhall
Andy and Dr. Bill Mendenhall

December 20, 2015 – Year in Review

I was inspired by oy30’s drawing Summary of the Year on oy30’s Blog – A Mexican Boy’s Site

I can’t draw that well, so I went to the pictures folder and picked one out for each month.  It was really hard to do! There are so many to choose from and just one does not represent a whole month. Then, there are eleven more days in December.  What if something earth shaking happens and is left out of the Review?  Oh well, here goes:

We were here in Marathon, Florida for the month of January. This is our view of the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the road in our RV park. Those yellow things floating on the water are designed to keep sea grass from floating into the canal.  There are bubblers under the water to make little waves to keep the grass from floating in the smaller entrance. It works well.

2015 01
Atlantic Ocean from Key RV, Marathon, Florida

This was my favorite picture in the February folder.  It is of red mangrove blossoms. Red mangroves are the ones that grow in the water and have those gnarly prop roots that make a mangrove forest impassable. The blossoms are small and not usually noticeable.

2015 02
Red Mangrove Blossoms

One memorable thing that represents March 2015 was inviting a number of friends to the Marathon Yacht Club to eat French dip sandwiches for lunch about once a week. We called ourselves The French Dippers and it was always a good time.

2015 03

We hit the road for our summer trip in April.  Here is Sao, our motorhome, parked for the night in a vineyard in Fort Pierce, Florida.  That was our first night out.

2015 04
Endless Summer Vineyard, Fort Pierce, Florida

May was our first month in Big Creek in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is the swimming hole in the picnic area.  We walked out onto that pedestrian bridge several times a day to look at the creek and to watch picnickers, campers, and hikers cooling off in Big Creek. We also regularly saw fish in the pool under the bridge.

2015 05
Big Creek Picnic Area Swimming Hole

We were in Big Creek for June as well. This view is up the creek from the pedestrian bridge.

2015 06
Big Creek

We moved on to Maryland in July and parked in my sister Barbara’s driveway.  I only got one picture of the three grandchildren, but their beautiful faces are not showing.  I still like the picture. We took them for a hike on Sugarloaf Mountain, about an hour northwest of Washington, DC

2015 07
Andrew, Elizabeth, and George Misovec on Sugarloaf Mountain

In July, we moved on to Mequon, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee. That’s grandma heaven.  Owen and Cam have just turned four and two in November and December. They would come out to the motorhome every morning to wake me up and push me out of bed. I took so many pictures of them, it was tough to choose. They call me Baba Yaga because my house moves, though not on chicken feet.

2015 08
Owen and Cam with Baba Yaga

September was full of sights with visits to seven national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase Escalante, Bryce Canyon, Zion.  It could be overwhelming to pick a picture from there, but this one is of me with my son Christopher on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

2015 09
Dinata and Christopher at the Grand Canyon North Rim

We headed back home in October, stopping to visit friends Paul and Sheri Brindle in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We visited the beautiful beaches of the Florida panhandle. We also visited friends: Cissy Betz in Palm Harbor, Bill and Pam in The Villages, and Joe and Linda Coffey in Port Charlotte, Florida. I can’t leave out our stop at Alliance Coach, the RV repair shop in Wildwood, Florida. We seem to spend a lot of time there.

2015 10
Andy on beach in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

We were back on our RV site in Key RV in Marathon in November. We set up our screen room and I planted my garden.  Then I got to work on my book about Big Creek.

2015 11
Sao in Key RV, Marathon, Florida

Andy has been busy straightening up the space behind our storage shed in December.  We had “stuff” piled up back there.  He put the kayaks up against the shed, got a bike rack for the bikes (in the lower right corner) and set up a table and two chairs overlooking our little mangrove forest.  We like to sit out there with our coffee and gaze into the swamp when the no-see-ums are not biting.

20150 12
Behind the Shed

October 28, 2015 – Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

It has been a few days since I’ve posted anything.  I could not get on line our last night in Wildwood.  Then we were visiting Joe and Linda in Port Charlotte for two days and I didn’t even take my computer inside.  I’ll try to catch up tonight.

We went to the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing on the 28th.  I’ve seen it next to I-75 for years, but never stopped in. He has accumulated an amazing collection of cars and dragsters.

Kevin pulled Sao up to the garage bay first thing in the morning and got to work. We stayed in the RV and puttered while Keven worked.  Then we took off for my last Crispers lunch before heading on up to Ocala to the museum.

Kevin is working on the bedroom AC unit.  It appears that a mouse had chewed on the wire from the thermister (the sensor that tells the thermostat what the temperature is in the room) to the AC unit.  Later, Service Advisor Will told us not to fix it because it would involve pulling ceiling panels, time, and money.  He said the default is to use the thermister in the front of the RV, so the bedroom AC will still work.

b Kevin Fixing Aft AC

When I walked through the shop, it looked to me as though Sao was saying, “Ahhhh” for the doctor.

b Say Aaahhh

Kevin was running a new cable between the backup camera on the back of the RV to the monitor in the dash.  He is running it under the RV.

b Kevin Under Sao

He has to use a tall ladder to reach the camera housing.

b Sao and Ladder

This was a puzzle.  Why does a drag racing museum have a jet out front?

b Navy Jet

I was not expecting a drag racing museum to have old cars, but Don Garlits has a separate huge building full of them.  This 1932 Cadillac convertible coupe was the first car inside the door.

b 1932 Cadillac Convertible Coup

There were so many cars, maybe hundreds.  All of them were very cool.

We found two cars built in Andy’s birth year, 1936. Here is a 1936 Ford Roadster.

b 1936 Ford Roadster

Here is my 1949 Ford Custom four-door sedan.  I don’t like the color.

b 1949 Ford Custom Two Door Sedan

He has a 1964 Ford Mustang!

b 1964 Mustang

Studebaker made the most memorable front end on a car. This one is a 1951 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe.

b Studebaker

I learned some auto terminology. This is a 1923 Ford Depot Hack.

b 1923 Ford Depot Hack

The sign says it was the beginning of the station wagon. They were called depot hacks because the were used to transport people from the train depot to the hotel and back.  Later, when depots were referred to as stations, the name was changed to station wagon.

I saw something else that I have not seen since childhood.  Hood ornaments.  They just don’t make them like they used to.

b Hood Ornament 2 b Hood Ornament 3

b Hood Ornament 4 b Hood Ornament 5

b Hood Ornament 6 b Hood Ornament 7

b Hood Ornament 8 b Hood Ornament 9

b Hood Ornament Studebaker b Hood Ornament

It is unbelievable how many dragsters he had.  I think they numbered in the thirties. The museum was also crammed full of other racers dragsters.

b Blue Dragster

b Eliminators

This dragster explains the Navy jet out front. Garlits made some promotional films (or commericals) for the navy and he “raced” that very jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier. There is a picture of it on the wall behind the dragster.

 

b Navy Dragster

b Racing Jet on Aircraft Carrier

This was his first “real” race car, a 1927 Ford Model T with a 1948 Mercury block, a 1939 Floor Shift transmission, and a 1948 Ford rear.  The sign said that this was a common way to build hot-rods in the 1950s.

b Hot Rod

Here are a couple of unusual configurations.  This one had two engines, one behind the other.

b Two Engines fore and aft

And, this one also had two engines, side by side.

b Two Engines side by side

There is a very large room filled with engines and engine parts.  I guess I don’t know enough about engines to have found it particularly interesing.  They were large though.

b Engine Room

b Engine

 

October 21, 2015 – Wildwood, Florida

Another day at the shop.  As he said he would, Mechanic Kevin arrived around 0700 to take Sao into the shop for more work. We went tot he customer lounge and watched some RV news.  That got old quickly and we decided to take a walk around the property. Of course, we stopped by Sao on the way out to see how Kevin was doing. The had the instrument panel pulled off the dash and was testing diodes.

 

b01 Kevin Checking Diodes

I went around to get a better look.  The problem that he was addressing was the “low air pressure” alarm.  The warning light and beeping have been going on regularly since we left the Smokies at the end of June. A couple days it has beeped non-stop and nearly drove me mad. The boost air pressure gauge is supposed to read 60 psi, but normal has been 30 psi.  The last few days of driving, the gauge had gone down to 5 and 10 psi. Kevin was also going to change the air dryer filters.

b02 Kevin Behind Dashboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The yellow things at the top left are the two-way radios that JR Smullen gave us.  Thanks again JR; we use them all the time.

Here is Sao sitting in the oil change bay.  We got the lube, oil, and filter changes for the engine and the generator.

b03 Sao in Oil Change Bay

Then we headed out for our walk. I noticed (not for the first time) that many of the service bays also have a motorhome sitting outside and they are being worked on.

b04 Back of Alliance Garage

Here is something we have never seen before.  Apparently that motorhome is having trouble with its propane gas system.  There is a hose running from the propane tank to tower and they are burning off the propane from the tank. It was burning hard too. We could hear it.

b05 Burning Off Propane

This large Live Oak is next to the employee parking lot. Live oaks with Spanish Moss hanging on them are one of the great charms of the south.

b06 Live Oak Behind Employee Parking Lot

We noticed that we have a new hub cap.  We don’t know where we lost the old one; we have been on so many rough roads this summer, it could be anywhere. The hub cap is just the shiny clean part in the center.

b07 New Hub Cap

Here is another large Live Oak out in front of the Alliance Coach building.

b08 Live Oak in Front of Alliance

These small Morning Glories are growing along the side of the road.

b09 Small Morning Glories

Of course, I had to go take a look at the lawn-mowing tractor parked in a field.  I realized that I look at tractors a lot when I recognized the Massey Furgeson symbol on the front. One of my fantasy jobs would be driving a large lawn mower.

b10 Tractor

We came around to the back of the garage to see that Sao had been moved from the oil-change bay to the wash-and-wax port. Two men were hard at work with extra-long-handled brushes and a large bucket of suds.

b11 Washing Sao

We stood and watched them for a while. One fellow was cleaning the wheels as they both worked their way around Sao together.

b12 Washing Sao Wheel

They got to the front and I realized that one of them was pressure-washing right above the other, but the other guy never got wet.

b13 Washing Sao Front

Wash job done, Sao is sparkling clean. Believe me, we had a lot of dirt we dragged in from all across the country.

b14 Shiny Clean Sao

One guy started wiping Sao dry while the other one came behind him waxing. We went to lunch at that point.

b15 Wiping and Waxing Sao

We spent most of the afternoon in the customer waiting room/lounge.  Andy studied the Alliance Coach catalog and I continued reading Macho Metaphysics by our friend, Bob Elkins.

b16 Alliance Waiting Room

Kevin has already finished some jobs:

Found and repaired a leak in the rear port slide out.  This is where I had musty, mildewed clothes last winter.

Found the problem and fixed the rear heat pump/air conditioning unit.  Fortunately, that turned out to be a simple sensor replacement.

He fixed the entry steps, which had come loose and were sinking when we stepped on them.

He took apart the light fixtures in the bedroom and over the kitchen sink. He is going to change them to LED lights.

He checked our LP gas system for leaks.  We didn’t have a problem, but Andy wants it checked.  After we lost our friend Bob in a gas fire, we are a bit sensitive about it.

Kevin looked at our rear-view camera system, but can’t figure out why it doesn’t work half the time.  We got a new monitor two years ago and a new camera last year.  We still have the problem.  I think the problem in the wire between them, but Will Burke says that would cost too much to fix.

We always have a list when we come to Alliance. My darling friend Sue Meyer asked me to include what work we are getting done.  They have a motorhome too.  All this probably makes her queasy. But Mac can probably fix most of this stuff himself.

October 20, 2015 – Wildwood, Florida

Those of you who drive motor homes and those who have read my logs for the past few years will be familiar with an RV dealer and repair facility. So, for the rest of you, I took some pictures of my surroundings today. You can see an aerial view on Google Earth with this address:  4505 Monaco Way, Wildwood, FL 34785. It is a large piece of property, larger than Google shows because they now have recreational vehicles parked in a big field along the highway.

Mechanic Kevin had another motorhome to work on this morning; the parts came in.  That meant I did not have to be up and dressed before 0700.  I woke up anyway.  Andy made crepes for breakfast.  He had a flipping accident with mine, but I assured him that it was still delicious, especially after I loaded it with Nutella, raspberries, and whipped cream.

Andy discovered that AARP members get a 15% discount at Carrabba’s restaurants and there was no holding him back.  He found one on line and was ready to go even before Mechanic Kevin came out to take Sao into the garage. We stopped at Walgreens to pick up a prescription and then used the GPS to find our way through The Villages to get to Carrabba’s. Then we stopped at Walgreens again on the way back to buy a card for our service adviser, Will Burke. Today was his last day at work this week; he is getting married on Saturday.

So, here is what we are seeing at Alliance Coach today. We are parked in a “campground” of sorts out behind the building.  It is not like dropping your car off at the garage and getting someone else to take to home or to work.  Many of the customers, like us, live in the motorhome full time or for extended periods. We stay with the motorhome. They provide parking spaces with water and an electrical outlet for those of us waiting with the coach. It is still just a parking lot with some grass between the spaces. Ha! That describes a lot of RV parks we’ve been to. This is the view out the front window.

b01 View Forward

I walked out in front of Sao and took this picture looking to our right toward the garage building.

b02 View to Starboard

And, here is Sao, with our little red car, parked in Space 35. It is a really nice parking lot.

b03 Sao in Parking Space

Here is Sao in Mechanic Kevin’s bay in the garage.

b04 Sao in Garage Bay

I took a picture down the next aisle over to give you an idea how big the facility is. There are thirty-some service bays in there.

b05 Inside Alliance Coach Garage

We have a lot of fun with our Service Adviser, Will Burke. Here, he has joined us in the customer waiting lounge to talk about what work has been accomplished today.  I could tell that he was anxious to go home to start preparations for the wedding.  He told us that his girlfriend had put a gun to his head to get married. We gave him his card, with enough money in it to buy his bride a nice dinner on their honeymoon. He gave us hugs.

b06 Will Burke

Toward the end of the work day, we went back to our parking space and sat in our folding chairs on the patch of grass between our space and the neighbor’s.

b07 Waiting for Sao

There were a lot of small, thin clouds smeared overhead and I thought they would make for a nice sunset.  But, I got busy and forgot to go out to look when the sun did set.

b08 Sun and Clouds

It was well past quitting time when Mechanic Kevin drove Sao back to our spot. We watched him back the motorhome in between the two cars.

b09 Sao Backing Into Parking Space

Here is Kevin just after he got out of Sao and was heading to the back to plug in the electrical cord.

b10 Kevin the Mechanic

He is so adorable.  He reminds me of my nephew Jonathan. And, he is an extremely pleasant young man.

 

A Good Day

Monday, April 27, 2015 – Wildwood, Florida

 

I was a good day.

Kevin, the mechanic was out to look at our awning first thing in the morning, as promised.  He pushed the button and the awning worked.  Andy and I stared at each other dumbfounded. I know four or five guys at Key RV who will tell him it does not work.  Andy said the awning will go out, but won’t come back in.  Kevin said he would check it out.

We hopped into the car and headed to Gainesville for Andy’s cancer checkup. It is about an hour north on I-75 from Wildwood. The appointment for the CT scan was for 1100, but we got there at 0930.  Andy announced to the receptionist, “I’m early”. They must not have had any other appointments at that hour because they called him in soon after we sat down. The CT scan only takes a few minutes and we were out of there before 1000. Andy’s plan worked out well as we had plenty of time before the next appointment.

We decided to take a short walk before getting back in the car. Then we drove to Alachua to Conestogas Restaurant for lunch. We took another walk up and down Main Street first. Then we sat down to the best hamburgers I have ever eaten.  They set bowls of roasted peanuts on the tables and I ate half of those before the meals were served.  What with the half-pound hamburger, sweet potato fries, and two glasses of Dr. Pepper, I was stuffed.  But I still kept eating the peanuts.

It’s a good day when you get a Conestogas’ hamburger.

Then, it was back to Gainesville to the Shands Cancer Center for Andy’s checkup with Dr. Mendenhall at 1330.  When Nurse Terry came out to the waiting area to call Andy in, she said she still remembers how awful the treatment was for Andy in 2012. He was walking around like a zombie back then. He looks and feels so good now compared to those dreadful days.

Dr. Mendenhall stuck the tube up Andy’s nose to have a look at the base of his tongue. Poor Andy hates that so much. Despite his best efforts, Dr. Bill could not find any cancer. I did not cry this time when he made the announcement.  I am accustomed to the idea now, after two-and-a-half years. Still, our spirits were up and our step was lighter as we walked from the cancer center to the College of Dentistry.

It’s a good day when you are declared cancer free.

Dr. Cha inspected Andy’s teeth.  He has been very conscientious about brushing, flossing, and  doing the fluoride treatment every night.  She did not find any problems. Dr. Cha is a delight and after hearing our praises, she wrote down the name Conestogas and said she was going to get one of those hamburgers this weekend.

It’s a good day when you are not worrying about your teeth falling out or your jaw bone rotting off due to radiation damage.

The drive back to Wildwood was uneventful.  Our motorhome was still at the service bay.  As we walked over to see how the job was going, someone knocked on the front window of their motorhome as we walked by.  It was Bill and Dawn Laatz, who had been two lots down from us at Key RV in Marathon! We chatted for a bit and they invited us to stop in their place in Oakland, Michigan this summer.  They said they have 33 acres and two motorhome hookups.

It’s a good day when you get an invitation to visit someone with a full RV hookup!

Mechanic Kevin was just finishing when we got to Sao. He said he did end up changing the motor for the awning.  Andy just KNEW there was a problem with the motor. Kevin drove Sao back to our site in the campground.  We will pay our bill in the morning and then be on our way, right on schedule. We should be back in Big Creek on Wednesday.

It’s a good day when all the needed repairs are done in one day.  This is the first time that has happened for us at Alliance. I don’t think we’ve ever been out of here in less than a week in the past.

Yes, it was a good day. And, I didn’t take a single picture.  I didn’t even take the camera with me, but did get four and a half miles on the pedometer.