Saturday, January 28, 2012



The second stop of our three-day tour of Disney World.  We really enjoyed the Soarin attraction which gave us a hang gliding view of California.  And with all the choices in the World Showcase – Italian, German, French, Mexican, Chinese, etc, we chose British to eat, but the fish and chips were quite good.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Magic Kingdom


2012-01-23_09-44-53_142On Monday we traveled over to Orlando and bought our 3-day ticket for Walt Disney World attractions.  For our first day, we took in the Magic Kingdom.  It is amazing how little it has changed over its many years, but how still modern it is.  We enjoyed the day very much.  We rode the coaster in Space Mountain twice as well as the Haunted Mansion and spins on the Teacups and Carousel among many other rides.  We have to get back for two other attractions within two weeks and will take in Epcot and Disney Studios.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Roadside America

As we are traveling about, we refer to many internet sites for travel-related information from camping, restaurants, walking tours, truck stops, weather, directions, etc.  One of our favorite and offbeat references is one called, a place where you can find attractions and oddities during your travels, with emphasis on the oddities – and the more kitschy the better.  Let us provide a few examples.

100_0994As we are in Florida and near Cape Canaveral, how about a street sign for “I Dream of Jeannie Lane” in Cocoa Beach, the setting for the 1960’s TV sitcom starring Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden.



100_1000In the town of Christmas, Florida (yes, there really is a Christmas Florida) is the World’s Largest Alligator.




FLDOVairstream_stevenAnd how about the Airstream Ranch along the Interstate approaching Tampa (we couldn’t stop to take our own picture of this one).



100_0656There were several that we saw in Savannah including this “Cracked Earth” Monument to Savannah’s World War II dead.  We also saw the place where Forest Gump told his story while waiting for the city bus (but the bench isn’t there anymore).  And the statue of the Waving Girl who waved a greeting to every ship that entered Savannah harbor from 1887 to 1931.  And the house with the upside down windows, the Big Great Dane Statue, and the first Girl Scout Headquarters in the US.

100_0184But one of our true favorites was back in Memphis – The World’s First Billy Bass Adoption Center where you can bring them your Billy Bass for a free basket of catfish.  Gary was lamenting that he had sold his in a garage sale, but alas that was Travis Trout anyway.



We’ll be checking out RoadsideAmerica more as we start traveling north in March.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Rocket Launch

100_1006Yesterday there was the second rocket launch during our winter stay in the Cape Canaveral area.  This shot was a Delta 4 rocket carrying a military communications satellite.  This one was a night launch which had a much different character than the first daytime launch we viewed.  It is difficult to try to take pictures at night, but we had a little success.  At the right is the ignition of the rocket on the launch pad.

We were watching from about five miles away with about half of that across the Indian River lagoon.  (Yes, the same Indian River the grapefruit company is named after.)  As the rocket started to rise from the launch pad, the light became so intense that it lit up the sky and the river as shown in this picture.  It took nearly a minute before we started hearing the sound of the rocket.

And finally a view up into the burner of the rocket now well up into the sky.  It was fascinating to watch the boosters fall away and the next one light and take the rocket on up.  You knew when it had finally reached orbit as the rocket started moving down range rather than upward.  These rocket launch schedules are always subject to change, but we may have the opportunity to view another one or two before we leave in later March.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tampa RV Super Show

For years we had heard about the major RV show held in Tampa, Florida each winter.  It was billed as one of the largest shows in the country.  As we are staying in Florida this winter, we made plans to attend this year.  It made for a huge day as Tampa is all the way over on the west coast of Florida, about 125 miles away and we weren’t going to take the motor home or stay the night, just an over and back, but enjoying at bit of Tampa too as long as we were headed over there.

Yes, this RV show is amazing.  It occupies the entirety of the Florida State Fairgrounds.  Where else could you go to see several Prevost conversions, Newells, Foretravels, and huge quantities of Newmars, American Coaches, Entegras, Tiffins, Monacos and on and on.  And we haven’t even gotten to the fivers, travels trailers, truck campers, and popups.  We have been to lots of RV shows but had never seen anything like this.

Two buildings were filled with booths and tables of various suppliers of all things RV.  We purchased a sun screen for the windshield of our motor home.  We had been planning for some time to buy one, but our preferred supplier was at the show, so we just did it.

Gary ran into some people who he used to work with at an RV store back in Michigan.  And we also met a couple from the Escapees RV forum.

We went out for dinner in Tampa and it was nearly midnight before we were back at the motor home.  But it was a great day that we enjoyed very much.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

First Visitor to my Aunt’s New Florida Home

My Aunt Barbara and Uncle Tom recently purchased a home in Florida.  They will be selling their home in the Detroit area and their cottage “up north” in Michigan and moving down here to live full time.  They were down here for a short trip during the Christmas holiday break.  As we don’t plan to be back in Florida for at lmurrayhouse1-1east a few winters, we wanted to get over there and see them in their new home.  It was about a 75 mile drive due west to the other side of Orlando.  Their home is beautiful.  The homes here tend to be painted in pastels and theirs was no exception.  The predominate color inside was a very appealing aqua.  The master suite was fabulous with a huge bathroom, and his and hers walk in closets.  The great room has a cathedral ceiling that must be at least 20 feet high at the peak.  The kitchen is very large with a handy center island.  It has a 3-car garage and a swimming pool adjoined by a large screen room, perfect for entertaining.  They have four bedrooms so all the relatives should be heading down there!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Plans

We try not to over plan our travels, but we do have this general concept of annual north/south travel loops.  As we are in Florida this winter, we are planning an east coast loop for 2012 ending in Texas for the winter.

We will be staying put on the Space Coast of Florida for January, February and most of March.  We are planning to go to the Tampa RV show in January.  We likely will take in Disney and Universal.  We are thinking of trying to obtain some tickets for the Daytona 500 or at least some event of “speed week”.  We also look forward to baseball Spring training and seeing the Tigers at least once during the preseason.  And then there is the golf course here at the RV park and we have vowed to become better golfers.  And I am sure we will make other day trips to places such as the beach, Melbourne, and other nearby things to see.

When we start heading north we will cross Florida and take in Silver Springs, Gainesvillle and some of the Gulf Coast.  We plan to be in North Carolina in April for the Escapees ACRE (All Chapters Rally East), which will be our first ever rally.  From there we will gradually move north taking in Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, DC, Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, New York City, Providence, Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and then on to the Atlantic Provinces of Canada. 

From there, we will likely start heading “south” via Quebec City and Montreal, and back into the States in central New York, through Niagara, and back for family visits in the Midwest.  We are not sure exactly what we will take in from there on the way to Texas, but we have plenty of time to figure that out.  But it general it sounds like it will be the cities and seafood tour.

We hope to get more exercise this year and eat well, but not too well.  The motor home needs some of its ongoing preventative maintenance and as it hits its tenth birthday, hopefully not little emergency maintenance.

We hope we will have some more visitors this year and also hope to meet up with some more of our full-timing “classmates”.  Alley cat is wishing for less travel rather than more but she isn’t going to  get that wish.

We wish everyone a very happy and prosperous new year.



Monday, January 2, 2012

Reflections on 2011

Wow, what a year.  Leeanne joined Gary in retirement.  We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  Gary turned 60.  Andy, Gary’s son married.  We sold almost all our “stuff”.  We sold our condo, although that took several months longer than we had hoped and delayed our departure a few months.  We moved into our motor home in early August and began the new chapter in our life of traveling about the country.  We visited 15 states and between the motor home and toad, we drove nearly10,000 miles in our full timing travels (and half of that was two trips north to the Midwest).  We probably adjusted better than we had expected.  And we are glad we “practiced” as much as we did before attempting this.  One of our main travel goals was to spend some time at the ocean/beach and we at least got started early enough to accomplish that.  We lost our former exercise routine and didn’t fully make for it with hiking/walking and biking.  Alley cat has adjusted very well too and now walks on her leash/harness for as much as a quarter mile at a time.

We became Texans and both passed our driving exams in the motor home.  We saw some of the fires along the roads in our travels and regularly smelled the smoke  in the air.  We hunted for diamonds in Arkansas.  We explored the Smokey mountains.  We toured the historic cities of Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah.  We saw a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral.

Valve stems and extensions were a real problem with our new tires and we seriously had to fret about losing air for the first several weeks until we finally had to change them out which fixed the problem.  The vehicles seem to be performing about as well as we could expect.  The new accessories – the satellite dish, the washer/dryer, the toad braking system, the protect a tow, the water softener, etc. – are all working out very well and we are very glad we added them.

It was a great surprise to have Gary’s sister and brother in law stop by to see us in Myrtle Beach.  And we really enjoyed meeting a couple of our “classmates” of full timers. Most of our family seems to be on board with what we are doing but there are a few who we wish were more understanding/supportive.

We hope everyone else had a 2011 for which they can be thankful too!