Saturday, March 31, 2012

Another Class Reunion

In an earlier blog post, we related how we are proud members of the Class of 2011 of people who started their full timing adventures then.  Many of us each keep in touch through the Escapees RV forum and following each others’ blogs.

100_1224As we moved north in Florida, we were aware that there were a pair of class mates in the general area of where we were going to be be camping.  We contacted them – Daryle and Toni – and first met up at their campsite and that evening had dinner in the sleepy little gulf coast town of Cedar Key.  A couple days later they visited us in our campground in Williston, Florida.

They are a great couple seemingly having the time of their lives.  We enjoyed their company very much and shared many stories about our past and future travels.  We hope we will catch up to them again somewhere down the road.

Their blog is at:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lakeland, TigerTown, and Tampa

We had a very nice time in Lakeland even if we did camp at an RV service shop.  Is it really “free” when you camp at a shop?.  Judging from our bill, it probably isn’t.  But just the same we got some very reasonable service work done at Fountain RV.

0323121609We toured Lakeland which really is a town built around a bunch of lakes.  One of the downtown lakes is the host of some very impressive gardens which we thoroughly enjoyed.   The picture to the right is Mirror Lake.  Our Lakeland pictures are at:


We toured “Tigertown” the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers and bought some tickets for a game.  Tigertown has a much better feel to it than Viera, the home of the Washington Nationals where we already had seen the Tigers play.  Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers have the longest spring training relationship of any city/team in baseball.  All of the surrounding diamonds of the complex are as immaculately groomed as Joker Marchant Stadium itself. 

100_1170The game itself was quite enjoyable.  The Tigers played the Phillies.  It was a “split squad” game as some of the Tigers were over playing the Yankees in Tampa at the very same time.  But we had Justin Verlander pitching, Prince Fielder playing first, and Jose Valverde pitching in relief so we had plenty of stars to watch.  The Tigers wound up winning, so they won both times that we saw them.  All of our spring training pictures are at:

We also had a winning day in Tampa.  We stopped at Lazy Days, the largest RV dealer site in the world.  We took in Camping World and walked every single aisle as we always do to see the latest in RV trinkets.  We only bought one item, a tripod stand clothes drying rack.  It broke the first time we used it so back it is going to go.  We also walked some of the grounds at Lazy Days and viewed a few of their motor homes.  We always see some features we might like to have, but we come away very well satisfied that we purchased an excellent older motor home that stands up as great value for money when compared with the newer ones.  We took in a Latin restaurant in Tampa that had been recommended by the couple from Willow Lakes that we plan to visit in Maine this summer.  They served a huge amount of food at very reasonable prices.  And why was it a “winning” day?  On our way out of Tampa we stopped at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino where I won a net $100, more than covering all of our expenses of the day.

We had moved on to the Ocala/Gainesville area and will be reporting from there soon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Can’t Quit Our Craigslist Habit

In preparation for full timing, we became very well acquainted with Craiglist, the free online place to buy and sell stuff.  Not only did Gary sell a huge quantity of our stuff via Craigslist, he also bought a number of items for the motor home as well.  Moreover, when Gary’s mother moved into assisted living and decided to sell her house and belongings, he posted many of her items for sale on Craigslist as well.  And he did that remotely from Michigan as her place was in Indiana.  Gary posted the ads and fielded the inquiries.  When a sale seemed likely, Gary’s brother or sister would go to Mom’s house for the showing and sale.
After the chore of selling a good portion of two households worth of stuff, you would think he would quit Criagslist.  But no, we still are buying and selling via Craigslist even as we travel.  We changed brake systems for the “toad” and sold the old one via Craiglist.    We bought and  sold hitch ball mounts.  We changed bike racks and did the buy and sell via Craigslist.  And we have bought and sold other items as well even as we travel.

100_1133Our most recent purchases were real winners.  As we reported in one of our earlier posts, we have been squeezing our own orange juice.  To make it even better, we were told we could pick our oranges for free in an undeveloped part of our RV park that had previously been an orange grove.  We squeezed so much juice that we broke the cheap juicer we had purchased at the Walmart.  Gary set out to find us a “new” one on Craigslist.  He had this notion of a tall squeezer kind with a geared lever arm.  He actually found a few like that and contacted one seller to see if the unit could be disassembled for storage.  In the process of that conversation, the seller offered up another juicer that she thought would better fit our needs.  It is fantastic.  The crank under the bowl is very easy to turn and juices each orange half very well.  It is fresh juice for us as long as we can find bags of oranges.  The price? – $5.

100_5317Our other recent buy was one Gary had been desiring since before we took off – a metal detector.  This was a tougher one as metal detectors seem to be highly desired on Craigslist and sell well.  We should have purchased this item before we spent the time at Myrtle Beach and Florida, but Gary won’t buy until the right deal comes along as it finally did with this one --  $65 for a $250 retail machine.
If we buy much of anything else, it isn’t going to fit.  So, maybe that will put an end to our Craigslist adventures.  And then again, maybe that will just lead to more selling so that we can buy other goodies as we travel along.

Friday, March 23, 2012

We Have Moved

After four months of the motor home in one place, we have moved on down the road a bit.  It was with mixed emotions that we left Willow Lakes.  We had become acquainted with a lot of very nice people who we were now sad to leave.  But then it is time to commence our 2012 journeys and that is exciting.  Many other of the people in the park were starting to head back north too so it was kind of sad for everyone.

We expect we will see some of the people from the park on our travels this year.  One couple is taking almost the same route we are this year up the east coast.  Another couple workkamps at Acadia National Park in Maine and we will look them up when we are there.  Another said he might join us at the rally we are going to in North Carolina.

We didn’t move too far.  We are now in Lakeland, Florida for a few days.  We stopped for some service work at a shop.  The big item was to change the transmission fluid.  We had done a fluid analysis and it was time for new fluid.  We bit the bullet and put in the synthetic stuff that should never need further changing.  Our maintenance level is now just about fully up to date as we have been working on it progressively for the two years we have owned it.  We feel we are ready to go traveling!. 

We knew we would be staying in the parking lot of the service shop for one night.  But as these thing always drag out longer than you expect, we wound up here for a second night.  And at that point, we just said, what the heck, we will stay right here through the weekend as well.  We were going to be exploring Lakeland, the Detroit Tigers and Tampa, so we had no real need to go to a campground.  We have electric and water hookup here so we’ll just stay and start heading north on Monday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A New Career for Leeanne?

100_5320Leeanne as a barber?  I haven’t wanted to have to seek out barbers as we travel about and further this is one way to save a little money.  So there you have it; Leeanne is now my personal barber.  She does a good job – it isn’t just a single length buzz cut!  She accompanied me to my last couple of haircuts back in Michigan and received some “lessons”.  She went to a supply store and bought some clippers.  They are more than paid off now my avoided barber fees.  I have volunteer a couple of times that I could cut her hair, but that suggestion just never seems to fly.  Maybe it has something to do with my statement of: “all we have to do is find the right bowl”.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Waving Corner

There was something we forgot to mention in our post about the RV park we have been staying in.  There is only one entrance in and out of the park.  There is another gate, but it is just an emergency gate and is not used.  Our lot is right at the first stop sign down from the main gate.  What that means is that virtually all of the traffic in and out of the park comes right by the patio outside our motor home.

The park is very friendly so everyone, as in every vehicle going in and out during the day, waves as they go by.  We were chatting with one resident who had been on this exact spot a couple of years ago.  He said: “yep you two are up on the waving corner this year”.  We nearly doubled over laughing,  We have been calling it the waving corner ever since.  To make a bit a fun out of all of it, we decided we needed some big hands for waving.  We looked for some in some sporting goods stores but couldn’t find any there so we just made our own.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Play Ball!

100_5274Every March back in Detroit the weather would still be nasty and to make matters worse you would pick up the sports section of the newspaper and there were all the daily reports from warm and sunny spring training in Florida.  And every year I always thought it would be great to be down there enjoying the baseball and the weather.  Well, this year, here we are!


100_5283And it was fabulous.  We went to the spring training home of the Washington Nationals for their game with the Detroit Tigers.  The Nationals are the closest venue to where we are staying.— only about a 30 minute trip.  We didn’t order tickets in advance so we arrived early to get some tickets.  We asked what might be available in the vicinity of the Tigers dugout.  The ticket seller told us a block of tickets had just become available and she would check what she could do.  “How about the front row immediately behind the Tigers dugout?”  Wow, we could stretch out our legs right of top of the roof of the dugout.


100_5291We watched batting practice and then some of the players and staff signed for the fans right in front of us.  After every turn of the Tigers in the field, the player who wound up with the ball would carry it back toward the dugout and toss it into the crowd.  Leeanne caught one of the tosses!  But as we already have a game ball of the Tigers from Comerica Park in Detroit, Leeanne gave it to a young boy and made his day.

100_5300The Tigers won the game and overall we were thrilled with our first spring training game.  The only downside was that the game ran on for well over three hours – and for a spring training game .  Why do these pitchers have to pitch so slowly.  Something must be done to speed this game up for the fans.

We still are planning to get over to Lakeland and check out Tiger Town and see the Tigers at their spring training home.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Could This Be Our Future Home?

We have decided that we won’t be living in the cold of the north any longer whenever we leave the road.  So each winter in the south as we travel about the country we will be evaluating a different location as our possible future home.

We very much have enjoyed our stay at the Willow Lakes RV and Golf Resort in Titusville, Florida.  This is an ownership park – most of the lots are owned by people who live here year round or part time.  The people here are very friendly.  There is the golf course and there are lots of other amenities and activities.  The park itself is a beautiful one even if the surrounding area and the towns of Titusville and Mims may leave a bit to be desired.

We are not sure if we will want to live in an RV-centric community.  We don’t plan to maintain a large motorhome when we come off the road, but we have talked about buying a smallish travel trailer so that we still can travel north in the summertime when it is sweltering in the south.

Florida generally has better winter weather than Texas, or the south of New Mexico, Arizona, or California.  But then there are hurricanes here.  Also, it is easier to travel from here back to the midwest than from other areas.  We look forward to comparing Florida with Texas next winter and then other areas of the southwest after that. 

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of Willow Lakes:

In our last post, we embedded a slide show of “hats” in our post but then saw that the link did not come through in the emailing.  You can access all our photo albums through the link above include the “hats”.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Mad Hatter?

It all stated on a trip to Niagara Falls a few years ago.  We were in a store and came across a really silly hat.  I put it on and Gary took my picture.  And we have been trying on hats and taking pictures of them ever since.  We never buy them, just try them on.  When we were at Disney, it was a hatters dream.  They have gift shops and hats at the end of every attraction.  So there were a ton of opportunities which we took full advantage of.  Gary even got into the act.

Monday, March 5, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird

100_1111Are you thinking this is becoming a bird blog?  Well, here is a bird that we really didn’t know in the north – the mockingbird.   After we were told what these are, we did a little reading on them.  Among other things, it is  the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.  Individual males have repertoires of 50 to 200 songs.  It imitates not only birds but also other animals and mechanical sounds such as car alarms.  Sounds like a wonderful little bird, right?  Well, here is the downside.  They often sing through the night or when the moon is full.  And they are also some of the loudest and most constantly vocal of birds.  See the perch in the picture, well that is within easy earshot of our open bedroom window at night.  If this little guy doesn’t let up soon and allow me to get a good night’s sleep, there may have to be a crime against this mockingbird.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It’s Strawberry Season In Florida


We wouldn’t have strawberries in Michigan until mid June, but they are in season now here in Florida.  And so I’ve had to make a couple strawberry pies already.  Doesn’t this one look like a bouquet of berries?  And Gary said it was yummy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Much Better Bicycle Rack

100_5270Most of the things we purchased for our full timing journey have served us very well.  But one of our garage sale purchases was a real bust -- our first bicycle rack.  It looked like it would be a good one, but as with a lot of things you never really know until you give them a a try.  The first rack was the type that held the bikes by the horizontal tube of the frame.  But that rack had a lot of different joints to it and it seemed they all rattled.  No matter what we did, it was just an all out rattle trap.  We really didn’t mind when the car was being towed behind the motor home; we didn’t much know what it was doing back there.  But we don’t always unload the bikes and carrying them around with us was annoying.  We were going to buy a new one from a bike shop, but none of them would let us try one our before purchasing.  So it was back to Craigslist.  We found this one and the owner was glad to let us try it out.  It is a a major improvement over the prior one.  It is much quieter and it is considerably easier to use as well.  And we really didn’t have any trouble selling the old one on Craigslist.  And the buyer of the old one just wanted it for short hauls so it should be fine for him.  Hopefully our bike rack problems are solved.  But who knows how long the bikes will last.  We are surprised by how quickly they are rusting, but then they are almost constantly exposed to the elements and we have been in salty air a lot.  We once thought we would buy new ones when these gave up the ghost, but it now seems we might be better of always to buy used and just let them rust away.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

And Here Is Our Eagle


In our post about the owl, we mentioned that we also had seen eagles soaring the in the area.  Well here is one from right here in our RV park.  We were over visiting with some neighbors and this one flew up into a nearby tree carrying a fish in its talons and proceeded to consume it up there in the tree.   We are really surprised that we have such majestic birds right here in the park.