Tuesday, January 29, 2008

All's quiet in Florida

Sorry everyone..I'm a little behind with writing you all. Last week was a fairly quiet week. I had a head cold and stayed in bed off and on all week. About all I wanted to do was sleep. Yuck!!! I'm glad I usually only have about 1 cold per year. It just isn't any fun. Coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose a hundred times a day. Not my idea of a good time.

Gary ran errands (kept us in water and generator gasoline). Played with Ellie too.
We did go over to the dog beach one afternoon so we could take Elli out. Port Orange has closed their dog beach so we had to go to Ponce Inlet. The beach designated for dogs is very small. Pretty bad. Lots of rocks and not really much area to run around in.

We did see a raccoon that came pretty close to us without fear. At least he didn't seem to have any fear. I sure didn't want to get too close.

I took a picture of a pretty shell. And I posted it to the Daytona Journal newspaper website and they put it on the front page of their web site. I got pretty excited about that.

While we were at the park, Gary took a few minutes to sit down. If you look closely you'll see that the "chair" was appropriately named. :)

By the weekend I was feeling some better and we moved on Friday afternoon to the New Smyrna Beach campground. We needed to dump the tanks and fill up with fresh water. Pretty nice campground. We made reservations when we left to return there again in May. Mom, Dad, Jenn and Mark are coming down the last week of May. They will stay in our time-share condo and we'll stay at the campground. Doug, Sherry and family will be down too. We'll have a big reunion at New Smyrna Beach. Oh boy, I can hardly wait. Anyone else want to come???

On Saturday night we met the family at the Port Orange Steakhouse for dinner. We were celebrating Tommie's birthday. Very good ribs. Yum..yum!!!

On Sunday we packed up again and moved south to the Thousand Trails Peace River Preserve in Wauchula. We had made arrangements to met Gary and Suzanne Tomlinson.
We first met them last May at the Life on Wheels Conference in Kentucky. We again saw them at the Escapade in Indiana in September.

They are from Michigan and have a Hitchhiker Discover America 5er. After getting set up on Sunday, we got together just to visit for a while. They came over to our home to see it. On Monday I worked off and on. Gary worked around and entertained Elli. Suzanne and Gary went fossil hunting in the river. Afterward we went to dinner at a local restaurant called the "Bread Board".

The next day, we went to the Florida Natural orange juice plant in Lake Wales. The visitor center offered displays and a video on the history of citrus growing and juice making in the area. Very interesting and very tasty juice to sample. Orange, Ruby Red grapefruit, RR grapefruit and cranberry, and Lemonade.

After wards we had lunch at the Country House restaurant. Then we went to Spook Hill . Spook Hill is ..well I'm not exactly sure what Spook Hill is supposed to be..but whatever it is..I didn't get it. I think the truck was supposed to move up hill on it's own or something..but it just rolled down hill as expected. ????? Any way it was fun to look for it and see what would happen.

On the way back to TT campground we stopped at a fruit stand and bought some Honey Bell oranges. The Honey Bell is the most juicy and sweet orange I have ever eaten. Juice just runs down your chin and you lick it off your fingers to get every drop.

On Wednesday we went to Highland Hammocks State Park.

This is a wonderful park with a small campground and many walking trails. We went hiking for several hours. We saw some amazing nature. The first trail was to the Cypress Swamp. These trees grow into many many different shapes. Cypress knees provide oxygen and support for the trees. They have a very shallow root system.

We saw many birds (vultures and hawks were plentiful). We even saw a "Snake" bird. Named because it's head and neck looks like a snake when it is in the water searching for lunch.
We also saw turtles and alligators (big and small).

On the Old Oak trail we saw a 1000 year old tree. To reinforce the tree to keep it from falling down, several years ago, concrete was poured into the center of it. It is now oozing out the top of the tree. Very strange.

After a picnic lunch (visited by yet another raccoon) we went on an hour long tram tour with a Volunteer Ranger. He was very knowledge about the park. This was the best $4.00 we have spent recently.

Thursday was an around the campground day. I worked again. Gary and Suzanne went to hunt for fossils again. Gary helped out a neighbor and worked around the house some more. There is always something to do to keep us safely on the road. On Thursday night we drove over to Bradenton. We stopped first at a Best Buy some Gary T could buy a new DVD player. I enjoyed walking around and looking.
For dinner we drove over to The Roaring 20's Pizza and Pipes restaurant. This very good pizza restaurant is home to a rare 1931 "Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ". The organ was installed in the Paramount Theater in Oakland California. After the theater closed the next year it was sold and placed in storage.
Around 1960, it was installed in Ken's Melody Inn in Los Altos, California. Later on the organ was moved to the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis Indiana. It was rebuilt and enlarged and stayed in Indiana until 1995. Finally it was purchased by Pizza and Pipes and moved to Florida. The thing is hugh. The pipes are in two rooms beside the organ. Various other organ parts and instruments hang from the walls and ceiling. There was a player piano, drums and cymbals all controlled by the organ. The organist played 15 minute sets from 5-9pm. We got there about 7pm and stayed until he stopped playing at 9. The place was packed when we arrived. But we got a table, enjoyed our pizza and listened to the music. Many customers put requests in a jar and he picked from it and played their requests. It was great. I loved it. And to top it off, Gary and I splurged on a cone of Edy's ice cream. Chocolate for him and strawberry for me. Yummy!!

Yesterday we went to Cypress Gardens. This was a beautiful and fun place to visit.

The gardens are excellent and quite extensive. They were hurt some a few weeks ago when the temperature hit a 10 year low. Many plants were hurt by the cold. They are working to repair and replace the damaged plants. As pretty as most of the plants are now, I imagine they will be even more so as spring comes in.
In the middle of the garden is a Banyan tree. This tree is 72 years old and is unlike any tree I had ever seen. Very large. Small branches come down from the main branch to the ground. Once it attaches itself to the ground, other tree, scrub or railing it hardens like a steel cable. And grows!! It spreads out for quite some distance around. They haven't measured it so don't really know large it is. We learned there is another larger one in Fort Meyers. (We're going to see it next week).
The water skiing shows are still being held. Some very good skiing on a variety of boards, music and some comedy made for a good show.

We also went to an ice skating show that was entertaining too. The weather was a bit cloudy and misty but it didn't stop us from enjoying the day.
The park is going through some changes since recently being sold. Some areas were closed. The park was very quiet. Not too many people out on the overcast day. I hope they can turn it around so more people will be able to enjoy it. The park is a good example of the "Real Florida" that is slowing merging with "today's" Florida. Overall it was a good day.
Today we stayed in. I worked off and on. This afternoon Suzanne and I made a trip to a Beall's Outlet. I purchased 2 pairs of carpi pants (1 size smaller than usual.yippie!!). Tonight Gary and I went back to the Bread Board for dinner. A quick trip to Wal-Mart and home. We took a walk with Miss Elli and are in for the night. Night all.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Our exciting week at Napoli Lane

Last Sunday we moved back to Napoli Lane (Bubba and Anna's) home site. We dodged around the rain and arrived in early afternoon. Set up and settled in for the night. On Monday Gary went to Port Orange to see Bubba and ran some errands. I worked and hung out at the house.

On Tuesday morning I worked again. After lunch we went to nearby Lake Ashby Park. Bev had told us about water skiing in/on the lake a few years ago and later in the day learned that alligators lived there...no more water skiing for her.
We didn't see any alligators...just spiders..large and small birds..low flying planes...and lots of trees and scrubs of all kinds.
It is a great place to walk with both natural walkways and a boardwalk that goes out over the lake. We enjoyed having the park to ourselves. Only 1 other family was there. I'll bet this place is very busy in warmer weather.
We met Bob and Bev for dinner at Booth's Bowery in Port Orange. I had a BIG burrito and Gary had a country fried steak. The service was slow (miss server needed an attitude adjustment) and the food and drinks were mediocre. Maybe they were having an "off' night.

Wednesday was another working and housekeeping day. Gary went for gas for the generator and we eat lunch down the road at a Subway. Afterwards, I went to Wal Mart for those necessary items. About 4pm we went to Bubba and Anna's house. Gary had been over on Monday evening to look at their malfunctioning refrigerator ice maker. He determined that it would have to be replaced and located one at the local Lowe's. He picked it up and we went over to their house so he could install it. We went to a steakhouse near their home for dinner. Webber's Steakhouse. Good service and the food was OK.
Yesterday Anna and Bubba came out to visit us at their home site. We sat around and talked about their plans for their new home. It sounds wonderful. This area is great and I'm sure they will really enjoy living here. We had a great visit.
Today dawned gray and overcast. At least it didn't rain again. I worked a little bit before lunch. We "went to town" to the Daytona Flea Market, Bed Bath and Beyond, Linens and Things, Super Target and Super WalMart and Advance Auto. Out of all these stops we bought a pack of printer paper, a funnel and some Little Debbie Oatmeal Cookies. We're looking for a few things for the house and haven't found "just the right" ones. We also went by Bob and Bev's house and filled up a 5 gallon jug of fresh water. Using our new funnel, we added it to our home tank when we got back. After a supper of left-overs for Gary and a salad for Me, I went back to work. Starting this week, I'm increasing my work hours to 25. Only 1 1/2 hours left to go this week...I'll finish in the morning.
Night all.. Hope you have a good weekend.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Jennifer

Yesterday was our daughter Jennifer's birthday..29 years old. Jenn, we missed being with you yesterday in person but we thought about you often during the day. Remembering..previous years..celebrations..your growing up..all those special times ..(and the not so special ones too).. We love you.

Happy Birthday to you..Love, Mom and Dad

Workampers Job Fair

On Thursday morning we arrived at Lakeland Center to learn about workamping. According to Workamper.com "Workampers are adventuresome individuals, couples and families who have chosen a wonderful lifestyle that combines ANY kind of part-time or full-time work with RV camping. If you work as an employee, operate a business, or donate your time as a volunteer, AND you sleep in an RV (or on-site housing), you are a Workamper!"

So, since I work part-time for UNC, I learned I am already a Workamper. How about that?!!.

Many Workampers take jobs in campgrounds or amusement parks. We met several Workampers that have worked at a variety of places in the US. Campground hosts, tour guides for museums, worked with Mickie and Minnie..I met one person who is going to Texas to work as a short order cook at a campground on the Mexican border. She's never done it before but thought it would be fun to try. Another couple is going to Virgina and work at a Campground on the Chesapeake Bay ..one of them will work in the office and the other outside doing grounds and maintenance work. Other jobs Workampers do are Christmas or pumpkin lot sales, picking apples in Washington, working for a Time-Share company giving out the prizes, selling t-shirts at sporting events, selling aerial pictures of your house to you, working for the circus..there are so many different ways to earn a little extra money or reduce expenses. Some of the jobs provide the RV camping site while others pay $$ only. Sometimes, it's a combination of site and $$. No one will get rich doing this but it does help you out.
Workamper.com provided speakers for the 2 day Job Fair. They covered how to become a Workamper..Workamper Basics and Workamper 101.
Legal and Financial Considerations of Workamper..who gets your tax money???
How to write a resume..functional based on skills and experience related to the job you are applying for..vs conventional chronological ..like we used in our "previous" life.
And even..how to deal with difficult people..just can't get away from them..can we??!!!
Also present were about a dozen Employers from around the country. Everything from Disney to a RV resort in NC at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. We had a chance to talk with them to learn what types of jobs they offer and what they are looking for in a Workamper employee. It was very interesting. Many of them are hiring for the 2008 summer season (4-6 month commitment). We don't really want to do that so we'll be looking for more short term options. We still want to travel every month of so..just find something for Gary to do very "part-time".
If you'd like to learn more..check out Workamper.com's website at http://www.workamper.com/WorkamperNews/WNIndex.cfm

We're still at Thousand Trails until tomorrow..Gary went to get our propane tanks refilled this morning. I'm catching up on laundry since we won't have the ability to use the washer/dryer once we move back to Bubba and Anna's home site. Using batteries for boondocking doesn't provide enough power for that.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Love to you all. Deb

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Rural Volusia County

Since Saturday we've stayed at Gary's nephews/wife's land in rural Volusia County. It is quiet out here. Except for the hum of the generator, dogs barking(kennel nearby) and small airplanes flying over head. (Fly-in community nearby). They are going to love living out here once their home is built. In the meantime..Thanks Bubba and Anna. We appreciate your hospitality very much.

We've enjoyed our first experience with boon-docking with the Cameo. We've kept our batteries charged using our little Honda 1000 generator. It cost us about $19.00 in gas to run it over the past 4 days. We've had a little bit of rain this weekend..not enough as usual.. just enough to make the sand stick together. I think we brought a pound of sand with us when we moved to Thousand Trails today.

Yesterday afternoon we went over to New Smyrna Beach. This is a small town with 13 miles of beautiful beach. The beach suffered a lot of damage from hurricanes a few years ago, but has rebounded for the most part. They have a very nice downtown business district with a park right on the beach. There is also a park at the end of Peninsula Dr that allows dogs on the beach( on a leash). There has been a LOT of building in the area in the past years. We started coming to this beach about 15 years ago. It once was a very small town with miles of undeveloped shoreline. Now, once you leave the older business district on the beach side and travel south there are miles of new condos and houses. Like much of Florida these days.
We went to the dog beach. It cost $3.50 for the day.

We parked and started off on the boardwalk.

It turned out the beach was over a half mile away across the scrub. A very nice walk on a cool day. I don't think I'd like to do it in July heat.
I saw this palm as we walked along and thought it looked interesting..

Ellie wasn't real sure about the ocean. She definitely isn't a water puppy. However she really liked taking a nap in the sand.

There was an excellent view of the Ponce Inlet lighthouse. http://www.ponceinlet.org/

This morning when we awoke, we learned there had been a terrible accident on I-4 at US-27. Thousand Trails is on 27 and the accident caused I-4 to be closed until at least tomorrow. The pictures on the TV were horrific. 4 have died and over 3 dozen others were injured. When we arrived at TT this afternoon (coming in from the North), we could see the smoke billowing up from the accident site. My prayers go out to all of the families and emergency workers affected by this tragic event today.

We settled into our site late this afternoon and went for a walk in the Palmetto woods. Very different from NC woods, but just as nice.
Time for bed..tomorrow we go to the job fair over in Lakeland. Learning something new!!! Good night to you all. Love, Deb

Sunday, January 6, 2008

We're Home

Yesterday we picked up our home from Lazydays. They gave it a bath inside and out. We are very glad to be back in it. Afterwards, we moved across the state to Port Orange. Gary's nephew offered a parking spot on some land he plans to build a house on later. It is out in the county about 15 minutes from Port Orange. The lot is fenced in so Miss Ellie is enjoying being able to run loose. This is our first attempt at boondocking with the new home. No water or electricity on site. We have 82 gallons of fresh water on board and two batteries. We have a Honda 1000 generator that we are using to re-charge the batteries. So far we've made out OK. We are conserving water and power as much as possible. We are going to stay here until Wednesday.

Wednesday we're going to move to the Thousand Trails near Orlando for a couple of days. We're planning to attend a job fair being held by Workamping.com. This organization helps RV'ers locate jobs, mostly within hospitality,recreation or campground companies. There will be classes on Thursday and Friday about working while rv'ing. Some employers will also be on site to interview anyone interested in working for them. We've been thinking about some additional work to help with expenses.

Today we went to see Gary's brother Bob and his wife Bev. Bev and I went to the Daytona Flea Market. I bought a few paperbacks and some lucky bamboo.
Gary and Bob watched football on TV all afternoon. Bev and I picked up pizza for supper on our way back to their house. CiCi's pizza is pretty good. We even got a brownie pizza which was excellent. Gotta love that chocolate.

It's getting late so I'm off to bed. Sleep tight everyone..love to all. Deb

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Keeping Busy While Our Home Is In The SHOP!!

On Wednesday we gave our home to Lazydays so they can complete the warranty repair work. We moved into a Sheraton hotel in Tampa for the duration (or Saturday..whichever comes first).
This is the first time in quite some time that Gary and I have spent any time in a hotel.

One of the best benefits of living in an RV is always having our own bed wherever we are. And Wed night just proves the saying "there's no place like home"..I tossed and turned all night. Just couldn't seem to sleep in the extra large king sized bed. Go figure..it is perfectly comfortable..just not our bed. We went back to Lazydays last evening before bed to see how the work went yesterday. They had completed the bedroom shelf and removed the bathroom door. So..some progress was made.

Yesterday we went to McDonald's for breakfast. Then drove all over downtown Tampa. The weather was quite cool but brightly sunny. We went over to the University of Tampa's campus too. There is a museum there called the Henry B Plant Museum. It is housed in wonderful old Tampa Bay Hotel built by railroad magnate Henry Plant. It is now a National Historic Landmark. During the 1880's, Henry Bradley Plant was building an empire of railroads, steamships and hotels. The hotel was financed by Plant personally, not investors, at a cost of $2,500,000 and an additional $500,000 was spent for furnishings. It took two years to build, covered six acres and was one-quarter mile long. The 511 rooms were the first in Florida to be electrified. Advertised as completely fireproof, the structure is built of poured concrete reinforced with steel rails and cables in between floors. The building featured all of the latest luxuries including a billiard room, barbershop, shoeshine service, beauty shop, flower shop, telegraph office, formal dining room, Grand Salon, Music Room with orchestra and telephones in all guest rooms. For more information visit their web site at:

About lunch time we went over to University Mall. We walked around for a while and had lunch at the food court.

In the evening we went back to Lazydays to check out the work. THE WALLS ARE FINISHED. We could hardly believe it. They look great.

Today we went back to the Museum. For a donation of $5.00 you can watch a 14minute video explaining the history of the hotel. Afterwards several of the first floor rooms are open to the public with many of the furnishings and fixtures that were collected by Mr Plant. Some of them are quite impressive. Some of it was quite gaudy. Just goes to show how much tastes change over the years. A walk through the gardens finished our visit. I especially love that the University of Tampa is using parts of the building today.

This afternoon we returned to Lazydays to check on the status of our home. They were WASHING it...great...After a lunch at their cafe (fish, rice and green beans) we caught up with our we service advisor. Upon inspection we found that the caulking hadn't been completed correctly. Also the bathroom window screen had been removed and damaged when they fed some hoses in the window. So..back the service advisor went ..steam rising...and we came back to town. We stopped at Steak n Shake for dinner. Afterwards, we went to the fairground and walked through a Craft Fair. $5.00 to park and $6.00 to get in. Yuck!!! It wasn't worth it. Then, back to the hotel and in for the night. Tomorrow we move back into our home. Hopefully the caulking will be done and screen fixed. If not..Lazydays will have us as their guest until it is... :)

So..night to you all..Deb