Thursday, May 31, 2012

Collecting a paycheck from Lazydays

Gerry and I arrived in Tampa 2 weeks ago and have spent so much time at Lazydays that we are thinking they should give us a paycheck.  We've met at least 20 employees here and if we stay much longer we will be going to company picnic this year.  I am saying the above in jest since we've gotten excellent service from Lazydays during this marathon.  They have been responsive to the bulk of our requests and have also found some problems and repaired them without blinking an eye.

We are in the transfer stage moving all our stuff from the old motorhome to the new one.  We are amazed at how much stuff we had crammed in the Southwind.  It is a real workhorse and has a ton of storage space.  Since it is a gas MH, there are more bins since the diesel MH has an extra bin for batteries and the engine takes up two spaces for bins.  We do have two slide through bins that hold a number of totes and that is where the bulk of the valuables are stored.  Once we get back to Maryland we will begin to pare down on our excess freight.

We've had a number of employees in the motorhome today and it will go back in Friday for an additional molding around the bedroom slide.  We put it on the list and the tech found a bad spot on the front slide and replaced it.  He didn't see the one in the back and will finish it tomorrow.  They are very receptive to making things right, so that is fine with us.

It's looking more and more like we will leave here Sunday and make our way to Charleston, SC for a couple days and then on in to Concord, NC for a week or so.  We have to get the motorhome back to MD and have it inspected and get new Maryland tags on it asap.  Most likely we will have to have an extension on the temporary tags an additional 30 days.  

Then I will work on getting the Class A drivers license required to drive a MH over 26,001 lbs.  The license test looks like it will be very difficult to pass and has some unrealistic tasks to perform.  One task is to remove the wheel covers on all wheels and insure the lugs are tight.  I talked to a tech and he said his tire men couldn't do that in 20 minutes.  That task is just one of many that have to be completed in 20 minutes.  I just hope I don't get a new inspector who follows the rules to the T.  Maryland sure doesn't make it simple to live there.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lazydays delivers the bus

We got up at 5:30am today in order to get to a doctor appointment in Tarpon Springs at 8:00am.  The scheduler made it very clear that they didn't want me to be late and strongly urged me to be on time.  We actually got there around 7:20am and stopped at a Bob Evans for breakfast.  There weren't any customers to speak of and we got excellent service and were out of there in time to make the appointment.  That was when it started to go down hill.

Once we got there and filled out the 20 pages of forms and entered my name and other information about 8 times, we settled in for my turn to see the doctor.  Evidently the doctor requires me to be on time, but he doesn't practice what he preaches.  I finally got out of the doctors office around 10:30am with both eyes dilated.  

In short, he said I was doing well and didn't have a detached retina.  That was what I wanted to hear.  It seems a number of people have the lightening flashes in their eyes and they do go away over time.  I have to see a doctor when we get home to make sure it doesn't get any worse.  Well, there went our morning.

Lazydays called to say the motorhome was ready and to bring our old MH over to the check in and transfer area.  We had some minor things to do and had lunch before we left the campground.  The guy who does the pre delivery inspection (PDI) showed up quickly and went over all the features of the MH.  Our first PDI on our 1995 MH took about 15 minutes and we were out of there.  This PDI took about 3 hours and we still don't understand how all this stuff works.  I do know how to drive it, so that is the most important thing.

We started transferring our stuff to the new MH and stopped about 8pm since we were worn out.  There is a big dent in the transfer and we hope to finish up by Saturday morning.  Hope is the key word.  It is unbelievable the amount of stuff we had in the Southwind MH and now we are trying to find places for all the valuables.  

The motorhome has a computer installed in the dash, along with a GPS and super backup cameras with side cameras.  I was checking it out tonight and Gerry snuck up on me and took a picture.  The computer has a Celeron CPU and a 40gig harddrive.  It's hard to believe that it is only 4 years old and is so underpowered.  It does give me something to play with.

Yes, Judy the sun was up at 6am.  What a horrible sight for my sore eyes.

Linda, we aren't morning people and if we are up that early, there is a problem.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Still waiting for the Bus

This waiting for the mh to be ready to go is beginning to being drawn out a long time.  Being here for the Memorial Day weekend didn't help speed up things either.  We did drive by the mh this evening and they had installed the new slide toppers and all new tires.  The mh was locked so I couldn't see inside to make sure they were making progress there.  Poco a poco!

The bus has been in the bay so long that it gave birth to a baby RV parked next to it.  Can you imagine how small that little trailer is and would you like to spend a month or two in it?   Sure wouldn't be big enough for us and I would be claustrophobic sleeping there.

We had another day of heavy rains and I think the drought is broken here in the Tampa area.  We also ran into heavy rains in Fredericksburg, TX, so I may hire out my ability to bring the rains to drought areas.  Just send me an email and I will give you a quote for my rates.  

After the rains slowed down a little we decided to check out the Hard Rock Casino that is down the road.  Our friend Gloria recommended it to Gerry, so all our losses should be covered by her.  Ya, fat chance of that!   We were surprised how many slots they had there, along with a lot of gaming tables.  I wound up losing $10 and Gerry played for a couple hours and walked out breaking even.  She places small bets and makes it last, while I like to bet larger and when I win get a bigger payout.  The problem lately is that the payouts have dried up.

My losing at the Casino fit into loosing overall today.  I had a cataract operation in Tucson and my eye has felt funny since then.  I had floaters, but that was normal said the Dr.  Now I have a flashing light on the side of my eye.  That is somewhat normal, but not to the degree that I have it.  It seems like something is loose in there and moving around.  I managed to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist on Wednesday morning at 8am.  The office is in Tarpon Springs and at least one and half hour drive from here.  That means we will have to leave here by 6:15am.  Does anyone know if the sun is up by then?  Looks like a cup of coffee and hit the road is in order.

Never a dull moment around here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Boy

Our bil Tom is celebrating his birthday today with a nice steak dinner at Julie's house.  We gave him a call to wish him a happy birthday and actually got through to him on his cell phone.  I won't say how old he is, but he and Darlene will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this year.  We hope it was a great day for you Tom.

We went back to the Tarpon Springs area to visit with Dave, Diane and Jeanie today.  Dave is son in law Henry's brother and a great guy.  He is also a good cook and prepared a tasty salmon dinner for us.  He is very talented along those lines and we had a good time.  He is interested in movies, computers and nice toys like that and we had non stop conversations the whole time we were there.  I was surprised to see how close he was to the Tarpon Springs sponge docks where we were yesterday.  

We had some thunderstorms today with a lot of rain a couple of times and then it was just cloudy.  We are on the fringes of the tropical storm Beryl, but didn't have any really bad weather because of it.  If we would have left on schedule, we would been right in the middle of the worst part of the storm.   Lucked out on that one.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Decoration / Memorial Day

Note.  Double posting on the blog for this date.

When Gerry and I were young children we used to sell the paper poppies to help raise money for the war veterans.  We would be given a large batch of the flowers and then hit the streets of our hometowns to see how many we could sell.  I doubt I ever sold more than a $1.00 worth of the flowers, but when you combine it with the other children doing the same thing, the money added up.  We still see groups selling the flowers at stop lights and such in various places we have been on Memorial Day.

It's always been an important holiday for me and ranks up there with Independence Day in importance.  It's about honoring those who have died in our nations service and helped keep us free foremost.  Since it was at the beginning of the summer, it was a new beginning for a young boy who loved the summer.  I imagine all of use think of the day in different ways and that is good.  I was going to write a blurb about the holiday, but found an article that summed it up very well. Since they did a better job, I will list it below.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day.   Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.

We all should take time to reflect and honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free.  Gerry and I will do so tomorrow and pay our respects.

BTW:  I know today isn't Memorial Day, but I wanted to write about it early and make sure I had time to do it properly. 

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

Lazydays service bays are closed today and Monday so we have time to do some sightseeing in the area. We visited Tarpon Springs 19 years ago and wanted to see how much it had changed since then. Seffner is east of Tampa and Tarpon Springs is north. The drive there took us via at least 6 different roads and is almost 40 miles from here. We plugged Tarpon Springs into our Tom Tom and hit the road. This is the restaurant we ate in the last time we were there.

We chose to avoid the Interstates since you can't really see anything from them and we like to get to know the areas where we stop for a while. For the most part we made good time and the lights were timed very well. It was interesting seeing the different areas along the way. We went through every social and financial strata to get to Tarpon Springs.

Our goal was to see the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs and stop for dinner in one of the nice Greek restaurants. The downtown area is about 6 blocks long and runs along a waterway and nice harbor. The streets were full of people and it took a few minutes to drive the short distance. There is a nice statue on the docks dedicated to those sponge divers who lost their lives in the business over the years. We tried to get a picture of the statue without a number of people in the way, but that was impossible.

Since we were hungry, we started checking out places. Parking spaces were mostly in pay lots with a few spaces on the streets. We came across a nice seafood restaurant and changed our minds about Greek food. The possibility of having a nice grouper dinner won out.

We went to the Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill in the small harbor  and found they had a 30-45 minute wait to be seated so we put our name on the list and got a pager. About that time I noticed two seats opening at one of the two bar areas in the restaurant and we grabbed them. Back went the pagers. The bartender was a very entertaining young guy with an outgoing personality. We were there in time for happy hour and took advantage of the prices and had a couple drinks. The bartender gave Gerry a MelloYellotini sample which was very good. The grouper sandwich was huge and Gerry couldn't finish hers so being the gentleman that I am, I helped her out. Did I tell you that I love grouper?

We cruised the streets for a while and then decided to seek out the beaches We drove through some areas where the homes looked like small hotels and had beautifully landscaped yards. Just a block away were very modest homes that were a mixed bag. It was an interesting area to do some sightseeing and we enjoyed the ride.

We finally drove down to Dunedin and took the causeway out onto the Gulf. They had parking areas along side of the causeway that were full of boaters, swimmers, wave runners and every kind of watercraft available. The beach was nice but the seaweed was stacked up about 1-2 ft high at the water's edge. This is typical in Florida in many places and they leave it there to help prevent beach erosion. There were a number of kayak rental areas and one in particular was very scenic.

By this time we were both tired out from getting up early and hitting the road. We stopped at a Dairy Queen on the way home and each got a blizzard. It was good, but we were so full from the dinner that we could barely finish them.

It was a great day for us,. How was yours?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oooopps, a slight delay at Lazydays

This was supposed to be the day of the walkthrough of the Allegro Bus, but that didn't come about.  We called this morning to check the status of the walkthrough and the RV tech said he checked the rubber molding problem around the slides and said the slide toppers were brittle and dry rotting.  Big oooppss there.  He decided they all needed replacing before the coach would be ready and we would have to wait until Tuesday for them to make the toppers.  They have a facility here to make them and it was closed for the Memorial Day weekend.

Now we will be staying in their Fleetwood Southwind while we wait for our Allegro Bus to be ready.  We went in Friday and did all the financial paper work to transfer it to us.  It took a couple hours and we signed more paper work than when we sold our home a few years ago.  What used to be a simple process now entails signing about 15 different forms.  I'm not sure, but I think I gave away our daughter Cassie to Lazydays.  We will see how that goes.

It is very hot down here in the Tampa area and too uncomfortable to do much outside.  Even though we spend 5 months in Tucson, it isn't this hot while we are there.  We do plan on going to Tarpon Springs to see the docks and sponge stores.  They also have some great Greek restaurants there and I love Greek food.

View down the street from campsite.
 The Spanish moss is all over the place in this area of Florida and looks very nice.  I don't know how much trouble it is for the residents, but we do enjoy seeing it in the trees.  This section of the campground has a nice stand of the moss.

Spanish Moss

There are a number of new arrivals at the campground and most of them are families.  The park set up a bouncy slide with a water slide outside the pool area this morning.  They laid a large tarp down and then blew up the bouncy thing in about 5 minutes.  There were a number of children playing on the slide at different times during they day and it looked like a lot of fun.

Lazydays presents all new RV buyers with a basket of goodies like crackers, cookies, and things like that.  We knew this was a feature of Lazydays and today was our turn.  It is a real nice basket and they also gave us another gift bag with a beautiful compass included.  It was made of brass and looks to be very sturdy and will last us a long time.  Now, I have a GPS in the motorhome, a TOM TOM portable GPS, a Delorme GPS for the laptop computer, a nice compass and this latest compass.  No excuse to get lost for us now.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This Bus is ours officially

Well, if you had told me a couple weeks ago that we would buy a Tiffin Allegro Bus at Lazydays I would have laughed at you.  The laugh would have been on me since we now are the proud owners of the bus.

We went to the office today and spent four hours and a bundle of money and it looks like we will do the PDI walk through on Saturday morning and then transfer all our stuff to the bus.  It will be slow going since it will be in the mid 90s the next couple days with high humidity.  We plan on taking it easy and finishing when we can without breaking our backs.

I think we have met with everyone who works at Lazydays since they shuffle you from person to person.  Just like a factory production line with each person doing their part.  They are efficient and know their stuff.  We will get a 30 day temporary tag and hopefully get back in time and have it inspected, get a new Class A drivers license and be back on the road soon.

Other than the above it has been dull and slow going around here.  We have to be close by in case they need us for something and there is only so much we can pack in the meantime.  Space is at a premium in the Southwind and we still have to drive to the transfer area.  If we were already on the site, we could pack and load the 6 large totes and 14 shoebox totes.  We also have some boxes from Costco to help move all the small stuff.  It sure wasn't this much trouble with our previous motorhome since we didn't have it loaded to the gills.

The campground is beginning to fill up for the Memorial Day weekend, but it is far from being full.  They use the CG for Rallys and other events and it is very good for that.  The Rally center is quite large and they have a restaurant called Exit 10 which is in the shape of a long motorhome.  The pool and hot tub are quite large and very nice.  We aren't pool people, but many campers use it all the time.

Lazydays provides free breakfasts and lunchs 6 days a week.  They used to have nicer lunches, but they are nice enough now to get us to go about every other day.  The breakfasts that we went to were mixed, one day being nice and the other not so good.  You can't beat the price, so all is well.

I took the following from their campground website.

  • Full-Time Activities Coordinator
  • Fun Activities for Kids of All Ages
  • Screened and Heated Pool With Hot Tub
  • Tennis, Horseshoes, Volleyball,Bean Bag Toss,
    Ladderball, Badminton and Pickleball
  • Exit 10 Restaurant & Pub in RallyCenter
  • Laundry Facility
  • Shuttle Service to and from Lazydays
  • Full-Service Catering to Serve More Than
    400 People
  • On-Site Flying J, Cracker Barrel and
    Camping World
  • Exciting Off-Site Excursions Available
*Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday in the Lazydays Café.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Still waiting for the Bus!

It's a good thing that we are retired and not really in a hurry to get someplace.  The service manager called us this afternoon to give an update on the schedule for turning the motor home over to us.  Good news and bad news.  Surprise!  The bad news is that they found a bad shock absorber on the rear of the MH and a bad exhaust pipe.  The good news is that they have repaired the shock and are waiting on a part to repair the pipe.  It may take a little longer here than expected and with Memorial Day weekend upon us, who knows when the work will be completed.  So far they have put us up in the LazyDays RV Park and we are comfortable there.

The weather has turned up the heat somewhat in the last few days. The humidity isn't that bad, but the temps have been in the mid to high 90s the last 4-5 days.  They are calling for rain and thunderstorms this weekend and the humidity will return.  Great!

We went to Costco and purchased some more plastic totes to put in the basement storage.  It looks like we can easily fit 6 commercial 12 gallon totes on one slideout tray and still have room to spare.  We have two slideout trays and a number of other outside bins to take care of all our "stuff".

We chatted with another Allegro Bus owner today to see how he liked his coach.  He had nothing but good things to say about it and loved it.  He has the same configuration as we do with it being all electric and said he ordered it that way and would do it again.  When the subject of fuel mileage came up, he said he got around 13mpg on his coach driving in the 62-65 mph range.  I've never heard of anyone getting that kind of mileage on a large diesel coach, but could live with it if we approached that range.  I was thinking in the 8-9mpg range, so anything over that would be great.  If he really gets that great mpg, then he would have almost a 2,000 range on a tank of diesel.

Gas was $3.37 at the local Costco today and I filled the Saturn thinking we would be out of here on Sunday.  That was before the status update.  Now Gerry thinks we should use some of that fuel to spend some time at the local Hard Rock Cafe Casino a few miles from here.  Maybe she can hit the jackpot and help pay for the bus.  That would be great, but I'm not going to hold my breath for it to happen.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Waiting for the Bus

We took it easy today after running in and out of motorhomes the previous three days.  The rest was appreciated by both of us.  We spent the day getting things organized so we can speed up the move from the old MH to the new one.

We drove by where the new MH was parked and it was gone.  A helpful employee took us to where it was parked in the work area.  I don't know if they have started on it yet, since it was locked and the outside items weren't changed.  The say it will be finished by Friday morning, so all we can do is wait at this time.

It was very hot today and sunny all day.  Thank goodness for a/c, so we didn't have to suffer too much.  A short ride around the area was on tap for tonight and we found it interesting.  Just a short distance away are open fields, cows, horses and very few homes.  There are small pockets of house with luxury homes and shacks mixed in together within a block.  The streets are shaded with large trees covered in Spanish moss and look neat.

Today was a special day for Cassie & Jack.  They went to court and the adoption of Lexa is now official.  She is now Elizabeth Lexa Nickole M and we welcome her to the family with open arms.  Way to go Red!  A party is on tap when we get back to Maryland.

Cassie, Lexa & Jack

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tiffin Allegro Bus

Well, I finally talked Gerry into getting a new motorhome.  She was a tough nut to crack, but my charm and diplomatic skills won her over in the long run.  She holds onto her pennies like they were gold and priceless.

We have been looking at motorhomes the last three days and had narrowed it down to a 2008 Tiffin Allegro Bus, 2012 Winnebago Adventurer and 2012 Tiffin Allegro RED.  The Winnebago was gas and the other two diesel units are diesel.  At long last we decided on the Allegro Bus and signed and sealed the deal today.  

It will be Friday before they do all the changes and updates to the unit and then we will take a couple days to move our "stuff" into the new unit.  In the meantime we are going to get some boxes and plastic totes to get a jump start on the move.  It is in the 90s here and we aren't looking forward to all the work that needs to be done in the heat, but will take our time and get it done.

This is a picture of the motorhome we chose and are looking forward to enjoying it for a long time.  Our last motorhome was called Leaddog II, but this one will be called Gerry's Folly II.  Our cabin is Gerry's Folly I, so we have to keep the naming serial numbers in order.

We missed Ron K being with us to look at the motorhomes, but I think we would have worn him out in this marathon quest to get a new unit.  He was with us in spirit though.

The motorhome has a 150 gallon diesel tank and gets around 8mpg, so we will only have to fill up twice to get to Tucson.  Of course, that will be at $4.00/gal, so any and all financial donations will be accepted.  Checks and cash are fine with us.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Slow Sunday

We heard from the salesman this morning and he offered a significant price cut from his previous offer on the Winnebago Adventurer MH.  We also talked about what his real price on the diesel motorhome and they came in with a much lower offer.

We decided to stay another day and take both for test drives on Monday morning.  We may even be able to make a deal before we leave here.  I sure don't like hanging around waiting for all this wheeling and dealing.  Since there is a tropical storm off the Atlantic coast near Daytona, we really aren't in a big hurry to head that way.

We did make a Costco run today to pick up some needed items.  It was a smaller Costco and didn't have any new items to temp us.  Gas was $3.40/gal there, but we didn't need any in the car.

That was our exciting day.  How was yours?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Time to make a deal

Gerry and I went back to the sales lot at Lazydays RV to look at a couple units once again.  We finally decided to see what kind of a deal we could get from LazyDays and talked more to a salesman.  I put that event right up there with getting two root canals in a day, but it was necessary to see if we were even in the ballpark with our offer on a 2012, 37ft Winnebago Adventurer.  After much haggling, discussing, explaining, etc, we wound up getting an counter offer from him.  Not even close and he wasn't budging off his original offer.  He indicated that maybe a $1K drop in price was possible, but that was it.

We did part friends and went on our way.  Gerry wanted to look at the used 2008 Allegro Bus that we had checked the day before, so we went back there on our own and spent about 45 minutes going through it.  There are a lot of great features on the bus and it looked in pristine condition, so we decided to see what kind of deal we could get on it.  We aren't optimistic on us agreeing to a price with them, but it doesn't hurt to make an offer.  One concern of mine with the bus is that it is all electric.  No propane at all in the bus.  It does have heat pumps and an electric fireplace so that should suffice in most weather.  (  Note.....  We don't intend to be in cold places in the winter. ) 

I got on the internet and checked what a 40ft Allegro Bus was selling for and the prices ranged over a $40K difference.  If LazyDays hold firm to their asking price, then we will be out of here on Monday morning.  If not, then maybe we can get together on an agreeable price.  In any case, it will be back to the root canal negotiations with the salesman.

There is a tropical storm churning off the coast of Florida and since New Smyrna Beach, FL is our next planned stop, we will stay here another day at least.  No sense driving into  heavy downpours of rain and sitting in the motorhome all day.  We've seen more rain the last couple weeks than we have in the previous 5 months. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Not so LazyDays

We got up early today to enjoy breakfast at the LazyDays in their breakfast/lunch room.  I was looking forward to a nice cup of coffee, scrambled eggs and sausage.  What I got was a small roll, coffee and cold cereal, plus a small yogurt.  It was fine and we enjoyed the breakfast.  They said eggs and sausage would be on tap for Saturday morning.

We went back for lunch and then started looking at motorhomes in earnest.  They don't have near the large stock of units they had in previous years, but there were still a number to check out.  We checked out new & used, gas & diesel units and actually found three that we may be interested in.  Two diesel units and a gas one.  We were trapped in a MH for a long time due to a tropical downpour that lasted 30 minutes or more.  Ron K, you should have been there helping us check these units out. 

We haven't talked price with anyone yet and will go back on Saturday to see if we can come up with a great deal.  Who knows, we may actually find a unit we can afford and live with.  I wish I could be optimistic, but it seems they don't have the great deals out there anymore.   

After spending all afternoon checking out MHs we decided to have dinner at Cracker Barrel, however that didn't work out.  There were more people waiting outside to get in than there were people inside eating.  No problem.  We would find another place.  We went over I-4 and it was a huge parking lot.  Ooopss.  Turn around and head back to a Bob Evans and had their $9.99 three course meal.  It was more than enough food and Gerry brought half of hers back to the MH.  I managed to finish mine, but it really filled me up.  I guess I will have to cut out the large house salad next time.

As you may guess but now, I am bushed and taking it easy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Exit 10

We got on the road today a little late, but we weren't in a hurry.  It was only 150 miles to our next destination.  Yep, Exit 10 on I-4 in Florida.  I imagine that won't mean a lot to some of you, but to others they will recognize the significance of it immediately.  We pulled into the camground and were assigned a camping spot that looked too small for us.  Well, we made it and are now hooked up and running both a/c to help cool down the unit.  It takes a while to get it cool when it's 96 degrees outside.

The previous campground had the hot wire and ground wires reversed and I told the manager about it on the way out.  His comment was that a professional had wired the park recently.  He should have looked for references before he contracted with the guy.  Our auto transformer prevented any damage and we were fine. 

We intentionally took secondary roads to see what the countryside looked like.  Lots of water, pine trees, roadside pubs, green fields and few towns.  It was a pleasant drive until we had to take on some fuel to get to the next stop where gas was a lot cheaper.  The small gas stations aren't the best place to get into with a 37ft motorhome and tow car, but I found one that we fit in.  Barely!

We finally had to get on I-75 for the last few miles and ran into a lot of construction.  No problem, it will be finished the fall of 2015.  It seems they could build a new highway quicker than that.

Back to Exit 10.  In case you haven't figured it out, we are presently at LazyDays RV Campground.  Gerry wanted to see what they have in stock and is anxious to buy a new motorhome or possibly a used diesel MH.  We were surprised to see how little stock they had parked on the hillside by the campground.  The last time we were here there must have been 1200 used units there.  Not this time, 15 units is more like it.  Now we are wondering how many units they have on their other lot.  We shall find out early next morning when we take advantage of their "free" breakfast & lunch.

Free isn't exactly how I would describe it, since we prepaid for them in the campground cost of $42.50 a night.  The first time we stopped here many years ago it was in the $18 a night range.  The campground is beginning to show a lot of wear and age.  Our electrical box cover fell off when I opened it.  They do provide free wifi (dropped out twice on me in 10 mins) and cable tv.  We had all that last night for half the price.  Of course, location is so important.  We will only be here a couple nights and then move on.

I don't mean the above to be a rant, just an observation.  If we didn't think it was worth it, we wouldn't have stopped.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cross City, FL

Nothing much interesting to write about today.  We reluctantly left Gulf State Park and stopped for fuel at the local Walmart.  The motorhome barely fit into the gas station there and was a tight fit getting out.  Since the station was so close to the park, we didn't hook up the Saturn until after getting gas.  Good move.

We took some back roads so we could avoid driving through the suburbs of Pensacola, FL.  There wasn't much traffic there and only a stop sign or two slowing us down.  That is much better than all the traffic lights the other way. 

We caught RT 19 east of Tallahassee and almost had the 4 lane highway to ourselves.  There was very little traffic and only a couple small towns to slow us down.  We finally arrived at Shady Oaks RV Park and Campground just south of Cross City, FL.  It's a small park and a bit "rustic" but will do for an over night stop and the price was right at $21/night for a full hookup and cable tv.  We have about a 145 mile drive to the LazyDays campground in the Tampa, FL area.

See, not every day is exciting while we are on the road.  We did listen to 5 hours of an audio book during the 345 mile drive today. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gulf Shores

Gulf State Park allows you to wash your RV if you use bio-degradable soup.  I use Simply Green to wash the unit and that was fine with them.  Gerry and I hadn't washed the unit since last fall and it needed it badly with the dust and grime from the road, along with dust from Arizona.   I used the long handled brush to get the grime off and Gerry rinsed it.  I took a break and she worked on the front of the MH and got all the bugs off.  It really cleaned up nice and looks like a new RV now.

We decided to eat out another time and take advantage of the great seafood in the area.  Gerry had noticed Wintzell's Oyster Bar and wanted to try it out.  We got there early and were able to get a table on the patio area over a small pond.  There was a nice breeze and it had cooled down so it was very pleasant out there.  We had great service from the waiter and were served very quickly.  The patio filled up while we were there and some people were feeding the fish and turtles.

Gerry ordered a stuffed crab dinner and a glass of wine.  She was pleased with her meal, but said they could have taken out some of the filling and added more crab.  It must have been ok, since she ate all of it.

They had some neat sayings throughout the restaurant and a group of them on a big board over the bar on the patio.  I don't know if you can read them or not, but I've included a photo of them below.

We will be pulling out of here on Wednesday morning and heading for the Tampa, FL area for a few days.  We may have time to stop in Orlando and visit with a cousin of mine and his family.  It's a little out of the way, but we haven't been in that area for a long time and wanted to visit there once again.  Who knows, maybe one of these winters we will head down to Florida again.

Big tv night for Gerry with both NCIS programs having their final episode of the season.  As usual, it looks like a cast member will be killed off in each program.  It seems once a program does this, then everyone follows along and does the same thing.  Aren't there any people out there who can write an original script and present it?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Key Lime Pie & Hangout Music Festival

Gerry and I spent 11 winters in the Florida Keys staying in State Parks and moving every two weeks.  We usually were there from late January to early May and loved it down there.  What isn't there to love about clear water, blue skies and warm temperature in those cold months.  We made many good friends down there that we still keep in touch with and would love to return, but the difficulty in getting a reservation in the parks makes it impossible.

One thing that we really loved about the Keys, other than Grouper meals,  was Key Lime Pie.  It is very addictive and once you acquire a taste for it, you never forget it.  Publix grocery stores in Florida almost all have Key Lime Pie for sale and we think they make the best pie of all that we have tasted. (Carolyn does make a great pie also, and we don't refuse a piece of her pie!).  We needed some things from the store yesterday and I went in and found their delicious pies in the cooler section.  So much for will power, I grabbed one and took it home with us.  It lived up to it's billing and we enjoyed a piece for desert last night.   Thank goodness it has few calories or we would be in trouble.  I think I will go get me a piece right now.  Can't let it go to waste.

The weather down here has been great the last few days and we are going to extend for another day to take advantage of it.  There is a music festival coming up this weekend and the park has been fully booked for that, so we have to leave before then.  They are working on the stages, tents, food stands, etc downtown around The Hangout bar and that area.  It looks like it will be a huge event and I don't think it would be a good time for us to be here.  There might be some drinking and smoking going on.  

 Here is the band lineup.  We have heard of a few of these bands like the headliners, but the others aren't familiar to us.  They must play to a younger crowd.

The Hangout Music Festival


Today is a special birthday wish for Grant who turns 11 today.  We were trying to get there in time to celebrate his birthday with him, but it didn't work out that way this year.  It is for the best for him, since he now can have two birthday celebrations.  Grandma wants to make sure she can get in on spoiling him also.  Not that he is spoiled. 

 Happy Birthday Grant 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day out there to all the mothers who follow my blog.   There should be more mother's days throughout the year for all the good things they do for us.  

Happy Mother's Day Gerry! 

My mother passed away many years ago at an early age (53) and I have felt cheated that she was gone so fast.  She has never been forgotten by me and I think of her often and wish she could have been in my life longer.  I do have great memories of her and that has helped.
Sarah Louise HUTTON Clark

Jerry & Barbara STISCAK Brabec Wedding
Gerry's mother passed away a number of years ago also and had suffered with cancer for a long time before that.  She also was a loving and caring person and is missed by all.  I loved to tease her about getting the clothes out on the line early on wash day.  She and a neighbor seemed to be in competition to see who could be first.  They never got the clothes out before sunrise, so that is a good thing.

Yesterday was Henry's birthday and we called him as they were returning from a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.   Taylor's grandmother has a beach front house there and Barb, Henry, Jared, Taylor & Sean all went down for a few days.  They love the beach and had a great time.

Happy Birthday Oldtimer!

Today is a little cloudy, but we do have a lot of sunshine and it's almost time to head for the beach.  They have a dangerous rip tide at the present time, so it will be viewing time and not swimming time for us. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

We got up even earlier today so we could get ahead of the rainy forecast.  They were calling for 2+ inches of rain in Mandeville and more on Sunday, so we decided to leave there and travel to Gulf Shores, AL.  Fontainebleau SP campground has a lot of trees and yesterday afternoon we had some strong winds.  The trees were swaying in the wind and I didn't feel comfortable being parked under them if the wind was going to be stronger today.

The campground at Gulf State Park doesn't have any trees to speak of and we decided to head there a day early.  It was a windy ride here and the closer we go the windier it was.  Hot and humid to say the least.  We are setup in the park now and enjoying the a/c in the mh.  Later this evening we will go to one of the great seafood restaurants around here and have some Grouper fish.  Yumm!

The weather forecast for here is calling for almost 3.5 inches of rain this afternoon and evening.  That is about a years supply for Tucson, AZ.  

The rains came about the time to go out for dinner and we decided to just fix something in the motorhome and not fight the crowds and rain.  It does look like rain squalls will be passing through the area all night and hopefully they won't be that heavy.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fontainebleau State Park

When we got ready to hit the road searching for adventure in the Mandeville, LA area today it started to rain.  At first it was just a drizzle but then it started raining harder and it became obvious that sightseeing was not going to be the order of the day.  We stopped at a grocery store and got some supplies and then headed back to the motorhome.  

The rain let up somewhat and we decided to drive around the park.  Keep in mind that this is a very large park of 2,800 acres  with cabins, campgrounds, waterpark, picnic areas and lots of open space.  It is located on the North shore of Lake Pontchartrain and has a couple miles of beach and shore front.  They also have a bike trail that goes through the park on an old railroad right of way.  

We drove down to the area where the 12 cabins are located.  They are built on concrete stilts and go out into the lake.  I understand they are very popular and you have to rent them many months in advance.  We didn't go in any of them, but they looked new and very nice from the outside.  The view at sunset must be worth a million dollars.

There is a nice water park area with water jets and buckets attached to a pole that filled with water and then dumped it on the people below. It sounds silly but I imagine little kids would love playing in that pool in their swim suits.  They were building this area when we were last here in 2009 on our way to Tucson.  

Across from this area was a large covered pavilion that would hold at least 75 people.  There was a group of young teenagers there under the pavilion having a picnic.  Outside on the grass they had a large bouncy bounce that was shaped into a slide.  The kids were having a blast in the rain sliding down the slide.  A couple decided to jump down and bounce into the small pool.  Not a very good idea, to say the least.

The park is covered with very large and old oak trees and some   must be over 100 years old.  The Spanish moss covers a lot of the trees and they are beautifulHurricane Katrina hit this area hard and took out thousands of trees and the area still has parts that can't be accessed due to the closeness of the trees.  One old tree is right alongside the road and is quite dead.  It looks very interesting and I think the park management left it there to be photographed.

If you are ever in the Mandeville, LA vicinity and want to spend the night in a great park and campground, then Fontainebleau State Park is the place for you.  They have a few full hookup sites, but most are water & electric sites.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Louie & The Redhead Lady

We got a slow start today from our stopover in Beaumont, TX.  We started to watch a movie and didn't pay attention to the time and it was around 1am before the movie finished.  It was one of Bruce Willis's Die Hard movies and had a ton of action.  Don't they all.

We stopped at the FlyingJ truck stop in Orange, TX to fuel up the motorhome.  Gas was $3.37/gal with our discount and that is the cheapest gas we have seen on our return trip.  The was a nicer FlyingJ with an easy in/out and not all scrunched up.  They even had a sense of humor in the cashier area.  That is rare for FlyingJ.

Back on the road and making good time until we got to Lake  Charles, LA where the traffic was backed up for miles.  I had the chance to take the bypass around there, but didn't want to drive that far out of my way.  Big Mistake!  It was stop and go with stop being the leading word.  Moving to the left lane since the right one was closed didn't work since everyone zoomed on by and then tried to merge in at the last second.  I finally got off I-10 and drove through a small town and went about 12 miles out of our way, but we made good time doing that.

There is a very steep bridge on I-10 and it was part of the stop and go portion.  I would guess it is about a 10-12% incline and I didn't want to go up it in the motorhome at a crawl and then have to brake hard going down the other side.  That is the reason I got off the highway.

We made good time the rest of the way until we got around Baton Rouge, LA where I-10 & I-12 meet.  Slow going there.  There was construction on I-12 with lane closures and that took a while to get through.  If you want to travel the Interstates, then you have to put up with road construction when the weather is nice.

We arrived at Fontainebleau State Park early enough to get a good site for the next couple days.   I picked out a pull through site and that was a mistake.  We had to detach the Saturn and the pull through sites are very curvy and small, plus we paid extra for it.  Louisiana and Maryland honor each others Golden Age passes and we paid 1/2 price for the site.  $13/night.

Since we are in a great seafood area, we went to Louie & The Redhead Lady restaurant in Mandeville for dinner.  They start you off with free cheese biscuits that were very tasty.  Thursday was $7.99 night for all you could eat shrimp or catfish.  Shrimp and catfish it was for us.  We each ordered a little more and managed to stuff ourselves pretty good.  If you are in the area and want a good, home cooked meal, then I would recommend this place.

Someone else also recommends it. Guy Fieri of  Diners, Drive-ins & Dives  We stopped in a restaurant in Charlotte, NC where he also ate and left his pictures.  He has a television program and goes all over the US checking out offbeat restaurants and local places.  I imagine he gave them a good review since they have his picture up and sell t-shirts with him on them.  You never know what you are going to run across out here on the road.  That is what makes it so much fun.

Louie and the Redhead Lady (Ginger) were at the restaurant, but not working.  I don't know if they actually run the place or not, but if they do, the hired help does all the work.  Maybe it was their day off.

It looks like the rain is going to catch up to us again with T-storms in the forecast for the next couple days.  How about that, 5 months of desert living and not rain & now rain just about every day.  Maybe that is the reason that everything is so green back here and brown in the desert.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beaumont, TX

We actually got an early start today and left Fredericksburg on time.  No problem with getting into the Shell gas station and filling up the motorhome.  We headed for San Antonio and took the bypass north of San Antonio rather than driving through the center of town.  There are a number of places on I-10 in SA that require you to switch across 2-3 lanes in a short distance.  Not for me.

I wanted to get through Houston before rush hour and made it with time to spare.  The traffic in Houston was heavy, but it moved quickly without any problems.  We breezed through there and made it outside of Beaumont, TX around 4:30 pm.  All in all it was an easy 340 mile drive.  We like to keep our driving distance to 350 miles or less a day if at all possible.

I contemplated not writing a blog today since it was just a common driving day.  There are some days like this and at least for those who keeps track of our travels, they will know where we are.  

It is hot and humid here in the Beaumont area.  Quite a change from the Tucson area with it's 9% humidity.  We are camped near a small lake and the adds to the humidity.  Whew!  

Wednesday we will head for Mandeville, LA and the Fontainebleau  State Park.  Louisiana has an agreement with Maryland and gives a 50% discount to Maryland residents.  Plus, it is a nice State Park and we like the area.  

See you later.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fredericksburg, TX

We decided to spend another day here in Fredericksburg since it was raining all day long.  Neither one of us felt like getting the MH ready for travel in the rain and then being wet all day long.  So, we had another lazy day for us.  Not as lazy as we wanted since we had a water leak in the bedroom slideout area.  I guess it is time to treat the seal once again and prevent that from happening again.

Judy and Herb left today and we were sad to see them leave.  We had a great time with them running the roads and sightseeing in the area.  They have been coming to the Hill Country for many years and know their way around very good.  They had rearranged their schedule to drive down and visit with us and had to get back and finish up some chores.  We have plans for them to join us in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta and it will be great seeing them again.

When we left Kerrville for the drive up to Fredericksburg gasoline was $3.62/gal in Kerrville and $3.58 here in Fredericksburg.  I needed gas, but didn't want to fill up on the way in and thought gas would be cheaper after the weekend.  Oil prices by the barrel have been falling for the past week and I was hoping to see some of that at the pump.  I was right since fuel is $3.49 here this morning at the Shell station right across the street from us.  Now to get the motorhome in that tight space and fill it up with 60+ gallons of fuel.  That is going to be another big OUCH in the pocketbook, but is budgeted for and not a big problem.   Donations are accepted.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Luckenbach & LBJ Ranch

We were up bright and early today since we had a full tour schedule ahead of us.  First, we made a stop at a local coffee & pastry shop for breakfast.  Omelettes and Taco breakfasts were on order along with coffee.  The food was good and the coffee hot.  Well, I think it was hot, but we didn't order any.  Judy and Herb did and had a few cups.  Since coffee was $2.75, numerous refills were in order by them.  

We headed for Lyndon Baines Johnson State Park and National Park.  The LBJ ranch and homestead has been a park for many years.  We drove by the school house that LBJ attended and it looks the same now as when he was a little boy.  Judy said she attended a school house much like this when she was in elementary school.  Not with LBJ though!

Junction School House

Judy late for school again.
Right down the road from the school is a reconstruction of his birthplace.  It was a very modest home like all the other homes in the area at the time.  His father had made a fortune and then lost it before they moved to this area and bought land.  The family cemetery is just across the road from the home and it is where LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson are buried along with a lot of Johnson kinfolk, including his parents.

LBJ boyhood home

We then drove further into the park and along the 6300 ft airplane runway that LBJ had constructed so he could land a jet plane there.  Evidently he didn't like to waste time driving from the nearest large airport.  His Lockheed JetStar VC-140 plane is sitting under an open hangar just outside the old hanger where it was parked.  The old hangar has been converted into a visitors center with pictures and sayings from when he was president.   There are two Lincoln Continental convertibles, a 1934 Ford Phaeton roadster, a water car and a golf cart in the hangar.  He had gun racks and an open wet bar installed in the Ford and liked to drive it around the ranch.  Think about that.  Driving with open liquor and also hunting from the back of a vehicle.  Rank does have it's privilege.

1934 Ford Phaeton

Judy and Gerry wanted to take the tour of the Texas White House and joined the tour being led by a Park Ranger.  They enjoyed the tour and loved seeing the interior of the house.  The pool looked very inviting on a hot day like this and they had to resist temptation and not jump in the pool.  The front of the house was so long and Gerry had to take three photos to get all of the house in the picture.  I converted it to a panoramic picture so it would fit on the page. 

We all enjoyed visiting the LBJ ranch and seeing his cattle corrals, homes, and lots of acres planted in hay.  It is a working farm and they have cattle running all over the place other than the large house area.  Well worth visiting if you are in the area.

The next stop on the day's trip was in Luckenbach, TX to visit the place.  Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings made it famous in a 1977 song. 

 (Luckenbach, Texas / Back to the Basics of Love)

The only two things in life that make it worth livin'
Is guitars that tune good and firm feelin' women
I don't need my name in the marquee lights
I got my song and I got you with me tonight
Maybe it's time we got back to the basics of love

Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we're livin'
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
Between Hank Williams' pain songs and
Newberry's train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain't nobody feelin' no pain

So baby, let's sell your diamond ring
Buy some boots and faded jeans and go away
This coat and tie is choking me
In your high society you cry all day
We've been so busy keepin' up with the Jones
Four car garage and we're still building on
Maybe it's time we got back to the basics of love

 The actual town of Luckenbach is just a bar, dance hall and a few other buildings.  The dance hall is quite large and looks like an old barn.  It still draws in large crowds on the weekend and has a large motorcycle parking space in front of the dance hall.

The general store has a post office, souvenir shop and bar in it.  To say it is rustic doesn't do it justice.  It sure does have a lot of character and was a neat place to visit.   

This post is getting quite long, so I'll just include a few pictures and give you guys a break.

Luckenbach, TX

Gerry & Judy shopping

Backroom bar

Entertainment  - Bill Lewis in Pickers Circle

Herb & Judy

 We visited another winery in Sisterdale, TX and wrapped up the day touring the area.  We had a fun time and were well worn out when we got back to the motor home where a crockpot dinner was awaiting us.

Oh, one more thing.  We managed to arrive in Fredericksburg just as their drought was broken.  We received over an inch of rain Saturday night and today it hailed and rained cats and dogs.  Just our luck.  Hail again.  More dents on the car to join the ones from last year. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rockbox Theatre & Grapecreek Winery

We decided to go to the Rockbox Theater and take in their variety show.  The theater holds around 200 people and there isn't a bad seat in the house.  We went to the Sunday matinee and the theater was only about 1/4th full and we got an excellent seat very close to the stage.  

Larry, Gerry, Judy & Herb
We really enjoyed the show and they had some great acts.  There was one singer, Nadja,  who sang Aretha Franklin songs and really belted them out.  I was amazed at the range of voice she had and how much she sounded like the Queen of Soul.  Super job and she was the star of the show in my opinion.

They had 9 performers on the stage including the band members.  The lead guitarist performed in a number of skits with a woman who is his wife.  She also was a singer, backup singer and the MC for the show.  They were very entertaining and put on a good show also.  

One performer did an excellent imitation of Don Knotts even down to his police uniform and pistol without a bullet in it.  He had the bullet in his shirt pocket like Barney Fife did on Mayberry RFD.  He was supposed to be the security for the theater and was very funny and entertaining.  In addition, he was a superb harmonica player and performed 3-4 great songs.

The guitar player above working with Barney was very good and did an imitation of Willy Nelson and really nailed the song.  He was so good he could have filled in for Willie if you couldn't see him.

After the show we decided to take a drive out to the Grape Creek winery and did some wine tasting.  Since it was Sunday, they were closing at 5pm, but we got there in time to buy a bottle of wine and sit on the veranda  and to drink it.  Even though it was a hot day, it was very comfortable sitting in the shade and sipping the wine.

The girls managed to do some clothes shopping in addition to spending money on wine.  These shirts were very appropriate for them.

By the time we got out of the winery it was time to head for dinner.  We picked out a German restaurant and had a great meal.  I ordered a Rueben on black bread and Gerry had  German meatballs and a pasta that was great.  It was so large she couldn't finish it and brought half of it home.  Judy and Herb enjoyed their meals and said they would eat there again when they come to Fredericksburg.

After that we went back to the motor home and just chilled out and watched a few TV programs and made an early night of it.