Category Archives: WC-RV-Resort

Posts related to our extended stay at Williston Crossings RV Resort in Williston, Florida.

2015/12/28 (M) On to Arcadia

Even though we were pulling out this morning we did not set an alarm to get up at some particular time.  We were up by 7:30 AM anyway. I did not make coffee or have breakfast and started preparing for departure.  We packed up our computers and put them on the bed, put away remote controls, and turned off the laser printer and NAS.  While Linda cleared off counters and secured drawers I took care of some outside things.

I pulled the tow bar parts bags out, set them aside, got out the tow bar adapters for the car, and inserted them.  I folded up the two bag chairs and put them in the car and folded up the plastic table and stowed it in the front bay.  I checked the pressure in the two front/steer tires on the bus and they were fine so I did not have to get the air compressor and hose out.  I put up all of the awnings and opened the air valve for the engine accessories and toad braking system.

When everything else was ready Linda pulled the car out while I turned on the bus chassis batteries and started the bus engine.  I let the chassis air up, pulled up the tag axle, pulled out of our site, and then backed up until I was parallel with, and close to, the edge of the road on the passenger side and not blocking anyone’s driveway.  Linda pulled the car up behind the bus and we connected it for towing.  The breakaway cable finally broke so I got the spare cable out of the glove box but I could not get the key out of the disconnect.  Rather than risk breaking it and thereby disabling the car, we decided to travel without it.

We had a final, quick chat with our neighbor’s, Danny and Dorothy, and with Ken on the other side, and pulled away around 9:10 AM.  We were out of the resort and headed southeast on US-27 at 9:26.  At Ocala we headed south on I-75 as far as exit 301 (Cortez Blvd) at Brooksville, and headed east on FL-700 as far as US-98 and headed south.  Most of this segment was also co-terminus with US-35.  The drive was mostly rural and very pretty.  It was warm outside but patchy clouds kept the temperature inside the coach from getting too warm, at least for a while.  Eventually I turned on the OTR HVAC system and it worked well.

We passed through several smaller towns but eventually got to Lakeland which was much larger, with lots of stop lights and traffic, so it took longer to get through.  Still, it was an attractive community and something to see besides an Interstate highway.  The Detroit Tigers spring training camp is in Lakeland and we will likely drive up for some games while we are in this part of Florida.

US-17 joined up with US-98 as we were leaving Lakeland.  Somewhere south of Lakeland (Fort Meade?) US-98 turned east towards Sebring and we continued south on US-17 to Arcadia.  A few miles before reaching US-70 west of Arcadia we turned onto NE Turner Road which ran due south towards the Turner Agri-Civic Center and bypassed downtown Arcadia.  We pulled into the Civic Center, which was the rally venue, at 1:15 PM.

Linda checked in with rally organizers/hosts Bill and Brenda Phelan.  Linda stayed with the coach while Bill drove me over to check out sites.  I selected site #9 which would have us facing west with our passenger side facing north.  Although this orientation put the afternoon sun on our windshields, it also provided shade in conjunction with the patio awning.  Dan (?) led us over to the site and then left us to unhook the car and back the bus in.  We leveled the coach (we thought) and I shut it down and went through our arrival preparations.

The inside of the coach was cool from the OTR HVAC and I wanted to keep it that way, so we left the windows and roof vents closed and put the insulated foil panels in the three large skylights.  We also found the snap covers for the side windows next to the driver seat and installed those.  We were able to position the coach which generous space to our passenger side and far enough back that the 25 foot shorepower cord just reached the outlet box.  After plugging in we turned on all three of the residential air-conditioners.  We deployed all of the awnings, including the patio awning, to shade the windows and provide a shady place to sit outdoors.  We also have a fresh water and sewer connection but may not use them while we are here.  We are only here until Friday or Saturday and came in with a mostly full fresh water tank and mostly empty waste tanks.

Although it was very warm (86 degrees F) and humid the clouds had thickened and filled in during the second half of our drive and there was a good, steady breeze.  The bus ran well today including the OTR HVAC.  The low pressure light only came on briefly one time while I was idling at a stop light.  Apparently it works a lot better when it is relatively warm outside.

Once we were set up we had a light lunch of roasted red pepper hummus and sourdough pretzel nibblers with fresh apple slices and orange segments.  We then drove to Walmart to pick up some anti-itch cream and bought a few grocery items while we were there.  We checked out the filling station on the property and decided it was not a good choice for our bus.  We also found the entrance to Big Tree RV Resort which was, literally, across the street from the Walmart.  We drove back towards downtown and stopped at the Winn-Dixie to see if they had a better selection of boxed wines than the Walmart.  They did, and we bought a Franzia Crisp White.  We drove the rest of the way into downtown in search of a filling station with diesel fuel, and access for large vehicles, before returning to the rally site.

Linda wanted to go for a walk so we strolled past the buses and other RVs that were already here.  We ran into Scott Crosby working on Dan’s windshield.  We met Dan, Kathy, and their son James at the FMCA GLCC Surplus and Salvage Rally back in September.  Apparently the windshield on their GM PD4106 started coming out of its gasket along the top and caving into the cockpit on their trip to Arcadia.  Scott was up on a ladder getting the gasket reseated around the frame and glass.

We continued our walk and discovered that Paul and Claudine Elbisser, also from our FMCA GLCC chapter, were here.  We visited with them for quite a while before finishing our stroll around the rally and returning to our rig for dinner.  Linda microwaved a sweet potato and served the last of the Gardein stuffed mock turkey roll and broccoli that we had for dinner on Christmas day.

After dinner I tried tuning in OTA TV stations, orienting the antenna both WNW towards Tampa St. Petersburg, and due south towards Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, and Ft. Meyers.  When I scanned for stations I found about 60 in each direction although many of them were the same stations.  So much for digital TV signals bring highly directional.  We watched reruns of our Monday evening TV shows on CBS.  We also turned on the Verizon Mi-Fi so we could get online long enough to check TV tower locations and network affiliations, check our e-mail, and change our location in RVillage.

I got an e-mail from Gary at BCM with the draft of the February 2016 issue and a request that I proofread Part 1 of my 2-part article on our Habitat For Humanity RV Care-A-Vanner build in July 2013.  I was a little tired from our day’s activities and was not in the humor to review articles, edit old blog posts, or write new ones so I just watched TV and fiddled with the thermostats and fan speeds on our air-conditioners.  I was puzzled by the fact that it felt humid in the rig in spite of the air-conditioners having been on all day.  The front and rear ones seem to be cooling better than the middle one, but the front one was the only one that we seaw water dripping from the drain line outside the bus.  I admit to having some level of concern about where the condensed water from the evaporators is going, assuming they are condensing any moisture.

The overnight low was forecast to be about 70 with morning fog, i.e., 100% relative humidity so in spite of the fan noise we left the bus closed up and the A-Cs running.  I adjusted the thermostats down to make sure the condensers would run, and lowered the fan speed in the bedroom to reduce the noise level.  I plugged the power in for the rear OTA TV antenna, but it was not functioning correctly and was clearly not going to fix itself.  It needs to be replaced but I am reluctant to buy another one of the same model as the failure rate so far has been 50%.  Linda read, and I played a few games, on our iPads and then went to sleep.

 

2015/12/27 (N) An Easy Last Day

I was up before 7:30 AM, got dressed, and gathered up the clothes that I forgot to launder yesterday.  Linda got up too so I prepared a pot of coffee and while it brewed I took the laundry to the laundry room and put it in a washing machine.  I returned to the coach and enjoyed my first cup of coffee before returning to the laundry room to transfer it to a dryer.  The dryers run for 45 minutes so I returned to our coach and had breakfast.

This was our last full day at Williston Crossings RV Resort, at least for now, but you would not have guessed it by observing us unless you saw one of the park volunteers reading our electric meter.  Other than checking and adjusting some tire pressures right after breakfast our day was spent doing the same things we have been doing since we arrived on December 1st; Linda read and walked while I edited and uploaded blog posts.

Linda made hummus sandwiches with onions and greens for lunch and washed off some sweet cherries.  It was another warm/humid day and we finally closed up the coach and turned on the air-conditioners during the afternoon.  Dinner was left over potato curry.

Linda watched Downton Abbey reruns after dinner and I edited/uploaded a few more blog posts.  It had cooled off outside so we turned the air-conditioning off and opened up the coach.  By the time I quit working at 10 PM I had uploaded 12 posts covering September 14 through 25.  Since Linda was still watching TV I took my phone outside and called Butch.  We chatted for over an hour before calling it a night.

 

2015/12/26 (S) Departure Preparations

In spite of overnight lows in the upper 60s and plenty of humidity we left the windows open, the exhaust fans on, and the air-conditioners off last night and did not get up until 8:30 this morning.  I made our pot of morning coffee and Linda eventually warmed up the remaining cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  I finished up yesterday’s blog post while she played word games on her iPad.  I got a text message from John letting us know that he took Ali to the hospital early this morning but he did not elaborate.

Although we are not leaving until Monday morning, we wanted to start some of our departure preparations today.  For me that meant:

  • dumping the waste tanks;
  • filling the fresh water tank;
  • putting away the hoses and water softener;
  • airing up the tires; and,
  • doing the laundry, including the bedding.

Linda walked up to get a shower and I started working on these chores in roughly that order  I dumped the black tank and then checked the tank level monitor in the house systems panel.  The indicator for Tank #2 no longer showed full but still showed 2/3rds.  The indicator for Tank #1 did not change, showing 2/3rds before and after.  I back flushed the black water tank which helped clean off the floor of the tank but did not do anything for the level sensors.  I then dumped the grey water tank.  Once it was empty I checked the monitor again and the Tank #1 indicator had dropped from 2/3rds to 1/3rd.  All of this seemed to confirm that Tank #2 was plumbed into the toilet and corresponded to the bodily function of the same number.  I was reminded that I really should mark the display with ‘B’ and ‘G’.

When Linda returned from her shower I took a load of whites to the laundry room and put them in a washing machine.  When I returned to our coach I tapped on the side of the fresh water tank to determine the water level.  It was very low, below 1/6th (20 gallons) and perhaps more like 1/8 (15 gallons).  At our water usage rate we might have been able to go one more day but there wasn’t any reason to cut it that close.  Besides, the lines coming out of the tank are on the side near the bottom but are not at the very bottom so there are a few gallons in there that are not usable.  My reason for wanting to know was so I could enter the gallons in my water usage tracking spreadsheet.  I also wanted to get the tank filled so I could put the hoses and water softener away.

While the tank was filling I got out the air-compressor, air hose, air chuck, and air pressure gauge and started checking the tires.  The tires on the sunny south-facing driver’s side of the bus were a bit higher than I wanted so I adjusted them as follows (in PSI): DST=87.5, DSOD=DSID=97.5, DSS=117.5.  The passenger side tires were in the shade so I figured they were not as inflated as the driver side tires and the pressures would not drop as much overnight.  I set them as follows (in PSI): PST=86, PSOD=PSID=96.  When I checked the PSS tire it was 70 PSI.  It was supposed to be 115.  Yikes!

This tire has always had a slow leak but it sat most of the summer without losing much air.  I checked/adjusted the pressures on November 25 (the day before Thanksgiving) but did not check them again until today.  In retrospect that was probably a mistake but it is my second least favorite chore, right behind recharging the water softener.  The tire had lost 45 PSI in about 30 days, an average of 1.5 PSI per day.  That is not a fast enough leak to pose a problem for driving as long as I check it every day while driving and don’t go more than a few days while parked, but it was troubling nonetheless as it was a change in the behavior of the tire.

The small pancake air compressor we carry has a 150 PSI maximum tank pressure and will provide a regulated output almost that high, but not for very long as it does not have a lot of volume.  It’s designed to run low volume air tools, such as nailers and staplers, not high volume air tools, like sanders or impact wrenches.  It works fine for topping up a tire but is not designed to inflate a bus tire from 70 to 115 PSI.

It took a lot of cycles to finally get the pressure to 115.5 PSI and before it did the compressor stopped coming on to re-pressurize the tank.  It was warm and I thought a thermal overload protector might have opened.  Another possibility is that once the tire gets up to about 110 PSI the compressor only supplies a small amount of additional air at 130 to 140 PSI until the tank pressure drops to match what is in the tire.  At that point the compressor cannot push more air into the tire but the tank pressure is not low enough to cause the compressor to turn on.  At this point I was really regretting that we did not bring the 15 gallon DeWalt air compressor with the 200 PSI tank and 150 PSI regulated output.  Yeah, it’s big; but it works.

The front of the car was parked facing the front of the bus so the passenger side tires were in the sun.  I adjusted the PSF=33.5 PSI (32 is normal) and the PSR=35.5 PSI (34 is normal).  I set the DSF=32.5 and the DSR=34.5.  I really need to check all of the tires first thing in the morning while it is cool, and before the sun heats up one side of the vehicles, but I am usually enjoying my morning coffee and not fully dressed.  I also do not want to run the air compressor too early in the day, as it is noisy, so I have to write down the pressure adjustment needed for each tire and do it later.  All things considered it’s a slightly obnoxious process.

With the waste tanks drained and the water tank filled I tested the water coming out of the softener and it was still indicating 1.5 gpg (25 ppm).  I disconnected the water hoses from the coach, the supply faucet, and the water softener but left them connected to both sides of the separate pre-filter.  After draining them as best I could I coiled the pre-filter hoses around the filter housing and connected the ends together to prevent leaks and put it on top of a tub in the front bay on the driver’s side.  I removed the cover from the filter housing attached to the softener, which does not have a filter element in it, and dumped the water out to get rid of the weight.  I then stored the softener in the passenger side of the front bay.

With the fresh water apparatuses taken care of I disconnected the waste hose from the angle adapter, flushed it out, collapsed it, and coiled it in the tub where we store all of the waste tank related accessories.  I disconnected the backflush angle adapter, removed the backflush water hose, capped the discharge fitting, and added all of that to the waste accessories tub.

I put the air compressor back in the passenger side of the front bay, coiled up the air hose, and stored it in the driver side tray over the drive tires.  Back inside I reattached the air inlet screen for the middle air-conditioner, put the drill and driver buts away with the other tools, and closed up all the bays.  Other than rechecking the passenger side front tire all I have left to do to get the bus ready to travel is stow the bag chairs and fold up table, stow the awnings, and disconnect and stow the shorepower cord.  After that it’s the usual departure procedure.  Once we are out of our site I will back the bus up so as not to block anyone’s driveway and Linda will pull the car around behind it so we can hook it up for towing.  We will then exit the resort via the covered bridge to the main gate and out to US-27.

I sat outside for the later part of the afternoon working on this post.  Linda was out too for a while, but went in to lie down.  She said she felt OK but was very tired.  I put the second load of laundry in a washing machine around 2 PM and went back at 3 to transfer it to a dryer.  John stopped by on the way back to his rig and said the hospital was probably going to admit Ali but as of when he left she was still in the ER.  He took her in this morning because of severe abdominal pain.

I was getting ready to go back at 3:45 PM to retrieve the laundry when I got involved in a conversation with our neighbors to the south, Danny and Dorothy.  We had previously exchanged salutations and had brief chats but this was our first real conversation.  Pam, who is in the rig to our north with her husband Ken, stopped to chat briefly as she headed out for a walk.  It was also the first time we have talked.  It seems that this often happens.  Two years ago it was March before we got to be friends with more than just John and Ali and by the time we left in early April we were being sociable with a dozen people.

At 4:15 PM Linda decided we should go for an easy walk.  The sun had just dropped below the trees so the air temperature was pleasant but the humidity had not yet risen.  We strolled up to the office and checked for mail.  The holiday card from Brendan, Shawna, and Madeline was there but not the Christmas card from Marilyn.  We will be gone before the mail arrives on Monday so we will have to ask in the office tomorrow about having stuff forwarded.  We also have to let them know we are pulling out early Monday and need to have someone read the meter so we can settle the electric bill.

We had partly cloudy skies for our walk which thinned out as the evening progressed and allowed some radiational cooling.  Basically we have been going from 83 degrees and 63% relative humidity during the day to 68 degrees and 83% relative humidity overnight.  Comfortable enough in the day but muggy at night.

Back at the rig we sat outside with our iPads until Linda went in at 5:30 to prepare leftovers for dinner and I went inside at 5:45 to eat them.  We had crossed paths with John while we were walking and he said there would be a fire in the firepit tonight.  At 6:30 Linda filled our flip top insulated coffee mugs with wine and packed them in our carry bag, along with our two plastic wine glasses, and we walked up to the campfire.  There were already a half dozen people there and more showed up after us so that we almost filled the available seats.

Big Mike had built the fire and had it going.  John was there to tend to things but did not play his guitar and sing.  He is still recovering from whatever made him ill overnight Wednesday and with the high heat/humidity, and Ali in the hospital, he probably did not feel much like performing.  As much as we enjoy the entertainment we also enjoy the conversation, and there was plenty of that to go around.  We ended up talking to Peter and Giselle from Ontario, whom we had not met before.  They are not retired yet but are arranging some extended vacation time to try out the RV lifestyle.  That is really smart in our opinion if your employment situation permits it.

Peter, John, Linda, and I were the last to leave.  At 10 PM I spread out the remaining fire logs and John locked up the shed.  He took off on his golf cart to lock up the various buildings in the park and we walked back to our coach.  The skies were partly cloudy and there was a large, bright, full moon.  The temperature was pleasant and the park was still and quiet save for one person we saw walking their dog off in the distance.  This was our last campfire at WCRVR this season unless we return briefly in March on our way north.  We missed seeing Ali but even with her absence, and without music, we enjoyed it our evening sitting around the campfire.

Back at our coach we had the last of the apple strudel with Coconut Bliss non-dairy ice cream for dessert.  I flipped channels on the TV while Linda read and I played games.  We caught the tail end of a vegan cooking show that we had never seen or even heard of and caught the news/weather at 11 PM.  We were interested in the storm system moving into the Midwest but otherwise there wasn’t much on that grabbed our interest.

As we were getting ready for bed I put soiled clothes in the hamper and realized that I had not taken the clothes from there yesterday and laundered them with the second/dark load.  That meant I would be doing an unexpected load of laundry in the morning.  In spite of a forecast of possibly early morning light fog we left the windows open and two of the three exhaust fans running all night.  We do better (up to a point) with fresh, moving air, even if it is humid, than we do with the coach closed up and the noise of the air-conditioners.  Linda fell asleep quickly but I played games on my iPad and watched Cook’s Country on the PBS Create channel before turning off the lights at 12:30 AM.

 

2015/12/25 (F) Christmas Day 2015

We were tired of listening to the air-conditioning last night but it was warm in the bedroom so I turned on the third A-C to cool it down before we went to bed.  Before turning in for the night I turned the fan to a slower speed and tried adjusting the thermostat, as it had gotten rather chilly, but must have set it too high.  It was a little warmer than we wanted and the unit does not remove moisture unless the compressor is running.  When combined with the noise of the fan it just did not make for a good night’s sleep.

Jasper (our male cat) was aware that I was awake at 4:30 AM and came up between our pillows to look out the window and get stroked.  I tried to fall back asleep without success and finally got up at 5 AM.  I turned on some dim lights and sat in the living room working on yesterday’s blog post for an hour until Linda also got up.  She rearranged the kitchen so she could make vegan cinnamon rolls and I brewed a pot of coffee.

The cinnamon rolls took quite a while to make as the dough had to rise, get punched down and rolled out, “buttered” and spread with cinnamon and sugar, rolled up, cut, and allowed to rise a second time, topped with raisins and walnuts, and then baked.  After baking they had to cool and then got drizzled with a glaze made from confectioner’s sugar and unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk.  A lot of work, but worth it.

We turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi and used Linda’s iPad to initiate a FaceTime session with our family members who were gathered at Meghan and Chris’ house.  Katie was not there yet so this was just a “good morning” call.  I brewed a second pot of coffee and we finally had our cinnamon rolls around 10 AM.  Brendan initiated a Facetime session with us around 11 AM and we got to see Madeline open some of her presents.  She just turned three years old and it was all very exciting for her.  The armoire her aunt Meghan built was full of dress up clothes, some new (from us) and some hand-me-down from when Meghan was a little girl.  She wanted to try on every costume, of course, so we watched for a while and then wished everyone “Merry Christmas” and signed off.

We had not opened our gifts yet so we did that next.  Santa brought us chocolate covered pistachios (vegan, of course) and dark chocolate bars and left them in our stockings, which Linda had hung from the two light fixtures on each end of the sofa after we got to WCRVR.  We had a box from Meghan and Chris that contained a pair of nice hiking socks and an insect repellent neck warmer for each of us.  The REI box that was left on our entry step-stool Christmas Eve was from Brendan, Shawna, and Madeline.  We each got a pair of hiking socks and a Columbia zip front polar fleece vest.  Our children have done very well getting us gifts that we can wear, eat, or drink.

I had not planned on working today but the motorcoach had other ideas.  I needed to investigate the drip that had developed yesterday from the air intake of the middle air-conditioner.  Since I had to get tools out to do that I decided to also fix a couple of other things.

The gasket on the aft vertical edge of the awning style window in the entry door had come out again at the top and was preventing the window from closing properly.  It was a simple enough matter to work the channels on either edge back around the metal edges of the window frame with a small flat blade screwdriver but I had to get the three-step folding stool out of the front bay and use it to position myself where I could do the work.

One of the end pieces that retains the spring-loaded toilet paper holder has been loose for a while.  I thought I needed a small Allen wrench to tighten it but a small flat blade screwdriver turned out to be the correct tool.

With those two tasks taken care of I got my small drill and a #2 square bit and removed the air intake filter for the middle A-C from the underside of the upper cabinet.  I also removed the louvered air discharge cover from the front of the cabinet.  Not being sure what I was dealing with I emptied the right and middle cabinets so I could remove the floor from the middle section and slide the floor from the right section to the left and remove the right end wall, allowing me access to the evaporator from the side.

My working hypothesis was that the drain from the drip pan was plugged and the pan had overflowed.  To test my hypothesis I located the drain line at the front outside corner of the house electrical bay where it goes through the bay floor, and had Linda watch it while I poured water into the drip pan at the front edge by the cooling coils.  The water flowed right out of the drain onto the ground so either that was not the problem or pouring the water into the drip pan had cleared the obstruction.  I was not able to see into the drip pan so I could not confirm visually what was happening.

I put the louvered air discharge cover back on the cabinet, reassembled the inside of the cabinet, and put the food items back.  I left the air intake filter off, however, so that I might see where the drip was coming from if it reoccurred.  I arranged paper towels on the desk top under the unit and turned it on.  I put the tools away, except for the drill and square bit, and then settled in to work at my computer with all three A-Cs running while Linda went for a walk.

It did not get quite as hot today as originally forecast, reaching 83 degrees instead of 86.  The humidity was in the low 60% range, so the conditions were tolerable when the sun was obscured by clouds.  Direct sunlight heats the coach up beyond the outside ambient air temperature, however, especially if we get the afternoon sun on the front of the bus.  Linda was hot and sweaty by the time she finished her walk.

I worked all afternoon on blog posts.  I edited the ones for September 9 through 18 and uploaded the 9th through the 14th before dinner.

For our holiday dinner meal Linda prepared a baked Gardein stuffed mock turkey roll, vegan gravy, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, Mama Stanberg’s Cranberry Relish, and bread with non-dairy “butter.”  We do not feel left out at the holidays, foodwise.  With the heat from the convection oven we decided to turn off the A-Cs, open the windows and roof vents, and turn all three exhaust fans on high.  We ate at 5 PM.  The Friday night campfire did not officially start until 7 PM so I had time to finish uploading the blog posts for September 15 to 18.

A little before 6:30 PM Linda filled our flip top insulated coffee cups with red and white wine and we took them in our carry bag, along with our plastic wine glasses, to the fire pit.  John was there and had a nice, small fire going.  Jim and Carol showed up and then Tom and Cindy.  Tom and Cindy did not stay long and after they left one of John’s neighbors came over.  He and his wife lived on a 44 foot fishing trawler that was converted into a full-time residence and plied the waters of the Atlantic, Bahamas, and Caribbean for 10 years.  Ali was not feeling well and stayed home.  Jim and Carol were from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they still have a house, and were both retired educators.  Jim taught high school biology and Carol was an elementary teacher.

At 10 PM John took his golf cart to make his rounds and lock up.  We had a nice small fire going and stuck around to chat with Jim and Carol.  John eventually returned and rejoined the conversation.  It was almost 11 PM when I spread out the remnants of the fire and we walked back to our rig.  We had apple strudel with Coconut Bliss non-dairy ice cream for dessert, watched a couple of travel programs on the Create channel, and finally went to bed at midnight after a long but satisfying Christmas day.

 

2015/12/24 (R) Christmas Eve 2015

Neither of us slept as well as we would have liked last night.  The outside temperature only dropped into the upper 60’s with high humidity and the interior of the coach stayed a bit warmer than that.  Linda woke up and read from 2:30 to 3:30 AM; at least that’s what she told me this morning as I was unaware of it at the time.  We both got up at 8 AM and enjoyed our first cup of coffee while iPadding and listening to Christmas music CDs.  We bought an apple strudel at Publix last night that appeared to be vegan and had some of it for breakfast with our second cup of coffee.  It wasn’t great strudel, but it was still a treat.  All-in-all it was not a bad way to start Christmas Eve day.

Williston Crossings RV Resort, and many of its residents and temporary guests, have been in the holiday spirit since we arrived here on the 1st of the month.  Red and green laser “starlight” projectors are in widespread use at night and many sites have decorated their street light and/or RV with lights while some have put up more substantial decorations.  Most notable, however, are the golf carts, many of which are decorated for the season.  Most folks here wave as they pass whether driving their car or golf cart, riding a bike, or just walking, but based on our prior experience this is normal so I cannot say that folks are in a friendlier spirit than usual for the holiday.  There is, however, a fair amount of “Merry Christmas” being passed around and I think it reflects the fact that most folks are glad to be here even with the record heat.

I had an unfinished chore list from yesterday but wasn’t really in the humor to work on those items on Christmas Eve and do not intend to work on them tomorrow either.  One of the side gaskets I our entry door window came out again yesterday, however, so I will have to fix that again and do so soon, certainly before we leave for Arcadia.

Linda went for her solo morning walk at 10:15 AM and I settled in to work at my computer.  I was determined to make headway with uploading blog posts but first I wanted to dispatch the article for Bus Conversion Magazine on the installation of the ITR Oasis Combi diesel-fueled hydronic heating system in Butch and Fonda Williams’ MCI MC-9 NJT.

Butch had made a number of good edits that filled in missing details so I incorporated all of them and rewrote a few sentences in my own voice.  I then moved all of the photos for the print version of the article “in line” with the text and changed the format to 2-column.  I even figured out how to get the text to wrap around the vertical photos to get a better idea of how many pages the article will take.  I completed this work around 12:30 PM and uploaded it to the BCM proofreading folder in my Dropbox.  I also updated my article status tracking spreadsheet and uploaded that to the Dropbox.  I moved the files on my computer from the Out-For-Review folder to the Proofreading folder and mirrored that on the NAS.  I then e-mailed BCM publisher Gary Hatt to let him know the article was there and ready for review.

Linda got back from her walk and made sandwiches for lunch with mock deli slices (vegan), Daiya non-dairy cheese slices, and lots of greens.  We ate outside as the temperature in the coach was 89.something degrees F.  She stayed outside in the shade and read but I went back inside to work on blog posts.  I was not really uncomfortable, as I was not exerting myself physically, but knew we would have an uncomfortable night if we did not cool off the coach.  When Linda came back inside we closed up the coach and turned on two of the three air-conditioners.  I worked the rest of the afternoon on my blog, editing and then uploading seven posts covering September 1 through 7.

For dinner we had the leftover pizza from last night’s visit to Satchel’s.  We managed to get six dinner meals out of our three visits which is 25% of our dinners for the first 24 days of December.  At dinner last night we suggested to John that it might be nice to have a special campfire on Christmas Eve.  He liked the idea and said he would check with Bob (the resort manager) and take care of it if he got the green light.  Linda packed some wine and we walked down to the firepit at 6:30 PM.

Long before we got to the firepit we could see there was no fire.  In fact, there wasn’t anyone there.  We noticed golf carts at Jeff and Kathy’s site nearby, including John and Ali’s, so we walked over there.  We found Ali, along with three other folks, but not John.  It turned out that John was ill with some sort of gastrointestinal ailment and there was not going to be a special Christmas Eve fire.  There were enough empty chairs for us to have a seat so we stuck around for a while to chat and enjoy a small glass of wine.

Kathy got a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite for her grandson Spencer and asked me if I would get it set up for him.  I did this two years ago and agreed to try again.  Spencer is arriving tomorrow afternoon with his family and Kathy was hoping to have the tablet set up so he can use it right away.

I got a pair of text messages from my long-time friend, J. C. Armbruster, wishing me a happy Christmas Eve and inquiring as to our whereabouts.  I did not have my glasses or stylus with me so I deferred replying until we got back to our rig.

When we returned we found a large box sitting on our entry stepstool.  Linda checked the label and it was definitely addressed to us.  The office closed at 1 PM today and there wasn’t anything there for us when Linda checked around noon, so it must have arrived later.  Someone in the office must have figured it was Christmas gifts and brought it to our site, which they do not normally do.  Linda opened it enough to confirm that it was, indeed, gifts from Brendan, Shawna, and Madeline and then set it aside for tomorrow.

I replied to the text message from J. C. (which sounds a little bizarre on Christmas Eve).  I then spent an hour trying to configure the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 without success.  I thought the problem was Wi-Fi related as the tablet did not have any difficulty connecting to the resort Wi-Fi system and obtaining an IP address but it never opened a browser window where I could enter the username and password to get through the resort’s filter and out to the Internet.

I turned on the guest network on our WiFi Ranger without a password and tried connecting to that as the WFR was already logged in, but it still did not work.  I tried creating a Samsung account but the screen just said “…processing” and the little icon just kept spinning.  I also tried entering Spencer’s Gmail address and password(s) that Kathy gave me but the device could not connect to Google.  It’s possible that the problem was simply an incorrect e-mail address and/or password but the error message I kept getting said the tablet could not establish a connection to the remote server.  That sounded like an Internet access issue to me.

I also tried resetting the device to factory defaults but the instructions for doing that apparently assumed (required?) that the device had already been set up correctly and activated.  I cleaned the screen and packed everything back into the box.  I will return it to Kathy in the morning.  Perhaps John will be feeling better and can get it to work.

When I picked up the screen cleaner it was wet.  It was sitting on the desk under the air intake for the middle air-conditioner which is on the bottom of the cabinet.  I shut that A-C off, moved the electronics and paper that were sitting there, and wiped up the small amount of water.  Apparently the drain line for the drip pan is clogged so I will have to add that to my list of bus chores.

We were tired of listening to the air-conditioning but it was warm in the bedroom so I turned on the third A-C to cool it down.  Before turning in for the night I turned the fan to a slower speed and tried adjusting the thermostat, as it had gotten rather chilly.

 

2015/12/23 (W) Satchel’s Trifecta

We were up by 8 AM and sat around drinking our coffee until 9 AM.  For breakfast we had fresh blueberries, bananas, oranges, and toast along with orange/grapefruit juice.  I had apricot preserves on my toast.  I like all kinds of fruit preserves, but apricot is my favorite.

We are here at Williston Crossings until the 28th but that means we only have five more days and are starting to think about leaving and what we have to do to be ready.  Today’s chores potentially included:

  • Recharging the water softener;
  • Tightening the toilet paper holder in the bathroom;
  • Adjusting the pressure in the tires;
  • Removing and reinstalling the screen material for the entry door awning window.

It’s always something.

Fixing the toilet paper holder requires an Allen wrench which means I would have to get out my tool boxes.  Fixing the screen requires a special tool for inserting the retaining rib, which I do not have, and thus requires a trip to the local ACE Hardware store.  Adjusting tire pressures requires me to get out the air compressor and air hose, which is a nuisance.  And recharging the water softener requires the installation of the plastic flow restriction tube in the pre-filter housing and the addition of table salt plus a couple of hours of fooling around with the whole setup.  All of which suggests that I was probably not in the mood to do chores today.

On my personal “to do” list was uploading more blog posts, editing the ITR Oasis Combi Installation article for Bus Conversion Magazine, and uploading it to my BCM Dropbox folder for proofreading.  Linda wanted to organize and store the music CDs we brought with us, and I wanted to get out the various accessories for my Sony a99v DSLT camera and get them working.  Those things were under the bed.

I want to refill our fresh water tank as close to our departure as possible so even though we still had over 1/3rd of a tank (40+ gallons) we decided to take showers at the laundry/bathroom building which includes shower stalls.  Linda walked down at 10:15 AM and I walked down at 10:40 AM when she got back.

The only bus chore I got done today was recharging the water softener, but that was an important one to get out of the way.  I started at 11:15 AM by fitting the filter holder with the flow restrictor tube and partially filling it with 26 oz. of table salt.  I connected a short hose to the output of the softener to direct the discharge water, ran a strong flow of water for 15 seconds to stir up and saturate the salt, and then reduced it to a trickle.  I tested it for saltiness and it seemed salty so I let it run for 90 minutes.

We had baby carrot slices, orange pepper slices, and apple slices with hummus for lunch around 12:45 PM.  At 1 PM I again ran a strong flow of water through the softener for 15 seconds and then returned it to a trickle for another 90 minutes.  At the end of that time I ran a strong flow for 30 seconds and then let it trickle for one more hour.  By 3:30 PM the discharge was no longer salty so I tested it and it indicated 1.5 grains per gallon, which is as low as I can usually get it.  (Only once did I get it down to zero.)  I probably let the water run longer than necessary but the only sure way to know the salt is used up is to remove the filter housing and check.  A clear housing would make it much easier to do this, and I intend to get one.

In the time it took to recharge the water softener I uploaded 13 blog posts for August 19th through August 31st, 2015.  That meant I had finally gained some small ground, having uploaded more posts (29) in December than I had written (22) up through yesterday.  I also spent a few minutes going through Butch’s edits of the draft BCM article on the installation of an ITR Oasis Combi diesel-fired hydronic heating system in their MCI MC-9 NJT motorcoach and incorporating changes.  I did not, however, have/take the time to move the photos inline with text and reformat it in two columns.  I plan to do that tomorrow and then upload it to my BCM Dropbox folder for proofreading.

We arranged to go to Satchel’s with John and Ali for dinner this evening and meet them there at 5 PM.  We left at 4 PM for the drive into Gainesville and stopped at the Walmart near the restaurant.  Linda needed a rolling pin and pastry mat and found both.  On the way back to our car we crossed paths with John and Ali in the parking lot.  It’s just far enough into town from the RV resort that we all try to be efficient by making trips multi-purpose.

It was our third visit to Satchel’s since we arrived in Williston and probably our final one for this winter unless we decide to return to this area for a while in March.  Ali does not care for Satchel’s pizza, specifically their sauce, but agreed to go anyway for our sake.  We had the same meal we always get; small salad, medium hand-tossed pizza with Daiya non-dairy mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes, and a vegan oatmeal raisin cookie for dessert plus a ginger soda for me, made in-house.

For our money it is one of the three or four best pizzas we have ever had, vegan or not, and clearly the best vegan pizza we have ever tasted.  We lingered and talked but eventually paid the bill and left.  In our case we needed to stop at the Publix supermarket on the way back to Williston for an assortment of things Linda needed for our Christmas day meals.

It was almost 8 PM when we got home.  We put the groceries away, turned on the TV, and watched several programs on PBS before going to bed.

 

2015/12/22 (T) Blog Chores

Linda was up at 7 AM again this morning but I did not get up until sometime between 7:30 and 8.  I made our coffee, as I do almost every morning, and we worked on our iPads, as we do almost every morning.  We had granola with fresh blueberries around 9 AM, as we do on many mornings, and then extended our leisurely morning until 10, which is also common for us.

Heavy cloud cover had moved in starting yesterday afternoon bringing higher humidity and some chance of rain.  It also minimized radiational cooling overnight and the temperature barely dropped into the upper 60’s.  All things considered it was not the kind of day that made us want to get up and go, but eventually we did as today was chore day.

First up on my list was doing laundry.  While Linda went for her solo morning walk I gathered up our laundry and sorted it on the bed.  I had what looked like three loads but we only have one collapsible laundry basket so I ended up making three trips to the laundry room.  I found an unused tote bag to carry the two containers of laundry detergent, the dryer sheets, and a large quantity of quarters, so that helped.  The laundry building is not that far from our site but the laundry and supplies are bulky and heavy so I used the car.  If I had a wheeled laundry cart I would have walked.  Depending on the situation at Big Tree RV Resort we might order one after we get there.

The washing machines run a 25 minute cycle but it takes over an hour from when I start to get to the point where I can transfer the laundry to the dryers.  During that time there isn’t much else I can do.  Once the dryers are going I have about 45 minutes before I have to empty them and fold/hang the clothes.  That’s good iPad time.

Linda got a call from our daughter (Meghan) with pictures of the armoire she is building for her niece (our grand-daughter) Madeline to hold “dress up” clothes, some of which she is getting for Christmas.  Meghan still has quite a collection of clothes from her childhood and is passing them on to Madeline, so the armoire will be fully stocked.  That will be a very nice gift for a fashion conscious three year old.

Linda went with me to the laundry room at 12:30 PM and helped sort/fold/hang our clothes and put it all away when we got back to our coach.  We will do another batch of laundry on Saturday or Sunday including all of the bedding.

For lunch, Linda made folded flat bread hummus sandwiches with onions and greens and sliced up an apple.  It was slightly cooler outside with an occasionally gusty breeze so we sat out there and used our iPads.  I finished up yesterday’s post, started on today’s, and moved a few chores to future dates.  I was reading a back issue of The Gypsy Journal when a few rain drops fell on my screen.  We immediately decided to move back inside but the full on rain came quickly.  Linda took our iPads in while I put the two bag chairs away and then scurried inside.  It rained hard for a while but eventually passed and the outside air temperature dropped 10 degrees, which was refreshing.

Inside I directed my efforts towards my blog.  When I uploaded seven posts early last week I forgot to “tag” them with keywords so my next task was to edit those posts and take care of that.  Once that was done I started uploading posts beginning with August 9th, 2016.  I worked until 5 PM and managed to upload 10 posts through August 18th.  So far I have uploaded 17 posts in the first 22 days of December which means I am still generating new ones faster than I am uploading old ones!  The flow of time is relentless that way.

Linda made a salad and a potato lentil curry for dinner.  She has been reading Dr. Michael Greger’s newest book in which he describes how he personally eats and why.  Based on his guidelines she added turmeric to the curry, which was appropriate given the Indian nature of the dish, but mostly because she is trying to figure out how to incorporate it into her menu planning on a daily basis.  Daily consumption of turmeric has been shown to have a number of health promoting effects but most notably a carcinogen blocking effect with only a teaspoon per day.

We watched our usual Tuesday evening TV shows, even though they were repeats, after which I stayed up for the 11 PM news.  Gainesville got 0.5″ of rain this afternoon and I suspect we got at least that much at the RV resort.

 

2015/12/21 (M) John and Marian

Linda was up at 7 AM this morning and I got up at 7:30.  It was 66 degrees F in the coach so I turned on the Aqua-Hot diesel burner and turned up the thermostats.  I made our morning coffee and got to work finishing yesterday’s blog post.

John and Marian Hagan would be visiting this afternoon and staying for dinner.  Given the large meal we had for dinner last night we wanted to take it easy today so a little after 9 AM we had a light breakfast of grapefruit and English muffin with apricot preserves.  So good.

After breakfast Linda did some light cleaning.  I was going to do a load of laundry and recharge the water softener but Linda reminded me that I had decided to do all of those chores tomorrow.  Deal.  I started working on this post but eventually got dressed and settled in at my computer.  I spent the rest of the morning updating my BCM article status tracking Excel spreadsheet and uploaded it to our Dropbox.  I also cleaned up the organization of the files to match the status sheet and backed them up to the NAS.

As planned, we skipped lunch.  John had indicated they would arrive around 2 PM.  I asked him to call when they got to the office and he did.  I was going to drive up and escort him in but getting to our site is very straight forward so I just gave him the directions.  A few minutes later they pulled up and I got them parked next to our car, which Linda moved to one edge of the pad when she returned from Winn-Dixie this morning.

After giving John and Marian and tour of the interior remodeling project we spent most of the afternoon sitting outside.  Linda thought about using the induction cooker to make dinner outside and remain in the conversation but realized she needed two burners.  When it was time to prepare dinner Linda went inside and Marian went with her to help.

For dinner Linda made a salad and risotto with olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, and dark greens.  She bought a frozen vegan cheesecake at Earth Origins the other day and served that for dessert.  John and Marian brought a bottle of Barefoot Riesling wine and between Marian, Linda, and me we finished it.  That’s only 250 mL per person, so not really that much.

We eventually moved inside and continued our conversation over coffee.  John and Marian were members of our FMCA Freethinkers associate chapter until they bought a house in Dunnellon and sold their motorhome.  Since we saw them two years ago they have gotten more involved in the humanist group that meets at The Top of the World (an adult planned community) and joined the Unitarian Universalist church just south of Dunnellon, both of which have given them the opportunity to make new friends in the area.  They had a half hour drive to get home and left at 6:30 PM.

After cleaning up the dishes we watched TV and doodled on our iPads.  I probably should have worked at my computer but did not feel like it.  I did check my e-mail and had a reply from Butch with his edits for the BCM article on the ITR Oasis Combi Installation he did last fall (2014) in their MCI MC-9 NJT motorcoach.  I also looked at, and commented on, several posts/comments on RVillage.  Linda was off to bed at 11 PM and I was tucked in with the lights off by 11:30.

 

2015/12/20 (N) Brooksville Hams

I was up at 7:15 AM and Linda was up shortly thereafter.  I left all three thermostats on last night but had them dialed back so I turned them up to approximately 70 degrees F.  I say approximately because the dials are marked in Celsius every five degrees.  I fed the cats, washed a few dishes, and made our morning coffee.  We lingered with our iPads longer than normal and delayed breakfast as we would be leaving before noon, skipping lunch, and having an early dinner.  Breakfast was granola with fresh blueberries and orange/grapefruit juice.

After breakfast we both took showers and got dressed.  Linda went for a long walk with her iPod (she listens to audiobooks).  I worked at my computer, taking a break to empty the catch bowl in the utility bay and spread some more Spectracide Fire Ant Killer on mounds around our coach.  Linda got back from her walk at 11:15 and we got ready to leave.

We left at 11:30 AM for Bruce and Linda Whitney’s new place southeast of Brooksville, Florida.  We drove down US-41 through Dunnellon, Hernando, and Inverness, stopping at a Publix in Inverness for house warming flowers and the adjacent Panera for a bagel and coffee.  We continued on US-41 to Brooksville at which point we let the GPS take over and route us through a series of back roads to their place.  We got there a little after 1:30 PM.

Bruce (W8RA) and Linda (K4YL) are fellow “hams” (amateur radio operators) from our South Lyon Area Amateur Radio Club (SLAARC) back home.  Linda retired around the same time I did and although Bruce is still working they have, like many of us, grown weary of winter in the north.  They found a 24 acre place southeast of Brooksville with five good size towers already in place—a dream location for a serious ham—and decided to buy it.  (Three of the towers are 200 feet tall.)  Bruce successfully got his employer to agree to let him change his work location to Florida and work from home.  That’s a good deal if your employer considers you valuable enough to let you do it.  Bruce has deep knowledge of power transmission technology along with his equally deep knowledge of RF phenomena.  He also has a deep understanding of the power utility industry, and his employer (ITC) clearly recognizes that unique combination of knowledge sets.

We got a tour of the house and property and I got a thorough tour of the antenna farm and ham shack.  Bruce has plans to add on to the ham shack at the southeast corner of the house and to add a covered pool to the east side of the house.  He also plans to build a barn and put in an RV pad next to it with a 50 Amp electrical service.

The house was very nice and located in the center of the property, which is rectangular but close to being a square.  Except for the house, which is surrounded with plants, there are no trees or other plants, just a grass that can be harvested for hay.  Bruce has arranged with a neighbor to harvest the grass.  The neighbor will maintain the field in exchange for the harvested material.  It will be a good deal for both of them; Bruce won’t have to mow it and neighbor will clear at least $7K from each harvest, typically getting at least two per year.

We sat in the living room and chatted for a while.  Linda (K8LMF) wanted to see the various plants around the house so the ladies went outside to look at them.  Bruce (W8RA) and I went to the ham shack, which is a far cry from the setup he has back in Michigan, to operate.  Using his spotting software he noticed a station operating from Swaziland and decided to try contacting them.  He turned the stacked 40 M beam to 104 degrees and tuned in the station.  There was a huge pileup trying to work this guy and we noticed in his QRZ.com listing that he was one of only four licensed amateur radio operators in Swaziland.  That does not automatically mean that Swaziland is a rare contact—it depends on how active these four hams are—but it does mean that opportunities are more limited than with most countries where thousands of hams are active and dozens to hundreds might be on the air at any one time.

We wrapped up what we were doing at 4 PM and drove to Papa Joe’s for dinner.  Papa Joe’s was six miles NNE of their house, closer to I-75 and Williston, so we drove separately.  That worked out well as we left from there after dinner and headed back via Cortez Blvd to I-75 and they had to drive to the grocery store at Cortez and I-75.

We took our time with dinner and left the restaurant at 6:30 PM.  We arrived back at our rig about 7:45 PM, completing the 76 mile trip in 75 minutes.  We did not turn on the TV and spent the rest of the evening reading.  I did not feel like working on this post so I read the January-February 2016 issue of The Gypsy Journal.  Linda headed off to bed around 11 PM and I turned in at 11:15.  I went right to sleep while she continued to read, a reversal of our normal pattern, but she was deeply engaged in a book.

 

2015/12/19 (S) A Gypsy Journal Milestone

We were up a bit later than usual last night and did not get out of bed until 8:15 AM this morning.  The temperature outside had dropped to 36 degrees F overnight and it was cool in the coach which was one of the reasons we slept well and lingered under the covers (where I had my heater pad turned on).  I put my sweatpants and sweatshirt under the covers to warm them up before getting up and putting them on.  Linda just braved the chill and put on her sweats without warming them first.  She’s tougher than I am.

We like to keep track of the weather back home and in other places where we have friends, like Quartzsite, AZ, and the weather apps on our iPads and smartphones make that very easy to do.  At 10 AM EST it was 25 at home going up to 28 with an overnight low of 23.  Here in Williston it was 48 going up to 62 with an overnight low of 39.  Arcadia, where we will be in January and February, was presently 58 going up to 73 and dropping to 55 overnight.  Four hours farther south actually matters in Florida, which has four somewhat distinct climate zones.  Quartzsite, 2,000 miles west of us, was 38 (at 8 AM local time) going up to 67 and dropping back to 39 overnight.  All things considered Williston was a pretty nice place to be this time of year.

Once I was up I fed the cats, who always insist that their needs are met first, and then turned on the three thermostats for the Aqua-Hot hydronic heating system, set the temperature controls, and turned on the diesel burner.  I made a pot of coffee and Linda started cooking oatmeal for our breakfast.

A view of our coach looking north at Williston Crossings RV Resort.

A view of our coach looking north at Williston Crossings RV Resort.

We were done with breakfast by 9:30 and Linda had the dishes cleaned shortly thereafter.  We doodled on our iPads while we enjoyed the rest of our coffee.  Nick Russell sent out the link for the January-February 2016 issue of The Gypsy Journal yesterday.  I forwarded it on to our iPads last night and we downloaded it to our devices this morning.  It is the 100th issue that Nick has published and the last one he will produce on newsprint.  Starting with the March-April 2016 issue the Journal will only be available in digital form.  That will not be a problem for us as we switched to the digital version only several years ago, but it is sad that smaller specialty publications cannot survive in printed form.  I think it is inevitable that Bus Conversion Magazine will also go digital only, if it survives long enough to make that switch and then survives the transition.

Nick has had a small army of friends take bundles of newspapers and leave them in RV park offices on their travels and has picked up new subscribers that way, but the newspaper is well enough positioned at this point, with a large enough subscriber base, that he should continue to do very well.  Even if the number of subscribers levels off, or even shrinks slightly, his profitability should increase nicely now that he is rid of the printing and mailing costs.

Nick and Terry will also have what we called “found time” at the education agency when some task, meeting, or other commitment on our time evaporated and we suddenly, and unexpectedly, “found” time to work on other things.  As highly mobile full-timers Nick and Terry were always arranging for printers in different parts of the country, picking up the newspapers, folding and stuffing them in envelopes, printing address labels and putting them on the envelopes, and taking them to a post office, as well as carting around the extras and leaving them in campground offices or giving them to friends to distribute.  All of that took a lot of time; time they can now use for other things.

Williston Crossings RV Resort has lovely, mature landscaping including large, majestic Live Oak trees draped in Spanish moss.

Williston Crossings RV Resort has lovely, mature landscaping including large, majestic Live Oak trees draped in Spanish moss.

Yesterday Linda was looking at the website for Big Tree RV Resort in Arcadia, Florida where we will be in January, February, and early March.  She ended up looking at the AllStays Camp and RV listing for the resort and discovered a photo of OUR bus that I took two years ago in our site here at Williston Crossings RV Resort!  The information attached to the image pointed back to our website as the source and said “…the image may be copyrighted.”  I have looked at ways to add a copyright notice to all of the images on our website/blog but never implemented one.  I guess I really should.

After breakfast we opened the packet of felt chair leg caps and put four of them on the folding card table chair we use at the desk.  It looked like they would do just what we needed them to do so we removed the towel we had been using to protect the floor.  My focus today was working on our blog but first I spent a little time updating my spreadsheet for our spring/summer 2016 water bay project.  I uploaded seven blog posts a few days ago but have been concentrating on selecting and processing photos since then.  This morning I decided to resume working on posts.  My goal was to finish editing the posts for the remainder of August (2015), select the spots to insert the selected photos, clean up the writing, and start uploading them to the server.

We took a lunch break at 12:45 PM and had mock deli slice sandwiches on flatbread and split a fresh apple.  Linda started to work on her counted cross-stitch project for grand-daughter Katie but realized the larger grid base material she bought was too small.  She found something on Amazon that would work and ordered it for delivery on Tuesday.  She then searched online for someplace in the area to buy a Tofurkey vegan mock turkey roll.  It looked like Earth Origins in Gainesville sold them so she decided to drive into town and get one rather than wait until next week and risk not having any available.  I stayed behind and continued working on my blog posts.

Some of the grass on the other side of the road from our site was spectacular.  Ahhh, December in north central Florida.  This is why people come here in the winter.

Some of the grass on the other side of the road from our site was spectacular. Ahhh, December in north central Florida. This is why people come here in the winter.

With the outside temperature only rising into the low 60’s we kept the motorcoach closed up today.  By 2 PM the temperature in the front half of the coach was a very pleasant 76 degrees F.  It was cooler in the back as most of the window area is in the front half of the bus, including the large southwest facing windshields.

Linda returned from her trip to Gainesville with more than just a vegan mock turkey roll.  Besides the Tofurkey brand products Earth Origins also had Gardeine brand products.  We have had other Gardeine products that were very good so she decided to try their mock stuffed turkey roll.  As long as she was there she picked up a half dozen other frozen entrees to try.

I had just finished editing the posts for August when Linda suggested we go for a walk.  It was 4 PM and the late afternoon light was nice so I took the camera.  We only made it a couple of sites up the road and stopped to talk to the new arrivals from Alaska.  We had no sooner resumed our walk when Linda got a call from Diane.  John had surgery recently, and will be off work until after the holidays, but is recovering nicely.  We strolled along slowly while they talked and I took a few pictures.  I wore my sweater but the sun was already behind the trees and I was pretty quickly uncomfortably cool in the shade.

We crossed paths with John and Ali and stopped to chat for a while.  We learned last night at the campfire that Jeff and Kathy’s dog Teddy had succumbed to his lymphoma this past Sunday.  Teddy was very sweet and we know how difficult it is when a pet dies.  We also learned that Jeff had been taken to the hospital in Ocala and was scheduled to have a colonoscopy earlier today.  The report back from Kathy was that he might have colitis.

When we got back to our rig Linda made hot hibiscus tea.  I had planned to upload some blog posts today but I had spent enough time in front of my computer for one day and sat on the couch with my iPad for a while instead.  I rarely take naps but I am not opposed to the idea.  I laid down at 5:15 PM and dozed until Linda got me up at 6 for dinner.

Linda on the phone with Diane Rauch as we head into the older south section of the resort.  That’s one happy girl.

Linda on the phone with Diane Rauch as we head into the older south section of the resort. That’s one happy girl.

After dinner we both changed into warmer clothes and Linda packed our wine to take to the fire circle.  We got there a little before 7 PM, later than usual, but the only people there were John, Big Mike, Jim (Sonny Fox), and Tom (from Hilton Head, SC).  Another couple, who have the site just east of John and Ali, showed up just after us but that was it for the evening and John did not get his guitar and perform.  Besides the much cooler weather there was a dinner/dance at the clubhouse this evening, so John had anticipated a smaller than usual crowd.  That was nice in a way, both for him and us, as we got to talk more than usual.

The temperature had already dropped into the lower 50’s at 7 PM.  In spite of our best efforts we were not able to get the fire really hot, and did want to build it too large, so by 9 PM it had dropped into the mid-40’s and everyone had left except for me and John.  I spread out the fire and put the implements in the shed and John locked it.  He joined Ali at Jeff at Kathy’s fifth wheel trailer, where Ali was visiting with Kathy, and I walked back to our rig.

Linda was in her sweats with her blanket over her legs reading her latest e-book with a cat on her lap.  I changed into my sweats but did not feel like doing much of anything.  I flipped through TV channels but did not find anything that caught my interest.  PBS was running a Peter, Paul, and Mary 50th anniversary special, which would normally have been very interesting to me, but it was a fund raiser made up of old clips, interviews, and pleas for money and I just was not in the humor.

The temperature in the coach had dropped to 68 but we both felt a little chilled so I turned on the front thermostat and Aqua-Hot diesel burner.  I made a cup of hot decaf chai tea, played a few games on my iPad, and worked on this post before finally going to bed at 11:30 PM and going to sleep.

 

2015/12/18 (F) MEF3 @ 3

It rained off and on all night with a heavy downpour around 5:30 AM.  Once again we did not close up the coach and run the air-conditioners so the bedding was a bit damp, but we slept through the night and did not get up until after 8 AM.

I took care of the cat chores and then made a full pot of coffee.  We used our iPads, as we do almost every morning, while we enjoyed our morning brew and finally had half of a grapefruit (each) for breakfast around 9:30.  It was in the upper 60’s when I got up but was forecast to drop to 55 degrees F by dinner time and into the upper 30’s overnight.  Burrr.

I took a few pictures yesterday at the Breezy Oaks Music Jam so my first task today was to copy those to my computer and back them up to the NAS.  I then continued working on selecting and processing photos for blog posts and spent most of the rest of the day doing just that except for some time out for lunch, a mid-afternoon stroll, and dinner.

Today was our younger grand-daughter’s third birthday.  Our daughter and son-in-law went to our son and daughter-in-law’s house this evening for Madeline’s birthday and Linda arranged for us to Facetime while they were all there.  We initiated the call at 6:35 PM and Facetimed for almost 30 minutes.  We got to see Madeline open the gifts we bought for her and interact with her and everyone else.

We had closed up the windows and changed into warmer clothes for the fire circle before we made the Facetime call so as soon as we were done with “happy birthday” we got our sweatshirts and wine supplies and headed for the firepit.  There were already folks there but there were also empty seats, the cooler weather keeping some folks away (which made no sense to us; it’s a FIREpit after all).  John was tending the fire but Ali was not there yet.  Tom and Cindy were there and I took the open chair next to Tom.

We were at the campfire until 10 PM when John had to go lock up and Ali was ready to go in for the night.  I spread out the remaining fire logs and then we walked back to our bus in the cool night air.  The temperature in the coach was 74 when we left and had dropped to 70 by the time we returned.  We both changed into our warmer lounging clothes (sweats), turned on the TV, and nibbled on pretzels and hummus.  Linda trundled off to bed around 11:30 PM but I stayed up a bit longer.

I checked e-mail and had one from Technomadia about their latest Mobile Internet Aficionados report on mobile cellular boosters.  I logged in to read it and discovered that our MIA membership had expired in August so I renewed it online.  I read the report and then went to bed where I wrote briefly on my iPad.

The outside temperature had already dropped to 45 degrees F but Linda had turned on the electric heater pad on my side of the bed before going to sleep so it was nice and toasty.  The overnight low was forecast to drop to 36 degrees which meant the inside temperature would drop to around 60; not freezing cold, but chilly enough that we would need the furnace for a while in the morning.  I went to sleep around 12:30 AM.

 

2015/12/17 (R) Breezy Oaks

Today must be upside down day.  Linda got up first this morning, before 7 AM, and I slept until almost 8:30.  Yesterday I used up the last of our first batch of coffee beans so before I could make coffee this morning I opened four 1/2 pound packs and refilled our four coffee canisters.

We had breakfast of English muffins and grapefruit around 9:30.  I had still not heard back from Al regarding a visit to his campground in Bushnell today.  We checked the Breezy Oaks website and the Music Jam was scheduled from 2 – 4 PM today.  Our plan was to take our folding chairs, get there around 1 PM, visit with Al for an hour, take our chairs to the jam session and continue visiting there until it ended, and then go to dinner.  When we visited Al two years ago we did not come on a Thursday for the music went to a Chinese Buffet in Brooksville.  Linda found a Mexican Restaurant in Bushnell with some vegetarian items and 4.5 stars based on 49 reviews, so we wanted to try it.

I called Al at 10 AM and got his voice mail.  I left him a message and asked for a return call and/or a reply to my e-mail to confirm his availability before we drove to Breezy Oaks as it is over an hour away from us.  I worked at my computer selecting and processing photos for my September blog posts and had just about decided that we were not going to visit Al today when he called just before noon.  Linda had walked up to the recycling bins but as soon as she returned we made quick preparations to leave.  We took our two “bag chairs” (they fold up like a tent and go in carry bags) and the good camera.

We pulled out of our site at 12:24 PM and worked our way slowly out of the RV resort via the front entrance.  We headed southeast on US-27 towards Ocala past its familiar ranches and equestrian centers; our first time this season traveling down this road that we used frequently two years ago.  We took I-75 south to exit 309, headed east on CR-673 a short distance, and then turned north on CR-671 and followed it for about a mile until it ended at the entrance to Breezy Oaks RV Park.

Per Al’s suggestion we followed the signs to the office building and parked there as the music pavilion is adjacent to the office.  Al was already there with his chair set up so we got our chairs out of the car and set them next to his.  We chatted for about 15 minutes before the Music Jam started at 2 PM.

Linda and Al waiting for the music jam to start at Breezy Oaks RV Park.

Linda and Al waiting for the music jam to start at Breezy Oaks RV Park.

About 18 people participated in the jam session and about two dozen more, including us, provided an audience.  Each participant got to lead two songs of their choice and pick the key while everyone else backed them up.  Country and bluegrass seemed to be what most of them knew.  They played and sang for an hour and then took a 30 minute break during which ice cream was available in the office, three scoops for $1.25.  That’s a good price, if you eat ice cream.  The jam session resumed at 3:30 and went for another hour.

The musicians gather on stage for the Thursday afternoon jam session.

The musicians gather on stage for the Thursday afternoon jam session.

When the jam session was done we went back to Al’s motorhome and decided to go to Coyote Rojo Mexican Restaurant in Bushnell for dinner.  It was on FL-48 just east of I-75 right off exit 316 which put us that much closer to home after dinner.  We talked about going to the Chinese buffet near Brooksville, where we went two years ago, but it was 20 miles away to the west of the RV park and would not have positioned as well for the drive home.

Al Hesselbart takes the stage as part of a duet.  Al mostly does musical recitations as opposed to singing.

Al Hesselbart takes the stage as part of a duet. Al mostly does musical recitations as opposed to singing.

We had a tasty meal that included a salad and a veggie burrito, both of which we shared, and Al had shrimp fajitas.  We lingered at the restaurant way past the end of our meal chatting about what we had been up to since we had last crossed paths.  Al will be running a booth at the Tampa RV Supershow for the Florida RV Dealers Association so we might see him again at the show.  We did not go to the show two years ago but from our base in Arcadia it will be a reasonable distance away.

Al and his “singing” partner front and center at the jam session.

Al and his “singing” partner front and center at the jam session.

We returned to Williston via the same route we came and encountered intermittent light rain the farther north we drove.  About half way up US-27 we finally drove into a heavy, steady rain.  By the time we got to Williston the rain had abated, at least temporarily, but it had obviously rained before we got there.  We stopped at the Kangaroo/Citgo Station and I filled the gas tank.

We were back at our rig by 7:30 PM.  Linda checked the weather on her iPad and showed me the radar.  A long narrow line of thunderstorms was stretching from far out in the Gulf of Mexico to the northeast into Florida west of Williston.  The storms were moving along the line as it drifted slowly east and the forecast said we might get an inch of rain.  I closed the roof vents in the bathroom and kitchen and closed the awning-style windows to where they were only open an inch or so at the bottom.  We turned on the TV and settled in to watch our Thursday evening programs.

The heavy rain eventually started and around 9:10 PM the lights in the RV resort flickered several times and then the electricity failed.  Our inverter immediately switched over to batteries and kept everything running, which was comforting.  For as much money and time as we’ve spent upgrading these systems it nice when they actually work as intended.  I turned off a few lights and the laser printer to conserve energy just in case it turned out to be a long outage.  The Amped Wireless router and the NAS are both plugged into a backup power supply so they will not suffer any loss of power even if the inverter does not come on.  The Wi-Fi Ranger, however, is not on the UPS and this event reminded me that I need to do something about that.  From one point of view it didn’t matter, as the resort Wi-Fi went out with the loss of power, but the WFR is also the main router for the coach and as such is the DHCP server for our private network.

We continued watching our TV programs and I turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi and connected the WFR to it so we could continue doodling on our iPads.  Linda felt she had eaten too much for dinner and was a bit uncomfortable so she went to bed a little after 10 PM.  I stayed up and watched the local evening news at 11 PM, something I almost never do, and then went to bed.

 

2015/12/16 (W) More Blog Stuff

I was awake before 7 AM but did not get up until 7:15.  I removed and cleaned my nighttime bite guard, as I do every morning.  I then cleaned the cats’ food bowls and filled them with fresh food.  Linda was still sound asleep so I worked at my computer for a while selecting and processing photographs for blog posts.  I finished my selections for August and was part way through September when Linda got up so I put that work aside and made our morning coffee.

We both worked on our iPads for an hour doing our usual morning things.  Linda texted John (Smitty) regarding going to Satchel’s this evening for dinner and I messaged our daughter regarding Facetiming with everyone on Friday, which is grand-daughter Madeline’s 3rd birthday.  Linda proofread our 2015 Year in Review holiday letter and found a few things that needed to be corrected.

For breakfast we had granola with fresh blueberries, orange/grapefruit juice, and split a banana.  After breakfast Linda got dressed and I took a quick shower (she took one yesterday.)  I was going to use the bathhouse but decided to shower in our coach to use up more of the remaining fresh water and get it into our gray tank.  The fresh water level dropped below 1/3rd yesterday which meant we still had 40 gallons, easily enough for two more days with a little reserve.  I got dressed and we dealt with a few chores.  Linda vacuumed the inside of the coach, which she had not done since we left Michigan.  I dumped our holding tanks and filled our fresh water tank and updated our water usage spreadsheet.

I calculated our fresh water usage and waste water generation for this past winter.  Over 128 days we averaged just over 13 gallons of fresh water per day and over 120 days generated an average of just over 15 gallons per day of waste.  Those numbers suggest that a 130 gallon fresh water tank and a single 150 gallon waste tank would be well balanced and allow us to boondock for 10 days with some reserve.  That’s only 280 gallons total, 40 gallons less than the 320 gallons (approximately) of the three tanks currently in the bus, so tanks that size would create the space I need in the bay for a water softener, filters, and fresh hose reel, and possibly a shorepower cord reel.  When we pay more careful attention to water management and conservation we can reduce our fresh water usage to 10 gallons per day with a corresponding reduction in waste generation.  That would allow us to boondock for 13 days.  With slightly larger tanks we could stay out 14 days and still have room for the things I want to get into the bay.  Final decisions will depend on more precise calculations and the actual dimensions of possible equipment.

With the chores done (for now) Linda started addressing envelopes and putting postage on them while I made final changes to our holiday letter and started printing copies.  She folded the letters, stuffed them into the envelopes, and sealed them.  It took about two hours to get 34 letters ready to mail.  We skipped lunch and just had a few pretzels.  We wanted to stop at Walmart on our way to Satchel’s so we left at 2:45 PM and drove to the Williston post office, sent the letters on their way, and headed to Gainesville.  John and Ali followed later in their own car.

At Walmart we found Christmas cards for mailing checks to immediate family members.  I got two pairs of shorts, as I forgot to pack mine when we left home, and we picked up two bags of Snyder`s sourdough pretzel nibblers.  I also got a call from Pat Lintner.  We chatted briefly and I said I would call him back when we got hone after dinner.

We were at Satchel’s by 5 PM and sat inside.  We had the same selections as last time: small salad and medium pizza with Daiya mozzarella cheese, onions, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes.  We only ate half the pizza and brought the rest home. This pizza is soooo good.  It’s one of the best we have ever had, including all of the non-vegan pizzas we have eaten over our lifetime.  Only the original Luigi’s Pizza from St. Louis in the 1960’s stands taller in our memories, although the current Imo’s chain makes a similar and very good pizza.

We were back at our coach by 6:45 PM and went for an evening stroll to help settle our dinner.  It was cool but humid and the clouds had cleared out so a pleasant enough evening for a walk.  When we got back to our coach I called Pat and we talked for about 40 minutes with Vickie occasionally joining in on the other end of the call.  They are not leaving Indiana until after Christmas and will spend New Year’s Eve at an RV park near Ocala, Florida as they have every year for many years.  They will be less than 40 miles from Williston at that point but we will already be in Arcadia by then.  Timing is everything.

Some nights I just do not feel like working at my computer, or iPad, or reading, and tonight was one of those nights.  Unfortunately Wednesday evening is a bit of a TV wasteland, even on PBS, which is to say there wasn’t anything on that interested me.  The best thing on was a Big Band retrospective on PBS but it was also part of the 24/7 fundraising that has become the network’s defining characteristic.  Whatever the reason, the music did not grab me the way it normally would.  CBS had a 3-hour Survivor finale.  Nope, not going to watch that.  Linda read and I scrolled through channels hoping something interesting would pop up but eventually I zoned out.  Even Ask This Old House (AskTOH) was less interesting than usual.  I guess I just wasn’t in the mood.  It happens sometimes.

 

2015/12/15 (T) Blog Uploads (finally)

The temperature at midnight was a little warmer than we like for sleeping but still OK.  The humidity was high, however, and everything felt slightly damp.  There was a high likelihood of rain before sunrise but we left the windows and roof vents open and all three exhaust fans running.  We have air conditioners but they are noisy and use a lot of electricity so we do not use them unless we have to.  Mostly, however, we like fresh air and tend to resist closing up the coach.

We were both asleep by 11:30 PM last night and I was up a 6:50 AM this morning.  I fed the cats and then watched a TV program on WUFT’s Create channel called Florida Crossroads.  It was on Florida’s Black Heritage Trail and featured some of the off-the-beaten-path museums and historically black communities in the state.  As the program pointed out at the beginning “If you head down I-75 to Disney World and other Florida attractions you won’t see these places.”  We do not have any plans to follow this trail but the show reminded me that every state has a history that is preserved in out-of-the-way places and it takes time and desire to seek them out.

Linda got up about half way through the programs so I watched the last 15 minutes of the show and then turned off the TV.  The rain increased from a light drizzle to a light rain and Linda pulled up the weather radar on her iPad.  Moisture was streaming northeast from the Gulf in our general direction so I closed the ceiling vent/fan in the bedroom.  It is over the foot of the bed so if water gets in the bedding gets wet.  I left the other two vent/fans open and exhausting on medium speed as no water seemed to be coming in.  They are both directly above vinyl tile flooring so if water did get in it would be easy to clean up.

I made a very full pot of coffee, using up the last of our first batch of Sweet Seattle Dreams beans (Seattle Blend and Sweet Dreams decaf blend, both from Teeko’s Coffee and Tea back home).  The Kindle edition of Dr. Michael Greger’s new book, How Not to Die, was available so Linda initiated downloading it to our various devices.  We both opened the Kindle apps on our iPads and finished downloading it to our devices.

We had English muffins and split a grapefruit for breakfast.  Once we were dressed and the kitchen was cleaned up Linda packed up Madeline’s Christmas stocking, took it to the Post Office, and mailed it.  While she was there she bought holiday stamps including the postage needed to get our Year in Review holiday letter to friends in Ontario.

With the Habitat For Humanity and Webasto Burner Service articles wrapped up (for now) I felt like taking a break from computer-based work but there was too much that still needed to be done.  At the top of the list was finalizing plans to get together with Bruce and Linda, John and Marian, and Al this week or next.  That was all being done by e-mail so it was spread out through the day but I eventually got the visits planned.

I need to work on the FMCA FTH and GLCC websites, and at some point I need to start writing, or at least outlining, new articles based on the work we did to the interior of our motorcoach this past summer and fall.  But the task rising to the top of my list is the blog, now over four months behind.  First, however, I installed the Twenty Sixteen WordPress Theme on our personal site (this one) just to have a look.  It’s a nice, clean, blog oriented theme, with features that make it more responsive with respect to sizing images on different devices but I did not switch the site over at this time.

I spent the rest of the morning copying blog post drafts from e-mails to Word docs and then editing the ones from August to get them ready to upload.  I was able to upload posts for August 3 through 8, including a gallery post of the refrigerator swap at Chuck’s shop on the 8th.  I spent the rest of the day selecting and processing photos for the rest of August.

Our storage ottoman was scheduled for delivery by 8 PM last night but the office closed at 5 PM and it wasn’t here by then.  Amazon notified us that it was delivered today so Linda retrieved it from the office when she made a quick trip to the Grocery Depot for ingredients to make polenta for dinner.

With more light rain forecast for this evening we went for a late afternoon walk.  We got to the northwest corner of the resort and were hailed by Elliot and Jamie who we met at the campfire on Saturday evening.  This is their first winter at Williston Crossings and they are enjoying it, especially the variety and frequency of available activities.  We started to get a few raindrops while we were chatting with them and headed back to the rig at a quick pace.  It was misting by the time we got there but we did not get very wet.

Linda started working on dinner by making the polenta and putting it in the refrigerator to firm up.  I turned on the TV for background noise and doodled on my iPad.  Linda set out our salads and then we had a 20 minute break before the polenta was ready.  She served it with Puttanesca sauce that included cayenne pepper and had a nice kick.  After dinner we watched our usual Tuesday evening TV programs, all of them season finales, and then went to bed.

 

2015/12/14 (M) Christmas Stocking

I was up just before 7 AM to feed the cats, who were crying rather than using their usual technique of circling the mattress, and decided to just stay up.  I tried connecting my iPad to one of the nearby RV resort Wi-Fi access points but was still unable to connect to the Internet.  I tried to connect our WiFi Ranger to the access point but it was unable to acquire an IP address.  I turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi, connected the Wi-Fi Ranger to it, and started up my computer.  Linda was also up by this time and played a few word games on her iPad while I made coffee.

It was heavily overcast, but not foggy, and the sky glowed briefly with the rising sun before turning to a muted gray.  It was 71 degrees F outside, as dense cloud cover had prevented the temperature from dropping overnight, and 78 inside.  We left windows and the roof vents open last night with the bathroom exhaust fan on, so we had airflow but the humidity was higher than we like.  Still, we slept OK.

We had granola for breakfast.  After breakfast Linda drove to the Publix at the southwest corner of Gainesville to buy groceries.  I updated the other three WordPress websites that I manage and then got back to work on the HFH article for BCM which I did not finish yesterday.

I finished selecting and inserting photos for Part 2 of the article.  I then selected and organized the remaining photos for the digital edition Bonus Content sections for Part 1 and Part 2.  The penultimate step was to upload all of this to our Dropbox in a way that reflected the two-part organization of the article.  The final step was to e-mail Gary and let him know it was done.  Unfortunately this is at least the third time I have been “done” with this article so I won’t know if I am really, finally done until I see it in print.

We had a mock turkey sandwich for lunch and split an apple.  After lunch I sent e-mails to three friends who live south of our RV resort to try and arrange get-togethers before we leave at the end of the month.  I heard back from Bruce and Linda Whitney (really) right away.  They are members of our ham radio club back home and are in the process of relocating to their new home near Brooksville, Florida.  We agreed to get together this coming Sunday.  I eventually heard back from John and Marian Hogan and they were also interested in getting together.  By dinner time I had not heard back from Al Hesselbart, but I will.

Linda finished the needlepoint part of her project and walked to the sewing room by the office where she was able to use one of the sewing machines to attach the needlepoint matrix to a piece of white felt to make Madeline’s holiday stocking.  Our Verizon Mi-Fi had shut down when the battery drained so I plugged it in to recharge it.  I tried connecting our WiFi Ranger to the RV resort Wi-Fi and this time it worked.  There was obviously a problem with the system and it took until this afternoon for the office to get a technician out to fix it.

Gary Hatt at BCM had Kathy proofread the draft of my article on servicing the Webasto burner in our Aqua-Hot and sent it back to me.  I accepted all of her edits except one and then reformatted the article in two columns with the photos for the print edition inserted in-line.  I uploaded it to our Dropbox and e-mailed Gary.

We had both spent a long day mostly sitting so we went for a long stroll around the RV resort.  When we got back to the coach Linda started preparing dinner.  She added Halo orange slices to the salad, which included dried cranberries, walnuts, and sun-dried tomato dressing.  Yum.  The main course was couscous and black beans with corn, onion, and garlic.  Double yum.  We went for another walk after dinner.

When we got back we settled in to watch our usual Monday night TV programs and had a small glass of wine.

 

2015/12/13 (N) Test Print

We were up at 7:45 AM this morning.  We were still unable to acquire the Internet via the resort Wi-Fi system so I turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi and got our Wi-Fi Ranger connected to it.  I made the coffee and fed the cats while Linda cleaned the litter tray.

Sunday is pancakes-for-breakfast day but we had some coffee first.  Linda played word games while I put the finishing touches on yesterday’s blog post and started today’s post.  The pancakes were yummy if a bit too much quantity wise.  Linda said I complain if she makes a smaller batch, which is probably true.  I suggested that we should have grapefruit with our pancakes to make up the difference.

At the fire circle last night we met Tom and Cindy.  We have seen them there the last three times but not had a chance to introduce ourselves.  Tom sat down next to me so we finally had a chance to chat.  They are newly retired and less than one year into their RVing adventure.  Like us, they are only here for the month but expressed an interest in getting together to discuss motorhomes and RVing.  Absolutely!

My main focus today was finishing our 2015 Year in Review holiday letter, which is actually a photo essay.  I spent some time looking for a few additional photos that met my criteria and constraints and found one to fill available spaces.  I also replaced several images with better (sharper) versions.  By noon I was finally ready to print a test copy but had to mess around with printer settings for half an hour to get it to print.  It finally did, and looked good, so I should not have to make any further adjustments unless Linda finds something when she proofreads it.  Linda won’t have time to address envelopes until the middle of next week so there was no need to print them at this time.  We will print, fold, address, stamp, and stuff them in one continuous process and then get them out of the rig and to the post office the same day.  Space is at a premium in an RV, even a 40 foot converted highway coach.

With the holiday letter done I decided to make some minor updates to our website having to do with Bus Conversion Magazine.  WordPress 4.4 was available so I installed it.  There were eight updates—three plugins and five themes—so I installed those too.  I did not take the time to update the other three WordPress sites but I need to do that and thought I might get to it after dinner.

We were both focused on our work and decided to skip lunch save for a few pretzels dipped in hummus.  At 1 PM I decided to it was finally time to install the window.  It was a warm, sunny day, which was fine for a short, light-duty maintenance task.  Linda informed me that the weather forecast for the upcoming week had a significant chance of rain, so getting the window reinstalled today was probably a good thing.

It was a simple enough thing to install but I had to get out the Little Giant stepladder and a tool box for a pair of needle-nose pliers.  I cleaned the hinge part of the frame and sprayed it with a dry lube.  With me outside on the ladder and Linda inside I got the window hung and she got the lever mechanism adjusted so we could get the lever pins inserted in the correct direction.  I then installed the E-clips on the ends of the pins.  I noticed that the front pin on the other driver side living room window was missing its E-clip so we installed one there.  At that point we checked the other six windows for missing clips.  They were all good.  I was going to change the pins around on the other three windows that had them in backwards but it was warm with a hot sun on the driver’s side of the bus so I deferred this minor project to another time.

Not having the window in place was starting to bug me so it was good to have it done.  With that minor weight off my shoulders I returned to working on the Habitat For Humanity article for Bus Conversion Magazine.  Although Part 1 will run in February and Part 2 in March I really want to put it to bed in the next 48 hours.  As with Part 1, I reformatted Part 2 in two columns and started selecting and inserting photos in-line with the text for the print edition.  With Jorge doing the magazine layout, and not being a bus person, placing the photos approximately where I think they should go seems to streamline the process.

By 4 PM we were both ready to go for a walk.  We were back before 5 PM and sat outside for 45 minutes using our iPads until we felt a few rain drops and then a few more.  The day had started with fog which gave way to mostly sunny skies that were gradually replaced with clouds and became a dense overcast by the time we went for our walk.  The winds were out of the SSE and darker ones moved in just ahead of the rain drops.  I put our outdoor chairs away and went inside just in case we had an unexpected downpour.

For dinner Linda heated up a couple of cans of Amy’s vegan chili with saltine crackers on the side and the last of the broccoli Cole slaw.  After dinner we tuned in PBS and watched the 1981 Simon and Garfunkel Central Park reunion concert followed by a documentary on The Carpenters.  The resort Wi-Fi was still not providing Internet access so I turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi and spent the better part of the evening copying blog posts from e-mails into Word docs.  Linda played word games and eventually went to bed to read.  I switched to my iPad to finish up this post and turned in for the evening at midnight.

 

2015/12/12 (S) 8 Panel Paper

We slept in this morning and did not get up until almost 8:30.  Yesterday was not an unusually physical or stressful day but we were tired and slept well overnight.  I have noticed over the last 10 years that some RVers continue their routines into retirement with almost military precision, getting up at a certain time each day, usually Oh Dark Thirty, walking their dog(s), and cleaning the entire outside of their rig before breakfast.  Not us.  We have a window in the evening during which we usually go to bed, and Linda is more regular in her sleep pattern than I am, but bedtime is governed by what we are doing (or what is on TV), how tired we are, and whether we have to get up the next morning.  We usually get up when we feel like it unless we have to be up at a certain time, such as for my trip to Suncoast Designers in Hudson’ Florida this past Monday.

I made our morning coffee and Linda prepared our cereal and juice for breakfast.  After breakfast she pulled the litter tray out of the shower and cleaned out the residual litter, which we do not want in the waste tank, so we could take showers.  She got her shower, got dressed, and got back to work on her counter cross-stitch project.

I finished up yesterday’s post, e-mailed it off to myself, and started working on this one.  After letting the hot water tank recover I took my shower and trimmed up my beard, which was starting to bother me.  Not enough to shave it off—that would freak out the cats—but enough to need some attention.  I got dressed and settled in to work on our holiday letter.  Now that I have the special paper I can finalize the layout to fit the panels.

Except for a quick lunch break and a walk around the resort I worked until 4 PM on the layout.  I placed four of the panoramas on the last two panels by turning them 90 degrees, and enlarged them to fit the space.  That part was easy but getting captions on them required the use of text boxes which are a pain to work with in Word.  I used the space that was freed up by moving these images to rearrange others and enlarge some of them.  When I was done I had space for four more photos, if I can find ones that are:  a) technically good, b) interesting, c) from the needed time period, d) of something that is not already represented, and e) in the correct orientation (portrait vs landscape).  If not I will just enlarge a couple more that are already there.

Microsoft Word is really not the right tool for this kind of project.  Everything flows and every time I changed something everything after it would move.  That would just be annoying if it moved in a way that made sense but sometimes things would jump around or completely disappear, which is aggravating.  I think the addition of the four text boxes was responsible for that behavior but I wouldn’t bet on it.  The correct tool for this project would be something like Microsoft Publisher but I only do this once a year and never feel like going through the learning curve until I already have too much time into the project and are too close to being done.  Maybe next year.  Or maybe I will work on this throughout the year, adding one or more photos at the end of each month.  Yeah, right.

Linda made Spicy Broccoli Cole slaw and put it in the refrigerator to chill.  We then sat outside for an hour enjoying the cooler tail end of another gorgeous day.  Linda made Spicy Potato Curry for our main dish and we ate at 6 PM.  Like last night we changed into warmer clothes after dinner.  Even with the high temperature in the low 80’s it cools off quickly once the sun sets.  We left around 6:30 and walked to the firepit with our well-provisioned wine tote.  John had the fire going and there were already eight people there so we were not able to claim our usual seats.  John had switched his and Ali’s seats and I ended up sitting next to John and Linda sat next to Ali so we could chat.

By 10 PM everyone had left except the four of us.  I had restacked what was left of the fire logs and they were still burning nicely but John had to go close up so he and I spread them out and we walked back to our coaches.  Linda made a bowl of popcorn (at my request) and we put on the TV for background noise while we used our iPads.  Our Wi-Fi Ranger had lost its connection to the Internet.  It was able to connect to the resort Wi-Fi signal but could not reacquire Internet access.  We tried connecting directly to the resort Wi-Fi with our iPads but still could not acquire the Internet.  I finally gave up and turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi so we could do a few things before going to bed.

 

2015/12/11 (F) Naked Grape

We were both up at 7:45 AM but the cats were active long before that.  Besides their usual jumping on and off the bed they were unusually frisky and spent quite some time chasing each other back and forth the full length of the coach, often taking flying leaps onto the bed.  I fed them and Linda cleaned their litter tray after which I made coffee and she made oatmeal for our breakfast.  While we finished our coffee Linda played word games on her iPad and I put the finishing touches on yesterday’s post, e-mailed it to myself, and started working on today’s post.

My sister called at 9:30 AM and we talked for about 30 minutes.  When we were done I got dressed and gathered up the first load of laundry, drove it down to the laundry room, loaded the washing machine, and started it.  I then drove to the NAPA store to get the E-clips for the awning window lever pins.  This time they had them.  I ordered 12 but they came in bags of 20 and were cheaper per piece in that quantity.  There are 16 of these clips securing the lever arms for the eight awning style windows, so I bought the whole bag.  I also bought some J-B Weld that I plan to use to repair the broken weld on one of the passenger side living room window latches.

When I got back to the coach I gathered up the second load of laundry, which included the bed sheets and pillow cases, and drove it down to the laundry room.  The first load was done so I loaded it in the dryer and then put the second load in the washer.  I returned to the coach for 25 minutes and then went back to put the second load in the dryer.  It took several more trips to get all of the laundry in/out of washers and dryers, put in on hangers or fold it, and get it back to the coach.

For lunch we split a mock turkey sandwich with lots of greens, a tangerine, and a pear.  It was like a salad on a bun.  I had a text from my sister asking me to call a social worker at a different medical center and let her know that Patty would call her back later in the afternoon.  After lunch I called Amy and left a message.  Amy called me back and we chatted briefly.  Presumably she also talked to Patty later in the day.

Linda resumed work on her counted cross-stitch project and suggested that I select a bottle of wine for this evening and put it in the refrigerator.  None of the wines we had struck my fancy so I drove to the Grocery Depot and bought a 3L box of Naked Grape Moscato.  We received notifications from Amazon that two packages had been delivered so I stopped in the office on the way back and picked them up.  One was the two bath mats for the bathroom and the other one was our 8.5×14 brochure paper for our holiday letter. I put the box of wine in the fridge when I got back to the coach.

I finished the 2-column formatting of Part 1 of my 2-part BCM article titled What To Do With Your Bus:  Building with Habitat For Humanity and e-mailed it off to Gary, the publisher of Bus Conversion Magazine.  By the time I finished going through e-mails it was 3 PM and had gotten warm in the coach, even with the windows open and the roof vent fans running.  I laid down on the sofa and took a nap for a couple of hours.

When I finally got up from my nap the sun was low in the southwest sky and it had cooled off just a bit so we both sat outside with our iPads for a while.  It was a beautiful day today with clear skies and a warm sun and highs in the mid-70s.  Today is Friday, which means we gather at the fire circle at 7 PM for fellowship and music, so we had dinner at 6 PM, earlier than usual.  Linda made a nice green salad, as she does most evenings, with walnuts, raisins, and dried cranberries.  She reheated the leftover seitan stroganoff and heated some frozen broccoli.  She rarely uses frozen ingredients, but they are always handy to have around for a quicker, easier to prepare, meal.

Linda opened the box of Naked Grape Moscato wine and filled a small coffee thermos.  She put the thermos and our two plastic wine gasses in our wine tote and we walked down to the firepit.  We took the recyclables with us as the bins are just beyond the firepit.  When we got there at 6:40 PM John already had the fire going but no one else had arrived.  We like to get there early so we can sit near John and Ali.

As was the case two years ago I ended up tending the fire.  Not that I mind; I am actually pretty good at it, but the available firewood at the moment is not good.  It is very heavy for its size and I suspect it is not very dry.  I convinced John that we should leave the natural gas on under the logs.  Normally the gas is only used to start the fire but leaving it on, even on low flame, seemed to help reduce the amount of smoke.  I also used some of the scrap construction lumber which was very dry and burned hot and clean.

We stayed at the fire until 10 PM and enjoyed John’s guitar playing, singing along, and conversation.  Around 9:30 he got a call from a couple who had just arrived at the gate and he had to leave to escort them to their site.  They had been delayed by a traffic jam that resulted from an accident.  Every RVer who has been on the road for more than a few months has experienced this.  As was the case last weekend it was just the two of us with John and Ali at the end.  We would have stayed longer, as I had a small but nice fire burning, but John had to close up the resort buildings and check the gates and Ali was starting to get cold.  I turned off the gas, spread out the logs, and we headed home.

When we got back to our coach we turned on the TV and doodled on our iPads for a while before going to bed.  Linda inadvertently locked Juniper in the bathroom closet but after hearing an unusual thumping sound several times, and not seeing her anywhere, I investigated and found her.  She likes to climb in the closets and get behind things, and was actually reluctant to come out, but she finally did and ended up in bed with us and the other cat, as is the case almost every night.

 

2015/12/10 (R) Reworking Articles

I got up at 8 AM this morning, fed the cats, and made a pot of coffee.  Linda was up by the time the coffee was brewed and we enjoyed our first cup before having breakfast.

Linda has been in holiday shopping mode and ordered a 250 sheet pack of 8.5×14 brochure paper for our holiday letter.  The paper is 38# double-sided coated color laser printer.  It is made for quad-panel (three folds) brochures and is scored every 3.5 inches so it folds into an 8.5”x3.5” finished size.  Using the front and back it has eight panels.  The current layout of our letter takes two full 8.5×14 sheets so it should use all eight panels.

At 9:30 AM we had granola with fresh berries for breakfast.  Linda opened a new bag, transferred it to the plastic container, and put a piece of Frog a Tape on it so she can tally the servings.  She wants to know how many servings we get from each batch so she can better estimate how much to make to take with us next winter.  The real limitation is the size of the new freezer.

After breakfast Linda settled in to work on Madeline’s holiday stocking and I walked to the NAPA store to get the E-clips for the window lever pins.  The local NAPA store ordered them yesterday from two different places but neither order came in.  They reordered them from Jacksonville and said they would be in in the morning.

When I got back to the coach I revisited our holiday letter and adjusted the layout so the photos and captions would fit on the 3.5″ panels and not fall on the folds.  I had to shrink the photos slightly to get two of them side by side and I had to shrink the panoramas even more.  I also modified the captions to make better use of the space, moving the location to the top line with the date and leaving more room for the description underneath.  As a result of those changes the layout only used six of the eight panels so I will have to add photos or figure out how to enlarge some of the existing ones to fill out the space.

Somewhere in the middle of all this we took a lunch break at 1 PM.  Linda made vegan grilled cheese sandwiches and sliced an apple in half.  Simple but delicious.

I had a call from my sister and spoke with her for a while about our dad.  Later I called the social worker at the hospital and she called me back a short time later.  I then called our attorney’s office but did not get an answer, so I contacted him by e-mail.  I got a call back from him not long after and was able to expand on the reason for my call.

I e-mailed Brenda Phelan about the Arcadia Rally at the end of the month and dealt with e-mail correspondence from Gary at BCM.  He wanted to pull Part 1 of my 2-part article on Habitat for Humanity (HFH) up to the January 2016 issue to plug an unexpected hole and needed me to do some urgent last minute work on it to get it ready for Jorge to lay out.  This sort of thing happens all too often, but I agreed to work on it this evening.  Truth be told it wasn’t as big a request as he thought it was and I don’t mind helping him out if I can.

The temperature got up to 77 degrees F today with partly cloudy skies but by 4 PM the sun was low in the southwest sky and it was starting to cool off.  We both needed to get off our butts and move around so we went for a walk through the resort.  We ran into John using his electric motor bicycle to escort someone to their site.  As he passed by he said we had a package in the office so we altered our walking route to go there and retrieve it.

It was one of several packages we are expecting from Amazon and had supplies Linda needed to continue working on her counted cross-stitch project.  We stopped and talked to Jeff and Kathy briefly, dropped the package back at our rig, and walked part of the newer/north end of the resort.  It was still pleasant outside when we got back to the rig so we sat outside with our iPads and had a few peanut butter pretzels as a snack.

By 5 PM the sun was below our horizon, which consists of RVs to our southwest.  There was still plenty of daylight but by 5:30 it was fading and cooling off fast.  I finally went inside and started working on the HFH article for BCM.

For dinner Linda made a nice green salad and reheated the leftover pizza from last night’s dinner.  It was just as good as last night, maybe better.  I continued working on the article after dinner and watched our Thursday evening TV programs out of the corner of my eye.  By 9:30 PM I had spent all the time I cared to in front of my computer but was not done with the article.  Moving photos around is time consuming and a bit tedious.  I like to stay productive, so I switched to my iPad to work on this post.  Yeah, it’s still a screen, but I interact with it differently and have more options as to where and how I sit.  We were up until 11 PM but fell asleep quickly once we got to bed.

 

2015/12/09 (W) Return to Satchel’s

I was up at 7 AM.  It was 66 in the coach; cool but tolerable.  I put on my sweats, fed the cats, and cleaned their litter tray, but did not turn on the heaters.  Linda was up by 7:15.  I made coffee and we delayed breakfast until later.  We are going to Satchel’s for dinner with John and Ali this evening so we decided to have brunch instead of breakfast and lunch.  Satchel’s has some of the best vegan pizza we have ever had, including a choice of vegan cheeses, so it will be a big meal for us.

Linda used her iPad to do some holiday shopping.  I checked my e-mail and was then going to play a few games on my iPad but the iOS 9.2 update was available so I started the installation process and set it aside.  Once the updated OS was installed I had five app updates available so I initiated those, one at a time, and started working on this post.  The updates downloaded fast enough to be reasonable.  Either the Resort has made significant improvements in the Wi-Fi and Internet connection bandwidths or very few people are using the system at the moment, or both.

I got the BCM boxes out from under the bed and integrated in the issues I received on Monday.  Everything was there so the three sets of issues are ready to give out as door prizes in at the Arcadia Rally 2016.  I worked on the photo tips article for BCM for a while and then decided to do some more work on the BCM page on our website.  I had a detailed e-mail from Gary at BCM with suggestions, and I find it easier to use that kind of information when it is printed out, but when I tried to print it my computer said the printer was offline.  The printer display said it was “Ready” so I had a problem to investigate and resolve.

This was the first time we tried to use the HP Color LaserJet 3600 printer since we put it on board the bus and it was the first time we had connected it via the Amped|Wireless SR20000G network extender / router.  I had expected it to plug-and-play as this trip was also the first time we have used the newer/larger NAS on the bus with this particular router and it worked without me having to do anything to configure it.

I downloaded an updated version of Advanced IP Scanner and ran it.  It could not find the printer and claimed that both of our computers and the NAS were “dead” connections, even though they were communicating with each other and the Internet.  All of the evidence suggested that the problem was somehow related to network addresses.  I went into the printer configuration menu via the front panel and changed two settings, turning on IP Release and IP Renew.  I turned the printer off and back on but that did not cause it to connect.

I went in and out of the control panel in my computer looking at the various screens related to devices and drivers, specifically printers.  I also went into the web interface for the SR20000G where some settings and context dependent help screens caught my attention.  In particular, the SR20000G appeared to be set up as a DHCP client rather than a server and the help screen suggested that it was getting IP addresses from the primary router, i.e., the one connecting our “home” network to the Internet.  In our motorcoach, that is our Wi-Fi Ranger, and the Wi-Fi Ranger operates on a different range of locally routed IP addresses (10.139.1.nnn) than most home networks (192.168.17.nnn).  I opened the Advanced IP Scanner again and figured out how to get it to scan the local address range served by the Wi-Fi Ranger and voilà, there was the printer, the NAS, our computers, and the SR2000G.

The final step was to revisit something that caught my eye earlier.  In the printer driver configuration there is a Port screen and the printer was configured with a Standard TCP/IP Port in the 192.168.1.nnn range.  I created one in the 10.139.17.nnn range to match the address that Advanced IP Scanner indicated had been assigned to the printer.  I tried printing a printer test page and voilà (again) I heard the familiar sound of the printer indexing a sheet of paper and shortly thereafter had the test page in my hands.  I went into my e-mail and printed the one from Gary.  This was not what I expected to be doing today but it was satisfying to get it resolved and not have it take any longer than I did to get it done.

One of our tasks for today was reinstalling the awning style window in the living room.  I happened to notice this morning that one of the lever pins on the other driver side window was coming out, indicating that the C-clip was missing.  Closer examination revealed that the lever pins on the four windows we had repaired in April 2014 were all reinstalled with pins put in backwards.

I took a break from my other work at 1 PM and drove to the local NAPA store to buy new C-clips.  The clerk at the store had a kit of clips and a paper template for matching style and sizes.  He said our existing clips are actually E-clips, not C-clips, and the size I needed was a 1007.  He did not have any in stock but ordered them from another store and said they would be in at 4 PM.  We would be on our way to dinner by then so I indicated I would pick them up in the morning.

Back at the motorcoach John stopped by to let us know that he and Ali were going to do some shopping before dinner and to figure out a time to meet us at the restaurant.  We agreed on 5 PM.  As long as he was here I gave him the bag of Fire Ant Killer I bought for him on Monday.

We decided that we would also do some shopping before dinner.  We left at 3:15 PM and headed up FL-121 towards Gainesville.  When we got to I-75 we headed north to the next exit at Archer Road (FL-24) and made our way slowly through the traffic, into the outdoor mega-mall, and to Walmart.  We needed a small hassock (that would double as a storage cube), a small table (that we could put between the two captains chairs), a non-slip shelf liner (to put under the printer), a seat cushion (for the card table chair at the desk), a small mat (to put on the floor outside the shower to catch cat litter), batteries (for our bathroom scale), and high quality 8.5×14 paper (to print our holiday letter).  We found all of those items except the last one, but did not buy the hassock as the store only had them in gray.  We then worked our way to the Office Max store at the center of the mall.  They only had one (open) ream of 8.5×14 paper and it was regular copy paper.  Useless for our needs.

We put the address of Satchel’s pizzeria/restaurant into the GPS and worked our way over to the east side of town through rush hour traffic.  We pulled into the restaurant parking lot at 4:41 PM just as John and Ali were stepping out of their Tahoe two spots down.  Satchel’s is a very popular place but at quarter to five it was mostly empty.  It was a lovely late afternoon but the sun was already setting and the air would being cooling off quickly so we asked for an inside booth, which also happen to have padded seats.

We started with a small salad that was still big enough to share with Ali and John.  They had pizza slices but we ordered a medium (13″) pizza with Daiya mozzarella cheese, onions, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Soooo good.  John and Ali split a bottle of Cabernet, Linda had water, and I had ginger ale.  Satchel’s makes their own soda pop and it is very tasty (but contains sugar).

By the time we left the restaurant at 6 PM it was full of people, inside and out, and the noise level had risen to where Linda and Ali were starting to have difficulty with conversation.  We settled our bill and went on our way.  John and Ali had more shopping to do but we headed straight for Williston.  As we were approaching the intersection at I-75 I noticed that I was getting low on fuel.  I probably could have made it to Williston, but why chance running out of gas.  There are five filling stations near this intersection but the Mobil station was the first one on the right so I pulled in.  A few minutes later we were on our way again and we arrived back at our motorcoach at 7 PM.

I put the cushion on the desk chair while Linda put the placemat in the bathroom.  We opened the folding table and adjusted the height so the cats’ scratching post just fit under it and put it in place between the two captains chairs.  Having a table in that spot has been the plan from the beginning of the remodeling.  Although the folding table is temporary, it immediately increased the functionality of the interior.  It also allowed us to better visualize how the living room will look/feel when we finally install the permanent table.

Linda spent much of the rest of the evening shopping for holiday gifts and domestic necessities on Amazon.  She got presents ordered for everyone except her sister, with all of them being drop shipped directly to the recipients.  She also ordered a 15″x15″ brown storage hassock and a pair of washable floor towels (for the bathroom).  We definitely get our money’s worth out of Amazon Prime.

 

2015/12/08 (T) Hudson and Back

The outside air temperature dropped into the 40’s last night.  I closed the roof vents before turning in but we left the windows open a bit.  It was 61 degrees F in the kitchen when I got up at 8 AM so I turned on the Aqua-Hot, turned up all three thermostats, and turned on the front electric toekick heater.  I fed the cats and then made our morning coffee.  Linda got up around 8:20.  After our first cup of coffee we had granola for breakfast.  When the temperature in the coach reached 70 I turned off the thermostats and the electric heater and shut off the Aqua-Hot diesel burner.  (The electric heating element in the Aqua-Hot stays on whenever we are plugged in and living in the coach.)

I called Suncoast Designers and talked to Donna.  She talked to the technician and reported back that the bus window would be ready for pickup at 3 PM.  The office closes at 3:45 PM, so I would need to be there close to 3 to get it and settle the bill.

I found my water usage spreadsheet, which I last updated on April 19 of this year, and edited it to include the dump and fill activity since then.  I had to go back to my blog posts from late April to confirm just what I had done and when I had done it.  I checked my most recent post drafts and discovered that I had not made mention of dumping here at WCRVR.  Linda and I agreed that it was not the day we got here and not the following day so I recorded it as the 3rd.  Since there had been large time gaps in our use of the coach, and I had dumped the fresh water tank and refilled it the day before Thanksgiving, I had to reset the spreadsheet to known starting points.

After entering the missing data I determined that, with two people living in the coach, we continue to use fresh water at the rate of approximately 12 gallons per day and fill the waste tanks at the rate of approximately 12 gallons per day; five for the black tank and seven for the gray tank.  With 120 gallons of fresh water that means we can boondock for about 10 days, during which time we would use up the 120 gallons of fresh water and add roughly the same number of gallons to the two waste tanks, 50 to the 80 gallon black tank, and 70 to the 120 gallon gray tank.  I also determined that we have used about half the capacity of the water softener.

The numbers for the waste tanks are very rough as our tank level monitors do not work and I cannot see the levels in the tanks, even though they are translucent white plastic, as they are hidden behind “beauty panels.”  Still, I think my estimates are reasonable.  Given the 3:4 ratio of fresh:waste tank capacity I am inclined to redo the water bay next spring as a 300 gallon, 2-tank, system replacing the current 330 gallons of combined tank capacity (125 fresh, 125 gray, 80 black).  I could reuse the current 125 gallon fresh tank but I would probably replace it with one of a different shape to make room for the water softener and filters to be built in and to relocate the fresh water pump to the driver side floor at the level of the bottom of the fresh water tank.

At current usage rates a 125 gallon fresh water tank and a single 175 gallon waste tank would, hypothetically, allow us to boondock for 13 days, running out of fresh water just as our waste tank reached capacity.  We might be able to stay out longer if we could reduce fresh water usage and waste generation proportionally.  In practice, however, we would probably not go more than 13 to 14 days and only then if the new tank monitors worked accurately.  Still, that would allow us to stay out two full weeks before we had to dump and fill, which seems like a good amount of time.

The other benefits of reconfiguring the tanks in the utility bay include slightly different tank shapes that would create some space for the water softener and filters and provide access to the tanks for servicing and monitoring.  It would also allow me to install rotating spray heads for the waste tank and drain it through the macerator pump, allowing use to “dump” our tanks at our house or anywhere we could get a garden hose into a waste drain.  We might even gain space, or access to space that is already there, to store drain hoses, and other utilities-related things, in the bay.  I would, for instance, love to have a shorepower reel but I do not think I can create that kind of space without making the tanks too small.

What we would lose in the redo is a separate gray tank that could, hypothetically, be drained onto the ground in some places.  The number of places where that is legal, however, is too small (in my opinion) to justify keeping that capability.  The other main argument for keeping separate black and gray waste water tanks is that the contents of the gray tank can be used to flush the drain hose out after first dumping the contents of the black tank.  Indeed, some bus converters set up their waste tanks with the gray tank above the black tank and plumb them so that the gray tank can be drained into the black tank to help flush it out, or drained directly (which leaves open the option of draining it in on the ground).

We heard another interesting take on water management for boondocking at a seminar in August 2012 at the FMCA national rally in Madison, WI.  The presenter described his system, which involved three tanks, fresh, gray, and black.  His twist on this was that he ran the gray water through a filter (or set of filters) and then used it to flush the toilet.  The advantage is that all of the fresh water becomes available for gray water use, i.e., cooking and cleaning.  As an example, consider a setup (such as we might have in our bus conversion) with a 150 gallon fresh water tank, a 100 gallon gray tank, and a 50 gallon black tank. Since the first 50 gallons that go into the gray tank will potentially end up in the black tank the entire 150 gallons of fresh water can ultimately end up in the 100 gallon gray tank.  With careful management of water usage, that could really extend the amount of time the rig can be used without hookups.  These tanks could be sized differently, larger waste and smaller fresh, if you had a fresh water bladder that could be used to retrieve additional fresh water and refill the tank without moving the RV.  Lot’s of interesting possibilities, all of which involve engineering design tradeoffs.

I opened the box of BCM back issues that arrived yesterday and went through them.  There were two of each issue but I won’t know if they are all there until I can integrate them into the partial sets I brought from home.  Those sets were under the bed and there was a cat on the bed so retrieving them would have to wait until later.  I worked on this post for a while instead and stopped at noon to have lunch.  Linda made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sliced an apple.  Simple but delicious.

I looked through the articles in my BCM “in process” folder and opened the one on tips for taking photographs to see how complete it was.  While not finished, the article was much more than an outline.  I spent about 20 minutes reviewing what I already had and doing some additional editing but did not feel like digging into in it.

I left at 1 PM for Hudson, taking the same route I took yesterday, and arrived at 2:45 PM.  I was 15 minutes early but the window was done.  There was no charge for the repair, which I appreciated, as the seal failed not long after the window was originally fixed in April 2014.  The technician wanted the window to stay horizontal for at least another day, supported by its frame, before being reinstalled in the bus.  Because the back of the car was full and could not be rearranged I moved the passenger seat all the way forward and leaned the seat back as far as it would go.  I used the blanket to plug the gap between the front edge of the seat and dashboard and set the window in place, outside up, with one short edge on the blanket and the other one on the seatback.  It traveled very well that way on the drive home and I decided it was safer to leave it there than setting it out on the picnic table overnight.  I got back to the rig around 5 PM even though I stopped twice, once for popcorn at Rural King, and then at McDonald’s for a diet pop.

Linda made seitan vegan stroganoff for dinner which we enjoyed with a glass of Mimbres Red table wine from St. Clair Winery in Deming, New Mexico.  In retrospect we should have bought more bottles while we were there.  Every wine we bought from them was a red and very much to our liking, especially mine, which is unusual.

We had both spent most of the day sitting on our butts (not our hands) and went for a brisk stroll after dinner.  We watched a few TV programs, went to bed at 10:30, and finished watching Rick Steves’ Europe before turning out the lights.

 

2015/12/07 (M) Not on Vacation

I set my iPad alarm clock last night for 5:30 AM.  As soon as the alarm went off Jasper got up next to me on the outside edge of my side of the bed, snuggled in by chest, and wanted to be petted at great length.  I obliged him for as long as I could and was rewarded with his loud, resonant purring, which I could feel as much as hear.  I still managed to get out of bed by 5:45, feed the cats, get dressed, and be on my way by 6:08.

It’s only 75 miles from Williston to Suncoast Designers in Hudson, but the first few miles were a slow roll through the RV resort to the front gate followed by the short trip through downtown with a 35 MPH speed limit and several stop lights.  After a short distance on US-41 south I picked up FL-115 heading west.  A few miles past the airport it made a large sweeping turn to the south and continued on that heading for about 17 miles at 60 MPH until it joined up with to US-19.  I continued south on US-19 at 65 MPH for another 20 miles.  At that point it felt like I was making good time but I knew what was ahead as I had driven this route several times when we were here in 2014.

US-19 gets closer to the Gulf of Mexico the farther south you go, and with that closeness comes an increasing presence of people.  The first population center I came to was the charming little “Suncoast” town of Crystal River, followed by Ingless, Homosassa Springs, Weeki Wachi, and then finally Hudson.  These towns all have much lower speed limits and stop lights, and they get larger and closer together the farther south you go.  The side of the road changes from forest and farm to intermittent small businesses, then continuous shall businesses, and then suburban commerce that extends back from the main road until you reach Hudson which is a far northern suburb in the greater Tampa / St. Petersburg metropolitan area.  From Weeki Wachi on south US-19 is six lanes with a median, is lined with commercial properties, and has lots of traffic.

I arrived at Suncoast Designers a little before 8 AM so the trip took about an hour and 45 minutes.  I checked in at the office and they had someone meet me at the factory door to take the window and label it with my name.  We had this thermopane window repaired in April 2014 but the new seal did not hold.  Getting it repaired was one of our reasons for returning to Florida this winter.  Not the main reason, of course, but a factor in our decision.  I was back in my car and on the way home by 8:20 AM.  I will have to come back tomorrow to pick it up.

On the drive down I spotted a Dunkin Donuts about 10 miles north of Hudson on the west side of US-19 so I stopped there on the way back for a large coffee.  I had also seen quite a few filling stations between Crystal River and Hudson, many of them Shell stations, so I picked one that had easy access and regular gasoline (10% Ethanol) for $2.03 per gallon, cash or credit.

I remembered seeing an Office Max and pulled in when I spotted it.  By now it was well after 9 AM and businesses were open.  They had several different weights of expensive color laser photo paper but nothing like that in 8.5×14 (legal) size.  I did not need to have the paper today so I did not buy any.  I really do not want to redo our Holiday Letter for 8.5×11 paper so I will check online and see what I can get.  There was a Rural King at the same mall complex as the Office Max so I bought two bags of Spectracide Fire Ant Killer.  I also got a bag of free popcorn, which is available at all Rural King stores.  More places should do that, I think.

It was going on 11 AM by the time I got back to the coach.  Linda had been up since 7 AM and was ready to set her cross-stitch project aside and go for a walk.  I had been sitting for the better part of five hours so that sounded good to me.  We went for a vigorous stroll through the resort and arrived back at our coach ready for lunch.  Linda heated up a couple of vegan hot dogs and served them on the large whole wheat buns with mustard and relish.

After lunch I installed updates on the FMCA Freethinkers chapter website, the FMCA GLCC chapter website, and our personal website.  I then took snapshots in Adobe Reader CC of the covers of the BCM issues for July through December 2015, post-processed the covers, and uploaded them to the BCM page on our website along with brief descriptions of my articles that appeared in each issue.  I finished inserting photos into the OASIS Combi article I’ve been working on for BCM and will upload it to our Dropbox and e-mail Butch this evening.

It was a gorgeous day so we sat outside for a while and I worked on this post.  That is one of the things I really like about my iPad.  An earlier e-mail from Gary indicated that my package was out for delivery today.  I was about to get in my car and drive to the office when Joe and Teresa from Brighton, Michigan stopped in their golf cart to chat.  When they went on their way I dropped off the recyclables on my way to the office, picked up the box of magazines (which was heavy), and returned to the coach.

I worked some more on this post on my iPad but by 5:30 PM I had been up for 12 hours on too little sleep so I took a nap until 6:15 PM when Linda woke me up to have dinner.  For dinner Linda made a green salad with fresh blueberries and strawberries and made black bean smothered sweet potatoes.  Besides the black beans, the topping had tomatoes, scallions, cumin, and coriander and was finished off with a dollop of vegan sour cream.  Yum, yum, yum.

We watched the PBS NewsHour, another thing we typically never do, but then we do a lot of things differently when we are away from home.  We then watched our usual Monday night TV programs on CBS.  Even when we are away some things don’t change.  We are not “on vacation” after all.  We don’t go on vacation to get bus windows repaired.  In fact, we no longer go on vacation, we simply blend new experiences into our everyday lives.  Such is the nature of retirement as extended-time RVers in a converted bus.

 

2015/12/06 (N) Multiple Threads

I got out of bed at 8 AM, fed the cats, refreshed their water, and cleaned their litter tray.  I made some hot soapy water for dishes and then measured out and ground our morning coffee beans.  Once I had the coffee brewing I cleaned the grinder, which I had not done in a while.

Linda got up around 8:30 and we both sat with our iPads and enjoyed our first cup of coffee.  I had a reply to the e-mail I sent our son last night and replied back.  I also sent the photo I created on Thursday to him and our daughter.  It is a 3-image panorama looking north out of our passenger side living room window of our motorcoach.

At 9:30 Linda started making pancakes, which has become something of a regular treat for our Sunday breakfast.  I got a call from my sister at 10 letting me know she was heading to the hospital where our dad is in the ICU.  We finished our coffee around 10:30 and got dressed.  Linda settled in to work on her counted cross-stitch project and I checked our fresh water tank.  The level was finally below 1/3 on the monitor so I decided to test the park water.  As I expected, based on our previous time here, the hardness was at the maximum on the test strip so I got the water softener out and connected it to the supply valve.  The quick disconnect, while a nice idea, is made of plastic.  It was finally worn to the point where it would not seal so I unthreaded it from the pressure regulator and put it back in the fresh water tub where it joined a dozen other components that I should throw away.  Someday.

I have read in multiple publications and blogs that the RV sewer hose, and especially the bayonet connectors used on RV sewer hoses, is the weakest component on an RV, both by design and manufacture.  While these components may be in contention for that status, I submit that the garden hose fittings that are universally used for the fresh water connections may actually be the worst.  My fresh water connections always leak even when I tighten them (gently) with a wrench.  My sewer connections do not generally leak.

But I have digressed once again.  When I had the softener connected I tested the output and it appeared to be fully charged so I connected it to the inlet of the coach and refilled the fresh water tank.  In Quartzsite, Arizona this past winter I kept track of the details of when I dumped and filled tanks, including the hardness was of the water coming out of the softener before and after each fill.  This data served two purposes.

One purpose was to compensate for our waste tank level monitors, which do not work.  We were trying to determine the rate at which we were filling them so we could calibrate how long we could reasonably boondock before we had to dump them.  That turned out to be about nine days, conservatively, which is how long we went before hooked up here and dumped.

 

Because the water softener can only remove a certain number of grains of hardness before it is exhausted the number of gallons it can soften before it has to be recharged depends on the hardness of the water coming in.  At 25 grains of hardness per gallon, which is what we had in Q and what we have here in Williston, the softener, which has a capacity of about 10,000 grains, can process about 400 gallons.  If the hardness is higher than 25 gpg we will not be able to process that many gallons.  400 gallons is about four refills if I refill it when the level is down to 1/6 (20 gallons).  Our usage data from Q indicated that we used about 9 gallons per person per day on average (18 gallons per day) and that I was filling the tank every 5 to 6 days and recharging it every three weeks.

While setting up the water softener I noticed an active nest of red ants.  I saw John drive by and a few minutes later saw him headed back our way and flagged him down.  He did not have the ant poison on his cart but offered to get it and come back, which he did.  He also brought a rake.  It turned out that he buys this product at his own expense and uses it to treat sites before folks check in, so I will buy a bag for ourselves and one to replenish his stock as part of my trip to Hudson tomorrow.

With the refill underway I resumed working on the photos for the BCM article on the International Thermal Research (ITR) OASIS Combi hydronic heating system in Butch and Fonda Willams’ 1987 MCI MC-9 NJT bus conversion.  The hospital tried to reach me at 12:14 PM but the call went directly to my voice mail.  After a few text messages back and forth with my sister and niece I received a phone number for the doctor and was able to get her on the phone.

Brendan texted me at 1 PM to let me know he was headed to our house.  He called when he got there and I called him back on our house phone.  He spent about half an hour searching through brief cases looking for certain papers and telling me what he was finding.  He found the case I needed and took it back to his house where he can go through it more comfortably and ship it to me if needed.

I had resumed working on the BCM article when John and Ali showed up.  We invited them into the coach to see the remodeling work we have done and they stayed long enough to chat awhile and have a small glass of wine.  I opened the bottle of Viva La Rojo from the Heart Of The Desert winery in Alamogordo, New Mexico and we all agreed it was very nice.  It is at such moments that I am left to wonder why we did not buy more than one bottle.

After they left I continued working on the article until I was too tired to concentrate.  It was well into the second half of the afternoon so we both put our projects aside and removed the fogged living room awning style window/frame, wrapped it in a blanket, and put it in the car.  I need to leave early in the morning and drive to Suncoast Designers in Hudson to have the window repaired and did not want to be messing around with it at 6 AM in the morning.

Getting the window out required the step ladder and a small screwdriver to remove two C-clips so it was a bit more involved than it sounds.  Linda put the screen back in place, covered it with a piece of the silvered bubble insulation, and taped it around the edges.  The RV resort is very safe so someone getting into our rig was not our concern.  Rather, the low temperature overnight Monday into Tuesday is forecast to be in the 40’s so we really cannot have an uninsulated opening in the side of the coach.  The chance for rain is low to zero, and we have the awning out over most of that window, so we are hopeful we will not have to seal the outside with plastic.  Our other concern was our cats.  The screens do not fit as tight as we would like and if this one fell out the cats could jump to their “freedom” with potentially dire consequences.

Linda made stuffed Poblano peppers for dinner.  The preparation took a while so I laid down on the sofa and watched Martha Bakes and Ask This Old House on the Create channel from the University of Florida, Gainesville PBS station.  What can I say?  I find TV that teaches me things entertaining, even if I can’t eat anything Martha bakes.  At home Linda would normally cook the peppers on our outdoor or indoor grill but tonight she pan-seared them.  The peppers were stuffed with a mixture of rice, black beans, tomatoes, scallions, vegan cheddar cheese, and vegan sour cream.  The peppers brought just enough heat to the dish and we finished the bottle of Viva La Rojo, which smoothed everything out.  We had a nice salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette as a first course.  We had sliced fresh strawberries for dessert.  It was a really good meal.

We watched President Obama’s address to the nation from the Oval Office, an interesting episode of 60 Minutes (which I have not seen in years), and the Sinatra 100 Grammy tribute.  It was an unusual evening of television for us but very enjoyable and a nice conclusion to a day that was broken up into multiple threads.

 

2015/12/05 (S) Saturday Night Fire Circle

I was awake at 6:30 AM and finally got up at 7:15.  I fed the cats and cleaned their litter tray, both of which are chores but I don’t mind doing them.  I sat on the sofa with the heater pad on my lower right back and finished yesterday’s blog post draft.  Linda got up at 8 AM having been awake since I got up.  At 8:20 I was going to make coffee but Juniper climbed in my lap so Linda took care of that chore, which is certainly one of our more pleasurable.

Linda worked on her counted cross-stitch project and I worked on our Holiday Letter all morning.  I had a finished draft by lunch time and Linda read through it.  I have it set up for 8.5×14 inch legal size paper, but printing it that way will depend on whether we can get high quality glossy color laser paper in that size.

Linda reheated the last of the red beans and rice for lunch after which I washed some grapes.  After lunch Linda continued to work on her project and I turned my attention to another article for Bus Conversion Magazine.

I had some correspondence with the publisher, Gary, yesterday regarding my article on servicing the Webasto burner bearings and decided to finish my article on Butch Williams’ installation of an International Thermal Research OASIS Combi in their MCI MC-9 NJT bus conversion.  The work was done in October and November 2014 and the article was basically written in January 2015 but I had not selected or processed any of the photos.

I read through the article, highlighted several places with missing information, and rewrote some things.  I then selected 36 photos and started processing them.  The processing involved various adjustments such as alignment, lighting, and color followed by resizing and sharpening in two different sizes.  The larger size is typically 1900 x 1272 pixels as that will fill the screen of a 17 inch monitor and I don’t feel a larger size is needed or supported by the level of detail in the images.  The smaller size is typically 300×200 pixels.  I embed the smaller images at the end of the Word document with the image number and a caption.  I used to embed them into the article but the editor and layout person need the ability to fit them into the layout and I ultimately developed enough confidence in them to do that.  This is always subject to change, however, as is everything connected with this magazine.

We had dinner at 5 PM, earlier than usual.  Linda made a nice green salad, sautéed and lightly glazed some baby carrots, and heated some Amy’s vegan macaroni and cheese.  The reason for the early dinner was the holiday parade down Main Street in Williston at 6 PM.  We left at 5:30 and walked to the corner of NE 5th Street and Main Street.  NE 5th Street is the street that leads back to the front entrance of the resort and is towards the end of the parade route, which comes down Main Street from west to east.  There were already people there, all from the RV Resort as near as we could tell, but we were early enough to get seats on the low brick wall that borders the parking lot for the funeral home.

Main Street is also US-27 but the police closed it down at 5:45 PM.  The parade started at the west end of Main Street by the high school so the lead police motorcycles did not reach us until 6:20 and the front of the main parade did not get to us until 6:30.  There were cars with beauty queens, simple floats with seasonal themes, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, politicians, fire trucks, horses, and an elephant with Santa Claus riding on top.  It was a classic small town holiday parade.  It was all over by 7 PM and we walked briskly back to the firepit.

The firepit at WCRVR is about eight feet in diameter, surrounded by a concrete floor ring about six feet wide and covered by an inverted conical roof about 24 feet wide at the lower eaves.  A massive 8 foot diameter inverted conical hood is suspended over the firepit and the 12″ diameter flue pipe runs out the center top of the roof.  The outside perimeter of the floor has large wooden rocking chairs (think Cracker Barrel restaurant), a bench, and a few other chairs and there is a little bit of lighting up in the ceiling.  It’s a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the fire, visit, and listen to people play their guitars and sing.  The flue does not draft correctly so it tends to be smokey, but that is the only downside.  If not for that it would be perfect.

John was there with a couple of other people and had a nice fire going.  Even though it was in the mid-to-upper 60s there was a strong north breeze and the fire felt good.  Lots of other people eventually showed up and filled almost all of the seats so John got his guitar and started playing and singing.  Linda walked back to our rig to fetch our plastic wine glasses and opened a bottle of Egri Merlot.  It’s a good life.

I got a call from my sister and stepped away from the firepit.  She called to let me know that our dad was back in the hospital.  When I returned to the fire circle John was busy playing and singing and some folks had left so I tended the fire.  By 9 PM everyone had left except for John, Ali, and us.  I continued to tend the fire while the four of us talked.  Just before 10 PM I spread out the last embers of the fire and we all returned to our rigs for the night except John, who does the closing rounds on weekends.

Back at our motorcoach Linda put on the Michigan State vs Iowa Big 10 Championship football game.  Though not particularly interested in football I was too tired to work so after sending an e-mail to our son I laid down on the sofa; the first time I have done that since we built it into the coach.  By the time the game was over it was 11:45 PM.  We watched a few minutes of Cook’s Country on Create and went to bed.  I turned the TV on in the bedroom then turned it off.  I turned down the brightness of my iPad display and with only the dim light of the ceiling vista, and whatever light could get in around the window shades, worked on my blog post until 1 AM.

 

2015/12/04 (F) The Chores of Life

The overnight low was forecast to be in the mid-50s so before going to bed I closed the roof vents and we only left the windows open about half an inch.  I was up at 7:12 AM this morning and put on my sweats.  I fed the cats (they insisted), took out my nighttime bite guard, washed it, and put it away.  I then sat on the sofa with the heater pad on my lower right back and Juniper on my lap while I worked on my iPad.

Linda stayed in bed until 9:15 AM.  She is having trouble shaking the congestion and cough but the nighttime medication seems to control it and allow her to get plenty of much needed sleep.  Once she was up I made a pot of coffee and she fixed bowls of granola for breakfast.

My main focus today was working on our 2015 Year-in-Review Holiday Letter but we had other things to do as well.  At the top of my list was mailing the FMCA Freethinkers Chapter certification paperwork to FMCA HQ.  I also needed to do a load of laundry, our first since we left home a week ago.  Linda planned to work on her counted cross-stitch project but also needed to make a run to the Publix grocery store on the southwest corner of Gainesville.

The word “chore” is often used pejoratively, and that is an appropriate use according to the definition, but the first meaning is “…everyday tasks of running a household or farm.”  The definition goes on to include “…. difficult or unpleasant tasks …” and some chores are certainly more (or less) pleasant than others.  Linda likes to cook and I don’t mind doing the laundry but neither of us particularly enjoy cleaning.  I don’t mind dumping our holding tanks, a chore that many RVers apparently find onerous, but I do not like adjusting the pressure in our tires.

I gathered up the soiled laundry and laundry supplies and loaded them in the car.  The north bathroom/laundry building is in plain sight of our coach, and not that far away, but I had more stuff than I could carry in one trip and it was heavier than I cared to schlep around.  If we had an appropriate wheeled cart I might have used that, but we don’t.  I got two loads started but held off on the third until I had taken a shower.  The bathhouses are in the same building as the laundry.  I added my towel to the third load and started it.

In the middle of doing the laundry I was back at the coach, got the FMCA chapter certification paperwork in an envelope, addressed it, and added stamps.  I was going to walk to the Post Office but in the interest of time I drove to the Resort office instead.  That little task had been nagging me for quite a while so I had a sense of relief, as much as accomplishment, when I put the envelope in the outgoing mailbox.  Linda walked down and used the shower facility.

As soon as I got back to the coach with the clean laundry/supplies and brought them inside I put the 2m/70cm ham radio antenna back on the roof of the car.  Linda then took the car and headed for the Publix supermarket at the southwest corner of Gainesville.  I did not want to unload the car, and had work to do at the coach, so Linda went to Publix by herself so there would be room for the groceries.  I put the laundry away and then settled in to work at my computer.

I realized this morning that I do not have SPSS installed on my ASUS laptop so I will not be able to analyze the data from the FMCA education surveys myself, at least not until I get home.  That is unfortunate as I do not know at this point if HQ has the ability or willingness to do the analysis we need done.  I sent an e-mail to the committee chair and executive director to let them know.  Mea culpa.  I replied to a few e-mails and then resumed working on our Holiday Letter.

I realized last night that some of the images which had already been post-processed had dates in the file names that were different from the dates when they were taken.  As I was trying to arrange them in chronological order I went back and found the originals and corrected the dates.  I then continued placing and captioning the photos.

When Linda returned with the groceries I helped get them into the coach while she put them away.  She finally found the Snyder sourdough pretzel nibblers we like and we finished an open container of hummus and had some fruit for a light lunch.

For dinner Linda made a salad and sautéed mushrooms, onions, and broccoli as a topping for a baked potato, which we split.  I had a little vegan sour cream on my half.  After dinner we changed into warmer clothes and packed a bottle of wine and our two plastic wine glasses and walked to the firepit.

Friday and Saturday nights during the winter folks at the Resort gather at the firepit to enjoy the warmth of the fire, have a glass of wine, talk to one another, and listen to live music provided by volunteer residents.  Our friend, John Smith, is the main entertainer, doing mostly folk/rock/country-crossover.  He is also responsible for the fire since Kevin and Sharon sold their park model and moved to The Villages.  (We are still having a hard time comprehending that move.)  John performed solo in clubs and bars for a living many years ago before he and Ali got married.  Jeff sometimes brings his guitar and performs as well, his specialty being old time country music (such as Merle Haggard).  Other musicians occasionally show up, or at least they did two years ago.

We were the first to arrive (besides John) and chatted with him for quite a while before anyone else showed up.  Other folks drifted in and John eventually fetched his guitar and played.  Ali was visiting with Jeff and Kathy and was one of the last to show up.  Jeff and Kathy’s dog, Teddy, has lymphoma so they stayed at their 5th wheel with him.  We stayed to the end, said “good night” to John and Ali, and walked back to our rig.  We watched an hour of Create TV and went to bed.

 

2015/12/03 (R) 2015 Year in Review 

It cooled off overnight and was 60 degrees F outside when I got up at 8 AM.  We left the windows open a bit when we went to bed last night but it only dropped to 71 in the coach.  The forecast high for today was only 73 with partly to mostly cloudy skies, so the coach was going to be comfortable all day with just fresh air and perhaps the bathroom exhaust fan running.  I made a pot of coffee and then Linda got up and made oatmeal for our breakfast.

Linda’s goal for the next couple of weeks is to finish the counted cross-stitch needlepoint Christmas stocking she is making for grand-daughter Madeline.  She has to keep very careful count of her stitches, so I am not allowed to talk to her, or myself, while she is working.  It should be a very quiet two weeks.

The new pull-out pantry shown in nice light.

The new pull-out pantry shown in nice light.

My first goal today was to finish the BCM article on servicing the Webasto WDB2010 burner in our Aqua-Hot diesel-fired hydronic heating system.  This was work I did back in January while we were in Quartzsite, AZ.  I post-processed the last 10 photos, inserted them into the Word docx, added captions, and then rearranged them according to print edition and digital edition bonus content section.

I had an e-mail back from Chuck about the Prevost Community AITA NAPA discount card.  I followed his directions and completed the online application.  He called mid-morning and we talked about the chassis batteries.

I finished the Webasto article but did not upload it right away.  I had an e-mail from Gaye Young, FMCA National Secretary and chair of the Education Committee, with the preliminary results of the survey that went out this fall.  After looking through the data I wrote an e-mail to the committee with some observations.

Today was pretty much a stay-at-home day except for an early afternoon walk.  We had black bean soup and vegan grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and then walked up to the office to make copies of the chapter certification paperwork for our FMCA Freethinkers group.  I will mail the forms to FMCA HA in Cincinnati, Ohio tomorrow.

We talked briefly with Janet Rawley in the office and checked out the activities center across the street.  They have moved the library and game tables from the office to the AC and are going to redo at least part of the space as offices.  Given the number of additional park models and RV sites they should expand the mailboxes as well.  There was a basket of tomatoes at the AC, free for the taking, so Linda selected a few.  On our way back to our rig we stopped to chat with Jim Rawley (Sonny Fox on XM) at their 5th wheel.  Jim and Janet were part of our circle of friends two years ago and their rig is just a few sites down from John and Ali’s.  We dropped off the tomatoes and paperwork and continued on our walk around the newer section of the park.

A panoramic view looking north into part of Williston Crossings RV Resort from the passenger side living room window of our motorcoach.

A panoramic view looking north into part of Williston Crossings RV Resort from the passenger side living room window of our motorcoach.

Back at our coach I started working on our 2015 Year-in-Review Holiday Letter.  I was working on my ASUS laptop when the file manager suddenly would not respond to mouse clicks or let me close it.  I tried clicking a few other things and windows popped open that I could not then close.  This was strange behavior indeed, and something I had not seen before.  I was able to click the shutdown icon in the tray and forced the machine to close programs and turn off.  I restarted my computer and ran a complete scan with the ESET Smart Security program.  Complete scans take quite a while so I used my iPad to play a few games and work on this post.  When the scan was finally done I reviewed the findings and got back to work.

I uploaded the Webasto service article to Gary at BCM and then got back to work on our 2015 Year-in-Review Holiday Letter.  Linda can only count so many cross stitches per day before she gets cross-eyed.  She also needs very strong light, so when the sun gets low in the afternoon sky she quits for the day.

Dinner was salad and reheated red beans and rice, a dish that holds up well over multiple servings.  After dinner I got back to work on our holiday letter and worked on it until bedtime.  I selected about 50 photos and will try to do captioned pictures instead of extensive narrative.  The local CBS affiliate had the Lions–Packers game on instead of our usual Thursday evening programs so Linda flipped between the game and whatever was on PBS.  My computer worked fine for the rest of the evening.

 

2015/12/02 (W) Settling In

I was up at 7 AM, fed the cats, and settled in on the sofa with the heater pad on my lower right back to work on my iPad.  I finished my blog post for yesterday and e-mailed the last three days to myself.  I updated seven apps and then checked out the latest issue of the SKP Photographers BoF newsletter.  Linda finally got up at 9:15 AM.  I made a pot of coffee and we had toast for breakfast.

My first priority after breakfast was responding to a half-dozen e-mails from Gary at BCM, one of which required me to proofread an article he had written about a recent rally.  Next I selected four photos I took with our new Sony a99v DSLT camera and uploaded them to a Dropbox folder for Lou to see.  Somewhere in there I got a call from Joe (our mobile mechanic) about Globus cork flooring products.  As long as he was on the line I asked his opinion about the chassis battery / Vanner equalizer issue.  He reminded me, as he often does, that I already knew how to check if the Vanners were working.  When we concluded the call I went outside and did the checks.

With the Vanners connected to the batteries and working correctly the voltage at the “12V” terminal should be exactly 1/2 the voltage at the “24V” terminal.  Equivalently, the voltage from +24 to +12 should be the same as the voltage from +12 to Ground.  I unplugged the two maintenance chargers to let the surface charge bleed off and used the time to trace the wiring behind the two battery disconnect switches.  As I somewhat expected the two Vanner equalizers, which are wired in parallel, are NOT connected to the batteries when they are disconnected from the coach electrical panels.  (The one Vanner whose label I could see is a Voltmaster 60-50M rated at 50 Amps maximum so I presume the other one is the same model.)

With the battery bank connected the relative voltage measurements were as expected, indicating that the Vanners were probably working correctly while the absolute measurements of +25.6 and +12.8 (to the nearest 0.1 VDC) indicated that the batteries were fully charged.

I put the disconnect switches back in the disconnected position and plugged the maintenance chargers back in.  I checked the voltage on the upper and lower battery strands and they were close to the same but not identical.  That was reasonable given that the chargers were independent (electrically isolated) and the upper and lower strands were bridged by Vanner equalizers just minutes before.  Based on my testing it appeared that everything was OK except that I lacked a plausible explanation for why the engine alternator apparently did not fully charge the batteries yesterday on the drive down from Mayo.  I wrote all this up in an e-mail and sent it to Joe, Butch, and Chuck, all of whom have had conversations with me about this over the last few days.

Linda made a humus and onion on rye sandwich and we split it for lunch along with some grapes.  It rained hard while we were eating but the rain did not last long.  After lunch I completed the certification paperwork for our FMCA Freethinkers Associate Chapter.  It was 4:15 PM by the time I was done.  I will get copies made tomorrow and get it in the mail to the headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I logged in to the Prevost Community website to renew our AITA NAPA discount card but wasn’t sure what to do, so I called Chuck.  He and Barbara were at a wine and cheese gathering and he said he would call me back when he was free.  Linda wanted to go for a walk around the Resort so at 4:30 we headed towards the north end.  This part of the Resort has had a lot of development since we were last here and now has a lot of new park models and large pads for RVs.

We looped around to John and Ali’s 5th wheel but did not see any sign of them so we headed down the main road towards Jeff and Kathy’s site.  Sure enough, John and Ali were there enjoying a glass of wine with Jeff and Kathy.  They offered us some and we accepted and pulled up a couple of open chairs.  We sat and visited until 6:30 PM when we started to get some persistent rain drops.  John drove us back to our coach in his golf cart.

For dinner Linda made a nice green salad and pan-seared tofu with a balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar glaze with chives.  It was very good and I could easily have eaten twice as much.  After dinner I worked on an article about replacing the bearings in our Aqua-Hot Webasto burner this past winter while we were on Quartzsite.  I got the text finished and inserted/captioned the photos that had been post-processed.  There are more photos to be processed and I plan to finish the article tomorrow and upload it to the Dropbox for proofreading.

I need, and have been looking forward to, a stretch of quiet days with time to work at my computer as I have a lot to do.  I need to update our website and blog, which is almost four months behind, and get back to work on the SLAARC, FMCA Freethinkers, and FMCA GLCC websites.  I also need to finish some articles for BCM that have been “in process” for quite a while, and I need/want to write some new ones.  Along the same lines I need to clean up my BCM folders on my hard drive and in our Dropbox.  That is not all going to happen by the time we leave for Arcadia, but I will do as much as I can.  Once we get to Arcadia we will be spending more time away from the coach exploring southern Florida and visiting with friends.  That means I will be creating lots of new photos and posts but have less time to process them.  Ahhhh, retirement.

 

2015/12/01 (T) Home Again

I got up at 7:45 AM, got dressed, and fed the cats.  The Magnum BMK was showing the house battery pack at 24.2 VDC and 47% SOC with the refrigerator and other significant loads not drawing any power.  I worked on my iPad for a while until I heard muffled voices from the compound around 8 AM and saw Pat (John’s son) working on the roof of one of the trailers.  Linda got up at 8:30 and we had granola for breakfast and had a leisurely morning.

Check-in time at Williston Crossings RV Resort WCRVR) was noon.  We only had 75 miles to travel to get there and did not need to be there right at noon.  Around 10:45 we started getting the inside of the coach ready to travel and by 11:15 we were taking care of the outside stuff.  Paul and Eugenia were already hooking up their car and obviously preparing to leave as well.  We walked around the coach and checked that the bay doors were closed and locked.  On the way around we got the tow bar off the ground and secured it.  I then switched on the chassis batteries, opened the engine accessories air valve, and returned to the cockpit.

The chassis battery gauges read lower than normal for a fully charged condition but had plenty of energy stored in them to crank the engine quickly.  With Linda spotting from outside I did a three point turn to get the bus pointed towards the exit.  John came over in his Kubota utility cart and chatted with Linda while I moved the car behind the bus and we continued to chat with John as we hooked up the car.  We thanked him for his hospitality and assured him that we would be back; both for a solar system and to just hang out for a longer time in the woods by the Suwannee River.  I started the engine and Linda checked the lights.  Everything was good and when she was back on board we started the slow roll back to the county road.

We pulled out of John Palmer’s place around 11:30 AM and slowly made our way back to CR-354.  I stopped there (to check for traffic, of course) and raised the tag axle to shorten the turning radius.  I did not have a sign post at the edge of the road on the left, as I did when turning in, but the ditch on the other side was deeper closer to the road so I did not to get the passenger side steer tire very far off the pavement.  I completed the left turn cleanly and put the tag back down before continuing.

It was closer to 11:45 by the time we passed the east boundary of the property and saw the sign for the River Rendezvous RV Park.  We took CR-354 to US-27 and headed east to US-129.  Just south of Trenton we vectored off onto SE CR-339 and then picked up NE US-27 Alternate which eventually became Main Street in Williston.  The trip took about an hour and 40 minutes and we arrived at the main entrance to Williston Crossings around 1:25 PM.

It’s usually nice to return to a place you have been to before and liked.  We enjoyed our time here during winter 2013/14 and it felt a little bit like being home again in that the place, and some of the people, were familiar to us and pleasant to be around.  One of the most familiar people was John, our next door neighbor of two years ago.  He was doing site escort duty and led us to our site after Linda got us registered.  We pulled up in front of site #233 and disconnected the car while John read the electric meter.  John then helped me back onto the concrete pad.  We were in place and level at 2 PM and visited briefly with John, giving him a quick tour of our interior remodel.  After John left we hooked up the shorepower cord and put power to the coach.

I checked the chassis battery voltage on the dashboard gauges with the engine off and they were 28+ and 14.  We went through our usual arrival routine with the addition of checking the reading on the electric meter.  We pay for our electricity here so checking the meter on arrival is prudent.  I checked the maintenance chargers and they showed the charge level on the upper and lower 12V portions of the chassis batteries as 75% each.  They should have been fully charged after almost two hours of engine operation so something was still not right.  The house batteries were down to 24.0 VDC and showing a 43% SOC.  The battery charger section of the Magnum 4024 went into Bulk charging mode, charging the house batteries at 107 Amps.

We are parked facing approximately WSW so the front of the coach gets the afternoon sun.  It was in the low 80’s, and a bit warmer in the coach, but we turned on the ceiling exhaust fans rather than run the air-conditioning, deployed the window awnings on the driver side, and lowered the day screens on the inside.  We used AntennaPoint.com to locate broadcast TV towers.  The two we cared about, CBS and PBS, were both north of us.  I rotated the front antenna to point in that direction and did a channel scan.  They both came in with solid signals so I repeated the set up with the rear antenna and bedroom TV.

Once we were set up we had vegan hot dogs for lunch and then walked to the CVS Pharmacy just outside the front entrance to the resort.  We crossed paths with John again and this time he had Ali with him so we had a quick reunion.  When we got back to the coach I was tired and with the warm conditions I dozed off.  When I woke up I set up the printer, NAS, and Amped Wireless router.

Meanwhile Linda had started preparing red beans and rice for dinner and discovered that she did not have diced tomatoes.  I drove to the Grocery Depot, which is also just outside the front entrance to the Resort, and bought a couple of cans that included green chilies.  It was 6:30 PM and the Resort gates were already closed so I had to use the code to get back in.  The dish was excellent and would not have been the same without the tomatoes.

After dinner I e-mailed Butch, Chuck, and Lou.  We are parked close to one of the Resort’s Wi-Fi towers with a strong N signal and reasonable speed, leading me to wonder if the Resort has upgraded their system and Internet connection.  Linda made a stovetop apple crisp and finished it just before our Tuesday evening TV programs began at 8 PM.  The crisp was different from an oven baked one but still very tasty.  We watched a few TV programs on PBS and CBS.  Linda has been fighting something and took some OTC Tussin nighttime medicine for her cough, congestion, and itchy throat.  She has coughed enough that it now hurts and is very tired from many nights of poor sleep.

 

2015/07/08 (W) Custom Desk Design

Linda continued to research Florida RV parks this morning over coffee.  Riverside RV Resort which was fully booked but she found Big Tree RV Resort in Arcadia, Florida.  It is located in a similar part of the state and Arcadia is where the annual Arcadia Bus Rally is held between Christmas and New Year’s.  Big Tree is a Carefree Resort, which means they had a nice, professionally done video on their website.  We checked it out on Google Earth and it looked OK.  Hey, the entrance is right across the street from a Walmart, so the shopping is convenient.

Linda called Big Tree and talked to Pat.  They only had five openings for the 2015/16 winter season so we reserved a spot for January and February 2016 with the understanding that we can probably extend through March if needed.  First, however, we want to see if we can find someplace else to stay in another part of Florida for March and perhaps some of April.  We would like to spend some time in northeast Florida.  Our friends, Pat and Vicki, spend late February and early March at Jetty Park near Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral.  Besides their presence there is a lot to see and do in that area, so that is appealing to us.  However, the spring FMCA national rally will be in Perry, Georgia the third week of March, so we are being pulled in several directions.  Such is the RV life; so many places, so little time.

Breakfast was cinnamon raisin toast and fresh melon.  After breakfast I called Chuck It Junk Removal and left a message that we would like to rent their dumpster trailer for starting on Monday 20 July with pickup on Friday 24 July.  Brad called back and said those dates would work for him.

Linda continued to research RV parks in Florida for December and March.  She called Williston Crossings to ask about space for December but the lady on the phone said someone else would have to call us back.  As much as we liked Williston Crossings the winter before last we wanted to spend the heart of the winter farther south in the state.  A more southerly location would afford us a warmer climate and position us to explore a part of the state we did not see last time.  It would also put us closer to many of our friends who winter in southwest Florida.  We really enjoyed the southwest Arizona climate this past winter and have talked about trying a winter in southern Texas and/or southern New Mexico.  I have no doubt we will visit those areas in future years but this year we wanted to return to Florida.

I typed up a short letter to go with the defective Morgan M-302N coaxial cable lightning arrestor and boxed it up for shipping back to Morgan Manufacturing in Martinsville, Indiana.  Linda got a new 90-day prescription for me when she saw the dermatologist yesterday so we also got that ready to mail.  She then left for the library, post office, and grocery store.

My focus for the rest of the morning was on uploading posts to our personal blog but before I even got started I discovered a mouse at the entrance to the utility area in the basement.  It had not survived its encounter with one of our cats, probably Juniper, so I put it in a small zip lock bag and put it in the trash.  I know that food and shelter are powerful attractions for mice but I am surprised that the presence of two cats in the house is apparently not a deterrent for them.  Other than the one mouse we live trapped in the bathroom the mice are not taking the bait so far.  Indeed, it may be that we are luring them out of hiding and Juniper has figured out where to lie in waiting to ambush them.  From what we have seen she is a very skilled, and determined, mouser.

Linda went for a walk as soon as she got back from running her errands.  By the time she returned and prepared tofu hotdogs for lunch I had uploaded eight blog posts covering June 8 through 15.  After lunch I sent an e-mail to a dozen or so folks letting them know where we would be this winter.  I then got to work on the design for the custom desk.  Except for a dinner break I worked on it until 9 PM when I quit for the day and went upstairs to watch the final episode of The First Peoples on PBS.

Butch and Fonda are at the Crosley Automobile Club national gathering in Wauseon, Ohio this week and will be back home on Sunday.  I would like to have the design for the desk and other custom woodwork done by this Sunday so I can drive it down on Monday or Tuesday next week, give it to Jarel Beatty (the cabinet maker), and visit with Butch and Fonda before heading home.  The desk will take some time to build and I would like to take the bus to Butch and Fonda’s in August before they leave for Arizona so Jarel can bring it to their place and help me install it, assuming, of course, that I have the new floor installed by then.

The desk is proving to be quite challenging to design but after thinking about it for the last couple of weeks I had several “breakthrough” ideas today.  One was to turn the printer 90 degrees so it faces fore and aft rather than side-to-side.  Another was to leave the front of the printer box open and cover it with a swing up work surface.  But the basic difficulty I am having is figuring out how to draw it.  I finally decided to draw a plan view of the base which really helped me see where the Aqua-Hot fan-coil heat exchangers will go and how the coolant lines will run.  I still have a lot of work to do, and I really wish I had AutoCAD (and knew how to use it), but I went to bed feeling like Sunday was a realistic target date for this piece of the project.

 

2015/07/07 (T) Field Day Photos

We did not sleep well last night, were slow to get up this morning, and slower to get going.  A cold front was pushing in from the northwest with the promise of cooler temperatures and sunny, blue skies, but first we were in for a day of overcast conditions and rain, which started around 8:30 AM.  It was a perfect morning to sit quietly in the living room, reading, writing, and drinking our coffee but too warm to turn on the gas fireplace logs.

Yesterday Linda started researching RV parks in southern Florida for this coming winter and we spent some time this morning looking at them online.  There was one in particular, Riverside RV Resort and Campground, which caught our attention.  Located on the Peace River near Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, it is a short distance southwest of Arcadia where the annual Buss’in rally is held.  We went to the rally two years ago and had a great time so we will go again this year if we decide to winter in Florida, which is our current inclination.

One of the reasons for us to winter in Florida, at least occasionally, is our many contacts there.  Our friends, Steve and Karen, bought a mobile home near Venice; our friends, Chuck and Barbara, bought a lot at Pelican Lake in Naples; our ham radio friends, Bruce and Linda, bought a house on 25 acres near Brooksville; our GLCC fiends, Ed and Janet, bought a place that I think is near Sarasota; our FMCA Freethinker friends, John and Marian, bought a place in Dunnellon; and our other FMCA Freethinker friends, Ed and Betty, bought a place in Bradenton.  In addition to all of those folks quite a few of our RV friends, like Pat and Vicki, spend the winter in Florida, and the state has a lot of things to see and do, including one of the best state park systems in the nation.

Linda left for her appointment with the dermatologist and I got to work at my desk.  I continued to deal with e-mails related to the SLAARC domain transfer and an ongoing conversation with BCM publisher Gary Hatt.  I got a Dropbox link to some Field Day photos from Steve (N8AR) a few days ago and downloaded them.  Last night I got a similar e-mail from Mike (KE8AGY) with a Google Drive link and today I got one from Jim (N8HAM) so I downloaded all of those photos.  I spent most of the rest of the day selecting and processing the photos I took and then processed all of the ones I got from other people.

I took a break to chat with Linda when she got back from her appointment.  I then removed the defective Morgan M-302N VHF/UHF Lightning Arrestor from the cable entry box and boxed it up to ship back to Morgan.  I took another short break for dinner, which was an excellent Farro and kale dish, and then worked until 8:30 PM when we had agreed to watch a movie.  This evening’s choice was The Imitation Game, a film about Alan Touring and the concepts he invented that allowed the British to build a machine that broke the coded messages generated by the German Enigma machine during WWII.  I spent another hour at my desk after the movie before going to bed and finishing this post.  Tomorrow morning I plan to finally upload some blog posts and then get back to work on the design of the custom desk for the bus.

 

2014/04/07 (M) Big Wheels Keep On Turning

The boots may have been made for walking, but the wheels were made for turning and it does not make much sense (to us) to own a motorhome and not use the motor to move the home around at least occasionally.  Checkout time at Williston Crossings RV Resort is nominally 11 AM.  We were planning to leave by then, but a call to Suncoast Designers at 9 AM caused us to push our departure time back.  They suggested we not arrive until about 4 PM to make sure we had a place to park with hookups.  That put our departure time target at 2 PM.  We walked up to the office to make sure this would be OK.  It was; we have been here a long time and been good residents, and no one was scheduled to go in to “our” site today.

Given some extra time we had not planned on, we went for one last, long walk around the RV resort.  How different it looked and felt.  The resort is turning over from long-term winter/seasonal use to short-term summer/vacation use and there were many empty sites.  Eighty-nine rigs left yesterday.  Many were Carriage 5th wheels that were part of the 70 rig Carriage Travel Club rally that was here all last week.  But some were winter seasonal residents who have been dribbling out since April 1st and will continue to do so into May.  We were not the only rig pulling out today.  Our other neighbor, Sharon, is leaving this coming Sunday.  A few rigs were pulling in, of course, but the departures currently exceed the arrivals on any given day.

When we returned from our walk I mixed up a batch of the concoction we use in the waste holding tanks (48 oz PineSol, 48 oz water, 1cup Calgon).  I dumped the black-water tank and back-flushed it, followed by dumping the grey-water waste tank.  I ran additional water through the drain hose and then disconnected the hoses and fittings and stowed them for travel.  I reconnected the water softener and filled the fresh-water tank.  Once that was done Linda helped me disconnect, clean, and stow the fresh water hoses and the water softener.

We tend to forego coffee and breakfast on travel days, but had a little of both this morning as we were not leaving right away.  Because of the delay in our departure we did not have lunch.  To pass the time I continued with travel preparations.  The last time I had the coach batteries connected I noticed that the Pressure Pro TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) was not reading one of the sensors (PS outside drive tire).  We have a repeater for this system that I plan to install in the rear of the coach someday, but for now it gets attached to the rear view mirror of the car.  I took care of that task and then decided to move the car up onto the patio next to passenger side of the coach.  I left the ignition on to power the repeater and connected the coach batteries to power the TPMS receiver.  After a few minutes all of the tire sensors were active and the tire pressures were OK for travel.  I disconnected the coach batteries and put the car back in front of the coach.

At 1:30 PM we started our final travel preparations, clearing off the counters and moving stuff from the cockpit to the sofa, the bed, and the bedroom floor.  At 1:45 PM I shut off the 240/120 VAC electrical power to the coach, disconnected the shoreline, and stowed it in the slide-out tray over the DS drive tires.  I installed the screw-in cover for the utility port hole in the bay floor, and closed/locked the bay.  I then checked the Magnum 4024 to make sure it had switched to inverter mode, which it had.

Once the shore power is cut we seem to develop an increased sense of urgency about leaving.  I think this is due, in part, to the fact that I do not have the ZENA power generator operational yet, so our house batteries do not get charged while we are driving.  That’s OK, up to a point; the battery bank was designed to be large enough to run the inverter and power reasonable loads for a reasonable length of time.  But the sooner we leave, the sooner we arrive, and the sooner we arrive, the sooner we can plug back in to shore power.  We have an auxiliary power plant, of course, so we always have the option of using that if needed.  The other reason we are probably anxious to leave is more psychological.  Once we are completely disconnected (physically) we are become disconnected mentally, although not necessarily emotionally.  We are no longer “tethered” to that spot, and that means it is time to go.

I connected the chassis batteries, fired up the engine, and set the level low system to the driving position.  While Linda moved the car to street I drained the auxiliary air tank using the nice dry air from the main engine air compressor.  With John’s assistance we got the coach out of the site and lined up on the street.  Linda pulled the car up behind the coach and we went through our procedure for hooking it up to the tow bar.  We did our standard light check and found that the turn signals on the car were not working.  A quick check of the connectors on both ends of the cable revealed a socket on the car end of the cable that was corroded.  I used the awl on John’s Swiss Army Knife to clean it up.  A recheck of the lights indicated that everything was working.  After a final “goodbye” with John and Ali we were on our way.

Our departure delay meant we would be traveling SSW into the sun at the hottest part of the day.  The air temperature was 85 degrees F when we left, and the engine ran slightly hotter than usual, indicating just above 195 degrees F on the coolant temperature gauge, so I decided not to run the coach air conditioning.  The drive to Hudson was warm, but not unbearable.  A cold front was approaching the gulf coast of Florida so we had increasing cloud cover as we progressed south and west towards the coast, which helped keep the cockpit from getting too warm.

We had a nice run from Williston to Hudson.  We headed south out of Williston on US-41/US-27/FL-121.  US-27/FL-121 split off to the west a mile south of town, made a sweeping turn to the left and then followed a nice straight line SW for 17 miles to its southern terminus at US-19.  This stretch of FL-121 is straight but hilly.  With the cruise control set the engine is very sensitive to hills.  I always know we are on a grade, however slight, by the reaction of the turbo boost gauge and the pyrometers.

Most of the rest of trip was on US-19 except for the last three miles.  Traffic was light until we got to Crystal River, which had slower speed limits, lots of stop lights, and lots of vehicles on the road.  It opened up a bit after Homosassa Springs, but got congested as we approached Weeki Wachee where FL-50 ends at US-19.  From Weeki Wachee to just north of Hudson traffic remained slow and congested with increasingly dense commercial use on both sides of the road and stop lights every mile.  Just north of Hudson we turned east onto Little Road, which immediately swung south, and followed it for about two miles to New York Avenue, where we turned west and went another mile to Labor Place, the location of Suncoast Designers.

The coach ran fine, although the Check Engine Light came on almost immediately and was on more than it was off for the whole trip.  That did not surprise me as we had not done any work over the last couple of months to fix the fuel temperature sensor voltage problem that is apparently setting a fault code in the DDEC II.  I had hoped that the repairs we made in the dashboard wiring harness would fix the speedometer/odometer problem, but they did not; the gauge sat on zero for the whole trip.  The left pyrometer (exhaust gas temperature) gauge, however, was much more responsive and tracked the right pyrometer gauge much more closely than it ever had before.  It appears that the wires we repaired were for this gauge rather than the speedo/odo.

Once we pulled in to Suncoast Designers we pulled to the side of the road, so as not to block traffic, and unhooked the car.  While Linda parked the car I found the office and checked on parking arrangements.  Suncoast Designers has at least a dozen RV sites with water and 50 A electric hookups.  The only one open was a somewhat tight spot between two other large Class A motorhomes that required me to back in.  The maneuver was made more difficult by the fact that the road in front of the sites had a curb on the far side and was not wide enough to allow me to swing the front end without scrubbing the front tires.  I repositioned the coach so that I was turning in from the driver’s side, but Linda and I could not figure out how to get the coach into the site.  The guy next to us on the driver’s side offered to help.  A former truck driver, he knew exactly what to have me do.  Unlike some RVers, our pride is not injured by not knowing how to do something, and we gladly accepted his help.

I pulled past the site close to the front of his rig and then turned out to the passenger side, putting the coach at an angle to the open site.  He had me back part way into the front of the site at that angle and then turn the steer tires full left to start to bring the coach around.  He had me stop and then turn the steer tires full right and pull forward.  Steer tires full left again and back up some more, then full right and pull forward. We repeated this one more time and finally had the coach lined up straight and centered between the coaches on either side without having hit either one!  Linda was keeping an eye on the back of the coach the whole time (to make sure I did not hit anything) and guided me into our final position.  We then leveled the coach and shut the engine down.

The outside air temperature was only in the upper 70’s, but it was 90 degrees F in the coach and the outside humidity was high.  In spite of having nine windows that open, the three ceiling vent fans are not very effective at cooling down the interior under such circumstances.  In theory we can run all three air conditioners on a “50 A” shore service, but we have tripped breakers before when doing that.  (The issue is that circuit breakers are commonly designed to only carry 80% of their rated current on a continuous basis, so two of our A/C units plus a little bit of miscellaneous load can exceed 40 A on one of the legs.)  Besides, as soon as I plugged in the Magnum 4024 was going to switch to charger mode and start recharging the house batteries.

I got the shore power connected and checked the Magnum 4024.  It went into bulk charging mode and started charging the house batteries at 86 Amps. Since it is a 24 VDC charger, it was drawing ~1/5 that much AC current, or ~17 A, the equivalent of one of our air conditioners.  The front (living room) and center (kitchen) A/C’s are on separate legs of the 240/120 VAC power supply, so we can run them at the same time.  The bedroom A/C is on the same leg as the front A/C and the Magnum is on the other leg.  We ran the front and center A/C’s along with Magnum and let the bedroom stay warm for the time being.

Suncoast Designers provides free WiFi for customers camped at their facility, but the signal we thought was theirs indicated it was “filtered” and we had not obtained the login information from the office before it closed.  We used our Verizon MiFi instead and had a good, strong signal.  I had a chance to ask our neighbor (helpful truck driver guy) later, and he said the open signal was the one they were using.  Although it was a weak (one bar) “g” signal, our WiFi Ranger latched on to it without difficulty.

Linda needed a few grocery items and located a Publix grocery store on Little Road less than three miles from Suncoast Designer’s.  As evening settled in we switched off the front A/C and turned on the bedroom unit.  Linda reheated some of the leftover Sloppy Joe’s from the pot luck dinner the night before, and we had that on the skinny buns we have started using, along with a simple spinach salad and a few Fritos corn chips.

After dinner Linda sent e-mails to several of our new friends from WCRVR while I checked in to RVillage and took care of a few e-mails of my own.  The overnight temperature was forecast to only drop into the upper 60’s with high humidity, and with rain starting before sunrise, so we decided to leave the rig closed up and the kitchen and bedroom A/C’s on all night.  We rarely do this because of the noise and because we prefer fresh air, except when it is too warm and/or too humid.  Considering that we had traveled less than 100 miles and been on the road just under two hours today, we both felt like it had been a very long day.  As much as we enjoyed the social life at WCRVR, it was nice to not have anything to do but go to bed and get some rest.