2016/03/04 (F) Pre-departure Prep
I was up much later than normal last night trying to write my blog post for yesterday, get our network back online, and get my computer usable again. I managed to do all of that, and was finally able to check my e-mail and off-load the photos I took earlier in the day to my computer and back them up to our NAS. I saw some late night TV programs along the way and it was 2 AM when I finally got to bed. On the plus side, I was tired, fell asleep right away, and slept well until 6 AM when the rain and the cats woke me up. I got up, closed the roof vents, put a scoop of food in their bowls, and went back to bed.
Linda walks a lot but finds it difficult to just stand, and we did a lot of standing yesterday, both at the Edison Ford Estates and on the drive through the Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, so she was a bit sore and tired from yesterday’s outing. She got up around 7 AM this morning and I got up to stay an hour later. I made coffee and she toasted bagels, which we enjoyed with some of the vegan cream cheese she picked up the other day at Publix.
We only have three nights left for this winter season at Big Tree Carefree RV Resort (BTCRVR) and we have been trying to prepare for our departure on Monday in small increments. Chores that we accomplished before lunch included:
- (B) Checking the bus tire pressures. I had to add 2.5 PSI to the passenger side steer tire. That required me to get the air compressor out, along with the hose and air-chuck, and then put it all away; a lot of work for 2.5 PSI, but it had to be done. It reminded me, however, of how much I would like to have a built-in high pressure air-compressor and tank with distribution lines running to the four corners of the bus and terminating in air hose fittings. That would allow me to just use a short (curly) air-hose that is easily moved to each position and takes very little space to store.
- (B) Checking the windshield caulk. It was a mess and had water behind it that apparently kept it from setting up (curing) correctly. I tried to fix it by pressing the water out but that just made a bigger mess. I was going to test it for leaks with a hose but changed my mind after seeing the mess that was already there.
- (B) E-mailing Pat and Vickie about the March 11 rocket launch at Cape Canaveral.
- (L) Vacuuming the interior of the bus and mopping the floor.
- (L) Cutting my hair.
- (B) Calling Butch. He and Fonda were still in Quartzsite but planned to leave tomorrow or Sunday and take 3 to 4 weeks to get home. Butch was actually in Phoenix with a ham radio buddy on their way to the Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) store when I called but was able to chat for a while.
Lunch was vegan hot dogs and sliced apples. After lunch Linda got a text from her sister, Sr. Marilyn, informing us that her 50th Jubilee is scheduled for August 6 (this year). That immediately changed our plans for the second half of this coming summer and the first half of the fall. Our plan was to attend two RV rallies in the northeast U.S. and then visit the Prevost Car Inc. factory in Quebec enroute to the Canadian Maritimes, from which we would work our way back through New England in the early fall, arriving home by mid-October in time for Nickolas Guy-Erickson’s wedding on the 21st. I was going to call FMCA today and register for the national rally in Springfield, Massachusetts, but the dates are August 3 – 6, so that clearly was not going to work.
We are committed to attending the Escapees RV Club 56th Escapade in Essex Junction, Vermont, which starts Sunday, July 24th, as we are both working the event as staff. We will have to be there sooner, but do not know the exact date yet. Departure will be on Friday the 29th, which gives us plenty of time to make it to St. Louis, Missouri before the Jubilee. Still, the news suddenly left us with a whole lot of new decisions to make. It will also allow us to attend the August CCO/GLCC Back-to-the-Bricks Rally in Clio, Michigan, and the September GLCC Surplus & Salvage Rally in Elkhart, Indiana. Indeed, it opens up the possibility of building the barn this summer and/or having Daryl Mech, from DCM Heating and Cooling, install a new air-conditioning system for the house. The one thing we knew for sure was that we were not going to travel from Vermont all the way to Missouri and then turn around and head to Quebec or the Maritimes. That will have to wait for some other year.
Our afternoon chores included doing the laundry and updating my iPad, which I did while waiting for the laundry. But first I loaded up a few additional recyclables and drove over to the Turner Center to drop them off. There was some sort of problem at the NW corner of FL-70 and Turner Avenue that involved police, fire, and EMS vehicles and personnel, and had traffic tied up in every direction. I managed to make the turn from westbound FL-70 onto Turner (which only goes north from there) but decided not to return by that route. I headed east from the Turner Center but was not able to cut through Arcadia Village as the north (rear) entrance is gated. The first available north-south road that went through to FL-70 was many miles farther east, but it made for a nice drive in the country. I stopped at Walmart for grapes and bananas before returning to our RV resort.
We had planned to go swimming in the late afternoon and then take showers but it did not work out that way. I would normally dump the two holding tanks before we travel, but I did not want to this time as I want to slosh the ingredients around on the drive from Arcadia to Webster. As such, I am trying to get them reasonably full, but not so full that I have to dump them.
For dinner Linda made nice, large salads. After dinner Linda went down to Mara’s motorhome to take care of her cats. I called Chuck but he did not pick up so I left him a message. Friday night TV is a bit of a wasteland so I edited the last few blog posts for November 2015. I then selected a photo that Linda took of me standing in front of a Mysore Fig tree at the Edison Ford Estates to use in her next PhotoPostCard for Madeline. She also made a post card for our grandniece, Lilly, using the photo of the baby alligators from Everglades National Park. I found a photo of Lilly that her mom, my niece Amanda, had taken and set that to Linda to use to make a “sticker” to put on the photo post card. I decided to purchase a license (lifetime) for the Faststone Image Viewer software and took care of that.
When Linda returned from her cat sitting duties we made the bed, had a few grapes and a small glass of wine (Barefoot Riesling), and turned in for the night.
2016/03/05 (S) Mara & Michael Return
It was pleasantly cool last night, with temperatures in the 60’s at bedtime and headed towards an overnight low in the upper 50’s; in other words, perfect sleeping weather. And sleep we did. Linda got a text message from Mara letting us know that she and Michael were waiting to disembark from the cruise ship and indicating that they had a wonderful time. They were planning on stopping at a Whole Foods Market and wanted to know if Linda needed anything. Linda requested plum vinegar, seitan, and vegan ricotta cheese, items we cannot find in Arcadia.
Linda got up around 8:15 AM and showered. I got up at 8:30 AM, made our coffee, and then took my shower. As a result of these showers, which we were going to take at the shower house, I am going to have to make some decisions today or tomorrow relative to dumping our holding tanks and adding fresh water. We don’t need very much fresh water in the on-board tank for the trip to Florida Grande Motor Coach Resort in Webster on Monday and I would like to dispense with that weight in favor of keeping the black- and gray-water tanks mostly full. The idea is that the motion of the coach will create an agitation effect which will help clean the tanks. (I don’t really expect that it to happen, but it’s worth a shot.)
We had a slow leisurely morning as we lingered over our coffee and had granola with blueberries and bananas for breakfast. Linda and Mara arranged for the four of us to have dinner together this evening so she made a grocery list. I downloaded a new game named Wood Puzzle and tried it. It’s a little bit like Tetris, but without constantly moving pieces, so it was somewhat fun. I was never a big fan of Tetris.
Linda left at 10:30 AM to tend to Mara’s cats and then walk to the Winn-Dixie supermarket. I got dressed, checked my e-mail, got the registration code for Faststone Image Viewer, and entered it into the software. I checked the notifications in RVillage and visited the RVillage Stakeholders Group. Curtis had posted a link to an “explainer video” so I e-mailed the link to our iPads. I then gathered up the bedspread and large bath towels and headed to the laundry room.
While I was waiting for the laundry I finished yesterday’s blog post, uploaded it to our Dropbox, started today’s post, and played a few games. The laundry was finally dry at 1:30 PM and I returned to our coach. Linda had already returned, done some prep work for dinner, and was out walking around the resort when I returned. She wanted to shop at Joshua Citrus one more time before we left so she drove there while I settled in to work on uploading blog posts! My goal was to upload the remaining posts for October 2015, starting with the one for the 21st. I accomplished that goal just before 6 PM.
Mara and Michael got back to Big Tree Carefree RV Resort mid-late afternoon and arrived at our coach for dinner at 6:30 PM. Linda found a recipe for vegan Parmesan cheese and made some earlier in the day. She used it to make a kale salad with almonds and a lemon dressing. It was outstanding. The main course was a quinoa and black beans dish that she has made before. It was served hot and was a good choice for a cool evening. She bought an Alamos Malbec wine (Argentina) and a bottle of Barefoot Moscato, but I was the only one drinking white wine so I finished the Barefoot Riesling we opened earlier this week. Dessert was non-dairy chocolate ice cream with fresh sliced strawberries.
We had a good chat about Mara and Michael’s experience on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise. There were a few speakers that we heard on the two cruises we went on, but an equal number of new speakers that we have not had the opportunity to hear in person. Mara bought four cookbooks and left them for Linda to peruse. It was very satisfying for us that that they had such a good experience since we were the ones that got Mara interested in the cruise and she got Michael to come along.
They left a little before 9 PM and walked back to Mara’s rig. We watched an episode of Lucifer and then parts of two different fundraiser concerts on PBS; Brit Floyd and The BeeGees One Night Only.
2016/03/06 (N) Last Day Here
The cats were prowling by 6 AM so I got up, added food to their bowls, plugged in the charging cable for our Verizon Mi-Fi, and went back to bed. It was already getting light and the birds were starting to chirp as if their calls were somehow responsible for the rising of the sun. Squirrels and rabbits were, no doubt, scurrying about on the ground around our rig, as Juniper was taking it all in with her usual morning intensity. Juniper got under the covers between us for a while and we drifted in and out of sleep in rhythm with the cats activities until 7:30 AM when we finally got out of bed to stay.
It was a bit chilly in our motorcoach, so I put on my sweats and slippers. I made our morning coffee and then settled in on the sofa with my iPad and monogrammed throw. I was joined by Jasper and later by Juniper as we listened to the Mockingbirds and Crows and watched the Vultures soar just above the trees as they headed out on their daily search for food. Linda perused the cookbooks that Mara left, looking for recipes, while I put the finishing touches on yesterday’s blog post and started on today’s.
Today was our last full day at Big Tree Carefree RV Resort (BTCRVR) in Arcadia, Florida and we did not have any big plans other than a trip to one of the local supermarkets and dinner with our friends, Mara and Michael. Mara and Linda definitely wanted to use the swimming pool one last time. We leave tomorrow morning and Mara and Michael are pulling out on Tuesday. We are headed north about 100 miles to Florida Grande Motor Coach Resort near Webster, Florida. Mara and Michael are headed north a much shorter distance to the Thousand Trails Preserve in Wauchula on the Peace River. We plan to meet up with them again in Winter Haven for a quintessentially “old Florida” water skiing show. They might also drive over to Jetty Park while we are there to see a rocket launch, assuming it actually lifts off as scheduled on the 22nd. It is an Atlas 5 resupply mission for the International Space Station, so it would be quite an experience.
BTCRVR has been a nice, comfortable place to spend a couple of months this winter and has provided the base of operations we hoped it would for exploring south and southwest Florida. The resort is a bit older with approximately 80% park model trailers, and I estimate that more than 90% of the units here never move. It is a 55+ community, but most of the residents are quite a bit older than that. It is a clean, well-kept, and attractive park, however, with nice facilities and very friendly people.
Big Tree is also an active park, with regularly scheduled events every day (morning, afternoon, and evening) as well as special events like concerts, dinners, and dances. These activities are well attended from what we saw, and lots of folks walk, ride their bicycles (and tricycles) every day, and use the swimming pool. Many permanent residents have their own washer and dryer so I never had a problem getting our laundry done in the laundry room. Although the park did not have a distributed Wi-Fi system, it did have free Wi-Fi available at the office/activity building and we made use of it for downloading updates for our smartphones, iPads, and notebook computers. Given that we updated both of our computers from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 while we were here, the Wi-Fi was very much appreciated, allowing us to use our 12 GB Verizon data plan for routine tasks such as e-mail, banking, visiting websites, browsing for information, and transferring files, all of which we prefer to do in the comfort of our coach.
I took care of sending an e-mail to a dozen friends and family members and then settled in to upload blog posts starting with November 1, 2015. Linda went to the swimming pool at 12:30 PM and I joined her there at 3 PM. Mara and Linda were sun bathing when I arrived but joined me in the shallow end of the pool where we sloshed around and chatted about the whole-food plant-based approach to human nutrition and our travel plans for the next year or so. We were soaking in the hot tub / whirlpool when Michael arrived and pulled up a chair. We all chatted briefly and then Linda and I took showers and returned to our coach. We called our son-in-law, Chris, to wish him a happy birthday. I then resumed uploading blog posts. By 5:30 PM I had uploaded the posts through November 12, 2105 and stopped. We were due at Mara’s rig at 6:30 PM for dinner so I took a short nap.
Linda gathered up Mara’s WFPB cookbooks and we walked over to her rig at 6:25 PM. Michael served the wine and we chatted for an hour while Mara pulled dinner together. She made a salad of julienned vegetables with a sesame seed dressing. The main dish was quinoa, lentils, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Dessert was a chocolate mousse made with avocado, banana, and cocoa and served with fresh raspberries and a piece of dark chocolate. Seriously, with food like that why wouldn’t you be a vegan?
It was going on 9 PM by the time we finished dinner so we stayed and watched the final episode of Downton Abbey. All’s well that ends well, I suppose, and the final two hours of the series did, indeed, end well. It was one of the most popular (most viewed?) programs ever to air on PBS, and deservedly so. Fortunately there is a lot of quality programming available on the PBS channels and Masterpiece Theatre, along with Masterpiece Mysteries, will no doubt continue to draw large numbers of viewers in the years to come.
When we walked back to our motorcoach at 10:50 PM the night air was very crisp, the sky dark and clear, and the stars very bright. Orion hung high in the southwest sky and the Big Dipper claimed the northeast quadrant. If not for the light pollution of the RV resort it was the kind of night where we might have seen the Milky Way. Back at the coach we put on a PBS program about the WW II WASPs (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots) and one women in particular who went on to continue flying into her late 80’s and logged over 40,000 hours of flight time before she stopped recording it. We are moving to a new RV resort tomorrow so I had the lights out before midnight and quickly drifted off to sleep.