2016/03/29 (T) Merritt Island NWR
Our day had four distinct parts. Part one was our usual early morning routine which involved coffee, orange juice, homemade granola with fresh blueberries, and iPads. Part 2 involved a trip to the office by me around 10:30 AM to pay the balance (2 nights) of our next three nights at Jetty Park. The reason for this was that we had to move our bus from site #352 to site #358 at noon.
The current occupants of site #358 were packing up as I left for the office and pulled out by a little after 11 AM. We shook out the patio and entry mats and laid them back on the ground. We then removed all of the window/windshield covers and laid them on the patio mat. Once they were stacked Linda rolled them up and put them away in the front bay. While she did that I disconnected the fresh water connections from the supply faucet and coach inlet. I then dumped the back water and gray water waste tanks.
Site #358 is a full hookup site but the waste drain is on the “wrong” (passenger) side of the coach at the back edge of the concrete pad. In that location it would be almost impossible to use, but that would not be a problem as long as I dumped the tanks before we moved. We can go 9 to 10 days before we have to dump but after today’s move we will be moving again in three days and again three days after that. The next move is to a water only site (#3) by the shipping channel but we can stop at the dump station on the way if needed. The last move we will be to site #303 with a sewer connection in the correct location. What this comes down to is that waste management is not going to be a problem as long as the waste tanks are empty before we leave site #352 today.
Site #358 is directly behind site #352 so rather than load everything into the bays, I carried the water softener, fresh water filter, and hoses to the new site and then transferred the waste drain hose and support accordion while Linda carried the patio and entry mats and the entry step stool to the new site. Linda also tidied up the interior enough that I could move the coach without anything getting broken.
At this point we were basically ready to move. I shut off the air-conditioners and electric heating element for the Aqua-Hot, shut the main AC circuit breaker in the utility bay, and disconnected the shorepower cord. I coiled the cord and carried it to the new site. I then turned on the air valve for the engine accessories, connected the chassis batteries, and started the engine.
It took a couple of minutes for the chassis to air up during which time I lifted and dropped the tag axle a couple of times because I wasn’t sure it was responding to the control lever. The people next door to us on the left were away so their pickup truck wasn’t there to impede our departure. Linda moved a bicycle on their site just enough to make sure it was also out of my way. The site was much easier to get out of than it was to get into, in part because there was a pickup truck parked next door when I backed in.
I slowly drove clockwise around Red Knot Circle to enter the northern branch of the loop going the correct direction (east) to be able to back into site #358. There were no obstructions to impede backing into the site and I was able to maneuver the coach using the side mirrors and rear view camera while Linda spotted the rear end. With no obstacles at the rear of the concrete pad we were able to center the tires side-to-side with a few inches to spare and front-to-rear with about a foot to spare fore and aft. I dropped the tag axle and checked the level of the kitchen counter. It looked good so I let the system air up until the air-dryer purged and then shut the engine off.
The back end of the coach was only about 40 feet from where it was 15 minutes earlier but we had to go through the whole departure/arrival process. I disconnected the chassis batteries, closed the engine accessories air valve, connected the shorepower cord, and put AC power to the coach. I then stored the sewer hose as we would not be needing it right away, and put the water softener in the front bay temporarily. While I did that, Linda spread out the patio and entrance mats and set up the entrance step stool. Pat and I were sitting at the picnic table enjoying the shade and the breeze when Vickie called to see if we were ready to go on our afternoon outing. Pat walked back to their site to get the car (and Vickie) and so began Part 3 of our day.
Linda packed a light picnic lunch and I grabbed my small camera bag. Pat and Vickie arrived at our site a few minutes later, picked us up, and we headed out. Our destination was the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge just north of the John F. Kennedy Space Center. The route was FL-A1A/FL-528 west to US-1 north to Titusville and then east on 403 to the NWR Visitor Center.
Linda needed to eat before she could take her next steroid pill so our first order of business was lunch on one of the picnic tables. Once we had eaten we checked out the displays inside and then walked the boardwalk. Vickie had her Senior Access pass and got a holder to hang it from the rearview mirror before we headed deeper into the refuge.
There is a channel that connects the Mosquito Lagoon to the Indian River Lagoon. The channel is part of the Intercostal Waterway and is crossed by a drawbridge on Route 3. The north bank of the channel east of the bridge is a regular hangout for West Indian Manatees and the refuge has a parking lot and viewing platform to safely accommodate visitors. Pat and Vickie had been here before and not always seen manatees but today was our lucky day.
As best we could estimate there were at least a dozen manatees feeding and frolicking along the bank, including at least two juveniles. We spent 30 minutes there, maybe longer, during which time I took about 50 photos. The weather was heavily overcast and the water was a little murky, neither of which was ideal for photography. The added challenge was that manatees usually only bring a small amount of their body out of the water at any one time, typically just their nostrils or tail and only for a short time. The juveniles, however, seemed to be trying to climb onto the backs of what we presumed were their mothers and occasionally were sufficiently above the surface to have a good look at them. Even so, getting a good photo was going be a matter of timing (anticipation) and luck, especially given the limitations on where I could position myself.
We saw a Wild Boar as we pulled out. We still had plenty of hours of daylight and decided to drive the Wildlife Loop Road. We saw lots of birds, a couple of alligators, and a Flamingo on the wing. We then headed back to Titusville where we stopped at a CVS Pharmacy so Linda could restock her OTC medications. Before we got out of Titusville the weather moved in with thunder and lightning. We saw a pair of Flamingos on the wing on the way back to Jetty Park.
We got back to Jetty Park about 5 PM where Part 4 of our day was a quiet evening at home. In spite of somewhat elevated humidity, and the possibility of rain in the forecast, we turned off the air-conditioners and opened the windows and roof vents/fans. Linda was tired and did not want to go for a walk but felt well enough to make nice salads and heat some Amy’s Pad Thai for dinner. We watched NCIS and NCISLA, both of which were reruns, and the James Corden “Car Pool Karaoke” special that was on instead of Limitless. We are rarely up late enough to watch The Late Late Show but I had to admit that Corden is a very funny guy; hyperactive crazy, but very funny. Since Linda could not hear the singing or banter, she did not really experience what was going on.
Once again Linda tried sleeping in bed but lying down was still causing increased pressure in her ears so she moved to the makeshift bed using the two facing captain’s chairs in the living room. I watched the news/weather on the Orlando CBS affiliate and then watched part of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert before going to sleep at midnight.
2016/03/30 (T) GRILLS Lionfish
We had some light rain last evening that forced me to close the roof vents. It appeared to be done by bedtime so I opened the vent in the bathroom and set the fan to exhaust on speed 2. By the time we both got up this morning I did not feel like making coffee so we got dressed and walked to the office with our coffee mugs. We watched the Bloomberg financial channel and The Weather Channel on cable/satellite TV in the lounge area and then checked to see if any full hookup sites had opened up for the weekend. They had not, so we walked back to our rig.
I finished up yesterday’s blog post and then checked with Vickie about activities for today. The John F. Kennedy Space Center is now an expensive “entertainment experience” run by a private company. After checking our options we decided to pass. The normal senior adult price for a 1-day pass is $46, $75 for a multi-day pass. Two optional extended tours were $25 per adult per tour, so this would be a $100 to $125 per person, and probably require at least two days to do, if we wanted the full experience. CocoaBeach4Less.com has a special for the general admission of two adults for $19.99 total. The catch? Sitting through a 1-hour presentation on the travel agency’s extensive services. No obligation to buy, of course, but “no thanks” just the same. We got to visit the Space Center as USAF ROTC cadets when it was in active use for the space shuttle program in the late 1970’s, so visiting it as an expensive entertainment experience did not hold much interest for us.
Vickie checked on the Exploration Tower and Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Tour. It was $27 per person and only operated on Fridays and Saturdays. (The Tower is open 7 days a week.) We could not go on Friday because we have to move the bus again (our third Jetty Park Shuffle since we arrived on March 21st). The tour was tentative for Saturday based on insufficient bookings. Vickie explained that there would be four of us and was asked to call back at noon. She did, and the tour was a ‘go’ so they signed up and then I called and signed us up. They needed our full names, driver’s license numbers, and dates of birth as the historic Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is in the USAF Cape Canaveral Air Force Station which is restricted access property that is not open to the public.
I have had a really nice Logitech UltraThin Bluetooth Touch Mouse for a while and it has worked well. It started acting up yesterday, which is to say it quit responding even though Windows 10 indicated it was connected. I restarted my computer and recharged the mouse even though I did not think it needed it and it worked again until today, when it quit responding again. I was not in the humor to waste time with it, and Linda needed some additional medications, so I drove to Cocoa Beach. My first stop was the CVS Pharmacy and my second stop was at Radio Shack, both very conveniently on the right hand (west) side of N. Atlantic Avenue when heading south. When I returned I moved my computer to the portable dining table so Linda could use the desk. She worked on accounting for the bakery while I started editing blog posts from early January 2016.
We checked with Vickie around 1 PM but they were having lunch so we went for a long walk to the beach and pier without her. Back at our coach Linda made nice salads for lunch, which we ate around 2 PM. I then took a nap while she researched restaurant possibilities for dinner tonight. She suggested GRILLS on the shipping channel and Vickie agreed to a 6 PM dinnertime.
When I got up Linda handed me a Livingston County Court Jury Summons for April 4 through 15. Our daughter was checking our mail, saw it, scanned it, and e-mailed it to us. That was obviously not going to work, so I called the phone number in the letter and got rescheduled to the last two weeks of June. It was just dumb luck that the timing worked out as our children only check our mail every other week.
GRILLS is located towards the west end of the shipping channel on the south side near the Exploration Tower, deep sea fishing charters marina, and a number of other restaurants, bars, and shopping. There were a lot of cars and people in the area and when we checked in with the hostess we were told it would be 45 minutes to an hour wait for a table. Ugh. Waiting for a table at a restaurant is not on my “favorite things to do” list.
We walked around a bit and browsed the shop across the street where we looked at Lion Fish in an aquarium and learned about them. They are a highly invasive species with no natural predators in this part of the world. Their spines are extremely venomous but their meat is not. It is apparently incredibly tender and delicious and GRILLS features it on their menu. It only took 30 minutes to get a table and the time passed quickly enough as we had something to occupy us. The restaurant was crowded and noisy with spring break vacationers but Linda did OK. She and I had black bean ‘burgers’ with salsa, Pat had a ‘real’ hamburger, and Vickie had fish tacos. We walked down to the Weyland Gallery after dinner but it was closed. We were all very full and returned to Jetty Park. It was 8 PM when we got back to our rig. For whatever reason we were picking up a lot more OTA TV stations tonight which gave us two PBS affiliate options.
As I wrote in yesterday’s post, we vacated site #352 just before noon and moved to site #358. A smaller class C motorhome occupied site #352 last night but left this morning. As of 5 PM site #352 was still unoccupied, so the park staff could have left us there and put the class C on site #358 last night. As nice as Jetty Park is, and it is a nice place with generally friendly and helpful staff, it is owned and operated by the Canaveral Port Authority. The CPA is a public/government entity and one gets the sense that the policies and procedures here have been developed more for the convenience of the operators than the comfort and convenience of the paying guests. To be fair, we were probably still going to have to move before Friday, but if the park had a 1-night reservation for Tuesday, nothing for Wednesday, and a 1-night reservation for Thursday they could have left us on #352 until Friday when we move to site #3.
I had an iOS update available for my iPad2 and waited until 10 PM to initiate it using the Jetty Park Wi-Fi. It took 30 – 45 minutes to download and install. Once my tablet restarted I immediately had 10 app updates. The smallest was 27 MB and all the others were over 50 MB with the largest being 103 MB. I did the updates one-at-a-time while I watched the news and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Linda went to bed at 11 PM and I finally climbed in at 1 AM after starting the last update. Being on the road with a limited cellular data plan is not like being at home with a DSL connection so we do what we have to do to manage our data usage.