Tag Archives: WCRVR firepit

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.


2015/12/18 (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.


2015/12/12 (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.


2015/12/05 (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.


2014/04/04 (F) Converted

AALL*BRITE showed up this morning as scheduled to wash the coach and clean/polish/seal the Alcoa wheels.  The three man crew started on the roof and worked their way down and around.  They used a “spot-free rinse system” that did not require them to hand dry the coach.  When they were done with the wash and rinse they went to work on the wheels which were a messy job that involved a lot of hand work.  The coach looked good when they were finished.

I went down mid-morning to check on Jeff and Kathy’s motorhome.  Everything had worked through the night.  I went back later and disconnected John’s 20 A battery charger.  I then had Jeff disconnect the +12 VDC house battery cable.  With the converter 120 VAC power cord was still unplugged the voltage at the converter output terminals was zero, as it should be.  I plugged the 120 VAC cable back in and re-checked the voltage at the output terminals.  It measured 13.5 VDC so the converter was, in fact, producing an appropriate voltage with no load attached.  That did not prove that it was functioning properly as it could still be unable to maintain that voltage while supplying current to a load, but it was at least trying to do something.

The house battery bank had been disconnected for over 15 minutes.  The resting voltage was 12.7 VDC, so the batteries were fully charged.  My best guess was that Jeff and Kathy did not have a battery problem.  I unplugged the converter and reattached the DC negative cable.  We then reconnected the battery bank positive cable and plugged the converter power cord back in.  The voltage measured 12.68 VDC.  We decided to leave it this way and check it every couple of hours.

The RV technician who does work in the park stopped by and talked to Jeff for 5 minutes.  He said he would order a new converter and schedule them for service on Wednesday, April 9.  Apparently he presumed that Jeff and Kathy were being taken care of in the meantime as he offered no assistance or suggestions for how they might keep their rig functioning for the next five days.

Over the next four hours the voltage gradually dropped to 12.45 VDC, strongly suggesting that the converter was not maintaining the charge on the batteries.  Just before dinner we unplugged the converter 120 VAC power cord and reconnected the 20 A battery charger.  Later at the fire pit Kathy mentioned that the air-conditioners had stopped working so I walked over to check the situation.  I found the battery charger set incorrectly, so I reset it, but I was not able to get the HVAC controller/thermostat to turn either unit on.

We spent the rest of the evening at the fire pit talking and enjoying Smiity’s music.  Our friends from Ontario, Jack, Silvia, Doug, and Paulette came for a while and Smitty did quite a few Gordon Lightfoot songs.  (I don’t know if Canadians like Gordon Lightfoot more than anyone else.  He is certainly one of our favorite singer/songwriters.)  Kathy brought down a couple of bottles of Moscato as a thank you for helping them with their electrical problem.  That wasn’t necessary, but I certainly appreciate it.  Charles and Sandy joined us for a while.  They have relocated here from Texas and are looking to buy a business and settle in.

By 9:30 PM it was just John, Ali, Linda, and me.  John has assumed increased volunteer duties at WCRVR from April 1 through November that include closing up various buildings at night.  I spread the fire logs out on the grate and we returned to our rigs while John attended to his chores.


2014/03/29 (S) Walking In The Rain

“Welcome to Lake Williston.”  We had a LOT of rain starting around 7:00 PM last evening.  It continued through the night and into today, with an occasional rumble of thunder and periods of heavy downpour.  We also had a tornado watch until 5 PM.

The drainage at Williston Crossings RV Resort is generally good, but there are always going to be low spots that collect water.  The road in front of our site becomes a shallow river during moderate rain and a lake when the rain is heavy, so we had waterfront property for a while today.  🙂  The rain was like a tropical monsoon at times.

We took care of shopping and outside chores yesterday and did not have to leave the rig today if we did not want to, so we spent the morning inside our small but cozy home away from home.  OK, it’s not that small, but it is a lot smaller than a house, and Linda gets cabin fever much more easily than I do.  By mid-late morning she needed to go for a walk.  There was a lull in the rain so she put on her raincoat and headed out.  The rain resumed before she could get back to the coach, but she enjoyed it just the same.

I was so pleased the other day with the Imsanity image resizing plug-in that I decided to test the Image Watermark plug-in today.  This plug-in is used to add a custom watermark to images uploaded to a WordPress site, and one of its key features is the ability to watermark images that have already been uploaded to the WP Media Library.  I configured the settings for the plug-in and tried to add a watermark image to one of my recently uploaded photos, but it didn’t work.

I went to the support forum at www.dfactory.eu looking for some documentation.  The documentation was very thin but it is a fairly simple plug-in to use, at least conceptually, so that was not a complete surprise.  I checked the “bugs” forum and found that I was not the first or only person to have this exact problem.  The plug-in author provided guidance on how to get this feature to work but following his advice to the letter did not work.  The plug-in was recommended to me by Technomadia, who use it successfully on all their website/blog images.  Based on the info in the support forum, it apparently works just fine when the watermark is applied as the image is uploaded into WordPress, but not after it is already in the WP Media Library.

By mid-afternoon the clouds broke up, revealing blue skies above and allowing sunshine to penetrate all the way to the ground, so we went for a walk around the RV resort.  I guess we were not the only ones who felt cooped up by the weather as there were a lot of people out walking.  There is a Carriage owners rally here starting on Monday and participants have been dribbling in since Thursday.  They will reportedly have 60 – 70 5th Wheel RVs attending.  More arrived today and the bulk of them will arrive tomorrow with last minute arrivals on Monday.

Approximately 35 seasonal residents left on March 1st.  A few others have left during the month and quite a few more are pulling out just ahead of the new arrivals.  As a result we are seeing new faces in noticeable numbers for the first time since we got here.  We are also seeing an increase in young children in the park.  During the winter season this is an “adult” park, although no one seems to object to grand-parents having their grand-children visit.  But from approximately April 1 to November 1 it functions more like a normal RV park, allowing families with children and hosting rally groups like most RV parks and campgrounds.  Business is business, after all.  The carriage rally goes all week and they will have the exclusive use of the clubhouse for their activities.  By the time we pull out of here on Monday, April 7, the resort will likely have a very different look and feel.

It wouldn’t be Saturday night at Williston Crossings RV Resort without the fire pit and “Smitty” on guitar and vocals.  Jeff brought his guitar too and they played and sang a lot of songs together as well as each ding solo numbers.  A much larger group gathered this evening, with over 40 people at one time, and 50 or more total.  The group included a number of children and young adults, the first time we have seen that many at the campfire.  Winter is definitely turning into spring here.


2014/03/28 (F) Singing In The Rain

Here’s a synopsis of our day in list form:

  • Fresh ground Ethiopian Yirgacheffe 1/2 -1/2 coffee from Teeko’s in Howell, MI Read blog posts on Feedly
  • Breakfast:  Homemade granola
  • Shopping:  Winn-Dixie, ACE Hardware, and CVS Counted cross-stitch Dump and flush black water tank Dump grey water tank Fill fresh water tank Mix tank treatment solution and add to waste tanks
  • Lunch:  Chickpea salad
  • RVillage website and e-mail (SKP BoF – Photographers and SKP BOF – HFH) Visit Lazydays RV display at WCRVR
  • Dinner:  Kale with cannellini beans, macaroni, onions, garlic and hot pepper flakes
  • A small group gathers at the WCRVR fire pit (Forecasted rain keeps the crowd small) John “Smitty” Smith plays guitar and sings (He does a lot of Peter, Paul, and Mary songs this evening, and we all sing along)
  • 7:00 PM tropical deluge begins; John sings anyway (The small group pulls the rocking chairs in to hear Smitty and avoid the rain)
  • We stay at the fire pit until almost 11PM.
  • The Fan-Tastic vent fan in the bedroom ceiling is NOT leaking.  Score!
  • Upload blog post for Mar 26 while Linda reads Sleep to the ever-present sound of rain on the roof of coach.

As the saying goes “just another day in paradise.”


2014/03/22 (S) WiFi Ants

No, not WiFi Antennas; WiFi and ants, which I will get to later.

Saturday morning the refrigerator temperature was 40 degrees F.  I moved the remote wireless thermometer to the freezer compartment and left it until it settled in around 5 degrees F.  The refrigeration system, including the controls, appeared to be working.  Linda retrieved most of our frozen food and a few fresh things.  We partially restocked the fridge and I set the thermostat a bit lower.  Linda made a tofu scramble to use up some of the fresh ingredients, in case the problem returned.  Yum.

I checked my e-mail and found several dozen post replies and a few messages from RVillage.  We both played with RVillage for a while and I reported another bug.  I also had a message from the WiFi Ranger technical support team indicating that they had successfully uploaded a patch to our WFR MobileTi and switched it to a PRO feature set.  They wanted me to try logging in to the resort WiFi system and let them know if it worked.  I followed their instructions, and it did!  Finally, success!!!  I got back on their support forum to let them know and thanked them for their persistence in identifying and correcting the problem.

As best I understand it, the problem was not a bug in their firmware but rather a design assumption they made that an RV park WiFi system would never be a class 2 network.  Based on that assumption they were doing using IP addresses to connect to other WFR devices (WFR Go) in a way that conflicted with the class 2 network operating in our RV resort. WiFi Ranger thinks the chance of us running into this again is very small (unless we come back here, in which case it’s 100%).  This may, in fact, be the only RV park where we will ever encounter this.

I do not understand all of the details, but essentially a class 2 network has 2^16 (65,536) available IP addresses. That’s a LOT of IP addresses and made me wonder if the resort WiFi system is actually part of a much larger network, perhaps for the city of Williston or even for all of Levy County.  The “explanation” the network technician gave me some weeks ago was that our WiFi Ranger, being a repeater/router, was simply “not a supported device” as a matter of park policy and he was unable (unwilling) to give me any assistance with it even though he admitted knowing what it was and having  set them up before.  He could have just told me they were running a class 2 network and that it might have something to do with my problem, but he withheld that information.

The “logic” behind his explanation of the park policy was that we could “hide” data-intensive devices behind our system, such as streaming-video, gaming consoles, or even a web-server.  That was nonsense, of course.  If the concern was data-transfer, the network could simply monitor and control that at an IP address level.  When I indicated that one of the reasons for our router was to put our devices (and data transfers) behind an encrypted hardware firewall, he told me the WiFi system connection to the Internet was encrypted, as if that was somehow equivalent.  It’s not.  The connection between the resort WiFi system and the WiFi client devices is NOT encrypted, and thus open and viewable to someone intent on doing so.  Unless people are using secure applications, such as most banking software, their WiFi connection is vulnerable.  This is true of any system that does not require you to enter a WPA or other “key,” including the free WiFi at places like Panera Bread.

We have had good Verizon 4G/LTE service here, so getting online has not been a problem, but if that had not been the case we would have been in a really bad situation.  I was anxious to get this resolved while we were still here so they could test possible solutions on a network known to have this problem.

With computer tasks taken care of, we turned our attention to fixing the roof leak.  As we were setting up the Little Giant folding step/extension ladder we noticed ants traveling up and down the cable TV wire.  Yikes!  The cable runs into the bus through a small window by the driver’s seat.  We had used Frog Tape to seal up the opening against the weather, but it was not ant proof.  We checked inside but did not see any ants where the cable came in.  Closer inspection outside revealed them moving up and down along a body seam and horizontally along the floor line just above the bay doors on the driver side of the coach.  We quickly disconnected the TV cable (we don’t use it anyway because the analog signal in the park is not very good) and closed the little window.  Dealing with the ants, however, would have to wait.

Linda packed all of the tools and supplies I needed for the roof repair into a bag that I carried up with me.  The repair was simple enough; use the small caulk gun to apply Dicor self-leveling lap sealant around and up onto all four sides of the Fan-Tastic vent fan base.  This Dicor product is universally used in the RV industry for just this purpose.  It is not “runny” like water but it does flow, especially when warm, just enough to do what its name suggests, flowing into cracks, crevices, and small holes as it smooths out.  It eventually sets up and forms a skin, but remain pliable.  Rain is forecast starting late Sunday and running through the coming week, so we will find out then if I have fixed the problem.  The real problem, of course, is that the fan base is probably not installed properly.  The correct fix would be to remove it and reinstall it, but that was not going to happen sitting here in the RV resort.

Now for the Ants!  These were, thankfully, small black ants and not fire ants, which are a widespread and serious problem here in Florida.  We hooked up a spray nozzle and tried to flush as many of them away as we could.  It’s not that we wanted to harm even these tiny creatures, but we are not willing to share our home on wheels with them.  They are tenacious, and hung on tight or hunkered down in the nearest available crack.  Linda walked to the Grocery Depot and bought a can of ant spray that I applied to the concrete pad around the bus tires as best I could and on/around the electrical and water shorelines and the waste water drain hose.  Later I went to ACE Hardware, bought a couple of boxes of Borax, and used them to establish a defensive perimeter around the coach.  This is a treatment for ants that we have come across in numerous different forums.  The coming rains will wash it away so it will have to be reapplied.

We had a light/early dinner of hummus and pita chips, went for a walk, and then eventually headed to the fire pit with our customary glasses of wine.  John played the guitar and sang for hours, often joined by the group that had gathered.  We were they again until quiet time at 10 PM, at which time John stopped playing and we turned off the lights.  We still had a small fire and I continued to coax flames out of it for a while longer.  Kevin builds the initial fire and lights it, and John was the backup fire tender, but since he is usually playing his guitar I have assumed responsibility for tending the fire.


2014/03/21(F) Roofs And Reefers

It had rained hard on Monday and we had a small leak around the bedroom fan.  After drawing the water out of the headliner with towels, we aimed a fan at the area to dry it out.  It wasn’t a huge leak compared to the torrential rainfall we had, but any leak is too much.  We only had one tube of Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant with us so this morning we decided to drive to the Ocala Camping World store to get some more.  Before we left we noticed that the store was not in Ocala but rather in Summerfield, which is somewhat south of Ocala on US-441 and is the northern gateway to The Villages.  Part of the drive was on I-75 where we noticed a LOT of RV’s on the road.  They were headed in both directions with the majority headed north.

After we got back Linda went for a walk while I fiddled with the refrigerator thermostat and discovered that it apparently had quit working.  I could hear the contacts “click” but the compressor was not coming on.  Not good, especially with a freshly stocked refrigerator.  The best/only short-term course of action was to get the food out of the refrigerator and someplace cold before it spoiled.  When Linda got back from her walk she checked to see if our neighbor, Sharon, had a cooler we could borrow.  She did not, but she had Linda phone Bob, the resort manager, and he offered the use of the refrigerator in the Activities Building.  We accepted, bagged up our food, and Linda took it over and stored it.  I don’t think very many RV parks would do that for a customer even if they could.

I called Butch, who was a commercial HVAC & refrigeration guy at one time, because that’s what I do when we encounter an unexpected problem.  I had to call him back later, but in between calls I found the model number for our refrigerator, searched for it online, and found several websites where I could order parts.  RepairClinic.com had helpful videos as well, so by the time I talked to Butch again I had a rough idea of how the refrigerator worked and what the problem might be and several possible causes.

The freezer was holding 5 to 8 degrees F, so the refrigeration system was working.  The condenser fan was working as I could feel cool air being drawn in the bottom left and air exhausted out the bottom right.  The evaporator air-circulation fan also appeared to be working.  The damper between the freezer and refrigerator compartments was also working correctly and not blocked.  It is a simple manual mechanical device, so not a lot can go wrong there.  The thermostat was clicking, but that did not guarantee it was passing power.

The leading hypothesis was that the evaporator coils had frosted over, reducing cooling effectiveness of the refrigeration unit.  The most likely cause of that condition was a failure of the auto-defrost controller and/or the defrost heaters.  Butch explained that the auto-defrost controller prevents the compressor from running while the defrost heater is working, which could explain why the compressor would not turn on.  It is possible that this controller and/or the heater itself is intermittent or defective, which could lead to frost build up on the coils.  It has been warmer and a bit more humid here the past week which could also have contributed to the coils freezing up.  Once we had the food out and safely stored I shut off the power to the refrigerator and we left it to defrost.

We had our leftover salad and pizza for lunch.  We were not very hungry at dinner time, but joined a small group of residents at John and Ali’s 5th wheel.  Linda had kept peanut butter in the rig and used some dinner rolls that had been in the freezer to make peanut butter sandwiches.  Later we took our pretzels and wine and went to the fire pit for the evening.  John played, as usual, and Jeff joined him for a while.  A nice crowd gathered for a while, but by 10 PM there were only a few of us left.  As much as we like meeting and talking to people, this is our favorite time around the campfire.

Before we went to bed I checked the drip tray on the refrigerator.  There was some water in it, but not an excessive amount.   We loaded containers with water, placed them in the freezer and refrigerator, set the controls, closed up the appliance and applied power.  It came on and we let it run all night to see what it would do.


2014/03/15 (S) The Ides Of March

On Thursday I spent time on the RVillage website and doing e-mail related to the public launch that occurred on Wednesday.  I also did some last minute housekeeping chores in preparation for Linda’s return from the great white frozen north.

The back parking lot at Satchel's in Gainesville, FL.

The back parking lot at Satchel’s in Gainesville, FL.

At 4 PM John, Ali, and I went to Satchel’s in Gainesville, Florida for dinner.  The word “funky” was probably invented to describe this place; it was unique, charming, and very bohemian.  The service was excellent and the pizza was the best I have had at a restaurant since we went vegan in 2011.  The crust was thin and cooked to a nice crisp.  They had a pesto sauce option, a first for me, and a choice of three vegan cheeses!  I selected the Daiya cheese because Linda has used it in her cooking and I knew it would melt well and taste good.  Mushrooms, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes topped it off.  The vegan pizza only came in a “medium” size, and it would have been pricey at $20 if it had not been so large.  Two pieces made a meal and I took the other four slices back to the coach.

Satchel's twin-engine fuselage. Most restaurants do not have one of these.

Satchel’s twin-engine fuselage. Most restaurants do not have one of these.

Satchel’s also makes their soda beverages from scratch.  I had their ginger soda and it was outstanding.  Made with real ginger, it reminded me very much of a “ginger beer” I had many years ago at an Ethiopian restaurant in Detroit, Michigan.  I have wanted a repeat of that experience ever since but never found it until now.  They also had a choice of two vegan cookies.  I had the oatmeal raisin cookie.  It was huge and very tasty.  I saved half for Linda to have on the drive back from the airport.

The back entrance to the bar at Satchel's in Gainesville, FL.

The back entrance to the bar at Satchel’s in Gainesville, FL.

Linda sent a text message at 8:15 PM that they were shutting the doors on her plane and by 8:30 PM I was headed for the Orlando International Airport.  The drive took two hours and I had just pulled into the cell phone parking lot when she called to let me know that she had just de-planed (15 minutes ahead of schedule).  Ten minutes later she was in the car and we were headed back to Williston.  We arrived back at the RV resort just after 12:30 AM (Friday).

The main bar entrance at Satchel's in Gainesville FL.

The main bar entrance at Satchel’s in Gainesville FL.

We slept in Friday morning and when we finally arose decided to have an easy day and stick around the RV resort.  The weather was picture perfect but I did not make any pictures.  We went for a couple of walks, something we have both missed these last few weeks.  We went to the fire pit that evening, as we usually do if we are here on a Friday or Saturday night.  There was a big crowd initially, but it thinned out between 8 and 9 PM leaving us to chat with a core group of friends who tend to stick around.

Ali and John headed for the restraurant entrance at Satchel's.

Ali and John headed for the restraurant entrance at Satchel’s.

Saturday we stayed “local” as well.  We did some grocery shopping at the local fruit and veggie stand and then went to the Winn-Dixie.  W-D had several things on sale or BOGO, so we finally got our own W-D card.  Up until now we have used the card of whoever was in line in front of or behind us.  I spent much of the afternoon working on the roster and dues records for our FMCA Freethinkers chapter, of which I am the VP and Secretary.  The positions do not take a lot time over the course of a year, but when they need my attention they can take up all or part of a day or two.

Now that Linda is back we are both eating better.  She made a green bean quinoa salad and a lemony kale salad; both served cold and very refreshing on a lovely, slightly warm, late-winter evening.

John capturing some information about an upcoming live performance at Satchel's.

John capturing some information about an upcoming live performance at Satchel’s.

With the change to Daylight Savings Time and the advancing season it does not get dark here until closer to 8 PM.  The resort still has the fire pit scheduled from 6:30 – 10:00 PM, however, and there is a full group by 6:45 PM.  We prefer our campfires in the dark and delayed going over for a while.  We met a very charming couple from Quebec and another very nice couple with whom we shared mutual friends in Ed and Janet Roelle, the GLCC members who recommended Williston Crossings RV Resort to us in the first place.

By 8:00 PM the early arrivals start to leave the fire pit and a smaller group settled in for the duration of the evening.  One of the friends we have made here, Meg, is getting ready to leave on Monday and head to Flint, Michigan to visit her grand-daughter who will be home from school on break.  Meg stayed longer at the fire pit than usual and she and Ali spent time catching up with Linda.  Meg got involved in rescuing dogs from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and taking them back to Canada for veterinary care and adoption.  A whole network grew up around her and she was interviewed by CNN.  One of the things we like about RVing is that everyone has a story, and some of them are very different from our own, and truly fascinating.


2014/03/08 (S) Let There Be Light

The overnight low temperature was forecast to dip into the upper 30’s last night and only rise to 55 by 10 AM, finally making it to 64 by noon and eventually reaching 71 before dropping back to the mid 60’s by 6 PM.  A sunny day was in store with little-to-no wind—a perfect afternoon for working on the bus—so I called John and he agreed that he and Marian would arrive around noon to help with bus projects.  The forecast held true and the Hagan’s arrived right on time.  We discussed bus projects over lunch and decided to go after the cargo bay lights.

I had pulled out my various manuals, found the one with the wiring diagrams, and located the wiring diagram for the Interior Lighting, so John and I started there.  The diagram indicated that all of the bay lights were on 24 VDC circuits/breakers, and all of the cargo bays were powered from a single circuit/breaker.  The light for the auxiliary air compressor bay was on a separate/circuit breaker and the lights for the engine bay were on their own circuit/breaker.  The light in the aux air compressor bay did not work and none of the engine bay lights worked, but some of the cargo bay lights did work indicating that the circuit breaker was good and the wiring was OK at least up to some point.  The reason(s) the aux air compressor bay and engine bay lights didn’t work were unknown and need to be diagnosed.

The larger bays, which go all the way through the bus, have two light fixtures on each side.  The smaller bays (over the rear tires) typically have one light fixture.  The front aux air compressor bay also has one light fixture.  There are at least six light fixtures in the engine bay, none of which work, but that was not our focus for today.  These fixtures are all clearly indicated in the wiring diagram, along with the switches, connectors, and wire numbers.

All of the cargo bay fixtures are present but most of them are badly corroded.  Each fixture uses two 24 VDC bulbs wired in parallel.  Some had only one bulb and some had none.  We cleaned up one of the existing bulbs and determined that they are T635’s, a small bayonet mount 24 VDC incandescent bulb.

(Perhaps I should try to find an LED replacement for these?  Actually, I plan to replace all of the fixtures with LED’s, but that’s a project, and a story, for another day.  When I upgrade the fixtures to LED’s I will probably re-wire the front cargo bay so all of the lights come on when either door is opened.  This is our only real cargo bay; all of the other bays are full of installed systems.  It has a bi-directional slide, and it would be nice to have it fully illuminated.  I am also considering feeding the bay lighting circuits from the 24 VDC battery system through a fuse, relay, and diode so power would only be supplied when the chassis batteries are turned off, which is the normal situation when we are parked.)

According to the wiring diagram there are two branches to the cargo bay circuit, one for the driver side lights and one for the passenger side lights, except for the large front bay where all of the lights are powered from the driver side branch.  Each bay door has a micro switch that turns the lights by that door on/off when the door is opened/closed; at least that is what is supposed to happen.

I made a rough diagram of the bus bays with all of the fixtures and micro switches indicated.  I turned on the chassis batteries, opened all of the bays, and we started documenting what did and did not work.  We checked each fixture that did not come on to see if voltage was present.  If not, we checked the micro switch both for a supply voltage and for proper switch function.  We found one micro switch that was bad in the DS rear electrical bay.  We found another micro switch in the water bay that had one of the wires cut, but determined that there was 24 VDC present.  The only fixtures that were not receiving voltage were the PS front cargo bay and the aux air compressor bay.  We did not check the engine bay lighting circuit.  The engine bay is a messier place to work, and that will be a project for another time.

I had two new micro switches in my parts box so we replaced the bad one in the DS rear electrical bay.  The micro switch in the water bay did not have a spring/roller actuator.  We did not know if that was by design or if it had broken off but decided to remove it regardless as it was mounted in a location where it was difficult to work on.  We had to fashion a new wire for it that was long enough that we could splice it to the wire in the bay.  John was able to remove the switch at which point we could see that that the actuator spring/roller was broken off.  The switch tested OK, so we removed the actuator from the defective switch we had just replaced and put it on the existing switch.  We made our new wire, attached it to the switch, and spliced the other end to the existing wire in the bay.  We reattached the other wire to the switch and turned the chassis batteries on.  Voila, let there be light!  We cycled the switch to make sure the lights would go off and on.  They did, so we re-installed the switch.  We then gently lowered the bay door almost to closure but the lights did not turn off.

Examination of the switches on some of the other doors revealed that the spring/roller actuators had been “custom bent” to cause the door hinges to contact them “just right.”  We tried to bend the actuator without removing the switch, but spring steel by its very nature does not like to have its shape permanently changed and we risked breaking it.  Since these lights are powered by the chassis batteries there would not be any harm in just leaving them on as the chassis batteries are generally only on when we are going to start the engine.  I decided to look for a different solution (on another day) and removed the bulbs from the two fixtures for the time being.

24 VDC was not present at the micro switch for the front PS cargo bay and we could not trace the wiring as the converter (Royale Coach) had “buried” it behind a decorative carpeted ceiling.  We ran a jumper wire from one of the fixtures on the other side of the bay and determined that the switch was OK and so was the wiring from there to the light fixtures.  The solution in this case will be to disconnect the original supply wire from the switch and from the other side of the bay where it originates, cap them, and run a new wire; but that will be a project for another day.  My primary focus for today was diagnostics, with easy repairs where possible.

There was no 24 VDC present at the micro switch for the aux air compressor bay light so we used the jumper wire to supply power and determined that the switch, the  ground wire, and the fixture, including the bulbs, where OK.  This was the first power supply problem we had found.  The wires to the switch were numbered and the numbers corresponded to the wiring diagram.  We eventually found the other end of the supply wire, and the circuit breaker where it was attached, in the DS front electrical bay.  The breaker was OK and supplying 24 VDC to the wire so we had a wiring problem, specifically an open circuit.  This wire does not supply power to any other components (according to the wiring diagram) so the fix in this case will be to disconnect the wire from the circuit breaker and the switch, cap it at both ends, and run a new wire; but that will also be a project for another day.

By the time we got all of this done it was 5 PM so we decided we were finished for the day.  We cleaned up a bit and went to Pizza Hut for dinner.  There are only two chain restaurants in town; the other one is a McDonald’s.  Angelina Mia is OK, but we had already been there a couple of times.  The Ivy House is reputed to be the best restaurant in town, but when Linda and I checked their menu we did see anything we could eat even with ingredients left out.

John and Marian dropped me back at the coach at 7 PM and headed for home.  I wandered over to the fire pit with a glass of Moscato white wine around 8 PM and relaxed for a couple of hours.  The fire eventually died down and the air got cool so I returned to the coach and worked for a while on the Cool Cruiser article before turning in for the night.


2014/03/07 (F) Housekeeping

The weather forecast for the weekend was near perfect and John and Marian agreed to come back on Saturday (and Sunday, if needed) to help me with some more bus projects.  With Linda returning on Monday, today was the day for doing some housekeeping chores, specifically laundry and shopping.  Sunday evening will be vacuuming carpets and cleaning tile floors.

With the Friday night fire circle starting at 6:30 PM, I got an early start on my chores and work.  I worked on the Cool Cruiser article for BCM in between trips to the resort laundry building.  By 1:00 PM I was on my way to Ocala for cat food, with a stop at the Publix supermarket on US-27 for a few things.  I was back by 3:30 PM and spent the rest of the afternoon working on the article and dealing with e-mails.  I had a nice salad for dinner and at 6:30 PM was off to the fire circle.

There were 12 of us there initially, including John with his guitar.  There are other activities at the resort on Friday nights and the fire circle tends to be smaller and more intimate than on Saturdays.  The high temperature only reached 51 degrees today, so it was cool even with the fire, and got cooler as the evening progressed.  I tended the fire while John played and sang.  The small crowd was especially appreciative of John’s music this evening.  By 10 PM there was only John and Ali and me.  I left them to knock down the fire and turned in for the evening to enjoy some fresh strawberries I had prepared yesterday and upload some blog posts.


2014/02/28 (F) A New Air Compressor

I was up early.  I called the Grainger store in Ocala, Florida but got connected to a person in Orlando.  I gave her the model number of my old unit and what I thought was the replacement model number.  She confirmed that my exact model number was no longer available.  They had a Dayton compressor in Orlando I could pick up today or have shipped to Ocala for pickup on Monday.  They also had the Gast compressor at their warehouse in Jacksonville, but I could not pick it up there; it would have to be shipped to Ocala where I could get it on Monday.

I called Braas Corp. in Oldsmar, Florida, the sole Florida-based distributor for Gast products.  Yes, they had the model I needed in stock, and yes, they would sell it directly to be.  I gave them my credit card number, got in my car, and headed for Oldsmar 2.5 hours away.

It was a very nice day for a drive.  I took FL-121 south to US-98/19 south, and picked up the Fl-589 leg of the Florida turnpike which got me fairly close to Oldsmar.  I got to Braas Corp. around 12:45 PM.  The compressor was waiting for me at the loading dock and I was back on the road at 1:00 PM.  I stopped for fuel, took a brief detour to check out the Pyper Kub restaurant location at the Williston airport, stopped at Williston Peanuts for a can of their Honey Roasted Peanuts, and was back at the coach by 4:00 PM.; too late to start on the compressor project, but in plenty of time for the Friday evening fire circle.


2014/02/14 (F) Valentine’s Day

“Hallmark Holidays” have never been a big deal for us, and Valentine’s Day is no exception.  However, we had no plans to visit state parks today, had been looking for a day to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville, needed to make a visit to Walmart, and wanted to try one of the vegan-friendly restaurants in Gainesville, so Valentine’s Day provided the needed excuse to do all of that in the same trip.  Before I go on, I am including a picture of us taken by Marian Hagan on our outing with her and John to the two Crystal River state parks last Sunday.

Us at Crystal River Buffer Preserve State Park.  (Photo by Marian Hagan.)

Us at Crystal River Buffer Preserve State Park. (Photo by Marian Hagan.)

We selected The Jones Eastside which was open all day serving breakfast and lunch, and was staying open for dinner.  We can usually find acceptable food for lunch and dinner if we are thoughtful about our choice of restaurant, but breakfast is often limited to dry toast with jam and/or fresh fruit.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, but also nothing special about it.  At The Jones Eastside, however, we were able to order a tofu scramble with sides of potatoes and fruit and a stack of vegan flax seed pancakes with fresh blueberries and real maple syrup.  We split each dish in half and had a really nice breakfast.  The Jones Eastside was highly recommended on both HappyCow.com and Yelp.com, and deservedly so.  It’s a quaint little place using organic ingredients and providing attentive service; you go for the food, not for an upscale setting.

From The Jones Eastside we drove through the heart of downtown Gainesville to where we thought the Florida Museum of Natural History was located.  We enjoyed seeing the non-university part of town, and parts of the UF central campus, but the museum was not where I thought it was.  Our Garmin 465T GPS did, however, and we followed its directions into a major traffic jam.  We had been to Gainesville several times, but had not seen traffic like this before.

We found the museum, paid $4 to park, and went in.  Admission was free except for the Butterfly Rainforest and special exhibits.  We spent a couple of hours exploring the free exhibits and plan to return for the Butterflies and a special exhibit titled “Wolf to Woof” on the evolution of the domestic dog.  Like most serious museums, you could spend days here depending on the level of detail you wanted to absorb.

By the time we were done at the museum it was 4 PM.  Our Valentine’s Day still needed something “sweet” so we headed to Karma Cream for vegan ice cream.  We fought our way (slowly) through more terrible traffic, but it was worth it.  🙂

“GPS, find us a Walmart, please.”  It showed two in Gainesville so I picked the closer one just up the street.  It was closed, the building vacant.  🙁  So I selected the other one on SW Archer (US-24).  We routed ourselves over to FL-121 southbound which intersects Archer close to the Walmart.  YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE ON THIS ROAD DURING AFTERNOON RUSH HOUR, which is actually “hope you’re not in a rush” hour.  Truthfully, you do not want to be in Gainesville during the evening rush hour.  Period.  End of story.  Total gridlock.  Fortunately we were not in a rush to be anywhere in particular by any certain time so we only had to deal with our self-imposed frustration at being stuck in traffic.  It won’t happen again, at least not in Gainesville.

We eventually got to the Walmart (thank goodness they are open 24/7).  We do not go out of way to shop there, but it’s the only place locally where we can find Calgon Bath Beads which we mix with water and Pine Sol and add to our holding tanks.  It is also where we bought our microwave popcorn popper and have to get the disposable cardboard heating discs that go in the bottom.

Shopping done, we had no choice but to venture back out into traffic.  OK, we had a choice; we could have sat there for a couple of hours until traffic thinned.  If we had been the least bit hungry we could have gotten something to eat while we waited, but having just had ice cream our appetites were satisfied.  Fortunately we were close to the SW corner of Gainesville by now where FL-121 turns SSW and heads through the country to Williston.  We arrived back at the RV resort after 6 PM, but there was no fire going in the fire pit.

WCRVR was having a Valentine’s Day dinner/dance starting at 5 PM so the Friday night fire had not been built by Kevin at its usual time as he and his wife had gone to the dinner/dance.  But a short time later I noticed a flickering flame and went to investigate.  Next door neighbors John and Ali had not gone to the dinner/dance either and John, being the backup fire guy, was getting one going.  We opened our bottle of sparkling pink moscato, bundled up a bit against the cool evening air, and went over.  Ali brought John’s guitar, the rocking chairs slowly filled up (~16 people), and we sang along when we knew the words.  It was a lovely capstone to a very nice Valentine’s Day (traffic notwithstanding).


2014/02/08 (S) Uptime

We had heavy rain off and on overnight and woke this morning to steady showers so I decided to delay doing the laundry until later in the day.  After making the morning coffee, which serves as Linda’s alarm clock, I finished my blog post for yesterday and updated the BCM page of our website while Linda concentrated on her counted cross-stitch project.  The amount of time that goes into a handcraft project like this is considerable, but she enjoys it and actually finds it relaxing.  The recipient of this effort will be our 14 month old grand-daughter (and her parents) who took her first unassisted steps yesterday.  Her parents captured it on a cell phone camera and sent it to us.  Although Linda is not looking forward to returning to S. E. Michigan weather, she is eager to see Madeline and wants to have her cross-stitch project finished, or close enough to done that she can finish it while she is home.

Our BCM website page has a reverse chronological listing of all the issues of Bus Conversions Magazine that contain articles I have written.  Today I added the listings for the January and February 2014 issues, including the Special Edition of the January issue that BCM produced for distribution via the Great Lakes Area Motorcoach Association (GLAMA) newsletter.  The January issue cover story was my article on the GLAMARAMA 2013 rally back in September 2013 at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds in Goshen, Indiana.  The February issue cover story was my article on the Arcadia Bus Rally 2014 that was held at the Turner Agri-Civic Center in Arcadia, Florida December 29 – 31, 2013.  I posted extensively about these two rallies and those posts are still available in the blog archive.

Bus Conversions Magazine is continuing to evolve under the ownership of publisher Gary Hall and editor Mike Sullivan.  Starting with the January 2014 issue the digital edition now contains additional content and features not found in the print edition.  Although Gary hopes/plans to expand the print edition, he needs more subscribers and advertisers to justify the added printing and mailing costs.  The digital edition, however, now features additional photographs and clickable advertisements with plans to add links to videos and other content as it becomes available.  Starting with the February issue, the digital edition is now available in Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD) versions as PDF files.  The difference between the SD and HD versions is the resolution of the photographs, which the reader can click to enlarge.  Both versions are available to online subscribers for download but only the SD version is available as an e-mail attachment; the HD version must be downloaded from the BCM website.

In the afternoon I updated the accounting records and roster for our FMCA Freethinkers chapter and did a small load of laundry.  I heard some additional complaints about the park Wi-Fi.  We can connect and log in with our individual devices and we can connect our WiFiRanger, but not log in.  The technician told me a few weeks ago he had not done anything to specifically block a device like a WiFiRanger (booster/repeater) but I suspect he has.  An e-mail to WiFiRanger is in order to see if they are aware of any way a Wi-Fi system could detect that their device is something other than just another Wi-Fi client.

We had an Asian soba noodle dish with tofu and scallions dish for dinner that we bought at the Earth Origins market in Gainesville earlier in the week.  We finished dinner at 6:30 PM, poured a couple glasses of moscato, and headed over to the fire pit.  As seems to be the pattern there were more people than last night, maybe 30 at any given time with a little bit of turnover.  Kevin had a good fire going and John brought his guitar.  John is recovering from something respiratory and still doesn’t have his singing voice back, so tonight became a sing-along.  We met another first-timer WCRVR couple from South Bend, Indiana who owned the KOA there until 2005 and I had a nice chat with the husband about the business of running a campground.  A couple from London, Ontario sat down next to Linda and she had a nice chat with the wife.  By 9:00 PM the declining heat of the fire wasn’t keeping up with advancing cool of the evening and we retired to our coach for the evening.


2014/02/07 (F) Downtime

Earlier in the week we were making plans to go to Crystal River today with John and Marian Hagan but by Wednesday evening realized that being out three days in a row would be too much and put us too far behind on various tasks.  Besides, the weather forecast for Friday was for cold, overcast, rainy conditions; not ideal for exploring and hiking, especially when we had the option of going some other time.  The forecast for Saturday was even worse, but the forecast for Sunday looked much better and turned out to be a better day for them anyway.  We would have had to be back early today anyway as tonight was pizza night and our pickup time was 6:30 PM, so we stayed home today and planned to stay home tomorrow as well.  I did not take any photos today.

Linda concentrated on her cross-stitch, went for a walk, and took a call from Butch, who had another potential buyer for their business (Linda helps them with accounting and tax returns).  I worked on e-mails and blog posts and had a couple of phone calls and e-mails with Pat, who had a relay replaced in their bus and needed someone to clear the fault codes in the DDEC I engine computer.  Unfortunately the only cartridge I had for our Pro-Link was for a DDEC II / III.  Pat had already called Prevost’s Nashville service facility and they did not have a code reader for a DDEC I.  I suggested that he contact Bill in Orange City.  As I blogged in late December, Bill has a newer diagnostic instrument with cartridges for every DDEC version, as well as Allison transmissions, and was camped relatively close to Walt Disney World.  I also suggested Prevost’s Jacksonville service center and Florida Detroit Diesel Allison in Jacksonville, both of which are only an hour from Fort Wilderness.

With the January 2014 issue Bus Conversions Magazine started adding additional content to the digital edition which they send out as a PDF or allow online (registered) users to download.  With the February 2014 issue they began offering the digital edition in two versions; Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD).  The SD/HD editions has expanded content compared to the print edition, most of which is additional photographs with the photos in the HD version being much higher resolution than the in the SD version.  They have also made the advertisements live links to the advertisers’ websites and plan to add video and other expanded content in the future.  I had an old login for Bus Conversions Magazine that no longer worked so BCM set up an online subscription for me so I could access the online only HD version.  My old login did not work for the BBS/Forum either so I also registered for that.

Volunteers at Williston Crossings RV Resort (WCRVR) make pizzas to order every Friday using the clubhouse kitchen, which has a small conveyor type pizza oven.  Orders have to be placed by 4:00 PM on Thursday and are for a specific pickup time.  We decided to give this a try after our neighbors described how it works and told us the pizzas were pretty good.  We ordered one with mushrooms and onions, hold the cheese, and asked for thin crust.

Friday and Saturday evenings are campfire nights at WCRVR so we had a salad at 6:00 PM, picked up our pizza at 6:30 PM, and headed to the fire pit.  The pizza was big enough for two people to split, only cost $6.00, and was partly a social thing.  Kevin, John, and Ali were there along with a few other folks.  Kevin had a nice fire going and John had his guitar.  We ate our pizza and then Linda got us a couple of glasses of Moscato.  WCRVR is not over programmed, but there are plenty of things to do here if you want to join in.  Of all the nice things at Williston Crossings RV Resort, the Friday and Saturday evening campfires have been the nicest, with John, Jeff, and others providing musical entertainment.  And they have been best when they were more lightly attended, which has been the case on these cool, damp evenings, allowing for more and better conversation.

After we returned to our coach for the evening we turned on the TV and watched a couple of interesting shows on PBS while I finished creating the blog posts for the two preceding days.  Such are our days at WCRVR in Florida.


2014/02/01 (S) San Felasco Hammock Preserve SP (FL)

Having spent a long day Thursday visiting Pat and Vickie at Fort Wilderness, and with the weather still wet and cool, we stayed around our coach on Friday and relaxed.  Linda worked on her cross stitch for much of the day.  I did a load of laundry.  We went for a walk around the RV resort.  We met another group of campers from Michigan and stopped to chat briefly.  Linda made her wonderful vegan pancakes for dinner and then we went to the fire pit at 6:30 PM.  We visited briefly with Kevin, who is in charge of the fire pit, before he took off to play Texas Hold’em.  John and Ali, our next door neighbors to the east, were there as they are every Friday and Saturday night.  A few other folks showed up, but not as many as we have seen in past weeks, and they did not stay.  By 8:30 PM it was just the four of us and we had a nice, long visit.  Kevin came back after Texas Hold’em and visited for a little while before turning in.  I’ve included a photo gallery at the end of this post rather than insert the photos inline.

This morning we awoke to temperatures in the upper 40’s with dense fog, but the forecast was for a high near 80 degrees with only a 30% chance of rain.  We waited until noon for the temperatures to rise into the mid-60’s and then headed for Gainesville.  We had two State Parks to check out plus some shopping to do.

Our first stop was the Devil’s Millhopper State Geological Park.  A small park on the NW side of Gainesville, Florida the Devil’s Millhopper is a sinkhole to drains water back into the Florida aquifer.  It is 500 feet across at the top and 120 feet deep.  Water flows in from streams that become waterfalls, and seeps out of the steep side walls.  A wooden staircase gets you from the top to the bottom and back up while keeping hikers from destroying the vegetation which leads to serious erosion.

About 6 miles farther west on the same road is the trailhead for the hiking trails in the southern section of the San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park.  The southern 2/3rds of the park is restricted to hiking only with over 12 miles of trail.  The area is pine flatwoods, with sinkholes and ponds and was the site of a Spanish mission a long, long time ago.  We went for a very pleasant three mile hike and rarely saw anyone else on the trail in spite of a very crowed parking lot at the trailhead.

My birthday is on Tuesday, and rather than make a special trip into Gainesville for dinner, we decided to dine out while we were there today.  Our hike completed, we drove to Karma Cream, a vegan friendly ice cream / pastry / sandwich shop on the north edge of the University of Florida campus.  We ordered a Tofurkey Rueben sandwich and a vegan “bacon” and Tofurkey club sandwich.  We each had a half of each sandwich.  Karma Cream has a good selection of non-dairy and dairy ice cream.  Linda had chocolate peanut butter and I had a Sunday with Lunaberry ice cream, dark chocolate hot fudge, whip cream, and crushed peanuts; all vegan.  Karma Cream is a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, staffed and patronized by college students many of whom had tattoos, but we enjoyed it.  It has a four and half cow rating on Happy Cow, and we felt that was an accurate assessment.

Just around the corner from Karma Cream is the Gainesville Earth Origins organic market, so we did our weekly grocery shopping there rather than at the Publix supermarket.  By the time we got back to our coach and put the groceries away it was time to go to the Saturday night campfire.  Even though the humidity was high, the milder temperatures brought out the crowd.  Jeff and John brought their guitars and played/sang some of their favorite country songs.  While country I not our preferred genre, we appreciated their musicianship and willingness to entertain their fellow RVers.  We can only sit for so long on hard chairs and made our exit from the campfire around 8:30 PM.

2014/01/23-24 (R,F) A Gathering

On Thursday morning we followed our usual home routine; breakfast, computer work (for me), cross-stitch (for Linda), a walk around the park, and a light lunch.  We walked by the clubhouse / pool / pond / pavilion area to check on the progress of the deck being built along the north edge of the pond.  The deck construction was finished and the landscaping was being installed. We continued on to the rear entrance to check on the new landscaping that was being installed the day before.

The new deck by the pool at WCRVresort.

The new deck by the pool at WCRVresort.

The new landscaping by the rear entrance.

The new landscaping by the rear entrance.

Mid-afternoon John and Marian Hagan drove up in their car from their home in Dunnellon for a visit.  It was the first time they had been to Williston Crossings RV Resort and the first time they had seen our converted bus.  Shortly after John and Marian’s arrival David and Marie Ross walked over from their motorhome, which was parked just around the corner from ours.  Linda had set up all six of our folding chairs and our one folding table, but it was just too chilly to sit outside and talk.  Our coach will accommodate six adults for seated conversation, but just barely.  We had met the Hagan’s last week for the first time and the Ross’s just yesterday for the first time and this was the first time the Hagan’s and Ross’s had met but we quickly settled into a long comfortable chat.  This has been our experience to date with every member of our FMCA Freethinkers Chapter that we have had the pleasure of meeting.

Around 6 PM we took the conversation down the street to Angelina Mia, the only Italian restaurant in Williston.  Once again Linda and I had a pizza and side salads.  This time, however, we had a Manhattan Supreme “white” pizza with olive oil, garlic (lots of garlic), spinach, sweet basil, tomatoes, and mushrooms, hold the cheese.  It had a thin, crispy crust the way we like it, and was a very acceptable vegan pizza.  Everyone else had regular Italian dishes, and like the last time we were here, they all indicated that the food was pretty good.  We stayed at the restaurant two and a half hours eating and talking.  John and Marian headed home directly from there and we dropped David and Marie back at their rig.  A little more chat in the brisk evening air and we decided to call it a night, but not before agreeing to go out to breakfast the next morning.

L-to-R Me, John, Marian, Marie, David, and Linda at Angelina Mia’s in Williston.

L-to-R Me, John, Marian, Marie, David, and Linda at Angelina Mia’s in Williston.

Friday morning the Ross’s picked us up a 9 AM and went to Melanie’s.  The parking lot was so full we had to park across the street by a vacant building.  Linda had rye toast, dry, and I had a plain bagel, dry; a pretty typical breakfast out for us.  David and Marie had regular breakfast fair, and seemed pleased with their choices.  We lingered and drank coffee, but eventually had to go back to the resort as they were expected at Fort Wilderness in Orlando, Florida that afternoon.  We said our “until next time”s and left them to concentrate on t heir departure routine.  A final wave as they drove out and they were gone.

Living in an RV, even part-time as we are doing, can be an isolated, even lonely experience if that’s what you want it to be or if you fail to take some action to make it otherwise.  Cherie Ve Ard and Chris Dunphy of Technomadia and been full-timing for at least seven years now and have put a lot of thought and energy into the issue of “nomadic community.”  They have run into people all over the country, both randomly and intentionally, and then used their knowledge of communications and social networking technology to stay in touch and forge enduring relationships.  Cherie’s most recent post discusses the difference between what they call a “convergence”, which is what is occurring in Cedar Key, Florida at the moment, and an RV rally or other such organized event.

We have some busy days coming up, so I took the opportunity to do a load of laundry mid-afternoon while Linda went for a walk.  I think she planned to go for a long stroll, but cut it short because it was just too chilly to enjoy even with sunshine.  We planned to eat dinner early and go over to the Friday night bonfire at the fire pit but Linda did feel like going, so I went by myself for a while.  Part of living in a RV is that it has to be OK to not always do everything together.


2014/01/18 (S) On Top Of The World

Sure, there are days when we feel like we are “sitting” there—we are retired after all, have our health, and are in Florida for the winter at a nice RV resort—but today we were not sitting on top of the world.  Rather, we were at On Top Of The World for a one hour talk on “humanism and problem-solving” by Jennifer Hancock.

OTOTW is a large, upscale, planned retirement community just southwest of Ocala, Florida off FL-200.  We were at a retail/community plaza that included the sales office, a sizeable theater, coffee and ice cream shops, and a few other businesses including one named Master The Possibilities.  MTP is the education center for the complex and offers a wide menu of self-development experiences.

We were made aware of this presentation by John and Marian Hagan from our FMCA Freethinkers chapter and they also attended.  The presentation was sponsored by the newly formed Humanists of North Central Florida (HNCFL), which is affiliated with the American Humanist Association.

After the talk I had to take a phone call from our son.  He was checking the house and called to let us know that the battery on our backup sump pump was indicating that it needed to have water added.  I talked him through that and then the four of us headed to a nearby Panera to talk over food and coffee.  I think it was the first Panera we have been to since we left Michigan on December 19.

We stopped at the Publix supermarket on US-27 just west of Ocala to do our weekly food shopping and got back to the RV resort around 8:15 PM.  We had left at 11:00 AM to do some shopping before the lecture, so it had been a long day.  We were surprised that there wasn’t anyone at the fire pit, when Linda remembered that tonight was a dinner/dance at the resort.

I walked over to the fire pit and found the remnants of a fire still smoldering so I pushed the pieces back into a pile and the fire came back to life.  I spent over an hour tending the fire and enjoying the warmth against the chill of the night air.  A few people wandered by and stopped to chat briefly.  John (from Vermont) mentioned that his son, Matt, who uses a wheelchair, was a ham radio operator, but didn’t have any of his equipment with him.  I offered to lend him one of our Kenwood HT’s and have a QSO with him sometime if he wanted to do that.

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that we met Golda The Adventure Dog at the campfire on Friday night.  A very sweet and gentle animal, she is part Anatolian Sheppard and has her own Facebook page.


2014/01/17 (F) Campfire Music

Today was a day for chores and relaxation.  I did the laundry while Linda tidied up the inside of the coach.  Various RV authors have said that the best way to learn about the area where you are camping, or intend to go to next, is from the people in RV parks and campgrounds where you stay.  And the best place to meet those people is often in the laundry room.  Today I had a long conversation with a fellow Williston Crossings resident with Alaska license plates on his truck while we were both doing our laundry.  He had traveled extensively and was a wealth of knowledge.

For lunch we had the vegan version of one of my favorite sandwiches: crunchy peanut butter and “mayo” with lettuce and pickle slices.  I used to make this sandwich with Miracle Whip.  (I was raised with Miracle Whip and have never cared for the taste of real mayonnaise.)  The vegan version of the sandwich uses “vegan mayo”, of course, and it is an acceptable substitute although it lacks the characteristic tanginess of MW.

It dropped below freezing again last night under clear skies, but rebounded quickly with the sunrise and topped out in the mid 60’s.  Linda sat outside in the sun and worked on her needlepoint.  She needs the light to see what she’s doing, and she likes sitting in the sun.

We ate dinner around 6:00 PM–left over angel hair pasta– and then went to the fire pit for the Friday evening campfire.  Kevin already had the fire going but we were early enough to get two of the rocking chairs.  By 6:45 PM all the chairs and benches were occupied and there were a few folks standing.  There were four guitarists playing and singing in various combinations.  Their selections tended to be country and folk, but they all played and sang well, and the rest of us listened, talked quietly, or sang along as we sat in the glow of the campfire.  It was too dark to photograph and we did not record it on our smartphones so you will just have to take my word for it; it was a warm and thoroughly delightful experience.


2014/01/10 (F) Visitors

Steve and Karen Limkemann e-mailed yesterday that they were in Macon, Georgia and thought they would arrive at Williston Crossings today between 2 and 3 PM. They left S. E. Michigan Wednesday around noon and got as far as northern Kentucky before stopping for the night.  We had planned to do weekly chores this morning anyway, but that became necessary once we knew their ETA.  My chores included doing the laundry so we would all have clean linens, and dumping the waste tanks and refilling the fresh water tank.  Linda’s chores involved interior cleaning (vacuum, mop, dust, glass and mirrors, sinks and toilet, etc.) and de-cluttering.

Steve and Karen arrived on schedule and came in the new/rear entrance off of FL-121.  They phoned me and I drove over to lead them to our site which is near the original/front entrance on N. E. 5th St.  I had not finished filling the fresh water tank, so I gave Steve a tour of the bays while the tank filled.  Eventually the chores were done and we gathered inside to visit.

Being a Friday it was fire pit night at the RV resort, but first we went out to dinner.  We decided to try Angelina Mia’s, the Italian restaurant and pizzeria we stopped at the other day on our walk to town.  We ended up ordering a thin crust northern Italian veggie pizza, no cheese, and it was OK.  Steve had lasagna and Karen had seafood linguine, and they both said it was OK as well.  By the time we got back to the RV resort a large group had gathered around the fire pit and the fire was blazing.  There were no vacant chairs, and we did want to stand, so we retired to the coach and settled in.

We have had overnight guests in the bus prior to this, but only one person at a time.  Steve and Karen were the first couple to stay overnight, and the first guests to use the sleeper sofa pulled out into its two-person configuration.  In spite of the noise and vibration from the auxiliary air compressor, the refrigerator, the vent fans, and the water pump, they said they were comfortable and slept well.


2014/01/05 (N) Views of WCRVR

I’ve been hunkered down writing an article for Bus Conversions Magazine on the recent Arcadia Bus Rally and Linda has been working on her counted stitch needlepoint, but both of those are activities from which we need to take breaks and go for walks.  When we do, I usually take my camera along.  Here are eight more photos of Williston Crossings RV Resort that capture some of the features of the park and the ways that residents make their sites uniquely their own.

A cactus garden.

A cactus garden.

The fire pit.

The fire pit.

Grass and palm trees.

Grass and palm trees.

The old quarry from the back of one of the sites.

The old quarry from the back of one of the sites.

This belongs to one of our next door neighbors.

This belongs to one of our next door neighbors.

Tiki huts and rock gardens.

Tiki huts and rock gardens.

Donna & Michael’s Motorhome.

Donna & Michael’s Motorhome.

Donna, Michael, and Linda.

Donna, Michael, and Linda.

2014/01/04 (S) Rally Articles

Our site at WCRVR with our sign!

Our site at WCRVR with our sign!

Our sign.  (Normally reserved for 4 month or longer stays.)

Our sign. (Normally reserved for 4 month or longer stays.)

In addition to writing blog posts I have written three articles in the last five months on RV rallies.  One was on the GLCC/CCO rally last August in Clio, Michigan and was the cover story for the October issue of Bus Conversion Magazine.  I wrote an article on the September 2013 GLAMARAMA rally for the November issue of our GLCC newsletter.  I rewrote that article from a different perspective and BCM ran it as the cover story for the January 2014 issue.  Although different from writing a personal blog, these articles still retained the perspective of personal experience.

Our patio and picnic table.

Our patio and picnic table.

Gary Hall, the owner/publisher of BCM, knew we planned to attend the Arcadia Bus Rally in Arcadia, Florida between Christmas and New Year’s and asked if I would cover the event for the magazine, which I agreed to do.  That made for a different experience, putting me in the role of a reporter with a publisher and editor expecting an article by a certain deadline.  We returned to Williston Crossings RV Resort on the 1st, got settled in on the 2nd, I got to work on the article on the 3rd, and had a complete draft by bedtime today, although I still needed to have Linda proof-read it in morning and then send it off to the rally organizers to fact check.  I will spend the next two days selecting and processing photographs.  I also heard from Gary and Mike Sullivan, the BCM editor, that the article was back on as the Feb 2014 cover story, putting me on a short timeline to get it to them.

The fire pit at WCRVR.

The fire pit at WCRVR.

I can work at this kind of task for long periods of time, but eventually I have to get off my butt, move around, and clear my head.  Williston Crossings RV Resort is an excellent place for walking and I went twice today with Linda.  (She does her first/power walk in the morning without me.)  Resort volunteers build a big fire in the covered fire pit on Friday and Saturday evenings unless there are high winds.  The fire pit is surrounded by rocking chairs and benches and is a social event for some of the resort residents, especially those, like us, that hail from more northerly places.  We went over after dinner, sat by the fire for 90 minutes, and made some new acquaintances.  While most of the residents were hunkered down avoiding the temperatures in the upper 40’s we felt like we were on a fall camp out back in Michigan, complete with a smoky campfire. 

New friends around the campfire at WCRVR.

New friends around the campfire at WCRVR.