Three Weeks Later

I can;t believe I have let three weeks pass on the road without a post.  Oh well, we were busy, not much of an excuse and not a lot has happened that will be of interest to most readers.  We made it to St Petersburg easily and set up in Fort Desoto as planned in our reserved spot.  We had visitors, squirrels and raccoons.  We know because a) we were there b) they left foot prints all over, including on the side of the motorhome.

We visited with Carol’s brother and sister-in-law as well as with our niece Erica whoi helps out with her parents when her work schedule permits.  As a retail store manager her life is not her own in the pre-Christmas craziness.  We had several meals with them both in their apartment and out.  On Sunday morning Erica brought them to the coach where we had a lovely brunch at the picnic table on our site. This brought out THE SQUIRREL.  It knew there was food and it wanted some. It would not be easily deterred.  I have seen begging dogs, even the rare cat, but never before have I seen a “wild” squirrel so determined to participate in the meal.  I resorted to pitching stones as it to no avail, well my aim was not good enough for it to know they were headed in its direction.  As we cleaned up after the meal it seemed to realize that there was not going to be any leftovers.

On Saturday we had a day with the Topfs, which we had planned well in advance.  It was a lovely day catching up with many life changes for both couples.  In the evening we joined two other couples at the Bradenton Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade.  We do not need to do that again.  Of course we have never been boaters and maybe if it had been motorhomes decorated and driving past us, we would have been more interested  – or not.  The company was fun and as things wound down we headed out for dinner.  This was a mini adventure as we were in two cars and we followed the Topfs with no real idea where we were going in the dark.  We all found our way to Carrabas where we ate and continued schmoozing until time to head back to our respective home,.

We also had a day in Sarasota.  First we met Bert Rapowitz and Judy, a lady he is seeing, for lunch at the Dry Dock Cafe.  The food was fine and the company was very good.  It has been a long time since we have seen Bert and it was wonderful to catch up and see him so happy.

From there we drove to Erica’s apartment.  By some miracle we had planned this event on a day when she was not working.  We have been hearing about this place and “Mr Brown” since she moved in.  Situated across from a country club this wonderful old former hotel looks like something from the Old World.  Mr Brown was most intersting to meet as was Dean.  This is more of a community than an apartment house and would seem to be a wonderful place for our niece to have as her home.

The visit to the area did not end with these personal visits.  We moved on to Lazy Days RV on Friday and stayed in there campground adjacent to the dealership and service bays.  I would not consider this my favorite campground.  The sites were short and the sprinkler certainly keeps the grass nice, but it means that the sites are wet every morning and the coach gets water spots from the spray.  Oh well most campgrounds have some draw back.  On Monday, as scheduled we moved the coach into a bay for a lot of minor issues. There were drawers that wouldn’t open fully and doors that would stick and a night shade that didn’t work well.  They worked their way through these items with timely reports back on progress.  The first hitch we ran into was the backup monitor which was blinking.  They reported we needed a new one to installed under warranty, but not available for 7 days.  We said stop work and put the old one back, we will deal with it when we get to the Lazy Days in Tucson.  Miraculously they found there was a monitor available after all and they installed it the next morning after we spent a night sleeping in the coach in a service bay.  “Free camping” close the blinds and we could be anyplace.  The next hitch was with our supplemental braking system.  This is supposed to apply the Jeep brakes when we apply the coach brakes.  It failed as we left Rochester.  Part needed was located and shipped in – wrong part! Over night (another night in the service bay) the part arrived and turned out to be part of the problem but not the entire problem.  The short version is we rolled out of there at about 3 PM with everything working!

We spent that night at Elks Lodge 990 in Gainesville.  Getting in their parking lot was scary.  It was a 180 degree turn and the driveway was obstructed with a portico with less than 10 feet clearance (we need 12’6″).  After some backing and filling with the Jeep disconnected we got it parked.  I walked in to see about make a contribution to the club for the permission to stay and found that they refused to take anything and insisted that Carol and I have drink on them.

Up early the next morning, well early by our standards, and down the road for 300 plus miles to stay in Rainbow Plantations, the Escapee CG near Foley Alabama.  Today another 300 plus miles put us in Sam Houston Jones State Park north of Lake Charles LA.  San Antonio is another 330 miles down the road.  Maybe we will take it in two days, we are not used to multiple driving days without a break.

I may go silent again for a week or two while we spend time with our family in San Antonio and Fredericksburg.

On the way to St Petersburg

Somehow we disentangled ourselves from family in Covesville on Monday and set out for Florida.  We planned on three nights on the road.  The route was south on 29 through Greensboro NC then over to Florence SC then across to I 95 on to Jacksonville with a stop in Brunswick GA at the Flying J for diesel. propane and DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid).  This is the latest way of cleaning up diesels, one could say housebreaking them.  There is no diesel stink coming out the tailpipe so I guess it works.  This has turned out to be a major gouge.  At the pump on the truck side of a fueling station DEF is $2.79 a gallon.  In the shop they sell it by the gallon jug for about $8.00 a gallon!  Unfortunately most places I have looked the only DEF hose is on the driver side of the coach and the filler and tank are on the passenger side.  We can’t just go through the pump the other way on the truck side.  Trucks are lined up two or three deep waiting their turn at the pumps every time we stop.  There is strict one way policy unlike the car side where it is a free-for-all.

I bought a 2 1/2 gallon fuel jug and filled it at the DEF pump and carted it around to the other  side of the coach to pour it into the tank, three times.  This is not too much of a hassle as I added about 7 gallons after driving about 3,000 miles and burning 400 gallons of diesel.  I am now more experienced at how to make this happen and maybe I won’t have the truckers staring at me the next time we have to go through this exercise.

We spent the first night at Swamp Fox RV Park, just off I 95 out side Florence, just south of Darlington if there are any NASCAR fans reading this.  This is NASCAR Country, most specifically Richard Petty Country.  The place was fine for a Passport America overnight stop, it is not anyplace I would consider a destination.  The second night, after the aforementioned stop at Flying J in Brunswick GA, we continued on to Pecan Park RV, again Passport America, just off I 95 with the added benefit of the being at the end of the runway for JAX – Jacksonville Airport.  It wasn’t bad except at 7:20 AM when a flight of F 16s took off directly over our campsite.  That was four planes and by the time we heard them they were overhead and then gone.  We enjoyed the morning serenade so much that we opted for a second day there since we were less than five hours from Fort Desoto. This gave us time to putter around the coach and make some changes and do some other computer work, oh yes and get to meet neighbors who were also just passing through.

Thursday I let the Dawn Patrol wake up -Carol was up early exercizing – we set out on the road with mostly interstates ahead of us.  The drive was uneventful and we settled into site 171 in Fort Desoto.  We have not been on this particular site before, but have been on similar sites and it is quite nice with a view of the water through the windshield and plenty of privacy provided by the shrubbery between sites.

This may be one of the least exciting posts I have written.  I suppose I could include a list of the repairs and adjustments we plan on having done at Lazy Days in Seffner FL when we leave here, but that too is not particularly interesting. consisting of loose screws I cannot figure out how to reach and doors that need some adjustment.  Oh yes, we discovered that the tray meant to catch the condensate in the refrigerator is not in place.  Gone!  Probably taken/misplaced at the dealer.  A phone call to Dometic, the manufacturer, has assured me one is on its way to us this very minute, no charge!  How’s that for excitement?