Back to Life in the US

Landed at Dulles after 3 months away zonked from 18 hours flying with a 15 hour layover with hotel room in London and 12 hours out of synch with Eastern Standard Time.  Dan picked us up and drove us to his home where we crashed for the night. The drive was hard on him as it was raining and freezing and dark.  I dozed.

Picked up the coach at the storage lot the next day and managed to get it well situated in Dan and Malena’s yard for the coming week in advance of serious freezing weather -remember that for later.  We used auxiliary propane tanks to keep from running down the main tank and it was a good thing as we burned through almost 20 gallons of propane plus about a third of our onboard supply, call it another 8 gallons.  The temperature got down to 4 F one night (that’s Fahrenheit).  We watched the continuing construction project that is adding a master bedroom and dining room to the house along with gutting the kitchen.  This started the day we left in October and I expect will continue for another couple of months.

We rolled out on the eleventh with Corey riding the nav seat out to the highway.  This was his 11 year old treat with the grandparents.  He moved to the couch with his books and pillows and settled in for the long ride to St Augustine, FL and the Alligator Farm.  The drive took two days of about 6 hours each on the road.  Our usual search for interesting stops was cut off by dreadful weather, it was cold and raining most of the way.  We made our way to Indian Forest Campground just outside of St Augustine and set up camp for three nights.  This is a nothing special campground with nice folk reasonable sites and just a bit too much water on the ground, not their fault, but it is low and flat, Florida.

At the Alligator Ranch Corey was in his element.  He had studied the guide books to know what to look for and we saw every reptile they have, twice.  Also plenty of snakes and birds.  I will not recite the bird list here.  Corey has it written down.  He spent lots of time in the evenings keeping up his journal.  After lunch which we had brought with us, he asked if we could go on the zipline ride we kept seeing people riding overhead.  We said sure and both Carol and I decided to share the fun.
We took the shorter route, the longer one takes at least 2 hours! I did not realize that this was a mix of obstacle course and zipline.  While clipped in to safety lines at all times with guides walking beneath us we navigated tight ropes, slack ropes, swinging bridges and ladders.  It was hard work and a lot of fun, especially when we reached a fast zipline.  After dinner in town we slept well and returned to see the Castillo which has defended the city for 400 years.  We also wandered the streets and had lunch at Al’s Pizza, finally back to the coach for dinner.  The next day we took the long way from St Augustine to St Petersburg and set up camp at Fort Desoto, one of our favorites, so Corey could see his Uncle Arthur and Aunt Natalie, Carol’s brother and sister-in-law.

We have service needed so we are holding over a couple of days before going to Orlando for a service appointment for a loose slideout seal.  Today became a marathon of problems and maintenance stuff.  I had planned to have the oil changed in the Jeep and on the way I stopped to pick up windshield wipers because as I was replacing the windshield washer hose, which had succumbed to the sun, I noted that the wiper blades were in no better shape.  As I congratulated myself on accomplishing those simple tasks, I noticed someone walking through our site, very unusual, then there was a knock on the door and a passing neighbor told me water was pouring from the back of the coach, as indeed it was.  A part in the tankless water heater had failed and water was streaming from it.  The bypass valve did not stop water from flowing to the heater.  A call to the manufacturer got me to Gary who calmly walked me through a tear down and rebuild of the sightglass flow sensor in about 45 minutes.  It isn’t leaking, but we don’t have hot water yet.  I hope as it dries out the gas will flow as the igniter ignites.  Not satisfied with that I tried to change the battery in my remote door opener only to find I need two of these very rare CR1616 batteries.

After dinner, as we cleaned up, I went outside to put away the grill.  I locked the cabinet with my key ring and went in to help dry the dishes.  When I went out to stow the barbecue tools, the keys were nowhere to be found, and so they remain among the missing three hours later.  We have turned the coach upside down and looked in and under everything imaginable.  They are here and I am sure we will find them when we move the coach three sites over in the morning, but. . .

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