Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where Has December Gone?

It seems like just yesterday that we arrived here in Rockport TX for the winter. In reality, it’s been almost 3 weeks! Christmas is right around the corner and before we know it, we’ll be welcoming in 2013.

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The biggest accomplishment in the last week or so has been installing my new microwave/convection oven. Hallelujah!  I have a working oven again! It's was a long 5 weeks, I can tell you that. When the old oven first died, we had no idea it would be such an issue to replace it. We chose to stick with the same model knowing that the dimensions would be right and the mounting plate was already there. No one, locally, carries this oven, a Sharp Carousel. Either Home Depot or Lowes, I forget which, has the oven on their website but only in black. We were replacing a stainless model and I wanted stainless again to match the other appliances.

I finally found the unit online at AppliancesConnection.com. They carried it in stainless so I placed the order. I wanted to time it to arrive in TX about the same time as we did, so I ordered it on Black Friday. As a token of their appreciation for my spending a few hundred dollars with them on Black Friday, they gave me a whole $5.00 off! Wasn’t that nice of them?  I promptly took that $5.00 and spent it all in one place Winking smile

Fast forward 2 weeks, a week after I was hoping for delivery, and I’m notified that they won’t ship to my Texas address because that is not the address on my credit card. Aack!!! They couldn’t have told me that sooner?? A quick call to American Express added this address as an alternate shipping address and all was well once again. It took until the following Tuesday to finally arrive, but it made it all in one piece.

More importantly, it worked :) Rick and I managed to remove the old unit without killing ourselves…or each other. The sharp people even notched the packing box so once the screws were all removed, it would just tilt down and into the notched area of the box. Definitely a two man job though.

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We managed to get it onto the floor and somewhat out of the way :)

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Theoretically, the new oven was also supposed to sit in that notched box and then be tilted and lifted up. That’s when it became apparent that it was a 2 MAN job. I was next to useless lifting this thing. Our friend and camp host, CJ came to Rick’s rescue and the 2 of them completed the job. As I was just standing around not doing anything, you’d think I would have gotten a picture of the 2 of them hard at work, but I did not think about the camera until much too late. Sorry CJ.

Here is the old oven with a manufactured date of 2003. Tiffin must buy these things by the semi trailer load and keep them until they’re all used up as Lucy is a 2005 Bus.

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Here’s the new oven with a manufacture date of 2012. They are absolutely identical. Wouldn’t you think something would have changed in 9 years? It doesn’t even look like we got a new oven :)

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Guess I won’t complain. This one works :) I have to admit I missed being able to quickly defrost something and I really missed microwave popcorn! Also, it’s hard making Christmas cookies in a fry pan and/or crockpot :)

This week we’re just sitting back and relaxing and enjoying the season. Hope you are too. Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Monday, December 10, 2012

First Week Winter Park, Rockport Texas

We spent the week getting reacquainted with Rockport, Aransas Pass and Port Aransas. Not much has changed since we left last April 1st.

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We got festive and put up a few Christmas decorations. We put our tree up outside this year. It fits better out there :) I substituted a nice Poinsettia for the inside.

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The day after our arrival, I did an HEB run, which to those who are not familiar is my preferred grocery store here and, in this case, the only grocery store here :) Well, almost. There is the IGA in Port Aransas which is very good and a Wal-Mart in Aransas Pass and Rockport.  I prefer to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart and HEB is a good choice.  Their prices are great and their HEB Plus stores, which are available in Corpus Christi, would give any Wal-Mart a run for their money. I came home with lots of goodies and we should be well fed for a few more days :)

We did our first beach drive. The weather has been in the 80's so heading to the beach is an excellent pastime here. This time of year, the beach is pretty empty except for a few fishermen. Just the way I like it! :)

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We met some of our new neighbors.  There are a few back from last year and a few more expected in the next couple of weeks. Everyone seems very nice and I think this will be a very nice group.

Rick purchased his Texas fishing license this year. He found a great deal on a salt water rod and reel when we were at Huntington Beach in SC  last month (thanks for the tip, Bill!) and thought he would try them out in the Gulf of Mexico. He’s gone out a couple times in the past week but so far, no luck. He did catch a bottom feeder one day that was a pretty good size, but he had no idea what it was. He said it was an ugly fish, but not a catfish, so he threw him back. I’m looking forward to a nice seafood dinner one of these days :)

I think the highlight of our first week was attending the annual Corpus Christi Holiday Boat Parade. Our park hosts, Jan and CJ, invited us and a few other couples to join them at CJ’s brother’s house in Corpus to watch the parade. It was awesome!

Our beautiful and very nice hostess, Cynthi

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The back of their gorgeous home where we all congregated to watch the boats cruise the channel…

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The group…

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And last, but not least, some of the boats that entertained us…

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What a treat! Another of those experiences we might have missed if we weren’t roaming this gorgeous country in Lucy :)

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another Texas Winter, Rockport TX

It took us awhile, but we made it to Texas and are now comfortably tucked in for the winter. The trip was around 1400 miles and we took 2 weeks to travel so that averages 100 miles a day. I like that kind of traveling! :) Of course, we didn't travel every day. We tried to spend a few days just enjoying the journey.

After a brief overnight stop outside Spartansburg, SC we arrived at R. Shaefer Heard Park on West Point Lake right on the Georgia/Alabama state line. This was a beautiful COE park with several First Come-First Served spots available. It was a shame the water level on the lake was low, but that did not stop us from enjoying the heck out of this park and lake :) We chose a 50 amp site (#5) and had most of the loop to ourselves.

R Shaefer Heard Park, West Point GA

We assumed with Thanksgiving 2 days away, the park would fill for the weekend, but it didn't. We were joined by a couple others in our loop, but the majority of spaces remained empty.

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It was wonderfully relaxing and peaceful, right on the lake.

West Point Lake

It was easy to make the decision to stay through the holiday weekend. We were able to get in some kayaking, a lot of hiking, a campfire and even Thanksgiving dinner-without an oven :)

Thanksgiving Day 2012

Necessity brings out the creativity and we had a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, just a little differently than the traditional :) Most of  you will probably remember that our oven died earlier in November and we've been limping through until we could get to Texas and have a new one shipped. The new oven has been ordered and we're expecting it this week-yeah!

As much as we liked R. Shaefer Heard Park, we could not imagine finding another that we enjoyed as much, but we did, on our very next stop,. In fact, Gunter Hill COE, just outside Montgomery AL, has to be one of the top 5 campgrounds we've ever stayed at.

Gunter Hill COE, Montgomery AL

It would have been very easy to stay the maximum time allowed, 14 days, if we only had the time available. Gunter Hill has 2 loops and the one we stayed in, Catoma, had recently been remodeled. What a job they did! All of the sites were spacious FHU 50 amp sites with exceptionally long, level concrete pads. There were plenty of trees for privacy but not too many to block cell or TV signals. Our site (#30) was a pull through with a nice view of the water. The campground is on the banks of the Alabama River. If you're ever in the area, be sure to put this park on your list. You won't regret it! Oh, I almost forgot the best part! This place is a bargain at just $22/night and if you have the Senior Pass, it's just $11! Amazing place, amazing value. We'll definitely be back.

After just 2 short days at Gunter Hill, we had to continue our journey or end up paying double while we slowly meandered down to TX. Our reservations started on December 1st so we needed to speed up a bit. Our next stop, I-65 RV Campground, outside Mobile AL was a short overnight stay and although it was an easy on, easy off Interstate stop, it had no other redeeming value. It was basically a run down park that needed a lot of TLC to bring it back to its glory. It did serve its purpose though, providing us with a safe place to spend the night, but at $33 it should have been much nicer.

Our next stop was Lafayette LA. I was anxious to stop at Acadiana City RV Park as the reports on RVParkReviews.com were mostly quite favorable. We were both very disappointed in this park. Maybe it was because it was Fall and everything was leaf covered, but this park left much to be desired. The sites were all small, unlevel and difficult to maneuver in and out of due to beautiful, large trees. I hate to complain about gorgeous old trees but they did make maneuvering very  difficult through this park. Had our adjoining spots been occupied when it was time to leave, we'd still be there. It took 3 spots plus our own to maneuver our way out of there. Big rig friendly? I don't think so! (no matter what they profess)  We stayed here two nights, then headed to Wallisville TX, east of Houston, for an overnight stay.

Turtle Bayou RV Park was a nice stopover. Nothing fancy, but friendly people and a nice place to spend the night. Not a destination, just a stopover.

We planned our trip to cross Houston on Sunday morning. We’ve always found it much easier to go through huge cities on Sunday mornings and that remains true. We pulled into Estes RV Resort at 2:00PM, unhitched the Jeep and backed Lucy into Site 4 where she will remain until April 1st.

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We hugged Jan and CJ, the hosts and settled ourselves in as well. The park hasn’t changed since last year but most of the residents have. Only a few couples have returned this year so we will be meeting lots of new people. Hope some of them know how to play Hand and Foot! :)

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Thursday, November 22, 2012

From Our Backyard To Yours…

We wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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We are grateful for so many things this year, but mostly for our wonderful family and awesome friends! We love you all!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours…

Or, if it’s not one thing, it’s another!

Recently I’ve read a couple blogs saying that those of us full-timers with a blog tend to paint a rosy picture of things, never blogging about problems we have or bad things that happen. At the time, I thought that was probably true. We do tend to write blogs with a positive spin. I am very guilty of that. I do not like negativity and try to avoid it whenever possible. My motto: “It is what it is. Adapt”. With that in mind, the following post is an example that real life happens to all of us.

We left the Carolina Clan Gathering and headed to Raleigh for yet more additional dental appointments for me. Needless to say, that in itself was a very expensive proposition so we didn’t need any more things to surface and make that sucking sound in our wallet. But surface they did.

On our second day there, I put  biscuits in the oven at 350° for 17 minutes, just like the directions said. When the timer went off, I took them out, determined they weren’t quite done and put them back in for another 5 minutes. At the end of that time, they looked no different than they had the 5 minutes before. Huh? Seemed weird but I was doing other things at the time and blew it off. Blew it off until that evening when I took some fried rice I had made last week out of the freezer and put it in the microwave to defrost. I hit the defrost mode for 10 minutes. The fan started and it sounded like it was working but at the end of that 10 minutes, I still had a frozen brick of rice. NO difference at all. Further checking showed that I had lights and a fan but no heat on either microwave or convection. Bummer! I had 2 nice salmon fillets ready to go into the oven so I had to regroup quickly. Doing them in a frying pan actually works quite well and it only takes a third of the time :)

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After much research, diagnosis: Dead. RIP Sharp Carousel. It appears we may have gotten a few more years out of it than the norm, so I shouldn’t complain. What I found, though, is that I used Mr. Sharp much more than I thought I did! When you have no oven and no microwave, it’s like cooking with one hand tied behind your back. Out comes the crockpot and I quickly learned how to heat leftovers of all kinds in a frying pan :) The repair is going to cost almost as much as a new unit, so we decided to replace the unit once we get to Texas where we’ll be in one place for awhile and can have a new one shipped to us. Amazingly, they still make this exact same model. Unfortunately, no one seems to carry it locally…anywhere, so we’ll have to have it shipped.

A couple days after the convection/microwave died, Rick took our Jeep Wrangler in for it’s regular oil change. He came home with new front brakes! Apparently they were on the hairy edge and in a very short time would have required new rotors as well.

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We both felt fortunate they were caught in time, saving us even bigger bucks! Neither of us noticed the brakes being soft and they seemed to work as they always had but the pads were down to 1 mm. so guess it’s a good thing we needed an oil change :)

Fast forward to today. With any luck, I will pass my post-op checkup on Monday morning and we will be on our way South that afternoon! When we are parked for more than a week, we hook up our Battery Minder to the chassis batteries to maintain their charge. We have a parasitic draw on the chassis batteries due to several things needing juice while we are sitting still such as the smoke detectors, CO2 monitor etc. The Battery Minder guarantees we will start when that ignition key is turned :)

Battery Minder

So, back to today, right? It died. The Battery Minder flat out died. I checked our credit card statement on Quicken and found that we had purchased this unit 2 years ago minus 1 week. These units have a 5 year warrantee though. Great right? All we need to do it box it up and send it to the manufacturer along with proof of purchase and they will either repair or replace the unit free of charge. One problem. We cannot find the receipt anywhere!  Anyone know how to repair a Battery Minder that no longer charges?

They say these things happen in 3’s. If that’s the case, we should be good for a month or so :) In spite of these things and the extra expense they created, we still feel like this is the best life we could have chosen. Things are not always rosy in a full timers life, but what a wonderful life it is!

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Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2nd Annual Carolina Clan Gathering, Huntington Beach State Park, SC

We left the Carolina Clan Gathering yesterday after spending the past week at Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet, SC. What a week it was! We arrived on Tuesday, October 30th. Several of the gang was already there with people arriving as early as the previous weekend and Monday. Many of us arrived within an hour of each other Tuesday and more drifted in Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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Tuesday

After lots and lots of hugs and handshakes, we all grabbed chairs and made a circle in Bill and Nancy front yard for Happy Hour. It was still quite breezy, compliments of Hurricane Sandy, and the temps were falling, so by the time it started getting dark, we all dispersed to our own homes for dinner and TV.

Wednesday

We took off on a walk Wednesday morning that ended up being 5 miles. This is a beautiful park and a wonderful place to walk. We started out on the Atalaya trail around to the Causeway, past the Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail to the Beach. This park is right on the ocean and it’s my kind of park. Lots of trees and lots of water. The sites are large and most are private.

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In the afternoon, a bunch of us ended up down at the beach for some visiting time until the winds chilled us enough to send us home. We moved Happy Hour to Jim and Dee’s back yard to accommodate our growing size.

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Shortly after we arrived, someone noticed a Tiffin Bus on the street that looked exactly like Lucy! Rick walked out to make sure someone wasn’t taking Lucy for a ride :) and met Lucy’s twin and her owners, Carol and Steve. They are friends of Paul and Marti, heard about the Gathering and decided to come join us!

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Later on, after dinner, a few of us sat around a campfire at Gin and Syl’s. It was “Survivor” night, so several people stayed home to watch that. When we left, there were still quite a few around the fire. We are not “Survivor” fans but we did have to go home to watch “Criminal Minds” :)

Thursday

Thursday was cool and windy. Many of the group took off on bike rides or went for walks. Our previous day 5 mile walk shrunk to just 2 on Thursday. Neither of us slept well the night before and we were just tired all day. We did make a post office run and stopped at Subway for lunch.

We skipped the normal Happy Hour and had a huge campfire at Gin and Syl’s later. More people arrived that afternoon so the group was overflowing and one fire wasn’t enough to keep people warm.  If there’s one thing all the guys seem to love, it’s building and tending a fire. Before we knew it, we had twin fires going :)

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Bill and Nancy had recently been to PA and had come back laden with pretzels, cookies and a few other goodies. Bill was having a great time passing all those goodies around the circle. No one went hungry in this group!

We cut it short and turned in early.

Friday

After a good walk in the morning with Laura and Bruce-4 miles, we joined 26 others on a kayak trip on the Inter-coastal waterway. What a blast that was! We had 13 Sea Eagles and 2 hard shelled kayaks for a wonderful afternoon. Nancy had researched the tides so we put in about 2:30 PM for maximum advantage. As it turned out, the paddle was only 4.5 miles but it sure seemed like it was much further coming back than it was going out :)

Sea Eagle Regatta

More Sea Eagles

We had hitched a ride with Bruce and Laura to the launch site and on the way home, decided to stop for a beer. It was, after all, beer-thirty :) We chose a little place that actually had available parking, unlike most places. When we walked in, we were the only people there and it was 6 PM on Friday night! Scary! We all ordered a beer, shared some peanuts and decided to stay safe and not order the food :) There were a few other customers before we left but we played it safe and came home to eat :)

We skipped the campfire that night. I’m sure it was wonderful, as usual, but we had had plenty of fresh air and decided to make it an early night :)

Saturday

Saturday, we met up with Bruce and Laura and took off for Camping World and lunch at California Dreaming Restaurant and Bar. Laura eats at one of these restaurants at every opportunity, so we were happy to help her indulge :) I had never heard of them before, but the food was excellent and so was the company!

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While at Camping World later on, I was standing outside admiring their folding bicycles and contemplating possibly investing in a bike in the near future when Paul and Marti showed up. They have folding Dahon bikes and offered to let me try one out when we got back home. They didn’t have to offer twice :) Dahon is really the Cadillac of the folding bike industry but their prices are a little out of my budget. The knock-offs at Camping World did not seem to be built anywhere near as well, but their prices were more friendly. What to do, what to do? Granted, I am still a klutz. I probably have no business with a bike, but I want to increase my daily mileage and a combo of walking and biking appeals to me. I’ve been walking 3-6 miles a day recently. I doubt it’s done anything for the klutz factor, but I did test drive the Dahon and I didn’t kill myself! :)

I’ve decided to watch Craigslist and see if I can pick up a used bike to test drive, so to speak. Part of my problem is, I know nothing about bikes! What would you suggest I look for if I wanted to ride around the campground and also do paved trails? Nothing extreme but more than just riding in circles around the loop :) I welcome all suggestions.

Sunday

Sunday dawned as a beautiful, sunny warm day. It was the nicest day of the entire week. We walked the trails, we walked the beach. We totally enjoyed the weather.

That afternoon, we joined Gin and Syl at their site for a great game of Hand and Foot while watching the Green Bay Packer game on their outside TV. The Pack won and so did Gin and Syl :) They whooped us good!

We had a Pizza Party at the evening campfire that night. Yum! The evening turned short when a cold front blew in and rain was threatening.

Monday

Monday was our last full day there. We had lunch at Capriz with several of our friends. That was SO good! If you are ever in Myrtle Beach, it is a must do! Excellent! We made a short Costco stop on the way home and had another fire that night.

The week had winded down and in the morning, we would be leaving. As the week progressed, I noticed I took fewer and fewer photos. I was having too much fun to be thinking about photo taking. Well, it could be that, but I’m going to say that what happens at the Carolina Clan Gathering, stays at the Carolina Clan Gathering! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! :)

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Monday, October 29, 2012

Before and After Evacuation

Hurricane Sandy sadly interrupted our visit to the NC coast, but before that happened, we had a wonderful time in a wonderful campground-Cedar Point. Although this National Park Service campground only has electric sites, it’s still a lovely campground with a very entertaining camp host :) There is water available at the dump station when you arrive and the dump station is conveniently located if you need to use it during your visit.

Mike and Terri joined us there on Wednesday, the 24th. I was sitting in my chair that afternoon, reading their blog, when they drove by on their way to their site :)  We had them over for happy hour and chili that night as we caught up on each others travels and lives in the last 6 months.

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Thursday, we joined them for a tour of Beaufort, NC. We walked the waterfront before stopping at Clawson’s for a very good lunch. My lunch was, apparently, so good that I couldn’t hold the camera steady to get a good picture :)

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After lunch, we spent part of the afternoon at the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort where they were preparing for Fright Night 2012.

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The biggest draw was the Blackbeard display and his ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. There were numerous items on display.  In 1718, the notorious pirate Blackbeard lost his flagship,  the Queen Anne’s Revenge, when it ran aground in Beaufort Inlet. In 1996, the wreck was discovered and the museum has offered a small exhibit of them since 1997.

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We watched a movie about the  recovery operation of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. It’s a several year process and is ongoing. Very interesting. If you’d like to know more about Blackbeard and his pirate ship, go here.

We had a very nice cookout at Mike and Terri’s that night and made plans to visit Hammock Beach State Park the next day. We planned to take the ferry over to Bear Island where it is said the beach is the most pristine and unspoiled on the entire east coast. Rick and I had visited the main entrance to the park a few days earlier but at this time of year, the ferry only runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and this weekend, the last in October, would be the last of the season.

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Friday dawned cloudy but pleasant but everyone in the park was aware of the Hurricane Sandy issue hanging in the air. About 11:00 AM we were informed by the camp host that we had until noon the next day, Saturday, to leave the park. We made the decision to leave that day and avoid the rush. We enjoyed this area very much and will be back. We still have that ferry to take to Bear Island :)  Mike and Terri also left that day. Terri had a doctor appointment in Raleigh that day so we all left and headed to high land in Raleigh.

We met up with friends Gary and Peggy as well as Jim and Dee once we arrived in Raleigh. We had a nice reunion Friday night with all 8 of us cramming into Mike and Terri’s 5th wheel for some homemade blueberry pie thanks to Terri :) 

We’ve had a nice time here, although it’s gotten colder, windier and rainier as time progressed. We’ve dodged a huge bullet as Sandy has done a real number on the Northeast and we hope all our friends and family in that part of the country is safe and sound.

In the morning, we’ll head out to Myrtle Beach, SC to join more friends for the 2nd Annual Carolina Clan Gathering. We were 7 couples last year; up to 20+ couples this year. We will be watching Sandy closely and praying for those sadly affected by this horrible storm.

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle