Saturday, December 21, 2013

Greetings From Sunny, Warm Florida and Our Window Repair Report

Today is the first day of Winter. Here in Crystal River, FL our high is expected to be 82. Our low, 65. We have experienced several different areas in the state of Florida in the last 2 months. We’ve been far south in the Keys, on the East coast at Port St Lucie, in the south central at Ortona COE park, on the west central coast north of Tampa and now in the Crystal River area, a little further north on the west coast. With few exceptions, it’s been warm and sunny :) That’s hard to take if you’re from just about anywhere else. The weather this month has been a mixed bag to say the least. It seems to be unseasonably cold way too early in much of the country. Not to mention that frozen precipitation!  I’m sorry for those of you who cannot escape that weather and grateful that we chose Florida for our winter home this year.  Sorry Texas, but you were a bit chilly too :)

We started our month at Ortona COE park west of Lake Okeechobee, 8 miles east of LaBelle, FL. We really like this park. It was immaculate, very pretty and right on the canal system for the Okeechobee waterway.

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Our site backed up to the canal so Rick was able to walk over to the fishing pier practically right behind us. He had a little luck and caught a few of these little guys.

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There was no lack of wildlife there either. Along with the birds, there were 3 otters that would run down the road and keep us entertained.

Ortona COE

We met Elaine & Rick for lunch one day and for Happy Hour another. It was great spending time with them and I’m sure we’ll run into each other again.

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Another day we met up with Jim & Dee along with Jim & Judy for lunch. We drove north and they drove south and we met in the middle. Well almost. There is pretty much absolutely nothing in between places in central Florida. I always thought the entire state was congested but that is not the case.

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We also drove into Fort Myers and joined my cousin Tony and his wife, Jan, for lunch and a visit back at their new home. It was great reconnecting and hope to be able to do it again sooner rather than later.

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Along with all the socializing and fishing going on, Lucy got a new windshield while we were there. She developed a crack on the drivers side from the very top to the very bottom. Darren Thomas Glass out of Sebring FL came right to us with a new humongous windshield. We’ve had car windshields replaced by a mobile service but never dreamed they could do that with a motorhome windshield. It was a 3 man job but they made it happen and they did a good job!

New Windshield

We left Ortona on Monday, Dec. 9 and headed to Suncoast Designers in Hudson, FL. We arrived Monday afternoon for our 6:45 AM Tuesday appointment. The have several water/electric spots for their clients while having work done. We chose 1 of the last 2 available spots and settled in till morning.

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Suncoast Designers specializes in repairing foggy dual pane windows. They remove the windows from the coach, take them apart, clean them, put them back together, seal them and then re-install them.  They give a 10 year guarantee prorated at a 10% decrease each year. If the window fails after 1 year, you pay 10%, after 9 years, you pay 90%. This problem affects all brands of motorhomes. We were surrounded by Tiffin, Monaco, Newmar, Winnebago, Fleetwood, Country Coach, even Prevost. The insulation factor remains but the aesthetic value is really what becomes compromised. If you can’t see out of your windows due to the cloudiness, it becomes not only an eyesore but, depending on window location, a safety issue. Most all of Lucy’s windows have become compromised over time. Due to the safety aspect, we had both the driver and co-pilot cockpit windows completely replaced in April.

Motorhome windows are not inexpensive, so we thought we’d try to save many dollars by having some of the others repaired rather than replacing them. We started out with 5 on our list but ended up adding a 6th when that one started clouding while we were there :(  Rick filled out all our paperwork at 6:45 Tuesday morning. We were told to plan on 2-3 days total but we were guaranteed to be out by 3 PM Friday when they closed up shop for the weekend. By noon our original 5 windows were out, delivered to the factory and we had cardboard in place of them.

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On Wednesday, crossing our fingers for a quick turn-around, we left and headed to Lazy Days to visit Gin and Syl who are hanging out there having warranty work done. We got the Lazy Days tour and were treated to lunch at the Crown Club. Thanks guys! After lunch the 4 of us took off for Costco where we managed to fill up their Suzuki and dent both our wallets :) We then enjoyed Happy Hour/heavy hors d’oeuvres/light dinner, also at the Crown Club. Thanks again guys! We spent the whole day together and I forgot to take even 1 picture.

It was disappointing that nothing had been done while we were gone but not unexpected. We stuck around on Thursday and that’s when we noticed window #6 fogging. Rick went into the office to ask if it could be added on and was told no. No add-ons. Our appointment was for 5 windows. OK. That seemed fair. We didn’t want to cut into someone else’s time. After all, everyone had to be completed by 3 PM Friday.

By the end of the day on Thursday, we noticed that several people that had arrived after us were already done and gone. That seemed a bit strange. When Friday arrived and more people were leaving and we were still sitting there with our cardboard windows Rick went to see what was up. He was told that our windows had been put in the wrong rack and hadn’t even been started yet. Along with us, there were 2 other couples left to wait out the weekend but for different reasons. To compensate us for the delay, we were allowed to then add on the 6th window and  2 of the 6 were done free of charge. It was a nice discount and one we gladly accepted.

They did complete our work by 4:00 on Monday afternoon and we left the facility Tuesday morning and travelled to Crystal River. We washed our newly fixed windows inside and out and are now making arrangements to go back to Suncoast Designers when we leave here to have them fix some of them all over again :( Some have spots/water runs inside the glass where it appears they weren’t totally dry before resealing them. One has razor or knife cuts inside the glass and 3 of them are so hard to open that it takes both of us to get them to slide. I trust they will address these problems quickly and efficiently when we return. I think the window repair concept is great, but I think the execution needs work.

If you are entertaining having this done, I suggest having no more than 2 windows done at a time. It became apparent to us that 1-2 windows were given priority. It was an easy way to turnover RV spots quickly and increase the number of customers in and out in a week.

I don’t like to complain on this blog and I hope it didn’t come across as a whine. It’s just what happened to us. Maybe it will help someone else trying to make a decision.

I apologize for the length of this post. I prefer short and sweet :) It is doubtful that I’ll blog again before the end of the year, so I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Saturday, November 23, 2013

All Good Things Must Come To An End

I’m talking about our 3 weeks in the Keys. You didn’t think I meant something else, did you? Nope.

Most full-timing couples re-evaluate things periodically. Do they still love this lifestyle? Do they want to continue? Do they want to settle down someplace again? Regrow roots? We know a few couples who have “hung up the keys” recently. There are others that decided, for one reason or another, to become part-timers.  We just completed our 3rd year of full-timing in October and, for us, this is still the lifestyle we want to live. We have totally enjoyed our travels and the friends we’ve made along the way and look forward to much more. We will be spending our first winter in Florida this year, something we’re already enjoying :) Our planned Spring/Summer travels will take us to Tennessee to visit the grandkids (the adult kids too), Indiana to visit family and friends and then into Michigan and the UP before coming down into Wisconsin to spend time with my family. We’ll figure out where we go from there later. Planning on the fly is one of the best perks of this lifestyle :)

We are slowing working our way to the Crystal River area of the state where we’ll stay until March 1st. We have a few maintenance items to take care of on the way. The Jeep just got 4 new tires, one tie rod and two front lower control arms. Hopefully, she will be good to go for awhile. Lucy is scheduled for a new windshield next week. One of the hazards of driving I-95 or any other place. It’s only a matter of time before you get a ding or, in our case, a crack from top to bottom. The following week, Lucy is having some of her other glass repaired. We have a few windows fogging and are going to try the repair offered at Suncoast Designers in Hudson, FL. instead of replacing the windows. I’ll report more on that later.

For now, we are taking some R&R and relaxing back at Port St. Lucie COE in Stuart, FL. We need to rest up from all our Keys fun :)

We celebrated Bill’s birthday. It was a BIG one Birthday cake

Birthday

A cookout with all the fixin’s complete with a Lima Bean Cake that Tricia made. It was really a regular cake but had a lima bean on the frosting as a tribute to Bill’s least favorite vegetable :)

Lima Bean Cake

The guys cranked the old fashioned ice cream maker that Bruce and Laura brought along and Bill got to lick the beater :)

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We did more kayaking and saw many iguanas and other “wildlife”.

Wildlife

We went back to Key West for a day so we could go to Mile 0 and only be 90 miles from Cuba…

Mile Zero

and 126 miles to the closest Wal-Mart :)

Our last week was spent in Key Largo where we relaxed, paddled, bicycled, fished and harvested coconuts. Life is good.Island with a palm tree

Put de lime in de coconut

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Curry Hammock State Park in the Florida Keys

A year ago, a group of our friends all decided to go to the Florida Keys in November. Reservations in a state park in the Keys are very hard to come by but we we all got on our computers when the dates opened in the reservation system and within minutes of each other, all scored reservations at Curry Hammock State Park. Not only did we score reservations for the same time, we got sites all together! This was going to be so much fun :)

We all arrived at Curry Hammock on Monday, Oct 28. The weather couldn’t be better. It has been mid 80’s, sunny and breezy the entire time we’ve been here up until today. The water has been warm and we’ve done our fair share of floating in the water on our tubes and mattresses.

Curry Hammock State Park

We’ve enjoyed many sunrises and sunsets. Even an eclipse!

Sunrise Sunset

We walked and biked and

Walking and Biking

just sat around talking.

Part of the Group

One night, we went to the famous Sunset Grill for dinner and the sunset.

Dinner

We had a great time in Key West on Halloween :)

Halloween in Key West

We even got a picture of Rick in front of “his” place :)

Rick's Place

We went deep sea fishing and caught some nice Snapper.

Deep Sea Fishing

Today it rained. It was a nice down day and gave us all a chance to catch-up on mundane normal things like cleaning, grocery shopping and blog writing :)

Oh wait! The rain has stopped and the game board is up in Bill and Nancy’s screen room next door :) Time to leave you with one more glimpse of paradise before I go out to join the group.

Off 7 Mile Bridge

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chillin’ Out at Port St. Lucie, FL

We took our time driving from Charleston to Port St. Lucie, a distance of 481 miles. Unlike some people (Paul :)) who would make this an easy driving day, we managed to make it in 4 days :)

We chose St. Lucie South Recreation Area, another really nice COE park, on a recommendation from our friends, Bill and Nancy. This is a wonderful, quiet, picturesque park with easy on/off access to I-95 but none of the traffic noise. 20131022_112819

Not a bad patio area :)

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And, not a bad view from Lucy’s front window.

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There are only 9 RV sites and they stay full most of the time. Only 3 are right on the water and unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to snag one of them so we had to settle for this view :)  There are also 3 tent sites (on the water) and 4 mooring sites for boaters to dock, hook up to 50 amp power and water and spend the night.

The park is right on the St. Lucie canal, part of the Okeechobee Waterway. The Okeechobee Waterway is a shortcut for boaters through Florida taking them from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico.

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The St. Lucie Lock, the first lock off the Atlantic, is also part of this area and we were able to watch several boats traveling the canal go through the locks.  There is an average 14’ lock lift at St. Lucie.

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This park even has it’s own Butterfly Garden!

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There are a lot of flowering bushes but no butterflies to be seen :(

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We drove over to Jupiter Island one afternoon stopping to walk the beach for awhile and

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driving Beach Rd looking at all the beautiful homes. Most of the homes were privately landscaped so we were only able to get glimpses. Of those we could actually see, I was unable to get any photos as there was absolutely no place to pull over. Apparently, they don’t want you loitering in their neighborhood :) So, about all I got was the gorgeous landscaping on the street and a picture of the 

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Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, from their parking lot. This is a working lighthouse and under the direction of Homeland Security. Any visitors must be on a guided tour; no wandering allowed. We postponed our tour until next month when we’ll be back in this area. The lighthouse was closed to visitors this week for repairs. The tours were still going on but you had to just look from afar. That didn’t sound like as much fun, so we’ll go back when it’s reopened.

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We are looking forward to friends joining us here at Port St. Lucie this afternoon and, in the morning, we’ll all head out to the Florida Keys for a few weeks. Life is good :)

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Friday, October 18, 2013

Beautiful, Enchanting Charleston

We have spent the last week in Charleston, SC. What a beautiful city! Having never been there before, after some exploration, I can honestly say that I could live there. Right down in the middle of it.  I doubt we could afford it, but it’s a really cool little city and one, I’m sure, we’ll come back to again.

We arrived at Oak Plantation Campground in Johns Island last Thursday. This is one of the nicest parks we have stayed in and is the closest park to downtown Charleston.

Oak Plantation

It just reeks of southern charm. Just look at that Spanish moss hanging from the trees. This house belongs to the owners. We settled into our nice spacious site and made ourselves comfortable :)

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On Friday, we headed downtown to explore and see the sites. We found a convenient parking spot close to the harbor and set off on foot to see what we could see. The Waterfront Park was amazing.

Waterfront Park Area

They even dyed the fountain pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month! How cool is that?

Waterfront Park Fountain

We took in the City Market where they sell all kinds of beautiful things. Some were expensive and some were super expensive :) City MarketWe donated a little bit to the local economy when Rick bought a new baseball cap :)

Palmetto State Cap

We wandered up and down, in and out, much on cobblestone streets until our poor feet cried “Uncle” and we stopped at Henry’s for a refreshing afternoon brew. Henry’s just happened to be across the street from the Market and next door to the candy store :) Perfect location :)

Henry's and It's Sugar

We stayed close to home on Saturday as we had cleaning inside and out to do and we were waiting on our mail to be delivered from our mail service in SD. We were expecting something we had ordered a couple weeks earlier and were looking forward to installing it. Rick gave Lucy a good bath in preparation and then proceeded with the installation.  Before he could even get started, our neighbor, Manny, introduced himself and offered to help as that is what he did for a living.

Lucy

So in Manny’s capable hands, “Lucy”was installed :)

Later that afternoon, our friends Ronnie and Cynthia arrived and joined us for Happy Hour and hot dogs and brats on the grill.

Ronnie and Cynthia had been here a few times before so they took us to Folly Beach on Sunday and then to Southend Brewery in downtown Charleston for dinner.

We took the Charleston Harbor Cruise on the Carolina Belle on Monday despite cool, cloudy weather.

waterRouteMap

It was a pleasant hour and a half tour all along the harbor passing Forts Johnson and Moultrie as well as Fort Sumpter (which was closed due to the government shutdown).

Harbor Tour

We finished off our day at the Water’s Edge Restaurant where we sat outside and watched the tide come in while enjoying half price appetizers during Happy Hour :)

Tuesday was another “close to home” day. Cynthia and I took a run to Costco in the afternoon and left the guys to fend for themselves. I heard Ronnie got to watch and supervise while Rick changed our water filters and replaced the anode rod in our hot water heater. Do you think it was about time???

Anode rod-not much left

We threw some burgers on the grill that night and just enjoyed the beautiful Fall-like weather.

On our last day here, Wednesday, we set out to walk the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, a beautiful cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. 

Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge

This bridge was completed and opened in 2005, one year ahead of schedule and under budget! How often do you hear of that happening? The bridge consists of 8 lanes of traffic and a bike/pedestrian lane separated by a concrete abutment.

It’s 2.5 miles from one end to the other; 5 miles round trip. We parked on the Mount Pleasant side of the bridge and started out. Ronnie and Cynthia weren’t sure if they were going to do the whole thing, but they wanted to at least make it to the halfway point where the views of the harbor and skyline were wonderful. Rick and I intended to complete the whole thing, so off we went!

Bridge Walk

Once we arrived at the end, we turned around and hiked back arriving back at the car in about 2 hours. It was a wonderful walk, one that appears to be very popular judging from the number of people out there. The only drawback was the noise and gas fumes. It was fairly breezy Wednesday so the fumes were not too bad but earplugs probably would have been a good idea :)

From there, we took our last tour of this beautiful city at Palmetto Carriage Works. We joined a few others on our carriage ride through the historic district directed by our guide Ron and made possible by our mule team, George and Thomas :)

Carriage Tour

 

We left Charleston Thursday morning and are continuing our trek south. We plan to wander some all over Florida this winter, but will be in the Crystal River area for the last half of Dec and all of Jan & Feb. Maybe we’ll see some of you down the road!

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle