Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Roadrunner Summer Travel Plans

We started our summer travels and left Virginia Beach on Monday. We were going to overnight at the Fort Criswell RV Campground which is about halfway to Maynardville, TN.  We left early and got through the Elizabeth River Tunnel without incident and on our way to Charlottesville to Interstate 81.
We got to the Criswell area about noon and decided to keep going since we only had about  four hours of driving left.  I started out driving but Pam ended up putting in most of the time behind the wheel which worked out great.

I love being on the road again.  The Roadrunner rides smoothly, has comfortable seats and a big front window and it is a joy to be still living the dream.
We are about to wrap up seven years on the road the end of the month and it has been one great adventure!

After driving all day long, we were a little below half full on the diesel tank so we pulled into a gas station in Tazewell TN.  It cost us $174 to fill up.  I still remember not too long ago and it was twice that to fill up.  While filling up I did a walk around and to my surprise noticed we had dropped a PS rear hub cap somewhere.
 I have no idea how that happened but sadly now have to chase down another one and get that done.
We are going to the Tiffin factory in Red Bay next week so we'll get one there.

We had a nice day driving with some clouds and 60 degree weather.  In the afternoon it cleared up and it was bright and shiny when we rolled into to our camp spot at Mike and Joan's about 4 PM.  Long day but we got a good night's sleep and an extra day here.

While Joan and Pam went out to see their dad, Mike and I tried to hunt down a hub cap.  We came up empty handed but had a good day hanging out together.

Pam and I had a few minutes so we firmed up some reservations along our next couple legs of our summer travels.  We haven't finalized all our plans but we do have the following places on the schedule:

  • Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground (Private), Maynardville TN
  • Tiffin Factory, Red Bay AL
  • Kirk and Susan, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Reid and Amy/Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque NM
  • Paul and Bobbi, Tehachapi, CA
  • Bob and Sue, Yucaipa Regional Park, Redlands CA
  • Sequoia National Park, CA
  • Yosemite National Park, CA
  • Brothers and Wives Reunion at Marty's Cabin, Arnold CA
  • Oregon Coast, OR
  • Olympia National Park, WA
  • Glacier National Park, ID/MT
  • Care-A-Vanner Habitat for Humanity Build, Sheridan WY
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Omaha NE
  • Elkhart IN
  • Philiadelphia PA
  • Virginia Beach VA

That translates to something like this:
I am still learning Google Maps and overlaid a number of maps to create this one and got duplicate letters for the destinations.  Something to work on at a later date...but the main point is to create some semblance of a route for our travels the next four months.

That's all for now - Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Maybe we'll see you all the way somewhere?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Our Days in Virginia April - May 2016

We have done a lot of things the last few weeks since we arrived in Virginia Beach in mid - April.  We are staying at the Dam Neck Annex/Sea Mist RV Campground.  This is a favorite area.
It's a low maintenance kind of place but everything works.  They have a small staff and friendly staff. The grass gets mowed, the laundry room gets cleaned up.  Basically a well run campground.

We've had lots of time with Brooks while here.  He is one amazing little guy.  Here he is deciding which wheel to use while making his way into Krogers on a windy day.
Here he is asking Grandpa if he can have the iPhone.  He does that a lot.  And Grandpa gives it to him a lot.
Another things we've done while here is take care of lots of appointments.  Here is my hygienist Mia after a successful teeth cleaning.
We also had the pleasure of seeing Marg and Bill for a few days.  They stopped by on their way back to Ontario from spending time in Florida this winter.
This is the Collision Center manger taking a picture of the rear deck lid that needed to be adjusted.  We got rear ended in December and got it fixed in Fort Walton Beach.  USAA said if we ever heard any rattles or something needed adjustment after it was fixed to contact them.  They set us up with these folks and it all got squared away.
Then too, there has been a couple of projects around the house I got to work on.  Apart from mowing the yard a couple of times, I finished up some of the flower bed trim logs.  I cut them to size, Kelly drilled holes in them for the 12" pipes to hole them in place.
We also made another trip to Fairfax to see Adam and Melissa for a few days.  While there we drove by our old house.  Kind of sad -- the yard not mowed and the fence needs painting.  No flowers.  The whole place needs some TLC... ;(
Adam and I worked on a new table for his record player and Sonos speakers.  They were looking for something functional and basic.  We measured things out and got a 4' x 8' of birch plywood at Home Depot and had them make two cuts.
Next, we went back to his basement workshop and cut some dividers.  He orders some short legs with a metal plate to screw on the bottom.  
We pre-drilled holes for some screws and also used a nail/brad gun to put it together.
The plates for the screw-on legs went on easily.
We raised the piece that went along the back of the unit which gave us a lip on top and access on the bottom shelf for speaker cords.
It fit nicely under the window.

One thing Adam and Melissa are into is crossfit.  Their group was holding a fundraiser competition and we went to see some of the action.  It was motivating to see all these world class athletes pushing themselves and in such good shape.
They were hoping to raise $5000 to rescue a person out of slavery.  The effort is led by International Justice Mission.  I had no idea slavery is so prevalent around the world.  I've heard of sex trafficking and that kind of slavery.  This goes further and through the efforts of the 20+ competitors and 100? attendees (plus who knows what else went into this event), they were able to raise over $20,000.  Good for them.  They are making a difference.

Back in Virginia Beach, we've spent quite a few afternoons and evenings on the back deck at Kelly and Jon's place.  Brooks has a nice play area and Jon does his magic with his Big Green Egg.  He really knows how to cook on that thing!
A few times while here, I've been able to get together with some men at coffee shops and get in some 1 on 1 time.  This is one of Jon's favorite places in Virginia Beach.  Three Ships Coffee Bar and Roastery is unique and I can see why he likes it.
Then more time with Brooks.  In the few weeks we've been here we've seen Brooks develop.  His little mind is going 1000 miles an hour.  Here he is waiting for Grandma and Grandpa to show up.  He has learned how to move his step stool around and bring it over to places to get things... at 14 months this has to be way ahead of schedule?
Then for Mother's Day, Pam wanted a Radio Flyer Wagon to take Brooks on walks around the neighborhood.  He likes it pretty well so far...
Yesterday we got in on some picture taking after church.  He was ok with it for about 20 seconds, then he got busy and needed to go check something out...
It was a beautiful day yesterday so they came over to the campground and Brooks got to check out the beach.  
It's been a busy time, but we have thoroughly enjoyed it here!  And we have another week to go.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, May 6, 2016

A New Kind of Golf

One of my passions in life has always been golf.  I come from a long line of golfers.  My grandad played and all my uncles played golf.  My dad played and my mom took lessons in the 50's and we became a golfing family.  All my brothers play golf.  Pam learned how to play when we were dating and we love to play golf.

Our kids learned how to play and do so sporadically.  Our son-in-law Jonathan plays golf and mentioned "Top Golf" a while back.  He and some buddies played for the first time near Atlanta.  Top Golf came to Virginia Beach a few months ago and his Anchor Church Men's Group booked an evening for about 25 of us.

I'm not much for gimmicky kind of things.  This is not really golf but it was a LOT of fun!  It basically is a three-tiered driving range
 where folks hit a GPS-enabled golf ball at a number of targets.  The points are immediately tabulated.  In some ways it reminded me of a bowling score card up on the screen.

After the group arrived, we got instructions how to get set up on the computer system/scoring board and learned about the different games we could try.  We all got some practise shots and quickly learned it was not as easy as it looked to hit those big targets!
We quickly divided up into groups of 5-6 people at each mat and the competition began.  For each game we got 20 golf balls and took 5 shots each.  They had men's and women's clubs to use and we just had to hit away!
 While folks were taking their turns, the rest of us hung around and chatted and got a chance to know each other.  That was the main idea of the event anyway--getting a group of guys together to hang out and to make new friends.
 In addition to the golf -- there was plenty of food included in the price.  It also included three hours of play.  Though it seemed a bit pricey at $58, I have spent more money on golf or recreation and it was worth every penny.  Everyone I saw was having a great time.  Both golfers and non-golfers.  We also found out you could rent a space for $25/hr for six people (without food), so that may be in our future.
Like the real sport though, it could be pretty frustrating getting that little white ball to go where you wanted it to go...
Here Bill and I are watching Sheldon take a few swings toward the end of the night.  It was a lot of fun, we met some nice young men, had some good clean fun and enjoyed ourselves.  It was a night to remember in Virginia Beach!

Have you ever tried Top Golf?

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Roadrunner Campsites in March 2016

In March, we covered some territory.  We had a couple of goals during the winter -- see a lot of Florida (particularly on the lower east coast and also spent time with friends near Fort Myers.

 A - Macon Area Habitat for Humanity
The beginning of the month found as in Macon, Georgia participating in a Habitat for Humanity build along with other RVers who are part of the Care-A-Vanner program.  Macon HFH has a very nice set up for RVers.
 B - Starke, FL KOA
We looked for a place in Florida near Green Cove Springs to camp.  Most State parks were full since it was still in the peak time of the snowbird season.  We decided on Starke Florida which turned out to be a nice place for a few days.  It was only about 30 miles away from the mail service center in Green Cove Springs that we wanted to check out.
Here is another campsite I thought I had a picture of.  I wonder which camera I took this one with?  Hm...

C - Word of Life Camp, Hudson, FL
We heard of the Word of Life Camp from our friends Bob and Patty.  They stayed there and like it alot.  While we were at the Tampa RV show in January, we went by a booth where we picked up more information.  We stayed there for an entire week.
First timers get a great no-cost deal but the regular rate is $59/night which we is more that we would have paid.  
I thought I got a picture of our campsite.  It might be somewhere but I was not able to locate it..

D - Savannas Recreation Area Campground, Port St. Lucie, FL
This place was a gem.  It was our first time in a county campground in Florida and we liked what we saw!  It had full hookups as opposed to the state parks that usually only have a dump station.
The folks were friendly and we met a nice young couple from Quebec that we will remember.  They drove a Westfalia camper van similar to the one we had years ago.  But they significantly modified theirs.

E - John Prince Campground, Palm Beach County, FL
While in Hudson FL, we were told about this campground and decided to rearrange some plans in order to stay here.  It was very nice with a large and well developed area.  The county park was very active and had lots of winter visitors.
It was near lots of rivers and canals and great bike paths.  We would definitely stay here again.  We took a number of day trips up and down highway A1A.  We saw Vero Beach and Ft. Lauderdale and North Palm Beach and Jupiter and drove by a lot of posh neighborhoods of the rich and famous.

Habitat for Humanity, North Fort Myers, FL
This campground can only accommodate 4 rigs well.  We had five in there for a while which worked out OK.  One Care-A-Vanner decided he needed to move to a spot for a clear shot on his satellite TV dish.   For the smaller rigs it was fine, the larger ones took a little bit of maneuvering to get into place.
We loved seeing the different places during the month and especially seeing our friends in Fort Myers and getting to join them on a Habitat build.

Thanks for checking in with us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

We Became Florida Residents!

Some people buy new RVs every few years.  Or move on from full-timing in an RV to the adventures of living in a boat.

We don't do those things --- but over the past couple of years it seems as if we consider changing our domicile from South Dakota.  Last year we were convinced we were going become Texans -- but then decided against it when it became a little cumbersome.

The only practical possibilities for us (everyone's situation may be different) are South Dakota, Texas and Florida.  I did a cost comparison a few years ago and included estimated costs over three years.  South Dakota came out the cheapest.  But Texas and Florida were not too far behind...

We got to thinking about this again when our Mail Service Center in Sioux Falls had a change of ownership, expanded the facility, changed the name and the address.  The impact on us was that we had to change our address also.  I didn't really like that and only made a half hearted attempt to notify people over the year they gave us to to change.  But we had to do something -- either continue with our residency in South Dakota or change to Texas or Florida.

Meanwhile, last summer Pam and I decided Texas was going to be our new domicile.  The main issue there was getting a Class B license.  We weren't opposed to the idea (we figured we'd learn a lot which would be helpful) and began studying for the test.  The more we learned about the cost of getting the new license and the pain in the neck to go and do a test drive with our motorhome at a DMV facility -- the more we decided to forego that idea.

Then this past fall and winter we knew we were going to be in Florida for the winter months.  A fellow blogger mentioned that they had become Florida Residents with St. Brendan's Isle Mail Forwarding Service in Green Cove Springs, FL.

We mulled it over a while and talked again of becoming residents of FL.  (We married while in Florida and remained Florida residents until I retired from the Air Force in 1995. When I retired we became residents of Virginia.)

While we were at it, we checked out another mail service we heard about in Florida.  MyRVMail was not not too far from Fort Walton Beach.  We were there around Christmas time and decided to check it out.  We went and talked to the folks, looked at their operation and did a 'site survey'.  We decided that the facility was not the place for us and kept looking.

Next, we made it a point to go to Green Cove Springs (the county seat) and see what we thought of St. Brendan's Isle during our winter travels.  We found a campground not too far away in Palatka, FL and did the same thing.  We went to the business, took a look at the operation and talked with the nice people there.  We were very impressed and decided this was the place for us.

While there at St. Brendan's Isle, we picked up paperwork and talked about the process of setting up a mailbox and becoming Florida residences.  We were assured if our paperwork was together it would only take a couple of hours.

First thing we did was get a mailbox and start getting mail sent there to our new Florida address.

The web site at St Brendan's Isle is very thorough and has some detailed and information. Some of the things we needed to do were:

- File a declarations of domicile form with the Clay County Courthouse (conveniently located a couple of miles away) in Green Cove Springs
- Register to vote
- Get a Florida driver's license
- Turn in old drivers licence
- Show our passport or birth certificate (we had both)
- Have proof of Florida RV insurance

I think I spent the most time calling RV insurance companies for quotes.  It took three or four days to call and get hold of someone, talk it over and then get an actual quote.  Here are some of the ones I considered:

Of all the calls I made and emails I sent out - getting the RV insurance was the most time consuming.  We decided to go with National Interstate.  Next thing we did was to contact Dougherty and Associates in Sioux Falls and cancel our coverage with them.

Florida requires that the RV VIN number be verified by a police officer.  We were staying at the KOA in Starke FL which was about 35 miles from Green Cove Springs.  I called the local police department in Starke, told them that this was not an emergency and asked if they had a patrolman that might be able to swing by the campground and sign our form.  Not a problem.  In less that 15 minutes this young man showed up and signed the form and let me get a picture.

After getting our form signed, we drove into Green Cove Springs and over to St. Brendan's Isle.  We talked with the nice folks there and showed them our paper work.  They explained where we needed to go in the Clay County Courthouse a couple of miles away.
We went over there, waited in line for a few minutes then got all our paper work processed.  We picked a license plate type we wanted, got our picture taken and new drivers license and registered to vote -- all in one stop.  It was very convenient.  The first time cost to register our two vehicles in FL was $1,013.  The second year cost drops about just over $300 ($46+$250).  In South Dakota our registration for both vehicles cost us over $700 each year.

The whole process took a little over an hour and 1/2.  We were in a bit of a fog as we took off the old plates and put on the new ones (on our car for the time being since the Roadrunner was back at the campground.) It seemed like it should be a momentous occasion of sorts -- moving from South Dakota to Florida -- but it was really anti-climatic.

It was about lunch time so we found a local sandwich shop that was recommended.
Now after about six weeks of being Florida residents not much has really changed.  Except we need to find an appropriate front license plate for the Roadrunner.  Stay tuned for that...

That's how we became Florida residents.  We figure we will be in Florida more often than South Dakota in the coming years but we will see.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!