We are in Florida for the winter. We crossed the border and have been in the state since December 2. We love it here and some things have impressed me about the state:
They are glad to see us. Florida loves visitors. At the first Welcome Center and everywhere else we have felt nothing but a friendly response.
It is warm here. Unseasonably warm at the moment. Which is completely fine with us. We hoped it would be nice and it is.
The breezes are nice. Everyday we have a little wind and the gentle breezes are great. One of life's pleasures - a warm day and a gentle breeze.
The oranges are cheap here. Yeah - no surprise there but the oranges and grapefruit are great and they don't cost much. At the Welcome Center, the OJ was free!
They have good flea markets here. We visited the one in Dade City and another a few days ago in Hialeah and thought they were both very good.
The highways are great. The roads we have traveled from Jacksonville to Tampa to Miami have been quite impressive. They maintain them well.
The mow the aprons along the highways. This tells me that the state budget is holding up pretty well since they mow along the highways and dividers. Some states we have visited in the last couple of years have quit doing that.
Rest areas are nice. In fact, in some stretches of highway, they are building huge, new, nice rest stops. Again, the state is doing some things to attract more visitors.
There are a lot of snow birds here. Yeah - no surprise there. It is crowded most every where so we will avoid Walmart at mid day and yesterday we got caught in commuter traffic from Miami.
The campgrounds have been good. We are in Miami now at a City Park (Larry and Penny Thompson) and it is not yet full. It is $32 a night and one that we definitely will come back to.
The kids flew in yesterday from BWI and we are going to spend a couple of days here before we head down to the Keys for Christmas. Hope you all are enjoying friends and family and this time of the year.
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We finished our one-week build with the Care-A-Vanners yesterday. In addition to the fun work on the two homes, we went out to dinner as a group at a local place in nearby Zephyrhills: Maine-ly New England.
The food was excellent and the price was great.
Since it was our last day yesterday, the affiliate provide lunch for us at the work site. Then I got some pictures of our group. Moving along clockwise, we have Scotty and Lynn, Mary Ann and Art, John and Janie and Diane and Greg.
Also Steven and Janet, Lois and Stuart, Peggy and Dale with Donna and Ken.
A couple of single ladies were one the team: Laurie and Arlien. Then we had a couple of longer term snow birds who spend the winter here working with the local Habitat group, Jerry Ernie and then Pam and I.
The work crew was great. Jerry was the construction supervisor and has that exceptional ability to teach and give everyone productive work according to their experience and ability. It was really great to work with these guys.
And a group shot:
Later in the afternoon, we went to another Habitat home for a dedication. They had a very nice ceremony and agenda prepared.
A TV station from Tampa interviewed the new home owner and she also received a quilt from some ladies in the area.
There was a good turnout from the local area and it was a real treat to get to see a dedication ceremony.
It was another great week with Habitat and now we head south to Miami for a few days. Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles. And thanks for the nice comments. Keep them coming! Until next time...
We are in Dade City, FL for a week-long Habitat for Humanity Build.
We are here with nine other couples and two single ladies. The area where they parked us is called "Volunteer Camp". It has full hookups and as you can see, it is a bit crowded. But we are not here for the amenities or scenery this time. It is completely adequate.
The work has been great. Jerry and John and the other leaders keep us moving and explain things and let us do alot. This has been the biggest Care-A-Vanner groups (20 people) so it takes some planning to keep us productive throughout the day.
Stuart and John laid out the floor and made marks where the walls go. And others put felt on the roof and put nails in the outside walls.
And we started framing the walls and setting them upright out of the way until we were ready for them. And others put the house wrap up on the outside. On this house they secure rods the full length of the walls and bolt them into top and bottom for hurricane protection.
Once the walls were in place, we square it and secure it, then make some more walls.
And we have our breaks-- one at 10:00 for about 20 minutes and another for lunch at 12:00 for about 35 minutes. Then we wrap it up about 2:00 or 2:30 which is fine with us. The heat and hard work take their toll. Then there is that aging thing…we run out of gas about then, so it all works out.
Yesterday, right after lunch about eight of us went over to a warehouse and loaded some pre-made walls onto a trailer for the house next door. These walls were made by a church in Tampa and sent over to Dade City. It is impressive that there is such good coordination with other communities and churches in the area.
It has been a good build and we recommend it. The group here is a hard working bunch and the work has been fun.
Tomorrow is a bonus-- we have a house dedication at 4 PM and will see Dedication Ceremony for a new homeowner and many of the folks in the Habitat Office who made their house possible. This affiliate is going to finish their 100th home sometime later this summer!
That is all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles. Thanks for joining us. Until next time…
After our stay at Mayport NS outside of Jacksonville FL, we drove over to the Tampa area and stayed three nights at the MacDill AFB FamCamp. MacDill Outdoor Recreation does a good job of making the hundreds of snowbirds and RV campers feel welcome.
We were impressed with a robust calendar of events for campers. The very large campground has hundreds of campsites and is organized by temporary/overnighters and longer term guests. The campground is near the beach which is where I took the sunset photo for the blog header.
They also have a cafe near the campground that caters to campers and has some specials during the week and some $5 dinner promotions going. While we were there they had a 'camper welcome' potluck luncheon where the base commander and campground staff welcomed the campers. They also had live music and it was a nice touch. They like the winter campers here.
From Tampa/MacDill AFB, we headed over to Dade City where we are now. We are ready to roll with the local affiliate of the Habitat for Humanity group. We are part of the Care-A-Vanners group for a week long stay here.
Dade City has a lot for campers where we have full hookups, laundry and restroom facilities. We are packed in pretty tightly with the 17 RV's, but it is fine and completely adequate.
We had a little 'meet and greet' session last evening and got some information and were introduced to the other 20 Care-A-Vanners here.
This morning we start our work week. Some have already been here for a couple of weeks and said they have a lot of good work for us to do so we are looking forward to it.
Hope everyone has a good week. Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!
Until next time...
We have not found many RV campgrounds we would consider "Five Stars" in our 2 1/2 years of Full-Timing. But Pelican Roost Campground at Mayport NS, FL is one that fits that category. We don't stay at expensive leisure resorts so our stay at Mayport was great.
It was great for a lot of reasons.
The view from our campsite was great. I was really cool to be 50 feet from the water and watch military and commercial ships go by. We saw destroyers and cruise ships, tug boats and autoliners and big cargo carrying ships.
The campsite was on a concrete pad with full hookups and the spacing between rigs was fine.
The $20 fee/night was good. (We had to pay all of $2.00 extra to be on the front row near the water!) We have paid $20 a night for a lot less.
Laundry at the campsite was free! That was a big surprise and the facilities are new and well kept.
The campground was clean and well maintained.
Allowed to wash the RV at your campsite.
Entry/exit on/off the base is easy.
Staff is friendly. No hassles or close 'over the shoulder scrutiny' of campers which is nice.
Only a short 10 minute walk to a big beach.
Within walking distance to shopette and post office.
People are friendly. For some reason (maybe it is Florida in the winter time?) people there were friendly. Seemed like we got into a friendly conversation with folks 3-4 times a day.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures while there:
The view from our campsite (before we got set up):
The beach at sunrise:
Washing the RV:
And Navy ships:
We got to see a lot and we enjoyed our time at Mayport. We intend to visit again and stay longer than three days!
So that is one place we would call a 'Five Star' campground.
What is one campground you have been that you really like?
Hope you are having a good week. Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles! Please stop by again!
Here is something for you that are asking, "How much does it cost?" or are numbers people:
Four years ago when we were really considering Full-Timing, we wanted to know how much it cost. A big consideration for us was whether or not we could afford to retire and launch out. So with that in mind, I hope this is helpful to you.
One of the best things we did was to come up with a budget. I have modified that a bit but it was a great way to start.
Each month our costs fluctuate according to a number of variables. This month, we didn't spend a lot on diesel fuel and we stayed in one place long enough to get the monthly campground rate.
We spent the majority of the month of October in the Virginia Beach area after leaving Joan and Mike's place in Maynardville TN where we did some "mooch-docking". We spent one nite in a Wal-mart parking lot en route to Virginia Beach and then spent the rest of the month at military RV campgrounds at Oceana Naval Air Station and at Dam Neck Annex.
Kelly (our daughter) lives in Norfolk and Adam (our son) lives in Washington DC so we spent a good amount of time seeing them during the month. Normally when we see family, we like to take them out to eat, buy groceries and maybe buy a thing or two for their house. We were able to build a shed for Kelly and install a counter top for Adam in his kitchen.
October 2011 Summary Snapshot:
Good news are areas where we are under budget-
- Gas (diesel). Our bill was low because we only had one fill-up. We started the month in Tennessee and drove to Virginia Beach. - RV Maintenance. We replaced our Select Comfort Bed motor/pump and I had a couple of RV projects. Still we were under budget. - Campground fees. Normally Military Campgrounds are about $20. We got a weekly and monthly rate break and averaged $13.30/night.
Biggest expenses for the month -
- Groceries/Food. We went way over budget on groceries and eating out. But we usually do when we see family. - Gas (car). we had a couple of trips to D.C. from Virginia Beach and a lot of commuting to Kelly's place. - Internet. In May 2011, I upgraded my internet service to Verizon (from Autonet Mobile). I went from $29/month to averaging over $165/month. With an iPad, iPhone and laptop, I am still figuring out how to minimize my costs there. - Medical. We found a Groupon for dental and exam and checkup and then decided to get fillings and crowns done.
Large 'One Time Cost Item(s)' -
Misc/Household. We went almost $600 over because we spent $350 on a shed and starting buying Christmas presents.
Monthly average for year 3 (starting in June 2011) - Yikes! We are $2100 over our monthly average. But we were able to save that amount and more so it didn't affect our cash flow.
We began our third year of Full-Timing in June. Since then we have three big cost drivers:
In September we installed a new $6700 residential-sized refrigerator which was not in the budget
We spend more on food when we are near our kids and buy things for them.
We decided to get dental work done.
So there it is for October 2011, our 29th month of Full-Timing. Hopefully there is some information that is of value and/or interest.
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles. Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!
We broke camp just after the sun came up on Tuesday when we left Virginia Beach. We drove down to Shaw AFB (in Sumter SC not far from Columbia)and stayed a couple of nights at the FamCamp. The drive was 384 miles and took us about 7 hours.
From Shaw AFB, we are en route to Mayport, FL near Jacksonville where we will stay for a few days. It has been good weather and looks like it will even get better.
While at Shaw AFB, we played golf on Wednesday. It was a beautiful day and a very nice golf course. And the price at $12 each included greens fees and an electric cart.
The course was very well maintained and in great shape. It wasn't very crowded and we made it around in about 3 1/2 hours.
Yesterday, we went to the base gym which has been renovated and expanded. It has a lot of new equipment so we got on the elliptical, rowing and bike machines. It was a great hour of cardio work.
This is the time of the month that I do my online work, so Pam is driving while I get this out and then log some work hours. I am very thankful for the work. And Pam is a great driver so I expect to get a lot done while we motor down the highway to Mayport.
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!