Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Roadrunner Review - 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, I wanted to look back and share some highlights throughout the year.  Every now and then we talk and find ourselves saying, "We love this lifestyle and can't think of anything else we'd rather be doing."

January found us in Key West.  We spent the whole month there and loved it!  Kelly and Adam flew into Miami and we all drove to Key West.
I love the history of Key West.  I read a lot of Hemingway and got a new appreciation for Harry S. Truman who spent a lot of time there.

In February we continued our stay in Florida starting out in Key West and heading to Fort Meyers to see Tom and Cathy and
the Thomas Edison museum and then on to Patrick AFB on the Space Coast.  I 'dinged' the Roadrunner and we decided to drive to Red Bay to get the body work and paint done.  It worked out well.

March reunited us with friends Tom and Cathy who joined us along with Bonar and Christa at Patrick AFB campground.  We spend a couple of weeks together and it worked out well.
Marg and Bill (Meghan's parents) have a time share in Orlando and we spent time with them (including golf) in April.  That was great.
Before the month was over, went moved north  to Savannah GA (where we saw Rod and Lisa)
and Hilton Head/Beaufort to see Joyce.

By May we were back in Virginia Beach.  After a couple of weeks there we spent a couple more in DC seeing Adam and Melissa.
Some friends (Jayne and John, Mike and Sue, and Dene) came out to see us at the campground.
June brought some wonderful weather and we headed up the east coast to Boston and Bar Harbor Maine.
We joined up with good friends Tom and Cathy and spent time seeing Boston before we moved up the coastline to Kennebunkport, Freeport and Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park.

In July we traveled to Presque Isle Maine, then on into Brunswick Canada before we headed west and took in
Quebec City and Montreal.

Then we headed back to Virginia Beach in August.  We were there for Kelly and Jonathan's wedding.  What a great day!
And all my brothers and their wives, Adam and Melissa and Marg and Bill joined us.  It was a great time.

September we headed for some time in Tennessee.
The big thing there was that we scoped out how to put in water and electric at Mike and Joan's where we have an RV pad.
For the last week, we joined up with friends in Henryville, Indiana to do some Disaster Relief work there.

In October, we returned to Maynardville, enjoyed our new hookups at Joan and Mike's and then went to Camp Frieghtliner, saw Kelly's in-laws in August, GA and
worked for a couple of weeks in Macon Georgia leading a Care-A-Vanner Habitat for Humanity build there.

We participated in another Care-A-Vanner build in November, this time in Bowling Green Florida.
Then we headed south with stops at the Everglades before getting here to Key West the last couple of days in November.

December came and we found ourselves in Key West again.
We wanted to see if we enjoyed it as much as the first visit.

I think we did - it is warmer this year but also has a few more cloudy days and some rain.  But plenty of sunshine.  This year we took the Old Town Trolley and a Walking Tour.  I love the history here!  To top it off Kelly and Jon joined us for a few days and Christmas.
They spent a couple of days in the Roadrunner and three more camping on the water's edge.


As we close and say Happy New Year - we hope you have a safe holiday and 2013 brings you much joy and happiness.


Friday, December 21, 2012

What We've Been Doing

The last few days have been casual, slow going days here.  Kind of like Key West ish…. my kind of days.

We usually keep an eye on the 'list'.  The list has everyone in full hookups and in overflow.  Right now we have about 90 in full hookups and about 50 in dry camping/overflow.  We get to stay 14 days in full hookups (sever, water and 50 amp).  Once our 14 days are up we move from the full hookups to the overflow list.  As people rotate out of full hookups, the top 4 or 5 from overflow take their place.

We've been getting our Christmas shopping done.  Key West has no WalMart but they do have a K Mart and a Sears.  And we can shop online.  We got a temporary mail box here on base and getting packages has been no problem.

Wrapping packages.  We have a few packages for Christmas and have them all wrapped up.  I usually wait until the very last minute and never quite find all of them.  (I can hide things well when I put my mind to it.)  Then a present or two shows up in May or September and we have another Christmas present to open!

Sightseeing.  Some days we wonder around downtown, get some coffee and watch people come and go off the cruise ships that stop 3 or 4 days a week.  We also have checked out a few t-shirt and souvenir shops. And we have ridden the Old Town Trolley around the island a few times.

Bike rides.  I have ridden my bike around the island about half a dozen times.  It is about 12+ miles and a perfect ride for me.  I love it and it is one of my favorite rides anywhere.  I go from the base, by the wharf, Mallory Square, Southernmost Point, Higgs Beach, Smathers Beach, the airport, A1A, and back to the base.  Takes me about 90 minutes on a leisurely pace.

Work.  Yes - I have mentioned this alot, but I so appreciate the fact that I can do some 'work for pay' work 30+ hours a month.  A few hundred bucks a month helps.  It you are retired on a fixed income, you know what I mean.

Work out.  We love to go to the base Fitness Center at Boca Chica NAS.  It has great equipment including spinning cycles, weight stations and a gym.  Unfortunately, it is now closed about 10 days for repairs.

Meeting folks.  We've met quite a few of our neighbors as we have moved from 'the Rockpile', to overflow and are now in our 'Hollywood' camp site.  We have probably met and talked with a dozen people since we have been here.  No doubt about it - everyone has a story.

Cleaning the Roadrunner.  With guests arriving (Kelly and Jonathan) we have been cleaning.  My favorite is the outside so, I have cleaned it (with water only) and polished the aluminum wheels.  Today's task is to polish the whole cherrywood interior.

We still have yet to go out to dinner and see the sunset at Mallory Square.  But later on today, Kelly and Jonathan arrive and we figure we will do a number of touristy things and eat out a few times.

So - as Christmas approaches, I hope you and yours are enjoying time with family and friends.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Until next time...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Lights in Key West

On Friday night, we took the Conch Train ride through neighborhoods in Key West to see Christmas Lights.  It was a fun evening.
We had six trains that held up to 64 people.  Quite a group.
Seems as if the lead driver knew where all the well-decorated houses were.
We had a great speaker system to all the coaches and could hear 15 different songs that got everyone into the spirit of things.
Nothing like singing along on, 'Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire' with Nat King Cole at Christmas in Key West!
Our driver Laurie got into it too.  It was great!  She was adding some percussion to 'Feliz Navidad'.
Some of these homes were really decked out.
And quite a number of people came out to see us and shout, "Merry Christmas!"
The tour lasted about 90 minutes and it was time to head back.
It was a memorable evening and a fun way to sing some Christmas songs.

That is all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Gift and a gift Idea

Here's one for you all that are thinking about getting on a budget or tracking your expenses in 2013.  A free and well done budget/spreadsheet from Jim and Rene at live.work.dream.
I am currently on a 'catchup' project to bring my financials up to date and thought you might like to use it.  Or if you'd like to use my spreadsheet, I'll be glad to forward it to you also.
As for gift ideas, I still am very excited about my Grill Guard.  Last April in my post:  Windy Grilling I had high hopes for this.  I also have info on how to get one.  I have used it countless times and it really blocks the wind.
Last night was a good example.  It was really windy but the grill was hot and cooked our burgers well.

That's all for today - Hope you are doing well.  Until next time…

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Campsite

We have been in Key West for two weeks now and are staying at the Campground at Sigsbee Naval Station near mile marker three.  The 'campground' is really four areas where campers can stay.

One area is at Trumbo Point that is closer to downtown but has no hookups.  It has a dump station and water.  The other three areas are on Sigsbee and are affectionately known as 'The Rock Pile', 'Hollywood' and 'The Circle'.  All three have full hook ups which means 50 amp electric, sewer and water.  There are full hook up 89 sites.

When we arrived, there was no waiting list so we were able to move right into full hookups.  All sites are assigned and we got #12 on 'The Rockpile'.  It was back on the third row from the water, a bit cramped but adequate, for $23/night.
The day before our 14th day at #12, we got a notice stapled to our door handle that we were to move to site #430 over near the Circle and on the water.
Much better!  We are dry camping, but don't mind at all.  For $13/night it has a view that is hard to beat.  We will be here for about 8-10 days and then cycle back into full hookups.

After we got all set up, I went for a bike ride.  I love it here in Key West because I can ride my bike, get some exercise and see some interesting sights.

I have an account on MapMyRides.com which has an iPhone app.  I record my rides and it creates a map of where I have been.

After that, we decided to set up our generator exhaust pipe for when we run the generator.  We bought a Camco Gen-Turi a while back with just this kind of situation in mind.
It wasn't too hard to figure out and after a while we had it installed.
It works like a champ and we no longer have to close windows when we have the generator running.  Plus, if we have neighbors close by, they will appreciate it too.

The rest of the day we hung around the campsite and talked with neighbors a while.  During the day Marg and George took the campsite next to us and that was a pleasant surprise.  We were parked next to them last year a few spots over.

Things have changed a little for them.  They took their Allegro Bus to Alaska during the summer and them drove back to LazyDays in Tampa to buy a new Winnebago Tour 43'.  Nice wheels.

After some barbecue chicken on the grill and a little TV, we called it a day.

Thanks for joining us on this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Things to do in Key West!

Yes - we are back in Key West for a few weeks.  I love this place!  Why?-you ask…

Because of there is so much to do and see.  And because of the:

  • Weather - even though it has rained 4 or 5 days in the last week, it is warm and we have had our share of sun!            
Right now it is sunny and 81 degrees.
  • Sunsets - this is the view from our campsite

  • Habitat for Humanity - we hooked up the group again this year and joined them in a 'Brush With Kindness' effort in old town.  We stained floorboards for the wrap around porch.

  • Sloppy Joe's - popular tavern frequented by the regular and the famous, including Ernest Hemingway in the 1930's

  • Capt Tony's Saloon - where Sloppy Joe's was until they moved down the street.

  • The Audubon House was a real surprise.  Very interesting display of his 'Birds of the Florida Keys'.  My favorite is the Roseate Spoonbill.


  • The closest flea market is down in Big Pine Key, about 30 miles from KW.


  • We love the Old Town Trolley Tour - it goes around the entire island and tickets are good for two days.  While we were waiting to catch it, we struck up a conversation with Andy, who just happens to be VP of Marketing and Sales.  And he extended our tickets for a week!


On that happy note, I think we will wrap it up for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thank you so much for joining us.  

As always, comments are always welcome!  Until next time...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dry Camping in the Everglades

Right before we drove down here to Key West, we spent three nights camping in the Everglades National Park at the Flamingo Campground.  First we stopped at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center, then we took the 38 mile trip down to the tip of the Everglades.
Once we got there, we decided to spend $16 a night and dry camp.  There were plenty of full hookups with 30 amp but the water and dump station were not far away, so we thought we'd do see how that went.  It was good!

The campground is huge!  the RVs and motorhomes are on 'T Loop" and we had our pick of sights.
We heard the mosquitos were bad here.  I can see where they might be.  We got a light dose of them.  A little spray and we were fine.  A couple of months from now might be a different story.

The water and the scenic area were over near the walk-in tenting. We rode our bikes over there.
The small Visitor Center and National Park office were over near where the motel and cafe are located.
The offices/large building is being renovated and slow progress is being made on it and the Butternut Cafe which is operating out of a trailer in the back on the water. The Flamingo Lodge, built in 1957, was closed after being severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

The area was once a small fishing village and a place that attracted poachers near the turn of the last century when fashion called for birds feathers and large plumes.

We spent time there enjoying the solitude and nice weather and hiked.
The egrets, herons and the Roseate Spoonbill and others were in full display.

One day we took a couple hour boat ride through the back waters.  The boat captain was a character and the commentator (a guy from British Guyana) were excellent.  The tour left from the Flamingo Marina.
It was very worthwhile.  Our guide was constantly pointing out crocodile and alligator sightings, new birds and giving us history and anecdotes through out the boat ride.
We went from the marina up the channel to Coot Bay which looked like a good sized lake.
There were only a few on the boat.  We sat near Roland and his wife who were on vacation from Switzerland.
The most common tree in the area is the Mangrove tree.  It has the distinguishable root system unlike any other.

Another day we drove almost back up to the Coe Visitor Center and stopped at the Anhinga Trail.  We heard is was worth seeing.
It was well done with a walk-way out over the water on a short trail around some ponds.
Again, there were lots of birds and alligators.

And a turtle or two..

We weren't too sure about going all the way down to Flamingo, but we were glad we did.  With a stop at Cypress National Preserve and Shark Valley and three more days in the Everglades, we feel like we have a much better appreciation for it and its beauty.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...