Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Stocking for Brooks

Kelly comes up with some great ideas and one of the most recent was for Grandma to sew a Christmas Stocking for Brooks.  Kelly bought a kit and gave it to Pam.  And she was up to the challenge.
But this story goes back about 33 years and a Christmas stocking for Kelly.  My oldest brother Marty and his wife Bonnie lived in Oakland California in 1982.  Pam and I were in Birkenfeld, Germany when we were stationed over there with the Air Force.  
By then Pam was out of the Air Force and home with 19 month old Adam.  And then Kelly joined us in November.  She did not have a stocking for her first Christmas and her Aunt Bonnie made one and sent it to us.
Now with our first grandson - Bonnie's memory comes to mind and her continuing impact on our lives in the form of another handmade, needle crafted stocking.  From one generation to another...

This Christmas stocking kit Kelly got is a little complicated and overwhelming for me, but not for Pam.
After she digested the instructions, she put all the moving parts into an extra screw bin box.
She got right on it and worked on it daily for the 2+ weeks.  Talk about a labor of love -- she probably has put 50+ hours into this. (I got to help -- I probably threaded 30 needles...)

This stocking effort reminds me of two other projects Pam did.  She sewed a small quilt for Adam and then did one for Kelly back when they were newborns. Quilting, needlework -- all of those things are for the detail people with a steady hand.  And patience.  My hat goes off to them.

It's been a real joy to watch and reflect back to those times.  And to see how this little gem is taking shape.

And finally, the long awaited stocking came together!
Now it hangs in a prominent place on Kelly and Jon's hearth along with the other Christmas stockings, waiting for Santa to come.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday and a Merry Christmas!

Thanks for joining us on this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fort Walton Beach Time - Dec 2015

Last week after we got rear-ended, we found out it would take a week before we even got into the body shop for repairs.  There are worse things than being in Fort Walton Beach for a couple of weeks.

One great thing about the area is that our friend Karin lives here.  We let her know we'd be and town and went out to dinner at Lulu's Restaurant (Lulu is Jimmy Buffet's sister)
in Fort Walton Beach one evening.  This is our second time eating there and it was a little disappointing.  This time for some reason, the menu changed and we basically had bar food that was a little on the high side.

But it was great to see Karin again and we scheduled a 'Habitat for Karin'.  Basically, she needed a some more hands to mount a TV brace on a wall on the back porch
and put up a large mirror in the dining room.
 I forgot to take a picture of it after we hung it, but I did get a photo of Karin and Pam supervising while I drilled some holes through the brick for the anchors to the TV brace.





On another day, we went out to the Eglin AFB Golf Course and played 18 holes.
Pam thinks we played here a time or two long ago, but I don't remember it if we did.  I do remember that while we were stationed here in the late 1970's, Eglin was a championship golf course.

We had a lot of fun and it continues to be a very nice golf course.  Like most rounds of golf, there were a few good shots but nothing like days of old...

While here in the FWB area, we found a new fish market.  We stopped one afternoon to get a pound of shrimp and cooked them on the grill.
 Not too flashy and I think this place has been quite a few years.  It is tucked away back from the main road and right on one of the many inlets on Choctawhatchee Bay.  Kind of a 'mom and pop' store.

We cooked out on the grill that night.  The shrimp was good and it was fresh!

One of the sunny afternoons last week, Pam pulled out the sewing machine and set up shop in her outdoor 'sewing room'.
She had a pair of pants that needed to be shortened so she took up hemline.

This area is a special place for us because we met and were married here.  We had some extra time so we drove by our first home and looked around.  Our apartment was on the second story and the second window from the left end.
 It was a pretty nice place back then and they have done a good job of maintaining it for the last 36+ years.  The unit we were in was vacant so I peaked in the windows.
This was the view out of our front door.

Yesterday we dropped the car off at the Miracle Strip Body Shop and got picked up in an Enterprise van to get a car.
We ended up with a nice Chrysler 200.  Since we dropped it off early, we went out to breakfast at Joe and Eddie's which is a popular restaurant in town.
It's not the 33 Dinner (my all time favorite in Maynardville TN), but it's got the basics

Later we drove out to the Army's Fort Benning Rec Area in Destin and checked things out with a little drive through.  It continues to get attention with demo and rehab to one of their guest buildings.  It's one of the nicest military vacation stays in the area.  With suites and dorms and an RV campground on the same property, they use every square inch, but it is still a great spot to stay.  We've stayed there three times.

That's a brief rundown of some of the things we've been doing during our stay in the area.
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Meeting Fellow RVers, a Beach Picnic and Sunrises

One of the great things about this lifestyle is friends we get to meet.  We meet people face-to-face and also get acquainted as Blogger Buddies.  Pam and I drove over to Fort Pickens which is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore to see Donna and Dennis.

It was a nice day and we just sat outside and chatted for awhile.  Nice folks and we could have stayed for hours.  But we didn't.  We hadn't met them before except passing comments back and forth over the years.

I think I first came across their blog: Cave Dwellings, about 7 or 8 years ago.  Might have been one of the first ones I started following.  They always seem to have a sense of humor and easy reading style mixed in with some real life challenges on the road.

I remember last year they returned home to Illinois after wintering in Florida.  It was still cold outside and they had a water pipe leak in the house.  Dennis aka 'MacGyver' did some troubleshooting and a whole lot of drywall repair.

When we talked for a while, Dennis was telling me about how he added a couple of outlets to this RV.  Pretty impressive.  Love being around these kind of folks - we can learn a lot.

After some good coffee and conversation, we got a quick tour of their RV.  Very nice!  We loved the floor plan and how nice it looked inside.  Could be a model -- and its a few years old.  They definitely are taking good care of it and it shows.

Next, it was time for a photo with my selfie stick
We didn't want to overstay our first time seeing these nice folks so we said our goodbyes and look forward to seeing them down the road.  We are all going to be moving around Florida this winter so who knows?

Next, it was time to hit the beach for a little while.
 Hard to beat the white beaches of Santa Rosa Island so we decided to stop and have another picnic lunch.
It wasn't exactly lay on the beach weather but it was still a beautiful day.

Next it was back to our site at Postal Point.  One thing we never get tired of is early morning sunrises over the water.
Every day is a different day.  And it never gets old.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Getting Rear Ended in Crestview FL

Friday afternoon is not the best time to get rear ended.  But then again, I am not sure there is ever a good time.
The short version:  That's our Honda CRV in the middle next to the driver of the third car that hit us in Crestview FL.  It was a minor traffic accident with no injuries and about $2600 damage to us.

The longer version:  It could have been much worse -- say in the middle of rush hour on a major highway or in the rain or snow.  But last Friday was a gorgeous day in the Florida panhandle and the weather was not an issue.  And we were glad the whole mess got cleared up and done with in about an hour. (Except for repairs.)
   
We never exactly figured out what happened but the guy behind us said he got 'distracted', looked down, hit the brakes and instead plowed into us.  I think he was probably about five feet behind us so it wasn't like he had a running start.  So that was good.  I think the Reese tow hitch in the back and the Blue Ox towing base plate in the front may have saved us from more damage.  The probably took the brunt of the impact.

But when you hear that awful WHAM! and start putting together what happened, it can be very unsettling.  We are so glad it was  a minor event.  To us it was more...but all in all it was a fender bender.  (Except I'm not sure fenders bend any more.)

Seconds after it happened, I had trouble figuring out why I couldn't unlock my car door and get out. Simple tasks instantly become hard at times like this.

After I did get out and walk around, three policemen showed up.  The guy behind us was concerned if we were hurt and we were all in a bit of a shock.  I was looking for springs and leaks or engine stuff, but didn't really find any.  The front license plate was torn off, and the benders were messed up.

We got the vehicles moved out of the road and into a CVS parking lot across the street.  Everyone was on the phone pretty quickly.  And we all answered questions from the policemen on the scene who was putting together the report.  After about 30 minutes, he finished up, handed everyone a copy of the report (which basically was a listing of everyone's insurance and contact info.)

While the policeman was doing that, I called USAA and got the claim started.  The claims representative was completing the online version and explaining our options and getting a rental car set up in case we needed it.

The lady who drove the car in front of us that had minimal damage. She hung around a little while but left after we got a copy of the police report.  The other guy was waiting around for us, but we told him we were fine and and we left about the same time.

Pam and I thought our the was truly drivable and we went about 20 miles over to Fort Walton Beach to the Honda dealer Collision Center.    As it turned out we talked to the Manager who was cleaning up the shop on a Friday afternoon.   He basically said the sooner we got the claims adjuster to document an estimate for repairs, the quicker things could get started.

It was about closing time so there wasn't much more we could do until Monday morning.

First thing Monday morning, I went online and spoke with the claims adjuster who had been assigned.  We had an appointment with him on Tuesday afternoon.  Originally we thought we were going to just leave it at the Collision Center for them to fix.

But the claims adjuster suggested we might want to take it to one of three direct STARS (Streamlined Appraisal Repair Service) auto body shops in the area and see if they could get to it sooner.

After a quick visit to each one, we selected Miracle Strip Body Shop.  We got an estimate of repairs in 30 minutes and had a scheduled appointment get fixed up first thing next Monday morning.
The advantage of the STARS facility is that we can visit another one if something doesn't get fixed quite right, or if something else needs repairing that was overlooked the first time.  If we are hundreds of miles away from this place, we don't have to come back here to have the same body shop fix it.

So our plans have changed.  We are staying in the Fort Walton Beach area at least another week and enjoy this area some more while we get our Honda fixed.  We will keep you posted.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Roadrunner Days - First Day in Fort Walton Beach Area

We were in no rush to leave Pensacola and got underway about 8:30.  Instead of taking a direct route to Fort Walton Beach on Highway 98, we opted to head north a few miles to catch I-10.  There was much less congestion this route.

We made it to Eglin AFB FamCamp about 11:00 and picked a spot on the water at Postal Point.  We have been here before and like it.  We laid out all our stuff and got set up and hit the Power Button the satellite controller box to get it set up.

Hmmm.  It tried to lock on for about 35 minutes and we closed it down, unplugged it and fired it up again.  Sadly, this is a recurring theme.  It has trouble locking on when we move locations.  After working with it for about an hour or so, it usually locks on.  It did not do so at Pensacola, but we had cable at the campground so we did worry about it.
The view at Postal Point is outstanding.  One of our favorite spots anywhere.  The only downside is there are no sewer hookups.  The dumpstation is 200 yards away so it is completely manageble.

Next, we drove over to the main campground where the office is located and dropped off our self registration forms.  Curiously, the office does not answer the phones.  Maybe we just don't catch them at the right time but we also did not find anyone here at the office over the Labor Day weekend.  Something is broken here...?

After we got that done, we drove out to Crestview which is about 30 minutes away.  Our goal was to find someone to talk to at MyRVmail.com.  We are still thinking about becoming FL residents even though it is a little more costly than being residents of SD.  I have an overdue action item in my mind to update my spreadsheet comparing costs for setting up domiciles in SD, TX and FL.

Right now we are thinking if we do that, it would not happen until next year around Sep/Oct since we have already registrered our vehicles in SD.  That reistration is good until next November.

We got the information we needed, talked to a friendly person and walked next door to Passport America.  We had no idea Passport America resided here in Crestview.  We have been members since we started out seven years ago.  And...

We found out the owner of Passport America started MyRVMail and this son now owns the mail business.  We had no idea they were related.  And to have two successful businesses - very interesting!

Our day got more interesting...
Next we went to a car wash, got that done, got back on the road, pulled up to a red light and waited. Then Whamo!  A couple of minutes later we got rear ended!  And we bumped the car in front of us. No one was hurt (although my neck was sore for a couple of days).  I called 911, three police cars showed up and moved us over to a parking lot.

We called USAA, gave information to the policeman and talked with the other two drivers.  The guy behind us pulled up to us, then thought the traffic moved and floored it! He said it was all his fault and we all agreed.  He was a in his early 20's, well mannered and apologetic.  Since no one was hurt, we were able to determine our car (which had the most damage) was drivable.  After an hour, we were back on our way.

That was how we started the weekend in the Fort Walton Beach area.  We have lots to do and we are going to enjoy it here as we work through this.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!




Monday, December 7, 2015

Habitat for Bill and Linda

The main reason we went to Pensacola was to see Linda and Bill - our longtime friends.  A bonus was being able to see one of their daughters Rebekah.  Since we knew we were going to be here for a few days I asked Bill if he had any projects we could help with.

Turns out he did and he and another friend - Adam, and I tackled cleaning out one of their storage buildings.  Bill has two storage buildings in the back of his property they've used over the years.
Since they have mostly been out of the country serving in Korea for the last 45 years - they had to find a place for their heirlooms and collectibles.
The day's task was to remove everything from the building, sort through it all and separate what needed to be throw away.
 Next, put together some shelving that he picked up at Lowe's.  Then we had to organize and repack the shed.

Took us most of the day but we took a long break for a fantastic lunch Rebekah cooked for us.
None of the tasks were too complicated, it just took time and muscles.  Thankfully we had a dolly which helped.  Linda is one of the most organized people we know and she had a lot of labels on bins on top and one of the sides.

Putting back some furniture into the empty building and stacks bins on shelves was a lot more fun.
Bill threw away a lot of stuff and we carted most of it out to the front of his house where the trash collectors picked it all up the next day.

Before we finished we had plenty of room for the bins, furniture, exercise equipment and a couple of storage barrels.
It all looked about 1000% better and we got some good exercise.  And a great meal and we had some good camaraderie.  Plus Bill got to cross off a big item on his 'To Do' list.  

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.