Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sebring International Raceway

When we were at Cloverleaf 4H Campground, we passed signs to the Sebring International Raceway.  When I was growing up, I remember seeing something about the race on ABC's Wide World of Sports.  I wondered if this track was the famous one out in the middle of Central Florida?

Yep!  And we decided to wander around past the entrance and empty ticket booth and bleachers to see if there was anything going on.  Kind of like exploring…. ever done that?  Just gone to see what you can see?

Sure enough a car was making the rounds around the track getting some test trials in.  You can't see much from the parking area.  It is flat. So we parked near 6 or 8 other cars and went up onto an observation mound.
And a car was on the track and going around what looked like a smaller version of the track.  It was not the entire big track - just enough to get up to speed before some tight turns.

I found a map online.
I think we were up on the top half of the track.  They had it partitioned off so the the car went from turn 11 back over to turn 4.
One thing about watch a fast car go around a small track - each lap looks a lot like the last one.  He hugged the same corner and drove up against the same edge of the turn time after time.
 After a few minutes of that we decided to go to another vantage point.
It was hard to keep the fast car in the frame at times…good thing for the 'continuous' button on the camera.  One fun thing was seeing a couple nearby who had a rented RV.  Patrick and (forgot her name) are from Switzerland on vacation.  They rented their rig out of Miami and were driving around doing the same thing we were doing.  Exploring.
And we saw another cool car.  A couple of guys brought folding chairs to watch the trials.
They were driving in style too - a 1961 Corvette.

On the way out we passed the grandstands and saw the winners banners from 1952.
 And some of the company trucks in the distance.
For a place with limited access, it was fun to see some Indy Car action up close.  A real bonus on a day 'just out exploring'.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Leave a message and say 'hi' - its always nice to know who's out there!

Until next time...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Murals of Lake Placid Florida

We spent a few days near Lake Placid, FL at the 4H Camp Cloverleaf.  It has 50 amp service and water with a dump station on the grounds.  Very convenient.

During one of our exploring day trips, we drove 5 miles down the road to Lake Placid to walk the town and check out the murals.

It was fantastic!  The town has 44 authorized murals on the side of building through the small town.  It really was unique and beautiful!  And a great way to spend a couple of hours walking around.

We started at the "Mural Art Gallery" at the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce / Welcome Center.

After watching the 10 minute video we looked around the gallery.
Before leaving, we purchased our $3 mural guide and started our walkabout to find the murals.  There are 44 'authorized' murals and a few rogue ones on buildings and offices and such.

Here are a few:
#4 - Decades of Green Dragon Basketball, #5 Honoring Early Physicians, #19 Eddie Mae Henderson and #34 Train Depot. 
The train depot also serves as town museum that is worth seeing.

Remember the Dewey Decimal System back when you had to learn how to use the library? Dr. Melvil Dewey was from Lake Placid NY and he convinced the Florida State legislature to change the name of the town from Lake Stearns FL to Lake Placid FL.
 Lake Placid is the Caladium Capital of the World where 95% of the worlds caladiums grow.  Around turn of the century, Walter Coachman and W.T. Sessions were instrumental in creating jobs in the area with the turpentine industry.  The last mural shows the Lake Placid Drugstore that was popular in the 1950's.

#32 displays one of the larger murals in town:  Our Citrus Heritage.  Central Florida has had the citrus industry up and running since 1845.  Today Highland County has over 10 million trees and roughly 14% of the fruit throughout Florida.

One of my favorite was the two clown murals on the American Clown Museum walls.  In 1991 the clown school opened up in a local hospital and it has grown ever since.  Today, over 2,000 clowns have graduated from the school.

Other murals in town include ones depicting boxing, paying tribute to Annie Hill a nurse mid-wife, the Boy Scouts and one noting the Tropical State Bank Robbery in September 1931.

As if murals weren't enough, the town has many unique "Artistic Trash Containers.  Also a few "Birds Around Town" and some clowns in unsuspecting places.

A number of murals depict wildlife including black bears, Florida panthers, supposed elephants from long ago, turkeys, Sandhill cranes and red wolves.

The biggest mural in town in on the wall of the Winn Dixie on Highway 27.  It is really quite something.
It commemorates the Cracker Trail Cattle Drive.  Often cattle were driven across state to a deep water port (Tampa) where they were shipped to Cuba.  The name "cracker" comes from the cracking of whips of the cowboys while keeping the herds in line.

If you get a chance to see the murals of Lake Placid - it is well worth it.

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Travel Planning

Today's episode comes to you from the great McDonald's restaurant in Sebring, FL.  Have you noticed the upgrades going on in McDonald's  lately.  The layout is becoming more like a Starbucks seating arrangement with lots of outlets and places to sit and connect to the rest of the internet world.  I like it.

We leave this morning for Lake Louisa State Park.  I don't know if my mifi will be able to get a decent signal so I thought I'd better take a few moments and write from here.  I came into to some online work early and now this.

We are thinking about where we want to be next summer and fall and winter and it looks like we will be out West.  A question we get often is, "How long to you stay in one place?"  I always say, "It depends."  It depends on where we need to be and what we'd like to do.

As we plan for the summer and fall, we have a few considerations.  We know we'll be in the following places and then we 'fill in the blanks':

- Orlando area this weekend:  My brother flies in for a conference and we'll get to at least spend an evening with him.
- The Masters in April.  More on that but yeah - no kidding - a lifetime dream about to happen.
- Virginia Beach/Washington DC - looks like we'll get to see our kids the end of April and early May.
- Tuscaloosa, AL - We are signed up for some Disaster Relief work in May
- Wisconsin - We intend to be there in June/July
- San Jose, California - Nephew's wedding in September
- Arizona for the late fall and winter

So we are working with those dates and places.  We also know we have to renew our driver's licenses in November in South Dakota and re register the Roadrunner and our car.  Or we can become Texas residents.  We don't have to have the RV in South Dakota to renew, so we could fly there for a weekend and get it done.

So basically the big question we are solving is whether or not we want to become Texans.  I like Texas and have no problem there.  I want to know if we would save money doing it.  If not, how much more would it cost to do that?

In order to answer those questions, I need to do some research and spend some time talking to insurance people and checking out some things.  I will be doing that in the next few weeks when I have a better internet connection.

But we love planning and figuring out who we can see and where we can stay and how many Habitat builds we can work in the schedule.  So more to follow on that.

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us and thanks for those comments!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Some Adapting Going on...

One of the ideas I would say that is the essence of the RV full time lifestyle is adapting.  If you need stability and permanence and certainty each day, this life could be hard or frustrating.

For us -- we can not think of anything we would rather be doing!

In the midst of our winter in Florida, we have had to adapt.  Nothing major mind you, or earth shattering or really a big deal for that matter -- just a few adjustments over the last few weeks.

For example, I like to avoid moving around the first few days of the month because I need a good internet connection for my online work.  Otherwise, I have to drive into town to find a good connection.  My 4G Verizion mifi works great - usually.  But not always.

When we left Ft Meyers (thank you readers for the spelling correction!) we went to the Oronto South Army Corps of Engineer Park near La Belle.  The internet was fine on the Friday afternoon we arrived.  By Sat AM--- nada.   poof!  It went away.  I spent the better part of the weekend at the local McDonalds.  Nice place to hang out.  Their internet wasn't as good as mine but it was a nice facility.  It was not as convenient as working from the RV as I am used to-- but I adapted.

After the COE park, we headed for an RV campground in Punta Gorda.  We had planned to stay almost two weeks.  As we pulled in we thought, "ugh oh…."  this is not the kind of place we would prefer.  And it wasn't even that bad…just something about how we felt about the place as we looked around when we drove in.  Have you ever had 'that feeling'?

We had already made a $100 non-refundable deposit so we added $5 more and stayed the minimum three days.  Then we had to find another place and decided to check out the Escapees RV Park "The Resort" in Zolfo Springs.  We changed our plans and adapted.

At The Resort we were looking forward to a better internet connection and full hook ups.  But they were pretty full and we dry camped for $5 a night.  We don't mind dry camping at all.  In fact, we decided it was fine.  Besides, it had been a while (Key West) since we exercised the generator and batteries.  But after we stayed 3 days, we decided to move up to 'overflow' and a 110 connection with water.  We found running the generator about 5 hours a day was costing us $10 (1/2 gal of diesel per hour).  The 20 amp circuit was better, we could watch TV in the evening.  But as we watched the weather and saw that it was getting colder, we knew we were not going to get into full hookups there anytime soon.  So left for the 4H Cloverleaf Campground near Lake Placid, FL which is 32 miles away.  (adapting…)

We are here in Lake Placid until Thursday when we will head east near Orlando.  We like the 50 amp service, water and dump station for $12/night.  But no internet.  So, while I am not in the midst of my busy time for work, I do have a few things to get done online.  Also -- I haven't been able to keep up with my blogging.  Even if I don't decide to blog on a given day, I prefer to have the option to do so.  So I adapt--today I am writing this from the Starbucks in Sebring, FL about 12 miles from our campground.  Friday morning I was checking into work from the lobby at the Holiday Inn and Suites at Lake Placid…

Meanwhile, we have seen some wonderful things and I am going to tell you about them another time…reacquainting with some Habitat Care-A-Vanners who are here in the campground…seeing the murals and RR museum of Lake Placid…seeing the Civilian Conservation Museum and the oldest state park in Florida….but I'll do that another time.

Meanwhile, I hope you are warm and well on this beautiful Sunday morning.

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

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Six Mile Slough

Florida and the Fort Meyers area has a lot of Nature Preserves and Wildlife areas.  We took some time one afternoon with our friends Tom and Cathy and went to the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.
The slough (pronounced - "slew") is a 1.2 mile walk on a raised boardwalk through forested wetlands. The area was set aside in 1991 to allow for conservation management wildlife preservation.
The place is really an outdoor educational center.  Surprisingly, the preserve is not far from the well developed and commercialized areas on the outskirts of Fort Meyers.
We walked slowly along the 'trail' and tried to take it all in.
Along the way, we ran into a couple of volunteers who offered some good information.
We learned the 'Rouge' from 'Baton Rouge' was named after the read fungus that grew on the trees.
Like the ones we saw here.
Mostly though, we looked for birds

and turtles  (they are just off center from the log coming out of the water... I wish I'd brought my other telephoto lens)
and gators.  We saw a couple little guys but they were too far away to get a shot.

Mostly, I took pictures and we enjoyed our leisurely walk.

It was well worth the time and the $3 parking fee.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  And thanks too for the comments - we always look forward to them!

Until next time...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Roadrunner Financials - January 2013

Roadrunner Recap
After spending over a month in Key West, we headed north to Tampa for the big RV show.  We have always wanted to see that one.  We met our friends Tom and Cathy there so that was a bonus.  From Tampa, we did a build at Habitat for Humanity in Sebring Florida, then we finished off the month in Fort Myers with Tom, Cathy, Bonar and Christa.
Good News Areas We Are Under Budget
Once again, the biggest area for being under budget was in diesel fuel and gas where we came over $250 under budget.

Thankfully, we had no RV maintenance bills so we were almost $500 to the good there.

Biggest Expenses
We had a big month of campground fees because of our time in Gulf Waters RV resort.  That place cost us over $50 a night.  But it was worth it.  It is a very nice campground and we got to see good friends for eight days.

Cell phones/TV and Internet still run high but that is an expense we are willing to deal with.  Our groceries were above average and not really sure why...

Large One Time Cost Item
My largest one time expense this month was an upgrade to my two-year plus old iPhone.  I got an iPhone 5 and love it!

Monthly Average
Over all, we were a little over $800 under budget and that was good.  Our groceries since June 2012 (when we began year 4 of full-timing) have been running about $520.

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sanibel Island

One day we went over to Sanibel Island and stopped in at the Visitor's Center.
There are quite a few things to see on the 'Sanctuary Island'.  One is Periwinkel Park and Campground and the interesting  exotic birds.
 The park is actually a mobile home  and RV campground.  It is a private bird sanctuary and has volunteers who explain it all and provide details.

From there we went over to J.D. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Preserve.  Darling was appointed by FDR as the Director of the predecessor to what became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  We took the 4 mile drive through the sanctuary.
Along the drive, we stopped at some observation points and watched the birds.
We finished up our time with a treat at a local ice cream shoppe.
So there are some ideas on things to do at Sanibel Island.  Have you been there?

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks much for viewing!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Beaches at Fort Meyers Beach

We love the beach!  If you have been following us very long, you know that by now…

While in Fort Meyers Beach, we drove about three miles to the beach.  We went over a good size bridge and it was crowded but this is to be expected.  We had plenty of stuff to carry so we drove.
It was gorgeous.  And the sand was very fine.  Moreso than anywhere I can think of.

It was crowded but then most of Fort Meyers is crowded this time of year.
We brought our own shade and chairs.
Tom and Cathy were soaking up the sun and reading books.
Up and down the beach it looked a lot like a summer day at the beach.
Some people looked like they do this often.  Deep tans and comfy recliners.
And a large game of Jenga going on.
It was a beautiful day.

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time...