Friday, January 22, 2016

Mr. Potter the Duck

Pam is building a pull-behind duck for Brooks.  She started on this about a couple of week ago and does a little bit each day.  We first went to Home Depot, got some wood and a dowel and over to Michaels to find a wooden ball for the handle.  We also went to Harbor Freight for a hole saw tool.

Then she drew out a pattern and outlined the duck on the wood.  After clamping it down, she used our jig saw and cut it out.
It only took about 20 minutes and Mr. Potter (named by Kelly) started to take shape.
Pam used the mouse sander and also the Dremel with a sanding attachment to get it looking better.
 Next thing was to get some black, white and green cans of spray paint along with some varnish.
 After a lot of coats of paint and cutting out the feet and wings, it was ready to assemble.
 Mr. Potter is done!
 Pam puts a signature heart on her work...
Can't wait to see what Brooks things of this!  We should know in about a month.
 He got excited and crumbled his little sign that says "11".  Yep -- 11 months old!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Few Days in Lakeland

We moved on from MacDill AFB in Tampa about an hour east to Lakeland FL.  In-laws and good friends Marg and Bill are spending the winter here and it was another chance for us to spend time with extended family.

I called a couple of days to confirm our reservations and was glad I did.  From time to time there can be a mix up and such was the case.
 Though we visited Sanlan last week on a day trip from Tampa and made reservations at the Office, they had no record of it.  Our original site near Bill and Marg was not available but we got one a short walk away.
Sometimes it pays 'just to follow up and confirm our reservation'.

We drove over on Tuesday morning.  It was light traffic and a pleasant journey.  Our new spot was fine.  Level, full hook ups and plenty of room with a nice pad for the picnic table.
 I had to knock on a neighbor's door and ask him to move his truck so we could make the turn into the 'alley' for our pull through site.  He was gracious and quickly did so.

Bill was playing golf and we visited with Marg for a while before we to lunch and drove around Lakeland to see what we could see and get a feel for the town.  Nice place.  We came across Frank Lloyd Wright Way which indicated to me that there must be more to that story...something to check out while we are here.

Later, we then had happy hour with Bill and Marg and then dinner together.  Fun hanging out!

The next day, Bill and I played golf at Cleveland Heights in Lakeland for only $26 with the cart included.  We are were a little cool starting out in 49 degree weather.  But the sun came out and it was mid 60's before we finished.
And it was a very nice course.  They have a new superintendent / golf course manager in and he has systematically worked on it and it is in great shape. The day was lots of fun although the golf stunk.  We had way too many three putts, too many errant shots etc etc.   However -- it was a beautiful day, we enjoyed the company and it was a nice day in Florida in January...

We have lots of friends in Florida and got together with two of them yesterday in Celebration FL.  I've known Ed and Candi (Candice) since my college days at ASU.  They live in Winter Park and we were able to get onto their calendar for lunch and some time together.

A few years ago we met in St. Augustine FL and had lunch at Columbia Restaurant.  And we thought we'd try another one of the famous family of restaurants.
I found the history of the Columbia Restaurant fascinating.  I thought it was a Mexican restaurant but its really Cuban.  And the original was established in the Cuban section of Tampa (Ybor District) in the early 1900's.

We spend a couple of hours over lunch then talked some more at a table near the downtown area of Celebration.  It was just a great time hearing about kids and their Christian work in the Orlando area.

We are so glad to be able to do these kinds of things and visit friends.  We love this lifestyle!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My First Shot at Pickleball

While we were at the Racoon Creek FamCamp at MacDill AFB, I got my first shot at playing pickle ball.  I've been hearing about it for years and was ready to give it a try.
It was great!  I loved it.

Years ago, Pam and I would play a lot of racket ball together.  But we haven't played in quite a while.  We've got some first hand information from Steve and Karen when we toured their winter place at the Palm Creek RV Resort in Casa Grande AZ a couple of years ago.

It looked like fun and they have a pretty fantastic facility there.  On the more modest end of things, the base gym as a couple of courts lined in one half of the basket ball court.  Jim invited me to join him a couple of times.
Volunteers from the FamCamp set up the nets and the hour - 90 minute session is made of campers.  So it is a great way to meet other folks in the campground.

It was really a lot of fun.  The plastic ball reminds me of a wiffle ball we used to play with as a kid.  And the paddles remind me of wooden racket ball rackets.  It works out well as the ball doesn't fly around so fast as a racket ball or tennis ball.
But we still get a little bit of exercise and have fun doing it.

The rules are a bit confusing and the scoring takes some time to get right, but by the second time we played I felt a lot more comfortable with both.

The good news is that these folks (guys and gals both) don't take it too seriously.  They make it easy for a novice/beginner to get the hang of it.  And its all about the exercise, fun and camaraderie.  They were competitive to a point but no one was over the top.  No one was taking this too seriously.

As a complete beginner, I was glad for the help and instruction and casual level of play.
Many times I have said, "I don't care who wins as long as I do." -- but this wasn't one of them!  :)

One thing I heard was that the guy who invented the game named it after his dog "Pickles".  Anyone else heard that?

Its a fun game and I look forward to playing more often!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dunedin with Friends

Patty got in touch with us and suggested we meet halfway between where they were staying (Hudson FL) and where we were staying (MacDill AFB).  We said:  Deal!

She suggested we try Dunedin FL.  We checked it out online.  It has a good website and the place looked like an interesting town with some fun things going on.
Turned out to be perfect!  We met at 11:00 AM at the Chamber of Commerce in the historic section right in the middle of shops and the city park and a couple blocks from the waterfront.
We first got to know Bob and Patty five years ago while volunteering for a project in Moss Point MS. It was part of the Disaster Recovery efforts of the NOMADs group.  Since those days we have kept in touch with occasional emails and blog updates.  It was great to see them!
 We started out by wandering down to the waterfront and the pier.
It could not have been a more perfect day.  Mid 70's, bright sunshine, a little breeze -- It was beautiful.
Next we walked back to the center of town and meandered through a lot of booths that were set up.
I think it was billed as a produce market but there was a lot of other things.
Plus they were celebrating the kickoff of Martin Luther King weekend.  I believe they had a fun run earlier in the day.  They had a gospel group on stage at the park 'shell' and everyone was having a good time.
We did not see anything that we could not do without, so we went across the street and down the block to have lunch at Kelly's which appeared to be a pretty popular spot.
We opted sit outside and spent the 20 minute wait by going down a few stores to the Chamber of Commerce where Bob and Patty picked up a bike map. 

We got seated outside and hand sandwiches, soup and salad.  It was good food.  The conversation was even better.  
We enjoyed hearing of all their travels and they volunteer assignments and work camping experiences.  
There are so many ways to do this RV thing...

And there was more to see in Dunedin.  We will have to save it for next time but we sure enjoyed the town and most of all spending time with Bob and Patty.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fun at the Tampa RV Show 2016

Since we are in the Tampa area, we wanted to check out the Tampa RV show again.  I think this may be the second year we have been.  Three years ago we went and attended two days of the event.

One of the benefits of some shows is that Blue Ox sends a team of techs who do maintenance of the Blue Ox tow bars.  It's about three years since we had that done (at the Quartzsite RV Show) and time for more maintenance.

The hard part in all this was lugging the 35 lb tow bar from the parking lot to the ticket booth.  There was no easy way to get to the Blue Ox repair area which was about 1/2 mile on the far end of the Tampa RV show lot.

As we stood in line waiting to get in we saw a guy with a dolly and lamented "I wish we'd have thought of that".  He was nice enough to offer to put our tow bar on his dolly along with tow bar.  What a nice guy!
 We wound our way over to the Blue Ox area and arrived about 9:20 AM and got in line.  Good thing we got there early.
 We were hoping to drop it off and get it serviced that same day so we wouldn't have to pay admission again just to pick up the tow bar.
After we got done with the show, we went back to the Blue Ox area and the tech was working on our tow bar.  We got to watch him do his thing.  Very interesting.  He basically wiped down each arm with a silicon solution and applied some grease.  Then he replaced the plastic washers and took apart the ball joint to make sure everything looked good.

He finished in about 20 minutes and he even gave us a ride back to our parking spot. 

At the show, we wander through the first large building we could find with suppliers and displays.

We were looking for a 'hang down awning' to attach to our main awning.  We've seen a lot of people who tie down the awning and then attach some additional shade. 
We were also curious about what the 'hot items' were this year.  Was it LED rope lights?  Or ladders? or??? 

Another thing we were looking for was campgrounds who were offering free nights at there campgrounds.  We decided why not?  We haven't completely filled in our schedule for the next couple of months so we figured that might be fun to check out some new parks.  

We also like the 'freebies'.  Sometimes we stumble across a pretty cool give-away so we kept our eyes open for those.

One of the goals of our time there was to meet up with long time RV blogger friend whom we have never met - Joe and his wife Carolyn.  Joe and I met online about seven years ago I think, and we have conversed a few times as we roam around the country.  But we have never met face to face.  

He and Carolyn are spending the winter in nearby Clermont and he suggested we try to meet at the RV show.  We are always up for that so we agreed on 11:00 AM for lunch.  It took a few phone calls because I kept referring to where we were:  The "Winnebago display" or "the LazyDays area".  Trouble with that was there are lots of each.  Both Winnebago and LazyDays have many areas in the fairgrounds.  
We eventually got together and enjoyed our time over lunch.  We beat the main crowd by about 15 minutes so we avoided the long lines.  It was great to get to know them a little bit and hear their story and how they started out, where they have been and basically 'chew the fat' for a while.  We vowed to keep in touch and continued our wandering throughout the buildings and RVs.

One thing that is always fun here are the characters that parade around.
We went through a couple of buildings and didn't really see much in the way of new products.  We did see a lot of 'glue' solutions.  Looked like another version of Super Glue to me?  We did find a number of campgrounds that were offering some free nights.  But I never found the hang down awnings I was looking for.  

We stopped at the Freightliner and Cummins displays and picked up a couple of hats.  Sometimes those items are good to give to mechanics on the line at the Red Bay Service Center or our next? diesel repair shop.

And we lined up and went through the million dollar motor homes just to see the latest.  Pam and I decided the we liked the first one we went through was the best.  

The Newell was a cool $2.0 million.  We loved the interior!
The interior designer did a great job.  And the huge picture windows were fantastic.  I casually asked the salesman what the profit margin was on these units. He looked at me as if I had three heads and said, "I'm not going to tell you that -- it's classified!"   No surprise there, but it's always fun to ask and see what they say.  

He did indicate some of the benefits of this custom coach.  The 300 gallon diesel fuel cell could be expanded to whatever we wanted.  Same with the 160 gallon fresh water tank.  Nice to know... :)

After that we toured a couple of Prevost units.  One was listed at $2.7 M and we didn't like it as much as the Newell.  We also toured a Foretravel unit that was priced at $900,000.  In our first year on the road, we toured the Foretravel factory in Nacogdoches, TX.  We were shocked at what we saw here.  The interior was all white.  As in subway white tile.  It was awful.  But still interesting.

That was about it for our day the Tampa RV show.  Lots of fun and the highlight was meeting up with Joe and Carolyn!  
We are enjoying our time here in Florida!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Friends on Friday

After being here at MacDill AFB in Tampa a few days, we contacted friends Marj and George.  We knew they were spending the winter in Florida.  After some work on their coach they indicated they were going to Key West and after that back to the central Florida.

To our delight, they were at Lazy Days for a while and we are less than an hour from them.  So we decided to get together at the FamCamp.  We have enjoyed their company and friendship since we first met them about four years ago.  We were in the dry camping area at Sigsbee Navy Base in Key West.

They were the friendly sort and we hit it off.  I remember going to the Sunset Celebration with them and then over to dinner at Kelly's.  Later, we saw them again in Seal Beach Navy Weapons Station Campground in California.  And another time in Tucson at Davis-Monthan AFB.

After chatting a while in the Roadrunner we went over to the SeaScapes Beach House that is a short walk from the FamCamp.  They had a pretty decent lunch menu.
It is right on the beach and has some great views.

Before long I notice a guy across the way and looked a little more closely.  Sure enough - RV and Habitat buddy Jim.  And his wife Betty!  We haven't seen them in a couple of years and here they are.  Having lunch the same place as we are.

They came over, met Marj and George and we had a great time catching up.  What are the chances?  Another reason why I love this lifestyle!  We get to meet up with our RV friends!

Jim and Betty had just arrived at the FamCamp and moved from the open field / boondocking area to a campsite right across from us.

We spent some more time with Marj and George before they headed back to Lazy Days and we hope to meet up again with them later in March before they head out West.

And we are able to enjoy Jim and Betty's company a few more days before we leave on Monday for the Lakeland area.

It was a fun Friday and a beautiful day in sunny and warm Florida.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

On to Tampa

We moved on from Cedar Keys to Tampa and are enjoying Florida.  We feel so fortunate to be able to do this for another winter.  We love the lifestyle and are living the dream...

We got underway about 8:30 AM or 9:00 AM on Monday morning and thoroughly enjoyed the drive.
We purposely avoided the major freeways and headed south along some small towns along Highway 98 and 589.  We got to see some new areas and it was a divided four lane highway.

We had called to the FamCamp at MacDill AFB and expected to be in overflow/dry camping for at least a week and we picked a spot in the open field and got set up.
We had plenty of room from our neighbors and found a level area.  The Winegard Dish/DirecTv dish always takes a long time (35 minutes ish) but it locked on so we were glad about that.
Boondocking causes us to get into a different mindset of conserving water, limited our use of our own toilet and running the generator a couple of times during the day.  Perfectly manageable things and fine with us.  At $10 a day we figured we'd improve on the daily campground fee average.

To our surprise we got a call the next day and were able to move to full hookups.  I guess some civil engineering folks got back from the holiday and decided they could release more sites that had been upgraded throughout the main park to 50 amp.  Fine with us.

We moved over to the spot where we will be for a couple of weeks and got set up there after only one day in overflow.
Shortly after we got settled in the vacant spot next to us filled in.  It's a little tight but not too bad.  Full hook ups is nice and no issues with the neighbors so this is doable.  $20/night is fine.

We got in touch with Bill and Marg who are near Lakeland FL at Sanlan RV Resort for the winter
We took a day trip over to see them and it was an easy hour's drive.  The last time we'd seen Marg and Bill was after Adam and Melissa's wedding in October.  They came down from Petrolia Ontario (across from Detroit MI) for the wedding in Fairfax VA.

It was really great to spend time with them.  We went out to lunch at a local place which was fantastic!
 Plenty of food, good prices and tasty!

Afterwards we went back to the campground and then took a little tour of the expansive trails on the property.  They have a golf cart and their neighbor let us borrow his so were were off!
 We stopped along the way a few times.  If you look closely you can see some residents' bird houses hanging from the branches.
 Beautiful and very peaceful paths.  We saw an alligator along the shore, egrets, blue heron and other birds.
The trails go along a few holes of the golf course and it goes for 3 or 4 miles on the resort property.  Its perfect for a good hike, ride or a bike trip.

We're off to a great start here in the Tampa area and are enjoying the warmer temperatures.

That's all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles!