Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Things Have Changed

We can't help noticing how things have changed around Sarasota.  Before we left for our adventures, a new huge mall was beginning.  The economy put a halt to that.  Behind the mall was an old quarry lake and after months of excavating and expanding Nathan Benderson Park, there is now 2,000 meters of straightaway to host official rowing sprint events from around the state, and if all goes to plan by 2017, the World Rowing Championships.  The $315 million, 880,000 square foot mall is going forward with a planned opening in October of next year.  [not planning to be here].  Guess the economy is picking up. 

We didn't sell our house this weekend, but that's OK.  We have a great realtor, it's a cute house, and is the only one for sale in the neighborhood.  Fingers are crossed.  Thank you all for your wishes!

Meanwhile, Graham wore us out.  He received his new boat and couldn't wait to get it in the water.

That went on for a couple hours.  Then we went to the movies to see "Brave" and then out for ice cream.  We're supposed to spoil them, right?

The next day we went to Michael's Arts and Craft store to get some Advent tree decorations for school and found another boat for him to paint and put together.  Dove into that project:

Then while that was drying, Poppy took him fishing.  Oooops, shoes got wet.  Oh, well...

Dad came to pick him up for his friend's birthday party, so we packed him off and fell into the lawn chairs for a rest.  Only the young should have young.  I so applaud those grandparents that need to raise their grandchildren by themselves.  There is definitely a place in heaven for them!

Messed around on Sunday and Monday with chores and today we drove to Tampa to spend Grandparents Day with our oldest grand, Lance.  They served a fabulous cooked breakfast (the principal was the chef) and then Lance gave us a tour of his school introducing us to his teachers. 

Spent a while at his house before heading to the eye doctor to adjust Gary's contact prescription, then home for lunch and more arranging of days. We will get everything done, because we always do. 

In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We surely do have a lot to be thankful for, right?  Amen.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Big Decision

Monday I called our friend and realtor to set up a meeting.  She said come on in, so we met Kim, the rental agent and Ellen's collegue.  We hashed around the pros and cons of renting vs. selling and we decided to SELL!  I have officially given up this Plan B.  We left a message of our plans with our renters but they called back and said they knew of someone who might be interested.  We meet with them on Saturday.  We will be VERY LUCKY if we can sell without a realtor and without a hitch...

Meanwhile our Jeep part came in so we made an appointment to have that put in.  Five minutes later, the tech said it was the wrong part.  He did have the right part.  OK, put that in.  Drove off the lot, and the engine light came on again.  REALLY??  Turned around, and they looked at it again.  It needs another part.  It will take a few hours, so come back tomorrow at 8 am.  Gary said to take a look at the brakes as they felt a little soft.  Well, you know they found something wrong.  The oil was leaking onto the pads.  Four o'clock they call and the courtesy van comes to pick him up at the coach.  I didn't even ask how much.  But it's cheaper than a new car...

Yesterday it was cool and cloudy - perfect for washing and waxing Bella.  Gary washed the roof, then I took some paste wax up there to do the top edges.  Unfortunately, some of Bella's gel coat is flaking off.  Don't know what we can do about that right now. 

We got her all washed and the plan was to wax her today, but it is misting and foggy, and anyhow, our little Graham [6] is coming over for the weekend.  His mom told us he woke up and said "It's a great day, Mom, a great day!"  Let's hope we can make it special for him.  He will get to try out his new boat on the lake.  We may have to try out our boat on the lake, too, if his little boat gets stuck somewhere.  There is, to my knowledge, only one alligator in that pond.  I've seen him, and I'm not asking anyone if there are any more.  Don't want to know.

 Haven't been to the beach yet, but plan to do some kayaking somewhere sometime. 

Graham just arrived and he is so excited.  So gotta go and have some fun with the grand.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Some More Fixes and Then Sunshine

On our stomping ground in Florida, Pleasant Lake RV Resort, we stopped by Independence RV in Winter Garden for a couple little fixes - like the water leaking out under the fridge, a couple of screws loose that we weren't sure we could fix, but turned out we can from now on, and a tail light problem.  We stayed overnight, ooohed and ahhhed at this year's Newmars, bought a lottery ticket, and left the next day with everything in working order - for now.  

checking it out
Pleasant Lake RV Resort in Bradenton welcomed us with open arms and we parked in our favorite spot until after Christmas.  It was such a wonderful feeling to wake up to sunshine, warm weather, full hookups, cable and wifi for $199/month.  Yes, that's right.  It's worth it to go to those RV shows, folks, just for the coupons.  Normally this place is $540 plus electric and doubles in January, so we love those coupons.  Course, it's only for one month, but that is still a deal for November and December in Florida.  This is our site:

We only have two neighbors in a stretch of 15 sites, but it will pick up the end of this month. 
Yesterday we got a call from our property manager at 7:30 am to tell us that our renters had noticed water bubbling up from the ground near the driveway.  Our plans to go to church were scrapped as Gary headed over to discover what the problem was.  The County Utility truck came and shut off the sprinkler system connection.  Turns out it was a small PVC pipe we'll fix with the other fixes we need to do for our new renters.  Then we drove up to St. Pete to see our 6 grandkids: Lance, Lauren, Ellie, Charlie, Graham and Henry.  Caught a few pictures of some of them:
Michelle made pork tenderloin and veggies, while the kids made brownies (and licked the bowls clean).  Henry enjoyed his CAT bulldozer and dumptruck for his second birthday.  Graham is the first one coming to stay with us this weekend.  He's going to try out his new RC speed boat that Poppy is working on.  Pretty intricate stuff.

Meanwhile, we will do appointments and chores, but are looking forward to kayaking again, and getting some new bikes!  Life is, yep, good!  And most of that is due to our Vets.  Thank you to all who make our life so good!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We Made It!

Appointments.  Ha.  If you have an appointment at the Doctors, how many times have you been seen on the dot of your appointment?  If you have made an appointment for a service call, are they ever on time?  Well, such was the case Thursday morning for our fridge guy, Mario.  Supposed to come at 9 am, finally we called at 10 and the answer was 'he's on his way'.  Twenty minutes later, he shows up, tells us that he forgot to exit the melt down hose out the vent which is why we probably got water under the fridge.  Couldn't figure out why we weren't getting ice anymore, didn't charge us, and off he went.  Well, great.  Let's get outta Dodge.

Our trip was great, smooth and non-stop except for an early stop in Dunn (Gary's hometown) for fuel.  Not cheap in NC, but was down to a quarter tank.  Easy in and out, and peanut butter sandwiches while driving.  Thanks to Gail and Rick, we knew just what to look for at our turning in point and pulled in to register.  We had been following a Winnebago down Rte 17, and when they turned in before us, we met at the desk.  Carolina Clan?  Yep.  Hey, it was Paul and Marti!  We drove down together to our spots across from one another.  Big reception from some of the gang with hugs all around. 

We got set up in our new spot #15 in a minute, and went over to the campfire to see everyone.  It started out small, and grew and grew.  It was going to be a chilly night, so we ended up with two campfires and about 18 couples.  Bill announced that there was a 'float' on Friday down the ICW and we were going out with the tide around 2:15.  Gary and I got a ride with Steve and Evin who have hard kayaks.  Just out of the park, I realized we forgot our paddles.  Ooops, up the creek without a paddle is not a good thing.  So we turned around, grabbed them, and arrived as everyone was setting up.

It was a SeaEagle convention!  Hey, Howard and Linda - lookee here!

There wasn't too much wildlife - in fact, we were probably the most wild things out there. 

My wild hubby
We floated steadily until we all conglomerated into a large amoeba.  Suddenly Terri announced they had lost a paddle.  Evin to the rescue!  Unfortunately, I can't get my video to load, sorry.
Gail and Rick
She was back in a couple of minutes with the errant paddle and we continued to drift downstream with the wind.  Before we knew it the sun was on it's way down quickly and we all moved into high gear (except those with engines) against the wind for which seemed like MILES and MILES, but was actually only about 2 1/2 back to the boat ramps.  Bill used his GPS to calculate that we rode 4.61 miles in total.  I think all of our shoulders (except those with engines) will attest to that tomorrow.

We all made it back except Steve (our ride, Steve, with the keys) but Evin was quick to dial up OnStar for them to unlock the doors to the truck.  Smart girl.  Steve is a serious wildlife photographer and the sun was just right for a couple good shots.  So we were just about cleaned up when he was towed back by Carol and Steve with their engine.  Can't wait to see everyone's photos!

Everyone dosed up on tylenol, motrin, wine, etc., ate a little dinner and met back at the campfire.    The evening was not as chilly as last night and we left others still there at 9:45 for a really good night's sleep. 

Saturday Gary wanted to go on a bagel hunt.  We tried to find an establishment that had disappeared, and the next closest was 14 miles away, so we opted for a Dunkin Donuts.  Hey, that reminds me of a couple of Clanners...  He didn't even get a bagel, but it was near 11am and we were starved.  Sorry, honey, no more Bruegger's.

Then we did a little exploring.  We turned down Atlantic Avenue heading to the beach.  We passed the pier, drove down the peninnsula admiring all the beach homes, turned around and parked under the pier.  The water was sparkling in the sun, and a couple were playing with some puppies in the surf.  We walked up the pier and out past a million fishermen.  Most of them were on the north side, so I guess the fish were biting there. 

We met Mike, Terri, Kris, Ray and Dee as we pulled into our site as they were going on a nature walk near Mullet Pond.  They took the long route, and we went to the bridge and piers first.  There were tons of water birds and I snapped a few portraits:

young Blue Heron

Great Egret
another Blue Heron
somebody lives here

We found our way home and cleaned out the basement and stored all our gear.  Then it was time for the SWAP.  Everyone brought something they no longer wanted or used, plopped it in the middle of our circle for Bill to hold up and 'auction' off.  Everything was free, but not everything was wanted.  A group walking a dog chose the puppybed that we put on the side of the road with the other unwanteds.  Free!  (good word)

After our dinners, we headed back to the campfire circle and roasted marshmallows and yakked.  I tried to talk to a lot of people, like Laurie, to get to know them even better, but it was tough to get all the way around the circle.  What a great ending to the day.

Sunday, it was beautiful once again, and we took a walk on the beach after breakfast.  We met Gail and Rick coming back from their walk, and chatted for a while.  Then Gary went on a crab catching escapade.  After running all over the beach after this little guy, he sat quietly in Gary's hand while I took his photo.  Then he took off again. 

We LOVE the beach!

After we brushed the sand off our feet back at the coach, Evin stopped by and asked us if we'd like to take a trip to Calabash, NC for some great seafood.  Steve has been going to this area for 30 years with his family, and wanted us to be able to appreciate it, too!  Well, OK!  It was about a half hour drive, but it was worth it!

Darn good seafood!
A kind passerby took our photo, too.  Ella's Seafood is the name of the restaurant.  This plate was $6.25 - not too shabby.  Filled us up so much, we passed on pizza that night. 

Thanks for the invite, Steve and Evin!  We won't be forgetting this place anytime soon!

Monday came all too soon, and as there was rain forcasted for Tuesday, we needed to leave or stay longer.  Well, Bella needs some more fixes (surprise, surprise) so we decided to head out.  We said goodbye to everyone in the middle of the street and dumped on the way out hitting the road around 10:15.  Nancy suggested 'Walkabout RV Park' in Woodbine, GA and when I looked it up, it turned out to be the second EVER park we stayed at on our way to the first RV-Dreams Rally in Longs, SC.  It was called King George at that time almost 3 years ago.  We remember it well because it has been the only park we've pulled into that was so level, I didn't need to re-level Bella at all, just put down the jacks.  Nice guy, Troy, at the desk and it's a PA park, so we stayed two nights so that the rain could pass through and we would have plenty of time to get to our appointment at Independence RV in Winter Garden, FL.  AND I even drove Bella on US 95!!!  Yep, here's my picture! 

I look pretty relaxed, huh?  Well, I wasn't.  But I did it for a few miles.  I still think I'm a better navigator...

Finding Walkabout was easy, it's right off 95, I paid and we set up in 10 minutes.  It rained a little overnight and was cloudy early on Tuesday, but warmed up to 68 and puffy clouds all day.  We were going to have lunch at Miss Hattie's Cow Patty restaurant, but it had disappeared.  I was dying to know what a cow patty was going to be, but, alas, I'll never know.

Well, Hurricane Sandy messed up voting for the folks up north, so we may not know who is President till a later date.  Our hearts go out to all those suffering especially my two brothers and their families and my cousins.  I just hope this next storm is not as bad.  Mother Nature must be a little irritated.

All in all, the Carolina Clan was super.  We loved every minute and so enjoyed everyone and Huntington Beach SP.  Can't wait till the next one!  Laurie and Marti are in charge.  You go, girls!