Wednesday, January 29, 2014

RV Park at Silver Springs State Park


This picture better shows just how much room we have in our site….a 45’ motorhome pulling a 12’ trailer would have NO PROBLEMS getting into and out of this site, that’s for sure.


There are 59 RV sites, of which I think 2 are being used by Camp Hosts, and a few others by other State Park Staff because the reservation site says that there are 52 available to reserve.  We are in spot #10, which is a pull through which goes from one side of the road to the other in the road loop.  Each of these loop sites are HUGE, very large.  There are four loops, and two of these loops have these large pull through sites.  (note:  anything to the right of the perpendicular road represents cabins, they have about a dozen cabins too.)


There are 16 of these shorter pull through sites which are right next to the road. The only thing I did not like about these is that there is a lot of foot traffic, so you would have a lot of people close to your RV while you are camping.


The rest of the sites are back in sites.  The sites all seemed to be very wide, and deep…a few even deeper than this one.  Most of them sure look like they could handle a 45’ rig with room for a car to park.


Here is a back-in site which is not as deep as the previous one, and there is plenty of room for the car to park.  The site to the right is the end of one of the pull through sites that parallel the road..


Here is one like ours which is empty, but will certainly be full later today or tomorrow at the latest.  It really is very long, and private.  All sites have 30 amp, and some sites have 50 amp, such as ours (but we only need 30 amp.)  When I made reservations I could have had the site for three nights, but we are headed to see Marcia’s brother over in the Orlando area.  The online reservation system is run by “Reserve America”, which runs other state and federal sites.  It is easy to use, and they seem to be very conservative with the lengths mentioned on their site.  If you are reserving for a Florida State Park and you are a Florida resident over 65, you will have the opportunity to select the senior discount at the time of purchase.


Due to the cold weather, we did not get out to the river.  I did venture out far enough to see that Marcia’s GoGo would not have handled the pathway, despite the fact that they advertise their trails as being handicap accessible.  Might be accessible for a wheelchair being pushed by a big, strong person, but not a GoGo, or a person trying to maneuver their own wheelchair the whole way along the route.  Until recently, Silver Springs State Park was known as Silver River State Park.

The Silver Springs Advisory Group is a 21-member panel of government officials, scientists and representatives of various interest groups tasked by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection with helping craft a long-range plan for Silver Springs State Park.  Earlier this month they issued a report which recommends that the Silver Springs Wild Waters Water Park be closed, although the glass bottom boats attraction should remain….just for the removal of the popular Water Park.  The report just felt that the water park is too close to the fragile springs, and that a more appropriate use of that land was in order.  I am sure the local residents, who not only like and use the park, but love the number of visitors it brings to their area to stimulate the economy, are going to put up a big fight over this one.


We will have to come back and stay longer so that we can see the river (above picture found in Google Images), and perhaps get on one of the glass bottom boats.  Knowing Florida’s heat record, this is the time of year to come…but you might strike out with 42 degree weather like we did (oops, it just hit 43!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Silver Springs State Park–Dog Duties


We arrived at Silver Springs State Park at 12:45, knowing that checkout time was 1:00…we were in our spot by 1:30.  It was so hard getting our 32’ motorhome and car into this 60’ pull through!  Seriously, it really is big…why couldn’t we find sites this big when we had the 40’ American Eagle? 


After driving about 70 miles north, we came upon another nicely laid out Rest Area.  This one is older, but the layout is actually better.  The trucks are close to the highway, then the building, then the cars and then a large RV area.


We are just going to have to remember this rest area for future use.  Not a bad distance if we get away on a trip around noon and want to stop after an easy 3 hour drive.


So after the long days travel, the puppies are exhausted.  Well, I have another surprise in store for them.


It has been over a month since I last cut their hair.  This is how I cut them while on the road.  Folding table from Sams Club (it stores under the bed), Garbage can for the hair (Motorhome's garbage can), carpet so they don’t slide on the table (entrance way carpet), Marcia’s GoGo (we carry it inside the HHR) with chair turned backward for a seat to work from.  Skruffy's first, and she is sitting there waiting on the table.  She is  fairly easy, although she complained about having her “face done”.  Normally she is just so cooperative. Bubba, well, I say this every time…his hair is just so thick!


The end result…a big pile of hair, mostly Bubba’s.

4c     4d

And here they are after showers (no pictures of the showers due to their privacy concerns, but I put the table out by the outside shower…let your imagine go from there.)

5a     5b
5c     5d

Tomorrow, if the weather is good, we will explore the park.  But we are very happy with our camping spot.  As you can see in the top two, our neighbors in front and behind are on the other side of the road, and a good distance away.  Bottom left shows the spot to our left, which was empty last I saw.  On our right is more of the road and the bathrooms on the other side.  All of the sights are buffered by trees and some distance, which makes the camping experience much more enjoyable. 


Electric and water for $14 per night with the senior discount for Florida residents.  This is our first, but not our last, stay in a Florida State Park.  Reservations is a must, especially this time of year.

Monday, January 27, 2014

We’re Off, and I Got to Yell at the Devil


At 5:00 sharp we pulled into the Rest Area on I-75, just north of exit 275.  Even though we left our Condo around 3:30, it has been a long, hard day…but we are once again in the motorhome, with the dogs, and tomorrow we will be in a State Park.

1b     1c

To our north the dogs have their own little poop, I mean, play yard and empty spaces beyond.  To our south, empty spaces.  Over the past two hours, a few have come and gone, but it is still empty.


The facility is not bad looking….give it twenty to thirty years of use and we will see how it holds up.  The trucks park on the other side of the building.  We have stayed here before, and the freeway noise is not too bad after 10 or so, and the rush hour traffic heads south, which is on the other side of the freeway.


Back in late July I wrote a blog post I called, “Dealing with Bureaucracy while On The Road”.   It was the story of how we had closed our land line with Verizon, but accidently paid our cellular bill to the recently closed Verizon account…and how they sat on the payment…how they would not transfer the payment over to the cellular division….how we had to pay our bill again and await a refund.  Well, that refund NEVER came….over $250 worth of a refund.  This morning I decided to call the devil and ask for our money.  I will give you the short version.  It took over 30 minutes, I had to YELL, yes YELL, at the billing representative who just would not stop rattling her mouth and listen to what I was saying.  Finally got her to admit that yes, they issued a check back in late July which has never been cashed, and that we should expect payment again in 5-10 days.  Now Marcia was listening to the entire conversation which, I told the lady that she was on speaker phone and Marcia was with me since the account is in her name.  It was the most frustrating phone call that I have had to deal with for the past two years…and if you read last year’s post you will see that it was not fun back in July either. It just is not right for a company to make you jump through all sorts of hoops before they finally admit that "Oh, we do owe you money!"  All she had to do was look at our last payment and she would have seen the entire story of last July.  None of this, "I can't unless you give me an account number, give me the amount of your last payment, our rules and regulations are.......(and she went on and on and on)....and without that I cannot find where you overpaid.....(and on and on and on....)   Be assured they have not heard the last of me….I asked for a supervisor to call me, and there has been no return call.  Looks like I have to draft another complaint letter.


Speaking of going off….ever have one of these go off on you for what seems to be no good reason?  About 15 minutes into being at the rest area, our bathroom GFI blew.  I reset it, and all is fine.  The only thing running on the circuit was the TV.  This happened a number of months ago after traveling…guess it is getting weak…another thing to replace before our Alaska Trip which, by-the-way, is only 93 days away.


Not much of a sunset tonight…but it is nice to be on the road again for six days, five nights….

4a    4b

…with our little puppies.  Skruffy up on the couch next to dad, and Bubba in the driver’s seat where he finally is getting the peace and quiet he likes to have.  Off to a nice, quiet start despite that deVilish start of a day.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Look up in the Sky…


On the way home from church and lunch, I see this helicopter way off in the distance as we drive home.  It is hovering in place, a good mile away at that time.  I say to Marcia, “I wonder what that helicopter is doing?”  She did not see it for a bit, but as we got closer and she sees it I say, “It almost looks like it is flying right over our Condo.”  I sure hoped that there was not some police action going on around our place…we faced that in California when the police closed down a portion of Roseville near Citrus Heights for hours and hours.


As we pull into the condo, we had determined that it was red, it was still hovering just a few blocks from our place.  I run in and get the camera and see that it is the News 9 helicopter.  Had no idea what it was doing, but the Librarian in me drives me to do a bit of research….


From the News 9 website I see a story about a house where a 20 by 15 foot hole had started to suck up a driveway just a couple of blocks away.  Sinkholes are very common in Florida, and as of this writing, it was still unsure if indeed it was a full-fledged sinkhole.


Ever wonder what keeps these things up in the air, especially when the blades are frozen in time?  Glad we got home when we did, as I was taking pictures it turns right toward me and flies over my head on to another news story.

Loaded up a number of things in the motorhome today….the ole girl started right up and was ready to head out if we were….I think she likes being out on the road where she belongs instead of picking up dust in storage.  At least this storage area has two different areas where you can wash and clean your motorhome, so I will give her a real quick shower before we leave there tomorrow just to wash off the dust a bit.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Trip Time!–Silver Springs State Park Plus…


Marcia wondered how we would “make it” without the dogs around for 3+ months as we headed back from California to Florida.  I told her we would “make it” because every three weeks or so we would take a trip in the motorhome for 3-6 days so that we could be with the dogs.  We got back to Florida on January 9th, and on Monday the 27th we take off for Silver Springs State Park for a couple of days, and then over to the Orlando area to visit with Marcia’s brother Dean and his wife Carol.  We will be back on Saturday or Sunday.  So this time we made it 18 days….it seems so much longer than that.


Because we will be getting away Monday around 4 pm, we will only be going the Rest Area on I-75 for the first night.  This Rest Area is fairly new, and it is laid out like a Rest Area should be.  The Google Satellite image above shows the layout.  The RV’s are on one side of the building, the trucks are on the other.  Autos are in between, closer to the RV’s than the trucks.  And, like all rest areas in Florida that are open during the night, there is Night Security.  Sure would be nice if other states followed Florida’s lead on this.


Told the kids about the trip today, and it even put a smile on Bubba’s face!  (Was he showing off his nice clean teeth, or was it just photoshop?????  You decide.)  It will sure be nice….the last two times I visited them, Skruffy wanted to go back to the car…that look she gives me just breaks my heart.  She “likes” being with the other dogs, with her Uncle Mike and Aunt Sandy and the kids….but she “LOVES” being with mom and dad (especially dad), and she just can’t understand it.  We will be picking them up slightly after noon, and after Marcia’s visit with the Chiropractor at 2, we will get the motorhome, head over to the condo to load a few things, and off we go.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Alaska Prep Time

As with any our our 7+ month trips, we always leave prepared.  This time we will be headed to Alaska, and this will bring a few more considerations than our other trips.  And I am sure that as we enter the famous Alaska Highway, we are going be thinking, “Gee, I think we should have brought this or that.”  One thing I hope we don’t have to face is snowy roads like this….if so, it will just be time to wait until it thaws out more.


Wednesday we went to Sam’s Club to stock up on paper goods.  A case of septic safe Scott Toilet Paper, case of paper towels, two sizes of paper plates, case of tissue paper…now one of our dinette booth storage area is completely full.  We have also started a mental list of things we are going to leave behind that we did not use last time…including our printer/scanner.  Our first year out we needed the printer/scanner because I was still technically working, and I also knew that I had some important retirement papers which were emailed to me that I had to print, sign in front of a notary, and send back via regular mail.  This past year we did not take it out of the box…so it will stay home along with a few other items.


We will also need some warmer clothing for the anticipated colder spring, and some cool Alaska nights.  That means that Marcia will need much more winter clothes…I will need two more pair of long pants and two long sleeve shirts.  Unless it is “real” cold, like down under 40, I am typically fine wearing short pants and a T-shirt.  It has been a bit colder in Florida this year…yesterday it was around 52 degrees as I pumped gas into the HHR.  I looked around me and people had heavy coats on, some with hoods, one with gloves…I was in shorts.  I stopped and thought, “Is it really cold out?  I feel a little cool, but it surely is not cold…what is it with these people?”  All of this while they looked at me thinking, “What is with this dude?  Shorts, sandals, T-shirt and he isn’t even shivering….what is with this guy?”  My mom said that I have always been this way…


Today we met Marcia’s cousin Mary at Rodie’s Restaurant in Tarpon Springs.  Normally we would meet her at “Nanna’s”, but unfortunately this favorite restaurant did not make it through the summer last year…after a dozen years or so the owners decided to close up shop.  Not sure what the full scoop is, but I know it was not due to a lack of business because when we left in June last year, they still had a very steady business.  Mary is in her early 80’s, and she is in remarkable health and shape.  About 18 months ago she went on the Paleo Diet and she not only lost weight, but finds it much easier to get around.  We spent two hours in the restaurant catching up.


Yesterday I took the dogs to a park, and today we picked them up after breakfast/lunch and let them spend some time with us in the car as we traveled around doing errands.  When I went up to the door to get them, I left the back door to the car open.  Skruffy jumps up on my leg a couple of times and shoot off for the car while I hook Bubba up to the leash.  By the time we got to the car, Skruffy was up in the front on Marcia’s lap just giving her lots of kisses.  Marcia said that she nearly flew from being outside the car to up on her lap…which is hard since she had to jump up into the backseat first with those short little legs.


I think they are just looking for life to get back to normal again….back to a 240 foot inside environment….


…..and a world of adventure just a few steps out the door.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Millenicom - New Air Card and Service

On the left is our older Verizon Jetpack 6412 air card.  We have had it for 15 months now, cost us $20 per month plus “usage”, and we are averaging 16 gigs per month unless we find wireless, which is another $130. If we go up to 18 gigs, it is another $10….if we go down to 14 gigs it goes down $10.  At the Condo we are here so little that we don’t have cable tv or Internet connection outside of our air card so we will hit 16 gig, perhaps 18 or 20 in a month.  On the right is our new Millenicom air card (by Verizon).  It cost us a one time fee of $164.98, and then it is $69.99 per month for 20 gigs per month.  There is no sliding scale.  Keep it to under 20 gigs and you are fine.  Go over, and they will send you a warning and if way over, they will cut you off for the rest of the month…do that enough and they will end your service, which they can do because THERE IS NO CONTRACT!  Yes, you heard right, no contract.

The other difference is that this new air card is a Pantech MHS291, which is newer, and will allow up to ten devices to connect to it, while the older Jetpack only allows five devices.  Not that this matters because we have two computers, and occasionally the Kindle or Sony Reader (but we normally wait for free wireless for those.)  Yes, you tech gurus have guessed right…we have no smart phones. Kinda strange for a high tech person that I am to not have the latest and greatest....but for now, I am just fine with a flip phone, which lasts longer, does the job, and is harder to break...and I am hard on cell phones.
We have to keep Verizon for another ten months, but we can set the data usage down to a 1/4 of a gig, which will cost $20 for the card and $20 for usage.  Millenicom will cost us $69.99 per month, so now we will have 20 gigs of Internet for only $109.99 per month….a lot less than the $150-$160 we would be spending.  In ten months we can drop Verizon card and save another $40 per month.  The other good thing is that the older Jetpack can be used with Millenicom “if” the new card got busted, such as having a glass of water fall on it.  So it will be our backup device for awhile.  I figure that Millenicom will meet our Internet needs for a few years….until something else comes up that is better and/or cheaper.   We learned about Millenicom from Technomadia post last year and an update posting this year, which you can read here.  They explain how Millenicom provides its service, which is in this case, essentially a resale of Verizon, the maps they use are the same as Verizon.  (Note:  Unbeknownst to me, Technomadia was doing another post on their new Pantech Air Card from Millenicom today too.   Click here to read what they say.)

Speaking of cell service….have you seen these cell towers that look like trees….

…or Palm Trees….

…or Saguaro Cactus….

…and even water towers?