Spring Vacation 2016

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First Outing of the Season

Our first outing of the year was a weekend/vacation spectacular. After having the Island Time serviced at Camping World of St Augustine earlier last month, it was time to start the season. I would like to say we were ready, but at best we were planned. Things have been so busy and intense at work and at home that the best we could do was make a list and check it twice. But list in hand and trailer loaded we the Island Time and ML350 and away we went.

First stop was Fort Wilderness with Logan and Gavin. A full year later than our last outing with the two of them, in fact it was one year to the day. Once we arrived we quickly unhooked the trailer and Jeannie took the Poodle Boys to the Disney dog kennel for the weekend. While they were gone I started the process of “un-winterizing” the Island Time. Since we had not had a chance to have a shakedown outing, the water system was full of antifreeze and the water heater was still bypassed. After a busy two hours we were ready for a great weekend.

Wes brought Logan and Gavin in the late afternoon and the fun was on! Burgers on the grill, some playground time and it was time to setup the “transformer” beds. A little TV and it was lights out for all of us.

Saturday brought lots of fun activity. Golf cart rides, playground, boat rides, more playground and more golf cart, along with some Sneaky Snacky Squirrel and it was time for dinner and then over to the Campfire. Both of the boys were really into the festivities at the Campfire, even having pictures taken with Chip (or was it Dale) as well as making S’mores.

Before we knew it the day was over with a little more TV and transforming we were all out for the night. The next morning came early as Wes, Loretta, and Tyler came by at 7:00AM to pickup the boys for more fun at Disney the balance of the weekend.

We needed to checkout by 11:00AM and really needed to be on the road by 10:00AM to give us a better arrival time in Naples. We worked on getting this put away and Jeannie picked up the Poodle Boys from the kennel and we were on the road by 10:10AM. Not too bad for the first tear-down of the season.

We were on our way to Naples Florida which we planned as three to four hours of travel. What we had not planned on was 22 to 25 knots of wind on just off the port bow of our rig. I have a reasonable amount of wheel time with our rig and have full confidence in our setup. However, that was the worst drive I have ever had. When we arrived, I was ready to trade for that F150 and airstream right on the spot. It took me two days to get over that experience.

Crystal Lake RV Resort was an impressive facility. It was a gated community with lots of activity and lots of park model RV’s. Over the years it had transformed from an RV facility to owners placing less mobile park model trailers. The community was nice, but had really turned into an upscale retirement community. The location was pleasant and safe, but somewhat unusual as we were one of the few transient rigs. None the less, it was a nice place.

We enjoyed an Aurelio’s pizza and toured the City Docks as well as touring the downtown area. We enjoyed our tours, but there was nothing that really stood out. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was great, so it was an enjoyable visit.

Certainly, one of the highlights for me was sailing and purchasing a Soling One Meter RC model yacht. One of the guys at the lake offered a nice used model for sale and I could not resist. I did get to sail with them on Friday and at least did not embarrass myself, finishing within a respectable distance of the leader. Lots of fun to come with my new boat back in Jacksonville.

Overall, it was a great vacation. Family time was awesome and we can check Naples off of our list. We are looking forward to our next adventure.

Thanks,

Captain Skip

Logan and Gavin at the Campfire

Logan and Gavin at the Campfire

Fun on the golf cart

Fun on the golf cart

Games on the Island Time

Games on the Island Time

Playground 2016

Island Time in Naples

Island Time in Naples

My new Soling

My new Soling

Labor Day 2015 at North Beach

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Labor Day 2015 at North Beach

it’s hard to believe, but another Labor Day has come and gone. Once again this year we were fortunate enough to be able to celebrate the long holiday at one of our favorite campgrounds, North Beach in St Augustine. The primary attraction here is the rustic setting with the Atlantic Ocean at one end and the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) at the other end.

This year we were in site number 58 which was in the area closer to the ICW, but not all the way at the end. As it turns out we had one of the best sites in the entire park! The site was on the corner and was narrow at the entrance but opened up to be a very large site at the back. Additionally, the site was nicely private with foliage all around us making the site very secluded. It gave us the feeling of being in nature rather than being in an RV park.

WiFi was not really available, so we connected the I Time Repeater to our cell phone data plans and had more than adequate Internet access all weekend. The cable TV access was just SD, but it provide sufficient channels for the limited time we spent watching TV in the evenings.

Jeannie was recovering from her recovery of her broken foot and was not able to walk long distances, so I took the dogs on their longer walks. With the privacy of the site, the dogs were not as easily distracted with bikes or scooters and were able to relax as well, which makes it more relaxing for all of us.

The weather was Florida hot, but with the shade and the fan, we were very comfortable outside. There was a little rain at night but, it did not really cause us any issues. Of course being in the prime portion of the hurricane season, we are grateful for any weekend that is not dangerous or a washout.

It had been such a long time since we were truly able to get away even for a weekend that this seemed like a vacation. It was great to watch the swimmers in the ocean or watch the fishing on the ICW. In fact, while the Salty Dogs and I were at the ICW, we witnessed a large fish taking a fisherman’s bait and running with it, pole and all! Apparently, that was the second time that had happened to this fisherman this weekend.

Overall it was a great (and necessary) getaway. We were able to start our process of decompression. We need the practice so that we are prepared for our vacation later in the month. I am pleased to report that we are making great progress on our goal for relaxation. It sure is nice!

Thanks,

Captain Skip

Campsite at North Beach St Augustine

Campsite at North Beach St Augustine

Site #58 at North Beach St Augustine

Site #58 at North Beach St Augustine

Plans for the Future

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Plans for the Future

August 29 and we are finally able to get a camping weekend in the schedule. It has been a long spring and summer of getting everyone back on their feet, literally. My mother had hip replacement surgery that led to complications at the same time my father had a mysterious drainage from a past heart surgery open up and Jeannie broke her foot. It was a challenging time that left precious little time for anything but surviving. But we survived, everyone is thriving and we are able to find time at the margins for a weekend away.

Since the trailer was unused for most of the summer I became concerned about keeping the water system healthy, so I came up with a plan to “Summerize” the system with a mild chlorine flush. I mention this because this trip needed to be to a place that we could un-“Summerize” and get any parts that we might need. We decided that there was no place better than Stagecoach for this, being that it is close to Camping World. Fortunately everything worked and no parts were needed.

It rained an incredible monsoon from Mandarin to St Augustine. It rained so hard that we were down to 30 miles per hour and not able to see very far ahead at all. After the drenching and just as we pulled into Stagecoach the ML indicated a trailer light failure. Sure enough, the drivers side tail light bulb on the trailer had cracked. I opened the lens and everything was dry, but it looked like a thermal failure on the bulb. We will have to keep an eye on it in the future.

A complete treat for us was the discovery that our neighbor was an Airstream. In the morning I managed to snag a conversation with the couple as they were preparing to leave. The husband and wife were from California and headed to Savannah and Charleston before making the lefthand turn for home. They were traveling in an Airstream 27FB Classic being pulled by a GMC 2500 Diesel.

We had a wonderful conversation with them for about half an hour and they offered a tour of their rig, which we gladly accepted. Their trailer was very cosy and comfortable and provided a more personal perspective than seeing the same model in the dealers lot. Most impressive was that it felt very usable and suitable for long adventuring. We exchanged experiences and took in any advice they could offer.

They indicated that they felt that they had made a good selection in their rig. It was comfortable and capable. They had been out a couple of months, with this being their longest trip. They had traveled over 39,000 miles so far and were far from done. Their advice included changing to 16 inch LT tires and keeping up with the occasional water leaks around the windows. They highly encouraged going to an Airstream Rally to meet other people and getting good advice.

After wishing them well we spent the rest of the afternoon reexamining our future plans. We decided that as we approach retirement we need to start the transition to the lower cost lifestyle and make the commitment to our adventure. We decided that once the lease is up on the ML 350 we will go ahead and replace it with a pickup truck. We can get by with the ML 350 for the interim but it is just too close to the margins from a towing perspective for years of extensive travel. Our plan is that we will get a pickup and I will drive as my daily driver and possibly look into getting something like a used Jetta diesel for every day use. When the lease is up on the C Class we will most likely get something like a Passat for Jeannie. As a wild card we might consider keeping the C Class, we will just have to see.

Having made those decisions we are now even more excited to get into our Victory Lap. We certainly do not want to wish the present away. We plan to continue to enjoy the Island Time and our current rig to the fullest. It is helpful though to be able to see where we think we may be headed. It is sobering to realize that this phase of our lives is drawing to a close. We are excited about our future, but at the same time apprehensive about the changes and their implications.

In the end we are in God’s hands and his plans will prevail. I believe he put these dreams in our hearts for a reason. Either to fulfill or pull us through challenging times. Either way, we are enjoying living the dream.

Thanks,

Captain Skip

First Outing of the Season with Extended Crew

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First Outing of the Season with Extended Crew

It’s a new season of camping and a new season for our family as we are now camping with two of our grandsons when we go family camping. This year we have increased the crew on the Island Time to include both, Logan and Gavin. It is such a treat and privilege to be able to have special time with them and build our relationship for the years to come.

Since our first adventure was scheduled for March 13th we needed to get the Island Time prepared for the season while still winterized. We took the trailer to Camping World of St Augustine for wheel bearing and roof maintenance and asked them to service the refrigerator and water heater as well as clean and detail the exterior. I have to tell you, I could not be more impressed with their service. When they pulled the Island Time around for us to take home, it look brand new. Everything was spotless, the exterior shined, the black on the frame was fresh and the awning stains were gone. Truly amazing.

Our season opened with a weekend trip to our favorite campground, Fort Wilderness at Disney World, but without our dogs. We were concerned that with having both Logan and Gavin on board that it might be just too much confusion for the dogs little poodle brains to manage. While Sailor is a trained therapy dog and can be very gentle, when they are both together we sometimes get more assertive pack behavior from them. Since they were not raised around children, when pushed too far they react to children as they would react to other dogs. They are usually good boys, but why add that variable to the equation.

We arrived at out campsite, #1454 around 2:00 PM and after fully un-winterizing, were ready for the fun to begin. Wes brought Logan and Gavin around 4:30 PM and the fun began! Wes stayed for burgers on the grill and then headed back home. We had a great evening, getting things sorted out, taking a golf cart ride and setting up the transformer bed. Yep, setting up the transformer bed. This is the first time we have converted the dinette table to a bed and it was an exciting event. Gavin slept in the new transformer bed, while Logan slept in the other transformer bed. A little Netflix and it was lights out for all of us.

The next day started around 6:30 AM with breakfast and some games leading to a trip to the playground and a boat ride. We rode the boat to the Magic Kingdom and had it entirely to ourselves on the return ride. After the boat ride and a little more playground time, we explored the horse stables where the boys took a pony ride. It was great fun with each boy getting their own pony which was led by an adult. The ponies were more than tame, but had a mind of their own and sometimes wanted to stop and visit with their other pony friends. Our ponies were well behaved as were the boys.

The afternoon was filled with lunch and more playground time, a few games and Logan’s birthday party. Grandma Jeannie had decorated the site with Happy Birthday banners and provided cake pops along with a special birthday candle that spun and make sparks. A good time was had by all.

In the evening after dinner everyone had their baths and then we went to the campfire to make S’mores. We even met Dale, of Chip and Dales! After the campfire it was off to bed.

Before we knew it the weekend was over. Loretta, Wes and Tyler picked up Logan and Gavin in the morning and after a brief golf cart ride headed home. Just like that the action packed weekend was over.

We had a nice and uneventful journey home with a big smile on our faces. A little tired, but already making plans for another family camping event over Memorial Day weekend. How fun!

A new year and new adventures, let’s go!

Thanks,

Captain Skip

Time to make some S'Mores at the campfire

Time to make some S’Mores at the campfire

Logan takes a ride on Blaze

Logan takes a ride on Blaze

Gavin takes a ride on Nemo

Gavin takes a ride on Nemo

Time for a boat ride to the Magic Kingdom at Ft Wilderness

Time for a boat ride to the Magic Kingdom at Ft Wilderness

Time for games at Ft Wilderness

Time for games at Ft Wilderness

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