Changes in Seasons

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Changes in Seasons

As surely as the seasons change, we pass through seasons in our lives. In 2012 we set out on an adventure to see how we would like camping in a moderate-size travel trailer. In July of that year, after a vacation to the northern latitudes to see family, we purchased our 2013 Coachmen Catalina 222FB and put in motion a chain of events that would change our lives in a most positive way.

Our cozy little travel trailer, affectionately named the Island Time, became our escape vehicle from the stresses of the everyday routine. We purchased it as a great starter kit to see if we enjoyed the camping and RV lifestyle. We learned a lot about what the modern RV world was about and found that we truly enjoyed our time in this mobile “tiny house”.

Over the next few years we continued to enjoy the Island Time and week-by-week filled it with great memories of adventures. Everything from weekend trips to local campgrounds to longer trips to the Keys, Hilton Head, Gatlinburg, Chattanooga, Naples, and so many other stops along the way only served to feed our desire to do and see more. Wonderful visits with family allowed us to share in the everyday lives of our children and grandchildren with special outings.

Simple times in the woods at Hanna Park or wonderful relaxation at North Beach only more firmly cemented the idea that we should do this more often. Even time with our dogs seemed more special as we spent time together walking, talking, listening to nature and calming our minds. Each outing served to feed a satisfaction deep within our souls.

Of course, we were never roughing it. Air conditioning, HD TV, walk around queen bed, full Internet connectivity, range, oven, microwave, hot water and shower are accommodations a long way from what most people think of as camping. All of the luxuries with just enough space to live and wheels to take us to new places or revisit the best of the places we had been made this an attractive alternative to being stuck at home.

As we filled the Island Time with memories we were also filling our hearts with joy. We came to realize that this camping thing worked well for us and that touring the country while bringing our condo with us would be a great way to make the transition from a career of busyness to a retirement full of adventure and intrigue. The vision materialized and became named the Victory Lap and achieving it meant careful planning and execution. We had decided on the approach for our next season, now we needed to align the resources.

As the season changes from occasional vacations and outings to fulltime travel, so does the need for the appropriate tools to support the dream. While the Island Time was a great if not a perfect vehicle for vacationing, we would need something more appropriate for fulltiming.

And now at the start of the change of the season, we are excited to be the proud owners of a new 2018 Airstream 25 FB Twin Flying Cloud we have named ChILL and a new 2018 F150 Lariat 4×4 pickup! Of course, we are also sad to say goodbye to the Island Time as part of the transition. There can be no replacement for all the memories it provided, but at the same time it was not up to the task for the next season. Fortunately, as part of the trade-in process we were able to park the Island Time and ChILL in close proximity to each other to transfer a few items. Deep in my heart I believe that during that transfer all of the great memories and experiences moved over as well. When I step into the Airstream I can feel the excitement of the memories yet to happen as well as the memories from the past.

The Island Time will continue to be with us as we travel the country in ChILL. We celebrate the past by including a reminder from it in the future. The Airstream will continue to have the ISLNDTM license plate as the reminder of a special travel trailer that started the whole adventure. We always believed that the license plate brought a smile to those that were stuck behind us as we lumbered along the highway. Hopefully, the feeling will continue with ChILL.

We are so excited to be moving into the next season of our lives. We can never know for sure what the future holds, but we are truly blessed to be well positioned for our next season with family, our health, adequate resources and a burning desire to explore. Thanks for coming along on our adventures so far. We look forward to sharing the joy of our next season. Stay tuned!

Thanks,

 

Captain Skip

 

First adventure for the new ML350

ChILL and our new F150

New Island Time license plate

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