Memorial Day 2019

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Trip Report: Memorial Day 2019

It has been quite awhile since I last posted in this blog. Needless to say, there has been a lot of change and it would take many lengthy posts to fill the gap from the previous post to Memorial Day 2019. Rather than spending time on all of those details, I am just going to capture this trip and future events as they happen.

These are seemingly stressful times with a lot of health related issues happening all around us. Mom is currently at The Terrace of Jacksonville recovering from hip surgery, Jeannie has been working through vein surgery in both legs, Sailor is recuperating from another episode with his back and I tweaked my back replacing the water pump on the Airstream (another story for another time). Whew!

As a great escape from all of that, we have been really looking forward to sharing a weekend with Logan, Gavin and Tyler, to celebrate Gavin’s 8th birthday. Their energy and excitement always provides a boost to our outlook and perspective.

This was a first visit to LazyDays in Tampa, at exit 10 on I-4. With it being more difficult to book campgrounds for holiday weekends, we thought we would give LazyDays a try. Overall, I think I would give it a B+ and it proved to be a great choice for our weekend. It turns out that LazyDays in Tampa is the largest RV dealership in the world. Wow! Lucky for us they have a large inventory of parts available, but more on that later.

The weather was beyond hot! During the peak of the day our thermometer would go off of the scale hot. Above 104 degrees it registers “-H-“ and it did that each day Friday through Monday. Even with the A/C going full blast it could not keep up and generally the inside temperature would peak around 82 degrees. The refrigerator struggled as well, but stayed within a safe range for food.

This trip was a bit of a test of our ability to tolerate long drive days in anticipation of our summer trip to Jackson Center in Ohio. This trip is a little over 200 miles and it took us a little over 4 hours total drive time. With both of us switching off driving and taking breaks every 2 hours we average about 50 miles per hour. Considering this experience, it seems reasonable that we could have traveled another 2 hours if needed. It seems that a 300-mile maximum miles per day is a good plan and limit for us.

This was one of our best weekends with our Florida Grandkids. They are growing up and are able to engage in more activities than just having to be entertained with toys. It is great to see them grow in stature and character as they mature.

This being Gavin’s 8thbirthday is a special birthday as around this age I try to introduce our Florida grandkids to an interest that we may have in common. For Logan it was photography, for Gavin I introduced him to Ham Radio. As part of this birthday, I built a simple FM radio that I named the Gavintronic. The core of the radio was a small integrated circuit board based radio run by a cell phone auxiliary battery and over-the-ears headphones. In addition we gave him 4 FRS walkie talkies that he can share with others as he chooses. Overall, it was a big hit. I don’t know if it will produce a growing interest, but at least a seed was planted that he will reflect upon over the years as he thinks back on our camping trips.

While in the area we ventured a few miles up the highway to visit the new Airstream facility at the RV One dealership where we purchased our Airstream. The new facility is very impressive. The Airstream and the other brand buildings have been completely rebuilt and represent a strong commitment to the Airstream brand. We really enjoyed taking the virtual factory tour in the 360-degree theater. The movie puts you right in the middle of the building of an Airstream trailer. We were also impressed with the service bays and the amount of investment in facilities and training RV One has made to become a premier service provider. Should we not be able to go to the factory in July, we may consider having the work done there.

This trip brought about the usual need for minor ongoing repairs and maintenance on our Airstream. Keeping in mind that over the past 18 months we have not really had the opportunity to use ChILL to the extent that we would discover the inherent weak points of this unit. The weak points seem to resolve around the latching system on the medicine cabinet door and the water heater, both of which needed attention this trip.

Once again the igniter board on the water heater quit working. I tried to replace the Atwood 91365 board with the Dinosaur board that I carry as a spare, but the board was difficult to get mounted and working since it was dark and we had sweaty kids that needed a shower. I was able to get the water heater working on shore power for the evening. The next day I went in search of a replacement board. Fortunately, LazyDays has a huge parts department and was able to provide a newly revised Atwood board for around $175. The new board is redesigned and is supposed to have better quality control. I hope they finally fixed the problem.

The medicine cabinet door managed to strip the screws on the primary latch. I used the toothpick method to help fill the void and replaced the screws. I will use some Gorilla Glue on the screws when I get home. Clearly, there is a lot of strain on the latches during travel. We will have to figure out how to reinforce those latches over time.

A new item needing repair is the Zamp solar connector on the A-frame. It has corroded to the point that the positive prong on the plug came off. I plan to replace the plug with an identical one when we get back.

Overall, we had a great trip. We traveled a few miles, made new memories, tested a few extremes, fixed a few minor items and survived the heat. We are already looking forward to the next adventure.

Visit summary

Date: 5/24/19 – 5/28/19

Location: LazyDays RV Resort

Site#: 239

Miles: 221

Mileage: 14.4

Average MPH: 50

Thanks,

Captain Skip

ChILL at LazyDays

Gavin with Gavintronic

Site 239 LazyDays

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