grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Friday, February 28, 2014

05-28FEB14 - Houma, LA


Early Wednesday morning, 05FEB, we hit the road back to Houma, LA.  We left earlier than normal for us, to give us the time to drive the entire distance in one day instead of the usual two days.  That afternoon we were made it to Houma & parked in Joe's driveway.  After plugging in the RV we headed out to see Rebecca & Raymond & the grandkids.  After a short visit everyone headed off to Cajun Critters for crawfish! 
Thursday we awoke to miserable weather, cold & wet!  Miserable weather turned out to be the norm throughout February; while Louisiana (& most of the south) experienced record cold & rains.  Turns out there was a reason why Joe was so glad to have us in his driveway?  He wants our assistance (mostly Corrie's) in redecorating two rooms.  So today Corrie started repainting the den.
Saturday, 08FEB, in the morning we met Rebecca, Jaxson, & Mason at the Houma Y to swim.  Both kids appear to be natural water babies.  That afternoon Joe & Dan took Joe's two quad ATVs & went mud riding in the bayou.  Joe was amazed that Dan did something with an ATV he had never seen before - climb a tree with it & roll it over on its side.  Unfortunately Joe wasn't filming with his smart phone & it wasn't captured on film.  That night Tasha fixed dinner for everyone including her parents (Larry & Brinda), unfortunately Raymond was out of town drilling with his National Guard unit.
Monday Joe heads offshore for work, & we start preparing the 3rd bedroom for painting & new flooring.  Dan removed baseboards - damaging two pieces & punching a hole in the closet drywall.  Tuesday, 11FEB, the miserable weather returned.  Corrie started painting the bedroom,  while Dan repaired the drywall.  Friday & Saturday we ripped the carpet out of the third bedroom & started cleaning the exposed concrete slab.  The reason for cleaning the concrete, is because Joe is going to stain the concrete & not replacing the carpet.
Monday, 17FEB, Dan spent all day at Raymond & Rebecca's waiting for Roto Rooter, they never show.  Raymond & Rebecca were experiencing "slow" draining of the kitchen & bathroom sinks.  Raymond & Dan had rented a power snake & tried solving the problem.  Things improved a little, but more work was still needed, so Roto Rooter was called.
Tuesday morning we took the RV back to Polar Aut-O-Air to work on dash AC again.  Back in January they had worked on the dash AC; but it had stopped working on our recent trip to Florida.  Turns out that someone had damaged an O-ring when re-installing the compressor.  Since it probably was their mistake, there was no charge for a couple of parts needed & labor.  We then moved the RV to Rebecca & Raymond's driveway.
Thursday was more waiting by Dan for Roto Rooter, who finally showed up at end of the day.  He couldn't find the problem & called the office to schedule the camera guy.  Friday, 21FEB, Dan spent most of day waiting for the Roto Rooter camera tech, who never showed.  That evening we went with Rebecca, Jaxson & Mason to the Hercules Mardi Gras Parade.  Jaxson didn't like all the noise, Mason wasn't impressed.

Monday, 24FEB, the Roto Rooter camera tech showed up & determined the central sewage line is broken under the slab.  This means that a four by four hole needs to be cut into the patio, for tunneling under the house.  This means hiring Roto Rooter or another contractor.
Tuesday morning we headed into New Orleans to pick up new RV house batteries at Saia trucking.  When we were dry camping in the Everglades National Park last month, we discovered our four year old house batteries wouldn't hold a charge.  We had intended on buying new batteries at the FMCA RV Rally in Brooksville, FL; but the vendor had not received his stock for the show.  Dan eventually found a very good price on batteries with a company in Texas, & we still saved money by paying for freight shipping to the Saia warehouse in New Orleans.  This also allowed us to do some shopping at Costco in New Orleans.
Wednesday after what seemed like years talking about it, we headed to the Verizon store to see about upgrading our cell phones & plan.  Our cell phone plan is the same plan we had with Cingular from over seven years.  In Dan's opinion cell phone sales people rank right up there with used car salesmen!  Long story, short, we now have two "smart" phones, & something called a jetpack; along with a sales receipt that must be four feet long!
Friday, the last day of the month, Joe finally made it back ashore from work.  Meanwhile, Raymond rented a concrete saw & jack hammer to make a four by four "hole" in the concrete patio to access the broken sewer line.  By doing this (& replacing the concrete after the repair) he saves close to $1000!

In between all the bad weather & cold fronts, the month was filled with:
---medical appointments
---baby sitting the grandkids
---lots of family dinners at Rebecca's, Joe's, or dining out
---Rebecca's birthday

---buying things for the grandkids, like Jaxson's first soccer gear

Thursday, February 6, 2014

03/04FEB14 - Navarre, FL (via tallahassee, fl)

Sunday morning, 02FEB, we departed the FMCA Area Rally early because as we said in our last BLOG, we were dissatisfied with the rally in general.  The weather didn't help them; but in our opinion it wasn't well organized, we were surprised at the small number of vendors, & vendors that we wanted to buy things from didn't have the merchandise.  So we hit the road to visit friends in Navarre, FL.  We decided to split the drive into two days, & the first day was an excellent drive on a "blue highway", US19.  We found a nice RV park outside Tallahassee making sure it had cable TV to the watch Super Bowl.  During the drive our RV passed 100K miles on the odometer.  That means in eight years of ownership we have averaged over 10K miles per year!
Monday afternoon we arrived at Emerald Beach RV Park in Navarre, FL.  After setting up camp, we visited with our good friends Chuck & Anneke Guldenschuh.  Who we lasted visited in DEC12 (see below BLOG).  We all first met when Chuck & Dan were stationed at the Coast Guard Office in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in the late 70s.  Our paths crossed during their CG careers, even being back in Rotterdam together in 95/96/97 when the office was reopened.  And both couples started fulltime RV'ing about the same time & we would infrequently "camp" together.  After several hours of reminiscing Anneke made an excellent spur of the moment dinner, before we headed back to the RV.

Tuesday morning was some small repairs on the RV.  Then the Guldenschuh's picked us for scenic drive along Santa Rosa Beach with a nice lunch at Peg Leg Pete's where we have dined before.  We then grabbed Gumbo & our Toad to head back to their house for several games of Mexican Train Dominos.  As always the first couple of games were spent coming to an agreement on the rules even though they were in writing & we had all played before.  As always the time together seemed too short, but one of the many benefits of RV'ing is we will be in their neighborhood sometime in the future!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

27JAN-02FEB14 - Brooksville, FL (fmca area rally)

Monday morning, 27JAN, we ended our exploration of the Everglades National Park & Big Cypress National Preserve; & headed north to attend a FMCA "area rally" in Brooksville, FL, from 30JAN-02FEB.  Since we have owned a RV we have been to two "national" RV rallies, the last being a national FMCA rally in Albuquerque, NM, in 2010.  FMCA like most RV clubs is broken into a couple of areas covering multiple states, & the areas are broken down further into chapters.  This rally is sponsored by FMCA's Southeast Area; & fit our itinerary of exploring the Everglades & visiting with friends in Tampa & Navarre, FL.

Tuesday morning we drove into Brooksville to check the local post office for our forwarded mail.  Then we drove to the county airport to see where we will have to move our RV to tomorrow for the Rally.  We found it interesting that our rally info packet had warning about Brooksville's red light cameras & where they are?
For lunch we headed to Tarpon Springs, FL, for lunch.  Tarpon Springs is famous for a large Greek community who were Florida sponge divers back in 50s/60s & 70s.  In fact Tarpon Springs was the largest Greek community outside of Greece for decades.  We visited here in 10JAN09; during that visit Dan was not able to visit Spongearama museum & was highly disappointed.  They didn't get a new building like they hoped for in 2009, but the museum is back open including the Sponge Diver's Nightmare.  Dan was able to check it off his bucket list!

Tuesday evening we headed to Jim & Mary Spence's in Tampa for a visit.  Jim was a classmate of Dan's way back in the 70s at the Coast Guard Academy.  After graduation they decided to go to the same CG unit together (the CG Cutter MUNRO).  Their paths have crossed over the years but not often enough.  It was a great time reminiscing about CG careers & acquaintances, kids, RV'ing, creative talents of both ladies, & something Dan forgot - they have owned private planes with Mary flying them on family outings!  Before we knew it was late & time to head back to the RV:(
Wednesday morning we headed to the RV Rally site at Hernando County Airport.  It was cold & wet, & we were really glad we had paid extra for electricity.  After setting up camp, we just sat inside & enjoyed the warmth of the RV.
Thursday, 30JAN, was an extremely wet, cold, & miserable day at the Rally.  Not sure why but the attendance is way down from past years & the number of venders is also down.  Apparently must of the attendees decided to stay in their warm RVs, so the vendors shut down at 3:30PM rather than the scheduled 5:30PM.
Friday morning, 31JAN, it was off to Lazydays in Seffner, FL, to have our dash AC/heat checked out.  Since this is the height of the snowbird season, we were lucky to get an appointment at all at their facility.  The weather guessers had predicted the rain to stop today & warm temperatures.  Well they were wrong!!!  The cold front stalled & today was another wet, cold, miserable day.
We (or more correctly Corrie) bought our present RV from Lazydays back in 2006.  They say their RV dealership is in the top five of all tourist attractions in Florida.  When we were last here (see BLOG link about Tarpon Springs) they were still suffering from the last recession & were basically empty.  Now they are completely full & have had to bring in generators for some of their RV display areas.  Two changes not for the better are - 1) no more free breakfasts or lunches; 2) they no longer have a Camping World Store, they now have their own store; but it has fewer items & all their prices we checked were more than Camping World's?
We sat at Lazydays for seven hours for them to do two hours of trouble shooting on our dash AC/heat system.  They discovered some broken parts that allowed the freon charge to leak out.  Since they would need to order parts, we decided to postpone any repair until we get back to Houma, LA.

Saturday morning the weather finally cleared & the free coffee & donuts area was mobbed RV'ers who had been holed up in their RVs for two days.  Dan attended some seminars, while Corrie took off for a Native American Festival.  Dan wanted to replace the four "house" batteries that went dead on us at Flamingo Campgrounds in Everglades National Park last week; but the vendor hadn't received nine pallets of batteries he ordered for the Rally.  Dan did buy some state of the art LED bulbs for certain areas of the RV.  We knew they were highly energy efficient, but the "amount" of light & "color" were fantastic.  If they weren't so expensive, we would have changed all the RVs lights to LED.

Sunday morning we decided to spend only a half a day at the Rally & hit the road; because we were not satisfied with the Rally.  Dan was going to attend two more seminars before leaving.  Then he got a call from Blue Ox that they could squeeze us in for servicing our Blue Ox tow bar on the back of the rig.  They used to do this for free at rallies in the past but because RV'ers abused this benefit, they now charge $25.  But this charge is far less than paying a mechanic for one half hour & probably $75 in parts.  So Dan skipped the seminars & we hit the road immediately after the Blue Ox maintenance.
Unfortunately we had just left the Rally & were fueling the RV up; when Jim Spence called & said they would like to come by & visit us at the rally.  Sadly Dan had not checked his e-mail before departure & didn't see Jim's e-mail about stopping by:(