You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘misc’ category.

If you look at the map that we’ve recently been including, you’ll notice that we seem to be making a beeline in a general northwest direction from our start in Florida. No loitering in any specific area, just a few days stay here and there, always NW when we move on. This is because our first “milestone” stop was the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa, for a long list of warranty work on Sybil, mostly minor but a couple of significant issues we need to get resolved. We made the appointment many months ago and, after a few minor adventures getting this show on the road, we made it on time and relatively unscathed. We’re holed up in a motel while the work is taking place, so this seems like a good time to look at what we’ve done so far.

  • We pulled out of Brevard County 40 days ago. It seems much longer when you’re doing new things every day.
  • So far we’ve averaged just under $28/night for our spots. Our first year goal is under $50/night. Whoo-hoo!
  • We’ve covered 1,869 miles averaging 7.5 mpg. That sounds pretty bad, but between Lady Sybil and the F150 we are over 40,000 lbs rolling down the road. I’m satisfied. Fun fact: our mileage has improved since leaving Florida. We seem to gain more fuel efficiency coasting down these hills/mountains than we lose going up them.
  • We have risen roughly 14.5 degrees in latitude. 90 degree weather is far, far behind us and the days are noticeably longer. (As I type this, the day’s length is 13 hours 30 minutes in Cocoa Beach. Here in Forest City, it is 14 hours 38 minutes.)
  • We have crossed one time zone, which initially complicated matters. We missed several TV shows before we got used to prime time starting an hour early. We’ll be crossing another shortly after pulling out of here. More confusion ahead.
  • We’ve taken close to 500 photos. Many are what I refer to as being snapshots or memory shots, but there are some gems in there too. I’m happy to be shooting more frequently and I can’t wait to head west into truly target rich environments.

So there ya go, some numbers for you. Stay tuned for our tales of the west which we’re sure will include adventures in mountain driving, big skies, family visits and who knows what else. We sure don’t.

The Town Square, Forest City, Iowa, 5/13/10

A quite modern Veterans Memorial, Forest City, Iowa, 5/13/10

An older veteran, Forest City, Iowa, 5/13/10

The 1st of our many new homes, Wickham Park, Melbourne FL, 3/18/19

Yesterday we finished up packing the RV, pulled it out of storage, and set it up at our site in Wickham Park, our home for the next 3 weeks.

We are now full-time RV’ers.

Holy crap.

We’ve been considering doing this for almost 8 years, planning it for 6, and, since my retirement almost a year ago, implementing the plan. We’ve been busy scanning a lifetime of photos and documents, giving away or selling most of our belongings, and trying to figure out how we will fit the 10 lbs of our stuff (clothes, kitchen, gear) into the 5 lbs of available space on Sybil. We seem to have succeeded, but only time will truly tell. Now it’s time to execute the plan.

Waxing philosophic for a moment, this is obviously a huge change and challenge for us. It wasn’t easy disposing of a lifetime worth of stuff but the difficult decisions have been made. It was easier than we thought. Now we face the reality of living in (very) close quarters with each other pretty much 24/7. The reality of not being quite sure where we’ll be next week/month/year. The reality of needing to find a place to stay when we do decide where to go. The reality of closely monitoring the weather in case we need to run away or hunker down. The reality of dealing with significant obstacles while on the road. It will be a lot more work than simply hanging around the house. We understand all of this and believe we’re ready to embrace the new lifestyle we are throwing ourselves into. Again, time will tell.

On the other hand, we anticipate great rewards as a result of this choice. Beautiful scenery. Interesting people. Adventure. Swashbuckling.

OK, maybe not that last one.

We are pretty excited to be heading out finally. We will miss our most excellent friends and family, but it’s never been easier to stay in touch and have them share our journey. Some of them we may run into out there on the highway. Others not until we swing by wherever they may be. We’re never farther than a cell call or internet reach out away.

In the immortal words of the great scholar and author Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel: “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.

The view from our home. Thanks to the Bradys for the gift that keeps on giving…quality rum. Wickham Park, Melbourne FL, 3/17/19

I know, I know, it’s been too long since I posted. The main purpose of this blog is relating our travel adventures and showing some pretty pictures and we just haven’t been doing much of either this summer. That’s about to change, and in a big way. Tomorrow we depart for almost 3 weeks of journeying about the islands of French Polynesia: Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, etc. We’ll be spending a few nights at the Pearl Resort on the island of Moorea seeing the sights before heading to Raiatea where we’ll board a 55′ catamaran for two weeks of sailing with family and friends! To say we’re excited is the understatement of at least the decade.

I will be trying to post when able, but internet access (at least access capable of uploading my posts) will be … spotty. This, of course, is an attraction for me, since three weeks with no work email and no cell coverage is seen as a feature rather than a bug. Although I WILL be monitoring, as best I can, the Orioles path to the World Series.

For some obligatory photos, here are some shots I took the other night of a 2 month old lion cub (and a couple of his future roomies). For background, see here. He’s as cute as a button and still able to be around people. That will change, of course, but before it does I hope to get over there with my “real” camera (these are all from my iPhone in low light, so the quality isn’t very good) and get some better shots. After Tahiti, of course!

Mims, FL, 9/14/14

Mims, FL, 9/14/14

 

Mims, FL, 9/14/14

Mims, FL, 9/14/14

Mims, FL, 9/14/14

Mims, FL, 9/14/14

Mims, FL, 9/14/14

Mims, FL, 9/14/14

IMG_0575 - Version 2

We drove to Baltimore a couple of weeks ago to attend a wedding. Although we had known when we were going for a long time, it wasn’t until a few weeks beforehand that we realized that, with a tiny bit of planning, we could pull into Annapolis at a perfect time to take Patti’s mom to lunch on Mother’s Day. Knowing this, I planned to drive from Central Florida to Roanoke Rapids, N.C., in one shot. It put us just a few easy hours from our destination and there are a lot of hotels and restaurants in the area. Hoping to find a way to burn some energy after a long day in the cab of the truck, I did a bit of googling and found what seemed like a nice walk to stretch our legs.

If you find yourself traveling I-95 in southern Va. or northern N.C., the Roanoke Canal Trail is perfect. We found the River Road access without a hitch (maybe 10 minutes from the I-95 interchange) and headed up the trail, happy to be out of the truck. The weather was hot and humid, and the skies to the west were threatening. There were a few sign pedestals along the way telling us about the flora and fauna and whatever, but then we came across the one pictured below.

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

In 1949, an F-80 on a training run had crashed close to where we were standing. The widow of the pilot had placed “the marble marker here,” but we didn’t see anything like that in the immediate area. A bit of exploring revealed a new-ish trail of pavers heading into the bushes, leading to the marker.

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

Memorial Marker, Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

Apparently they had recently cleaned it up and added the pavers (full story here). We’re glad they did, as it’s an interesting little tidbit that would never have hit our radar. We kept on down the trail for a short ways, but there was thunder in the distance by this time and we had to cut it short. Next time we come this way we’ll know this nice little walk is waiting at the end of the day and plan on more exploring.

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail, 5/10/14

The Intrepid Pilot & his new toy. Merritt Island, FL, 6/8/13

The Intrepid Pilot & his new toy.
Merritt Island, FL, 6/8/13

The other day a friend called and asked if I’d like to take a quick flight above Cocoa Beach. It seems he has a buddy that needed some photographs of his property. He knew I had expressed an interest in going up in his new (to him) plane so he gave me a call. Of course, I jumped all over that, so I found myself Saturday morning in a tiny plane taking off from the Merritt Island airport for a quick jaunt over the beach. It was a fun 45 minutes.

His new plane is a Liberty XL2, a two seater with exceptional visibility. It is a peppy little thing and fairly leaped off the runway. We were over south Cocoa Beach in just a couple of minutes. He pointed out the property of interest and circled it while I shot it from all four sides. He then asked to see one of the shots to ensure I had got the right building. I hadn’t. We made sure I had the right one and made a few more passes until I assured him that we were good. For real, that time.

We took a short hop up the beach…I shot our favorite watering hole, The Beach Shack, and got a few of Port Canaveral before we had to head back for other commitments. I had a great time and hope to head up again when he has more time. I also learned a few things about shooting from a small plane to apply next time. While I feel that there’s room for improvement in most of the shots I got, the ones we were after are “good enough” to answer the mail. Here’s a few that are OK.

(PS: If you are in the need for an air charter in or around the Florida region, drop me a line in the comments and I’ll hook you up with these fine folks.)

Beach Shack on the right, Coconuts On The Beach on the left 6/8/13

Beach Shack on the right, Coconuts On The Beach on the left
6/8/13

Cocoa Beach Golf Course 6/8/13

Cocoa Beach Golf Course
6/8/13

South Cocoa Beach, Patrick Air Force Base in the distance 6/8/13

South Cocoa Beach, Patrick Air Force Base in the distance
6/8/13

Submarine Pen at Port Canaveral 6/8/13

Submarine pen at Port Canaveral, launch complexes in the distance
6/8/13

Cruise ships in Port Canaveral 6/8/13

Cruise ships in Port Canaveral
6/8/13

The Intrepid Pilot, his S.O. & their roomier plane Merritt Island, FL, 6/8/13

The Intrepid Pilot, his S.O. & their roomier plane
Merritt Island, FL, 6/8/13

I spent most of 2005 in Washington, D.C., working at NASA HQ. While there I naturally took advantage of the chance to visit many of the iconic sites around the nation’s capital and, in late May, several days before the Memorial Day holiday, I went to Arlington National Cemetery. Turns out it was the day they placed flags at each and every grave. Sadly, there are a lot of graves. It was quite a moving experience.

They had a lot of flags to deploy. Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

They had a lot of flags to deploy.
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

They had a process, place foot against marker, push flag in against heel. Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

They had a process, place foot against marker, push flag in against heel.
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

There were a lot of soldiers working at this on a very hot day. Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

There were a lot of soldiers working at this on a very hot day.
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Tomb Of The Unknowns Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Tomb Of The Unknowns
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Tomb Of The Unknowns Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Tomb Of The Unknowns
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Challenger Memorial Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Columbia Memorial
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Challenger Memorial Could this look any worse? Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Challenger Memorial
Could this look any worse?
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Departing Sub, Port Canaveral, 5/30/09

Departing Sub, Port Canaveral, 5/30/09

We spent three nights last weekend camping at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral. It may seem odd to go camping just 20 minutes or so from the house but it was a nice break from our normal routine and we actually got onto the beach for awhile. Although we live 7 miles as the crow flies from the ocean, we rarely actually walk on the beach, much less go in the water. Hey, we’re locals.

Jetty Park is the farthest north you can go on the beach before the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station/Kennedy Space Center complex. It is part of Port Canaveral and used to be a favorite spot for watching Space Shuttle launches. One of the “things to do” is to watch the traffic arrive and depart from the port. Commercial fishing boats and ocean-going cargo vessels are common sights. Just across the channel is a berth for submarines — boomers — that stage out of here when they utilize the missile test range off the coast. On a previous visit we saw one heading out to sea. However, a daily sight are the comings and goings of the cruise ships. Every afternoon, starting about 4:30 or 5:00, these huge floating pleasure palaces float on by with thousands of partiers on board. Or in the case of the Disney ships, a whole bunch of relaxing parents and wired kids. Whatever. A “thing to do” is to gather on the side of the channel to watch these hotels of the sea head out. It’s a bit of a party atmosphere. The impression you can’t help but take away is that damn, those things are HUGE!

Port Canaveral, FL, 3/9/13

Port Canaveral, FL, 3/9/13

The thought of spending a ton of money to cruise to nowhere while spending even more money every time we want an adult beverage is not our idea of a great time, but hey, whatever floats your boat (pun intended). Our idea of cruising is a week or two in the BVIs (or Tahiti, hint hint) on a catamaran that’s well stocked with rum. The photos included here are of the Carnival Dream heading out last Saturday evening. As I type this, the Carnival folks have just announced that they will gladly fly ALL of the passengers, 4300 of them, back home from St. Maarten where the vessel is currently docked. They had a generator failure and are stuck at the dock. Passengers are reportedly not being let off the boat despite reports of, um, “unsanitary” conditions aboard.

Good times.

CruiseShip_1

Port Canaveral, FL, 3/9/13

Finally: below is my first ever youtube upload. It’s the view from the picnic table at our campsite. If you get bored, skip to 1:30, then go to 2:00. (And note the people in the tubular water slide.)

Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Ready to go.
Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Since the “Cardiac Event”, almost a year ago, I have been trying to get more exercise into my life. As soon as I felt healed enough, Patti and I went out and bought a couple of nice hybrid bikes. I’ve been attempting to get out several times a week and get some miles under my belt, but last weekend we decided that we’d go out to the Moccasin Island Tract out in the flats near the St. Johns River. (Aside: understand that the term “Flats” is totally redundant in an area where the largest elevation change we are likely to experience are the causeways going over the lagoon between our house and the beach.) So we threw the bikes on the back of the truck and headed out. Things started out well. It was a windy day but not a problem as we followed the track. We were following a GPS track that a local guy had posted with the comment that it was frequented by hikers and bikers. This turned out to be partly true. This was major cattle country located in the vast St. Johns floodplain, wide open and exposed. We would never think of coming out here in the summer due to bugs and, more importantly, the oppressive heat of a Florida summer. Now, in early February, it was totally comfortable in shorts and t-shirts. And, yes, we were thinking of our family members in less hospitable climates. A little.

Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Where we shouldn’t be.
Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

After a few miles we came to a bridge over a canal where, according to the track, we were to hang a left alongside the southern bank of the canal and head west to the river and a view of Moccasin Island. Again, no problem. We had to dodge some souvenirs left by the cattle, not always successfully, and the track was narrower and bumpier than before, but it was still pretty (in a flat, grassy, open kinda way) and we were trucking along. The track finally hung a left for the last bit towards the river, got very narrow in a field of tall grass, and then disappeared. We were close enough to walk out of the grass to the river, but we soon picked up the bikes and got out of there. (I didn’t mention the snake that slipped across the path as we walked back to the bikes.) Sounds easy, but getting a bike started when you’re in grass over your waist is a non-trivial activity. Once out, we discovered that a) the wind had picked up, with gusts well over 20mph, and b) we would be heading into it for the entire trip back. Despite these minor obstacles we had a really good time. We got outdoors, got some exercise, saw some niceness and learned some lessons. We’ll go back there soon, but this time we’ll look a bit farther ahead and not blindly follow in someone else’s footsteps. Addendum from the other half: John got much closer to the river due to the fact that he was able to pedal through the ass-high grass, whereas I just … stopped. No going forward for me. And when we turned around to go back, we were directly into the 20 mph wind. I walked the bike through the tall grass until we reached the slightly shorter grass and the rut that served as a track appeared and I could successfully pedal without falling over like some Monty Python skit. I’m such a weakling. When we got back to the gate, we saw a small group of cyclists heading down a much nicer path on the other side of the canal. We’ll follow those footsteps next time we go out there. Meanwhile, my legs need some time to get over this assault – uh – exercise.

We went down the left side of the canal. Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

We went down the left side of the canal.
Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Road HazardMoccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Road Hazard
Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

A typical bookshelf in our house.

Both of us are heavy readers. I have had books in progress for the vast majority of my life, usually at least two of them at a time. My sister is like that. My daughters are like that. My youngest once spent a couple of weeks crying herself to sleep. She could see her sister lying in her own room with a book and she was so frustrated that she couldn’t yet read. It’s an addiction with as strong a pull as any other. The Utah contingent of this family travels with a large bag of books. And an even larger bag of shoes, but that’s a subject for a later post.

Which leads us to the problem shared by bibliophiles all over the world: what to do with all of these damn books? All of our shelves are at least two levels deep in both directions: up & out. We have boxes of books in storage. They’re everywhere. We try to weed them out by donating to the local library sale, but that doesn’t always work out. I once bought a book at the sale, only to get home and quickly realize that I had already read it. That, in fact, I had donated that very copy.

Which leads me to LibraryThing. It’s a site that catalogs and organizes your library. You enter your books and you have a record of your library. It generates statistics. (How many science fiction? How many by Neal Stephenson?) You can review/comment/rate your books. How many others share your interests? Lots and lots of different ways to look at your library. Most importantly, you can see what you’ve read and what you want to read. And it’s cheap. It’s free for the first 200 books and only $25 for a lifetime unlimited membership.

They sell a cheap bar code scanner ($15) that just lets you scan the ISBN and it adds the book to your library. For 15 bucks it makes the data entry task for a library of our size trivial. I’m totally there. After less than a week with the scanner I have 84 books entered. The vast majority of these are from one bookshelf, and they were the ones that were on top of, or in front of, the other books. It may not help us physically organize our collection, but at least we’ll know what we’ve got.

To see our library, go here.

(BTW: I had a problem when I ordered my membership due to operator error. I contacted their customer support and they rock! Quick response and they fixed my screw-up in short order. I love these guys.)