Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If you build it. . . they will come!

We drove out to Apollo Beach today, between Bradenton and Tampa. There The Big Bend Power Station produces energy on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. One byproduct of the power plant is the discharge of clean, warm water into the reservoir off the Gulf. Here the manatees come to swim, relax, play and lounge around in the warm environs provided by the plant. The company has built viewing areas, a museum and walkways for people to stroll on to view the manatees, water birds and other wildlife that might happen into the mangroves.

Today the manatees were out in force. There were so many of them. . . hundreds I would guess. Each of those little bumps in the picture is a manatee! We have been to viewing areas before, but never have we seen so many! We saw many laying on the bottom near the shoreline, occasionally sticking a snout up for air. They must be able to stay under water for a long time. We saw what appeared to be momma manatees with their babies. Some of the babies were playful. . . rolling over on their backs and waving their flippers. How cute. We were mesmerized just watching these gentle giants. There were displays to identify specific animals that have been returning to the area year after year. Many of them have names. Some have died having been hit by boat propellers. Manatees are big and slow and swim just under the surface. They are peaceful animals and have the misfortune of often being cut by boat propellers. The ones were saw today were almost all scarred from encounters with boats. There is a webcam and you may view the manatees from that camera. http://tampaelectric.com/manatee

Tomorrow we are planning on doing more sightseeing out at the ocean. The days are warming up and the sun has been cooperating, so it should be a beautiful day.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Linger Lodge

The Freightliner rally was a huge success. We really enjoyed the people we met and learned some things as well. We did have some rain, but that didn't dampened our spirits.

We left Orlando Friday morning and we have spent the past two nights at Linger Lodge RV Resort in Bradenton, Florida. Not much of a resort and it was not easy getting into our spot. But we were only a mile and a half from a high school classmate of Terry's we wanted to connect with. Susie and Terry went to high school together and were also members of the same church youth group and had become very good friends. She and her husband Stan were married one week before we were in 1971 and we went to their wedding. That was the last time we had seen them. Terry had seen her name on "Classmates" and found out they were in Florida where we were going to be for the winter. So they picked us up last night and they took us out to dinner at the "Cabana Banana" on Bradenton Beach. What fun! It's a little "island" kind of place owned by Mike, former drummer of Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. Hah. My little brush with fame last night. There was a musician who played a lot of familiar music for us and we had a great time talking about everything while Terry and Susie had a chance to catch up on classmates and families. It was a wonderful evening.

We had lunch today at the Linger Lodge Resort Restaurant. It is . . . well. . . rustic. The restaurant was featured on the food network with Al Roker at one time. I was not impressed. The food was okay, not great. The place is decorated with dead, stuffed animals. The huge alligator on the wall was supposedly the one who attacked the man who founded the restaurant. I find it hard to have an appetite when everywhere I looked I see some dead stuffed animal or snake. Not my idea of "motif." But. . . what can I say. . . it was an experience and I wanted to go.

Today we drove about 15 miles north to the Lake Manatee State Park. This is a nice park and surprisingly big rig friendly. We had reservations and got parked in short order. Our campsite is quite large and that is good because they do have snakes and other vermin you have to watch for. We have a view of the lake out our front window. There are quite a few people here, but a lot of privacy because of the vegetation and the distance between sites. We are invited on a 2.5 mile hike tomorrow morning. We will see. I have been having trouble with my bursitis in my hip and I'm not sure I'm up for that much walking. We are here to scout for a place near where our Canadian friends are camped and to do some sightseeing before the Brooksville Rally.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When it rains, it pours!

We are here at the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando for an FCOC (Freightliner Chassis Owners' Club) rally. We arrived Monday afternoon and got parked quickly. We have 63 rigs in attendance. . . a nice size for a rally. Not too big, so you get to know a lot of people. We had happy hour at 4 p.m. and then a delicious catered dinner. Tuesday we had "technical" day and had seminars on the Freightliner chassis, air systems, tires, and Cat engines. We were able to ask a lot of questions and we learned several things from these discussions.

Last evening we went to IKEA. If you have never yet experienced that store, you should take an opportunity to do so. We just really did more browsing, but it was a lot of fun. Once we got home, we had to change the mattress on the bed. We sleep on air and while we like the dual zone Aero Beds, we have had some trouble with them leaking. The last one I got was still in the closet and we have been sleeping on a $20 Coleman air mattress for the last 9 months. It developed a leak and when we stripped it, we found a little tear on the top. No idea how it happened, but we got out the Aero Bed and set it up. Boy did it feel good! Shortly after we went to bed, we started hearing the raindrops. It rained steadily during the night and when Terry got up this morning to let the dogs out, there were several inches of water around the rig, so getting the dogs to the pen required carrying them. At least the pen was not sitting in water, so they were able to do their jobs and get back in without getting wet. It was still raining, however, and when Terry tried to put out the awning, it didn't work. We have had some awning issues before and have had it repaired once on the road, and once at the factory. I'm a little miffed that we are still having issues with it. But Terry kept toying with it and eventually got it to deploy.

We went to the catered breakfast which was very good. Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, grits, biscuits, juice, coffee and a big bowl of mixed fresh fruit. The catering service they are using is very good. The food has been hot and very tasty.

After breakfast, we left to go find LabCorp, as Terry had to have blood work done. Somehow his coumadin has gotten messed up and he is having to have blood work every two weeks. Hopefully we can get it corrected before too much longer.

At 11:30, we met our friends, Janice and Dean from the Fulltiming Class of 2005, for dinner. They are camped in Clermont and are waiting for the paperwork for their new coach, a 2005 Allegro Bus. They are going to be moving from their 5er into the motorhome this weekend. As we are going to be in the Tampa area visiting friends, we may get a chance to help them move. Just have to wait and see. I remember moving from our old rig into the new one and it is a real job. You just don't think that you could get that much stuff in 40' of space, but you really manage to collect it.

We got back to the camp in time for Happy Hour as it was our group that was to provide snacks. We are going back at 7:30 this evening to play card bingo . . . whatever that is.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, January 20, 2008

They were strolling through the park today!

We were sitting in the coach reading our on-line newspapers this morning when Terry said, "Is that a duck I hear quacking?" Well, it didn't quite sound like a quack and when I looked out the window, I yelled, "Quick, where's my camera?" The peacocks were out for the daily stroll through the park. They were strutting straight down the middle of the road. In my haste to get out front to snap some pictures, I missed the ones passing directly behind the coach. I probably could have gotten a much better shot out back because I could have hid and gotten closer. There were at least a dozen. They usually roam the subdivision behind Enchanted Lakes, where we are camped. A couple times a week, they will fly over the fence and stroll around the roads before making their way back. As it was, the neighbor out walking her Corgis startled them and they took flight rather noisily. They flew up and over the fence and then to the rooftops they went. It was quite cold, so I came in at that point.

Speaking of cold, someone must have thought we were too hot because it has definitely cooled down for today. I don't think it got much above 55 and that is pretty chilly when you are used to 70's. We have seen a lot of rain. Seems like it has rained everyday for the last week. But it rains at night a lot and early in the morning, then stops. . . and starts again later. Last night we had quite heavy showers and Brandon said they had tornados over on the west coast of Florida. Hmmm.

We are meeting Brandon for breakfast tomorrow at Cracker Barrel and then we will head for Orlando and the Freightliner Rally. Yesterday and today we have been packing things up and finding places for everything and putting them there. We made a big pot of soup to have for the rally. We like to have that at noon when we are running in and out checking on the dogs between seminar sessions. So that is done. Terry fixed the one day/night shade again. He fixes them when the strings break. He hates them, but he knows how to fix them. He says, "They're just a parallel slide." That sounds too much like "slide rule" and I never learned how to use one, so I defer to him on that one. Hah.

The house hunt is on hold. Brandon is covered up with work and was getting very, very stressed out, so I said. . . reduce your stress and the best way to do that was to put the hunt on hold. He still would like the house he put the offer on, but the bank is holding out for a better offer. Our realtor said that won't happen, so maybe he will get that one after all. Just wait them out.

He was over today and I made my world famous lasagne. It was good. Then we commissioned him to set up our printer to print wirelessly. Didn't take him long. . . but then he is a network engineer. Hah. Pays to have one in the family. So now Terry and I can both print from the comfort of our recliners in the living room to the printer back on the counter in the bedroom. . . nnnniiiiicccceee. Thank you, Babe.

My Dad is home from the hospital. They ended up putting 2 stents in each leg. They kept him an extra day because they said he was anemic. . . not sure where that came from, but apparently it cleared up, so he got to come home. He said he notices a big difference in his legs. He said they always felt heavy and it hurt to walk much. Now he said they feel a lot lighter and he's hoping it will be easier to walk.

Till next time. . .


Friday, January 18, 2008

Update on Dad

Dad is still in the hospital. They did 2 stents on the other leg. The doctors said it was 99% blocked. Anyway, those are fixed. The doctor said they were able to check the aneurysm and it does not yet need to be fixed, just watched. They kept him overnight and he was to be released today, but he is still there. He has become anemic and they don't know why. Nothing was mentioned about it before, so I don't know if it is a result of the procedure and the meds/fluids they have been giving him or if it is somehow connected to the aneurysm or just a natural result of someone his age undergoing the stress of the last couple days. Thank you all for your kind comments and your prayers and thoughts for him. I know that helps.

We are on hold for the house hunt. Brandon is currently covered up with work and cannot take time to look at anything else. We are leaving Monday morning to go to the Freightliner Chassis Owners Club Rally in Orlando for several days. Then we are headed to the Tampa area to visit with friends. Before we come back to this area, we are taking in the FMCA Southeastern Rally in Brooksville. I am trying to find some place for us to go then. I don't know if we might get lucky and find a spot in the Keys for a couple days, but one can always hope.

We changed the rugs in the motorhome and I'm afraid we made a poor choice. Our handicapped Scottie cannot get any traction at all and is having a "more than usual" difficult time walking. I think he is getting a little frustrated, but he doesn't complain. Think we may have to look for something else.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

House Hunting in Melbourne. . . Part Deux!

Well, nothing is happening on the "home" front. Brandon has made a couple offers/counteroffers, but nobody is biting. Don't believe them when they say it is a "buyer's market" in Florida. It may be in some cases, but not all. But perhaps we have just not found the right house for him yet. Our realtor assures us she will find a house for him, and I think she will. You just can't be in a hurry.

In other news, my Dad is in the hospital today. He had a stent placed in an artery in his leg. It was closed about 80% and the other leg is getting done tomorrow. We at first thought that one didn't need it, but they say now it is about as bad as the other. So they are keeping him overnight and will do the other tomorrow, then he will come home. I'm hoping that with the leg circulation restored, he will be in a better position if/when they decide they must repair his abdominal aortic aneurysm. The surgeons balked at doing it in December when they saw the blockages in his legs. They are just watching that AAA for now. Get well soon, Dad!

We haven't gotten out much. It's been cooler here and yesterday we did some "spring cleaning." Don't laugh. You wouldn't believe how much stuff you can accumulate in a 40' motorhome and we did some cleaning out of drawers, etc. We had a latch jam on the pull-out drawer unit that forms the "L" in our counter. Wouldn't do to have the drawer sliding out going down the road, so Terry took it apart and fixed it. While he was at it, we decided to clean out those drawers. We also made room for our "new" George Foreman grill. We bought Brandon's old one as we had gotten him a larger one for Christmas.

We have been looking at properties down here for us. Thought if Brandon is going to be here permanently, we might just invest in a bit of ground where we can stay when we come visit. Parks are very expensive here and so many are being sold, it might be hard to find a spot if we pop in without a reservation. Wish us luck in our search.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Just another day at the Beach????? OR WAS IT?

Hah. I have some pictures of our drive today, but I have to say one of the biggest highlights was not the alligators or the pink spoonbills, but the sunburned naked guys on the beach. Hah. What a hoot. We were on the Cape Canaveral National Seashore and everywhere we went out on the beach, there were signs up prohibiting nude bathing. Like they had to worry about us!! But all the way down to parking area 12 at the end of the road, we hiked out to the beach and there in all their glory were several men who were strolling, fishing, sunbathing. . . all in the nude. I guess they couldn't read the signs. Hee hee. I didn't take pictures of them. Sorry. Figured I'd get my camera busted if I did. I was commenting to Terry that I didn't know why they feel a need to do that and he just said. . . "Look at them, Sweetie, they're showing off." I guess that might be it. Hahaha. Oh well, back to the matters at hand.

When Jocelyn and Tom were here at Christmas, they drove up to Merritt Island to the Wildlife Refuge. I had been wanting to go and we had a day free today, so off we went. It is just north of the launch site for the shuttle and the shuttle is actually primed at the gantry and ready to launch. I have a couple pictures, but you cannot get close. With the naked eye, we could see what we believe to be the shape of the shuttle with the solid rocket fuel boosters attached. We are kind of hoping we get to hang around Florida to see the launch, which now has been postponed and no defnite date set.

Once we strolled along the beaches for awhile, we drove back through the wildlife refuge. We saw osprey at the Visitor's Center as well as a few turtles, but the illusive alligators were no where to be found. We did take a primitive road through the wetlands and there they were. We saw at least a half dozen of them and they were busy lounging on the banks of the ponds sunning themselves. We drove on down to where there is a manatee viewing area, but sad to say, didn't see any today. We then traveled back toward the Visitor's Center and took a 7-mile loop through another area of wet lands. We saw several posts which were there to encourage the bald eagles to nest, but we didn't see any nest, nor eagles. So many other birds, however, make this their habitat. I love to watch the water birds. There were white pelicans, which we hadn't seen . . . only brown ones before. Lots of herons, egrets, terns, gulls, etc. Just before exiting the loop, we saw a large group of spoonbills, the pink ones. The color on their feathers is so bright. They all have a dark stripe and then the rest is lighter pink. I find them fascinating and very beautiful.

It was a beautiful day for the drive and it was warm to go out to the beaches. If you get a chance to go there, those beaches do not seem to be widely used. There were people there and families and surf fishermen, but they definitely were not crowded.

Till next time. . .


Friday, January 04, 2008

Surf's Up!

Today we drove down to Sebastian Inlet, about 20+ miles from the "house" to watch the Sebastian Inlet Pro Surf Tournament. It was fun and probably will be more exciting as the days roll on. You have to remember that yesterday they claim there were snow flurries down there, although we didn't see any. It was 41 degrees when we got up yesterday, but today was a much better day. I don't know if it was 70, but we stayed warm. We had a sweatshirt on and then a hooded lined jacket. We took a beach mat and sat all bundled up. Probably looked pretty funny, but the people in shorts and flip-flops certainly looked cold. The surfers, I'm told, said the water temperature was in the 70's and they wore wet suits, so they stayed warm, but their feet would get numb.

The surf was pretty strong, but not a lot of big waves. Still, the competition "waved" on. We saw lots of surfers out there, but I have no idea how they score such a sport. An afternoon sitting on the beach is never wasted on me, however, because I could sit an watch the ocean for hours. I took pictures and a couple movies. On the way home, we stopped at Coconut Point, a small park with beach access closer to Melbourne Shores. The ocean was so loud. It was roaring and looked so mean and angry. The sky was dark, but there is no bad weather. Probably left over weather from the day before when we had such high winds.

Things are really quiet. We are waiting to hear if the bank accepted Brandon's latest offer on the house he wants. His second offer was the same as his first. The house was foreclosed earlier, so if the bank wants to get rid of it. . . now's their chance. Sure hope he gets it. It is a beautiful house and he would be happy there for a long time.

Till next time. . .


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Time to Breathe. . .

Finally. The house hunt is on in full swing. We have a realtor who is such a go-getter than we haven't had time to stop. We looked at about 13 houses the day after Christmas and found several that Brandon really liked. Two in particular were great possibilities. The one he could probably make an offer, have it accepted and move in as soon as it closed. Beautiful home. But it is minus a few key features he would like. He didn't really think it was possible to get everything within his price range. . . that is until we saw the "other" house. It is EVERYTHING he wants, but the price is a little higher. However, it has already been foreclosed and is ready for occupancy, even quite clean. The realtor suggested an offer she thought the bank might go for. No deal. They countered, Brandon counter-countered, if that is a word. He didn't budge on his price. Houses down here are a dime a dozen, thousands of foreclosures or those in process. This is a chance for a bank to get some of their money back. He will go a little higher. We will see what they say. Hopefully he can get this done. The big problem is that this one just went on the market, so the bank probably thinks they can wait for a higher offer. But not much is selling here. Our realtor said she hasn't sold a house since July.

So our time has been spent running back to the house to take a closer look, meeting with the realtor and the bank, etc. Sunday Brandon leaves for 3 weeks, so he would like to have something by that time. . . but don't know if that will happen. . . but then again, it might. We are hoping for that result.

We did go to visit with Tom's Grandmother Mary, his Aunt Donna and cousin Derick for Christmas. It was a great time. We had never met Grandma before and she has had some health problems recently, but she is a tough lady. She loved Ronan and pushed him around in her wheeled walker which has a place for him to sit. As long as it was moving, Ronan was happy. We stayed till after dark, then started home. It is about a 2 hour drive from Melbourne.

Last night for New Year's we went with Brandon and some friends to Meg O'Malley's. It was a fun place, but it was already crowded at 9:30. We stood for an hour and still didn't get a table. Terry and I decided to head home and celebrate in the comfort of the rig, which we did. Since we hadn't eaten, we put out some snacky stuff and enjoyed the quiet time.

Today it is raining in Florida. The dogs are sleeping and the door is open letting fresh air in. It is supposed to get cold tonight, but just really for one night, then it will be in the 50-60's at night and 70's during the day. Good weather.

Terry got me a new sewing machine for Christmas and I finally got an opportunity to get it out. I made new cushions for the dogs and bought some new material for me so I can make some new tops. I'm tired of wearing T-shirts all the time. The new machine is really neat. It is digital. . . not an expensive one, but very light weight, which is why I wanted this model. It is very easy to move around. I will probably sew again today since it is raining

Till next time. . .