Palm Trees in southern Florida

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Our Florida adventure goes sideway

We've been in Florida, at this Escapees co-op park  for the month of December & it's been an interesting month!  The park is a beautiful place, palm trees, very friendly people, an active social life...a community.  I can see buying a spot here (it's a co-op).  
It was a very good place to spend Christmas!

The SKP RV park in Zolfo Springs

The plan was to use this central Florida location as a hub to explore all around, as most everything I wanted to see is within two hours.  It looked good on paper!

Things have not gone quite like we'd planned ...

When the Olds minivan died it took almost 2 weeks to find a suitable replacement. We had the RV & our bikes to explore, but if that had been the plan we'd have stayed somewhere closer to either coast and the beaches.

So, rather than exploring, we spent our time looking for a car...

We had five criteria for our new ride:
1) A 2001 or newer (it was replacing a 2000)
2) Lower mileage, 150,000 was the maximum
3) It needed a sunroof (that was my requirement.. more a hoped-for feature)
4) It had to be within our budget
5) It had to look good, my wife was the sole judge of that :-)

4 out of 5 is not bad    :-) 

We picked up a 2000 Toyota Camry in superb shape! 
We had just enough time to finish the Florida paperwork for the car & our new Florida driver licenses before our month was up at this park.
If anyone is interested Florida charges new residents a special tax fee of $225 each to get their cars registered!  It was $610 to register the Camry!

2000 Toyota Camry

Today we leave for Quartzsite, Arizona.  January is the month for the RTR & the RV show & flea market in Quartzsite. 
Our first stop is going to be Cobb Camp (Osceola NF up by Lake City, FL) to visit Cuzzen Dick and whoever else is at the roving winter SE GTG.

I did get the solar panels installed on the roof of the RV here, and that will make boondocking a lot more comfortable. Solar is magic!

We're going to be coming back to Florida, as there's still lots of exploring to do.

A Florida sunset 

All in all it's been a good month here in Florida!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Dead cars, craigslist scams & distances

We headed to Florida for the month of December, our first destination with our new RV setup! Our Class C RV now pulled our Olds on a tow dolly, so we'd have a ride for around town and such when we arrive. Just park 'the house' & use the car for errands & sightseeing wherever we are.  

The van & RV leaving in our new travel arrangement 

Last week were on the way to the new Star Wars movie, the 12:30pm show (IMAX & 3D!!!) in Lakeland Florida.

We were halfway there when the car died.

It was the engine and the noises were not good ... called a tow truck & took it to the shop in Wauchula FL that I picked off the internet.  I knew it was more than I could deal with in an RV park.

I went on-line and, because the movie had not started, the ticket money was refunded. A bright spot to the day!

The van loading on the tow truck 

Turned out the engine was shot.. around $2000 for a crate motor, around $1400 for the labor. Plus we'd need far more time than we had to spend in this part of Florida to get the job done.

It was a 17 year old vehicle so it was not real surprising,  but this sort of thing is always a disappointment.

We started shopping for a used vehicle. Looking for the newest, lowest mileage we could find within our budget. I like craigslist.

Search criteria -
There had to be a picture, 2001 or newer (we are replacing a 2000 model), less than 100,000 miles (or 125,000 miles or 150,000 miles, changing the amount is easy), more than $15 (that gets rid of the dealers who put $1 on the price block) and $3000 for the max price. Then I typed the word "sunroof" in the search block & let'er rip!

All kinds of cars with sunroofs that meet the rest of our criteria.  All of them a goodly distance from the great central location we found for a month-long Florida stay.

We are about 5 miles from the grocery store in town, that's bikeable but a good distance from all the population centers selling cars! Too far for my bike.

So we drove the RV to look at cars.  It drives nice, it's comfortable, but using it for a car search from here was just a bit spendy at the gas pump.

We drove to look at several cars that weren't there, "We just sold that one today."  I did have an offer on a nice one in an eBay warehouse in Billings Montana, a gmail address, pictures on Instagram and they said they'd ship it!

This is the first time my new bride & I have shopped for a car.  Turns out our ideas of "acceptable" are just a tad different. :-)

The next trip to look at a car will be combined with a day trip to the beach! Having your house at the beach with you is a good thing and a really nice way to rationalize the gas money!

Through all this I realized how much I counted on my cell phone, I even thought how much harder this all would have been without it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

This and that

These are random thoughts, things I've noticed that just won't leave my head. Plus it's a neat way to write a blog for when I really need one ...

Meatloaf cooked in a cast iron pan seems pretty random

I've been doing a blog since April of 2013,  that's 181 of them and I cannot tell you how much I admire those people who put out a blog every day.  Every Day. Wow, it's just amazing!

Hell, I wonder how those who do one once a week manage it!  
Let alone the people who make a living from blogging...

There are more people out at Yellowstone National Park  after Labor Day than I really expected. 
I didn't realize how many retired folks were out there and I can't believe they are all here at the same time we are!  :-)  

We're all waiting for Old Faithful to do it's thing 

That's a joke, as I'm sure some of them are at the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and the same Indian casinos I've been staying at :-)

I'm starting to think the economy is doing better than I thought. There are a lot of new RVs out here.  That, to me, says something. Another indicator is at a small general aviation airport a friend of mine is associated with:  you can't rent a plane to get some time unless you're a student learning how to fly, because the rental planes are all booked. All the hangers are rented out too.
Nothing says disposable income like a new RV or a small airplane... unless you're living in it  :-)

I read others blogs on traveling, RV living & VanDwelling. 
I'll admit that I'm envious of the clever saying they come up with as a way to point out that, if you want to do something, there is no time like the present. It's such a true thing and I'm just jealous! 
I think and think, but the only thing I can come up with is "I'd rather spend my money on good flip-flops than a winter coat!"
It's embarrassing, but it's the best I came up with. 
(The flip-flops I bought were the brand 'Freewaters' brand.)

Our new (to us) RV will cruise down the highway at the 70 or 75 mph limit with ease and a smooth ride, but the gas gauge doesn't really do so well at those speeds. 62 or 63 seems to be a happier compromise between getting somewhere & the gas mileage...

So far, December in Florida has been really nice. 
We went to Sanibel Island  & found real sea shells! 

It's alive but it's not tiny!

I'd been wanting to go there since I discovered the blog "I love shelling".  A nice place, for the most part. I'm sure it's great if you live there or if you're renting a place with a short walk to the beach, but if you're driving down there, the $5 an hour parking fee is a real downer... Live & Learn!

I'm hoping there are affordable beaches at other places, for we tourists who are not staying at the salt water.

The water was warm!

I never realized that Florida got fog, it just never crossed my mind! No reason for it not to get fog...

This was out our window this morning

The plan is to go to Arizona next month, Quartzsite for the RTR, the RV show & just to see friends and all the other RVers that show up. 

Plus there are palm trees ... I like palm trees!