The road less travelled

The road less travelled

Monday, March 19, 2018

It was Bound to Happen Sometime

"Hey Gladys,where's our next super secret location?"

"Tango, you will love it!"

So we packed up and left the quaint little coastal town and started traveling north and west. We got to our next super secret location only to realize that we may have been there already. We drove by a state park and we looked at each other and said, "didn't we stay there?" Or, just maybe we have reached the age that we are forgetting things? Or maybe we have travelled so much that we have forgotten the places we have been to? After all we really don't document our travels that well. I know it was before I started blogging.

It was reconfirmed when I went on Tripadvisor to find out the top 10 things to do here. We have done that museum, we have seen that lighthouse, visited those forts and walked that beach. Crap, now what are we going to do? "

"The weather doesn't look too promising, so lets go for a drive and see what we stumble across." said Gladys.

 "Great, I love it when a plan comes together."

So we climbed into the "Beast" and headed to the coast. Naturelly the weather people had it wrong. It was beautiful there and we wished we would have packed our beach gear. Dorks on parade. We could have spent the day just soaking up the sun. So we just went for a walk along the beach and enjoyed that. Not crowded at all. We found many beaches that were empty and it is spring break here. We also found some crowded ones, so now we have an idea of which ones to go to if we come back.
Gulf Coast waters

This sexy mermaid washed up on shore

We took a break from the beach and we wanted to find a local place to eat. Gladys said that several people had eaten at a certain restaurant that we came across so we went in. They had peel and eat shrimp! Two orders please, chop, chop! And beer!
Peel and eat goodness

I will divulge where we were at because we are not there anymore. We drove the Gulf Shores National Seashore from Navarre Beach out to Ft. Pickens. Great drive along the beach. We didn't get to Ft. Agrinins. Just not enough time for Pickens and Agrinins. So we just explored Ft. Pickens. I love things like that and find them very interesting.
Ft. Pickins


Gladys with the Pensacola lighthouse behind her.

Our second day involved an inspection from a VIP. Which I was glad was going to happen. At least Gladys will clean the house finally. The VIP we were waiting for was Geraldine Cowpuncher. One of our favorite paddlers from our Amazon trips.
Gladys and Geraldine
It was nice to catch up with Geraldine again. Gladys was so excited to be able to get the chance to wear her bike hat.

That is it for another episode of "Dorks on Parade." Gladys has assured me that our next secret location is one that we have not been to. She thinks.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

First Stop on the Undisclosed Location List

First order of business. Traveling with assumed identities. Mine is okay, but Lisa's I didn't quite like. Remember hers is Josaphine Butterpump. After much thought I have decided to give her a new name. One that rolls off of the tongue better, and that is this. Gladys Butterpump.

Second order of business. We left the Berry festival a day after it ended to take care of some business in a east central Florida town. When we returned to the Berry festival I couldn't believe that they had nearly torn the whole thing down in just one day. Truly amazing to be able to move over 80+ rides and the same amount of food stands. Talk about logistics.

We left the Berry festival grounds on Wednesday and we had a short drive to a quaint little coastal town that we know of. We were kind of excited to get back there because it has been over 2 years since our last visit. It is a cute little town on the gulf that says it is like what Key West used to be. Very laid back. Nothing to do but relax and drink.
Sunny day on the gulf


More Pelicans

Looking down the main street
Looking back the other direction

The town recovered nicely after the hurricane

Looking at the bars and stores from the peir

Island in the Gulf

This little town is known for it's clams. So we just couldn't leave without some of those. So we walked over to the "Big Deck" for some clams and peel and eat shrimp. It was delicious and we washed those down with a couple of beers. 
The Big Deck
Steamed Clams


Love these peel and eat shrimp
After our appetites where satisfied, we walked the town some more before a drive out to the scrub and some Sasquatch hunting. 
The scrub and Sasquatch hunting
It was a quick trip but we have been there before for a couple of months at a time. So we move on to our next secret location. Tango and Gladys out.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Strawberries

As I sit here in my Tidy Whities contemplating the differences of the Strawberry Festival this year and the Strawberry Festival last year, I can't help but smile a little. For several reasons.

1. This year we are working for someone else (and when I say "we", I mean me) and not the festival itself. We are not standing in a parking lot for 12 hours a day in the blistering sun getting insults and vulgarities hurled at us. No, we are working for some very nice, fun people we met last year at the Strawberry Festival.

2. The second reason that makes me smile is that some of you are really thinking that I blog in my underpants.

So this year I am driving trams.
"ALL ABOARD!" beep, beep, toot, toot.
Shuttling people around the parking lots to the gates of the festival. It has been fun and the people are nice getting on because they are excited to go ride the rides and eat all of the different varieties of food. The ones that get on at the end of the day are just tired and thankful for the chance to ride back to their cars instead of having to walk.

Day 1 and 2. I worked the day shift. Pretty slow in the mornings because the gates open at 10 and the midway at noon. 2-5 people would board at a time and then we would shuttle them to the gate, then back again. Around and around we go. Then I was moved to the night shift and  it got busier, plus the weekend arrived. It sure made the nights go by fast.

3 days into the festival and I have already had some interesting stories to tell. I am sitting at the gate in the tram, a lady comes up and tells me she can't find her car. I am not sure how I can help but I ask her where she parked. She said the handicapped lot. I said that is right there next to where I was parked. She holds up here key fob and hits the button. "See, it's not there." I wonder if I had a dumbfounded look on my face? I then told her to go to the gate and someone there could help her because I told her that I honestly didn't know where she parked.

One night I was hauling a VIP into the festival. The tram stopped at the gate and there was a gentleman waiting to get on. The VIP was with the fair board and she asked him if he needed help. Immediately she knew he was drunk. I mean can't speak and ready to fall over drunk. So she then walks to the gate and gets the Sheriff's deputy. Meanwhile he climbs onto the tram and I don't know how he got up there. I get out to ask him if he knows where he is going and he just kind of nods. The deputy calls for backup and we wait a little bit. Backup is on its way so the deputy confronts him and gets him off of the tram and the VIP says to leave so I did.

The flag people in the lots are no different than the ones last year. They stand in the middle of the road and just flap their arms like they are trying to take off. Just flap, flap, flap. Keep going, the breeze feels good. I will be lucky if I don't run them over.*My lawyer advises me not to run over flag flappers.

One of the perks with this job is that we get to go into the festival for free. We just show our ID badges and walk right through. The bad thing about that is that you get to walk right through everyday if we want. What do you think that would do to our figures?  Because of that the death marches have begun. So we only go in every couple of days to look around and find some good fair food. They have a huge variety, that's for sure.
It says, "Chompers, Crunchy balls of goodness". Not sure I want to try that. *My lawyer advised them they should say spheres instead of balls.

I have never seen so many food stands at a festival.

Another perk is that we get to camp for free at the festival.
Our own little corner of the fair.
Getting to immerse ourselves into the whole carney experience. *My lawyer says that I shouldn't say carney but rather Entertainment Engineers. I never thought that I would be a carney(entertainment engineer) and follow the fair circuit but this is very close. We are hired by the festival and provide a free service to the people. So it's not like we are hocking games or rides or anything like that.

The Florida Strawberry Festival is all about the strawberries. They are all over the festival grounds and also outside of the festival.
Parkesdale Strawberry stand.

I found the Strawberry Queen.
They grow some beautiful strawberries around here and are very proud of it. Another thing that is good here are the onions. Yes, onions. They plant them around the strawberry fields and it gives them a sweet taste.
Sweet onions. They are huge.
Days 3-6. I have just been working the night shift. When we were offered this job we thought we would be working together, but we are not. I have never been away from Lisa for this long. I mean we are talking a couple of hours a day. Plans where that Lisa was going to drive a 22 passenger golf cart outside of the festival.
Lisa and her golf cart.

The look of terror.
As you can imagine the roads around a festival this size were a nightmare so that didn't pan out. Plus there are not enough barf bags in Florida to keep her riders supplied with. Now she just sits home eating bon-bons and sipping gallons of wine. I will get a call on the radio, "Lisa's out of wine, can you drive the tram over to the liquor store?" To which I reply, "Roger willco, over and out. Hang on everybody!"

7 days into the festival and it finally dawned on me that I have been bamboozled. I am the one working and Lisa is having all of the fun. I don't recall needing a job. It is seriously cutting into my video gaming time. So I am at work and Lisa is enjoying the concerts. I will be driving and then get a message from Lisa. It goes like this.
"HAHAHA! Trace Atkins! I need a new bra! Wish you were here! HAHAHA!"

3 more days and hopefully they will be busy because it will be the final weekend. Walking around the festival I found this.
With this bad boy, I may never have to walk again. Maybe after the festival I will have made enough to get one. We will see.

Well the rest of the festival was uneventful. I did realize that my tolerance for people has been reached. The reason I know this is that my hands are starting to form a choke hold when someone starts asking stupid questions. Like the same questions over and over. Kind of like working in Yellowstone. Only  instead of "Where are the bears?" it's "Are you going to gray parking?" "Are you going to the festival gate?" "Where did I park?" It is time to ride off into the sunset under our assumed names and find more undisclosed locations.  Also I think I have touched more people than I care to touch. 

So in conclusion: The festival was much better this year for me and I know it was a blast for Lisa. We met some fun, hard working people that we can call friends and we are looking forward to working some more events with them.

Till we surface again somewhere.

*My lawyer advises me that I should disclose that I do write the blog in my underpants.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Not Worthy of a Gold Medal

The day had come. We had moved our stuff back into our fifth wheel and we were ready to hit the road. But luck wasn't smiling down on us yesterday. Oh no. Far from it.

We have  a commitment in Plant City, Florida to work the Strawberry Festival again. Not as car parkers, but as tram drivers this year. We had moved out of our fifth wheel in October of last year and put it into storage. Actually it was just sitting in a field about 6 miles away in the back of a trailer park. It was cheap and convenient. We unloaded our stuff and closed it up and I turned the battery disconnect on it knowing that it was going to sit for awhile.

5 months later it was time to move back in and hit the road. Loaded and ready to go, I went to our hydraulic jack panel and turned it on. Nothing. Crap. I knew we would have a low voltage on the battery from sitting that long so I plugged it into the truck. Waited a little bit and turned it on again. Nothing. Crap again. Well I have the generator so maybe I will turn that on and plug the camper into that. So I empty out the back of the truck and get to the generator, start it and plug it in. Nothing again. Crap. Lets wait. Turn it on again and there is a faint little glow. Thats positive. Wait longer then. Nothing. Crap storm.

It must be the battery. It is old and maybe we are due for another one. I pull that out and run to Wallyworld because it was close. Toss the guy behind the counter a Hondo and head back to install it. I turn it on and it works! Praise the Maker! So I go to raise up the jacks and guess what? Nothing! The keypad is on but now only some of the buttons are working. Light bulb! The key pad is bad. Lets go to LeMasa RV. It's close. We jump in the truck and head over there. "We can get that for you in as little as a week". Crappity crap crap. Lets go back and make some calls to look for a mobile RV tech.
Stinky little culprit.

Lisa called the dealer in MN where we bought it from and asked some questions. He told us about a Youtube video that would show us how to manually raise our jacks. Awesome sauce! We watched the video and it worked swimmingly well. We got hooked up and headed to Plant City and got there only about 3 hours later than we were hoping for. We manually worked the jacks again to unhook and set up. Life was good again and we learned a lot more about our RV.

We messaged the people who made the video and thanked them for saving our butts and it was funny because they said that they were happy to get a reply like that. First order of business today was to go to some RV dealers looking to find that control panel in stock. First place we went to had it. 3 hondos lighter, I installed it and everything is working again.

So it wasn't our best start to a travel day but it ended up being a good learning experience after all.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Headless Chickens

I got the doctors okay to travel on the 6th of February and travel we did. 1800 miles back to Florida. It took us 3 days because we didn't want to push ourselves too hard and we were timing our route so that we would be in between 2 storm systems making their way across middle America. We finally got temperatures above freezing when we hit the Tennessee state line. It didn't really warm up until Florida and it felt so good. When we left Minnesota it was 16 below zero, and 85 above in Florida.

Also the death marches have resumed so I am going to be looking at hip replacements in the near future I'm sure. I am so jealous of all the people riding scooters around at Disney and I make sure to point it out to Lisa.

We got to Florida and we have many irons in the fire right now. The probate time ended in Florida for Lisa's dad's estate so now we are running like chickens with our heads cut off to get that settled and we are seeing some good progress. We sold "Big Red" back to the dealer from which LaRay bought it from. That was a little sad because that car was his and he loved it and it was also such a big reminder of him.
All of his accounts now are being changed over into Lisa and her sisters name. This is quite the legal mess to go through but at least we are seeing an end do it.

We have a short window of time before we are committed to the Strawberry Festival. So that means we are squeezing in some Disney days also. We got Florida resident passes and those are really nice to have. That way we don't feel like we have to ride every ride and be there from when the park opens until it closes.

We got a call from the Tram people and they wanted us to do some training at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. Well the training turned into working and we worked both Saturday and Sunday last weekend. We made some good tips so that was nice.

The Tram is easy to drive and fun. Around and around you go in circles. The Strawberry Festival starts next week already, so we are moving back into our fifth wheel. It almost feels like we are starting over in a way, because we actually moved out and put it into storage. Maybe we will start calling ourselves the "Class of 2018" instead of the "Class of 2014".

We are looking forward to hitting the road again. I have routed our travels and I am sure it will change a bit. 

I also didn't put any dates on there to keep the stalkers guessing. Also the McCormacks. So our time in Debary is quickly coming to an end. So look out for us on the road.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

"Now what the heck are you talking about Dick Tracy?"

"I'm not a Dick and don't call me Tracy!"

Imagine if you will, a happy couple enjoying the fruits of their labors, when out of nowhere an opportunity presents itself. One that is fulfilling and the gratitudes are a plenty. Or so we thought when we worked at "THE STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL". As I affectionately call it, "The Strawberry Festival of Horrors".

If you are not familiar with what we did there you can read all about here. Strawberry Festival Parking Review

After reading that, it makes you wonder why we would go back, and going back is what we are doing. This time it will be different. We are not going as simple parking attendants. We are going back as tram operators.

The people that we met last year who own the Trams called and asked if we wanted a job. So we said "Yes" and now we have a purpose. Yay! Last year they did give me a road test on one and they are fairly easy to drive. I will be the driver and Lisa will be the very pleasant tour guide. So if you are in Plant City Florida in March, stop on by the Strawberry Festival. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Growing Old Gracefully?

I may receive a lot of heat for this one because we are not that old. Our friends Jim and Barb are sooooo much older than us but they are young at heart and we are desperately trying to keep up with them. The touchy subject I want to address is this.

We are getting older. The reason that I know this is that when we get together with friends and family topics of conversations start including subjects like medications, procedures we have had and also where is a place that serves cheap soft serve ice cream. When I look at myself, I think of me as I was back in my early thirties. I still feel like that is the age I am but now my body is telling me something else. It started as whispers in my head. "Be careful buddie, that looks slippery" or "you probably shouldn't eat that buddy, what about your cholesterol?"

Case in point and this happened when I was only 45. I was in the Air National Guard. Since 9/11 military training has changed. We were in the Air Force and now they wanted to give us Army training. The exercise for the day was to jump out of a 2 1/2 ton truck and establish a perimeter around it. Now the bed of a 2 1/2 ton truck is about 5 feet off of the ground. So the truck stops and the tailgate gets dropped and the young guys leap out of the truck. Me and another older airman look at that and we say to ourselves, "This ain't happening." We get to the edge of the truck, turn around and slowly climb down the tailgate using the foot holds. Once on the ground we become Rambos and take up our positions around the truck. I guess that is why soldiers are young guys because us old guys can't physically do that anymore. I could have jumped out and I would have if we were under fire. But I would have been the first casualty, not from a gunshot but from a broken hip or something. I don't even dare jump out of the back of my pick-up.
5 foot drop out of the back of these things.

It's not a bad thing to get old. It's the circle of life. Hakuna Matata. The bad part is that it sneaks up on you when you are not looking. My bad knees for instance. (There I go, talking about procedures.) That was my body telling me "Hey buddy, I think maybe you should go scooter shopping." To which I say "I would but my wife won't let me. She thinks that I should walk everywhere."

Lisa went to the dermatologist the other day because she is covered in moles (Oh no, another procedure). In fact if you connect them dot-to-dot like (FYI. She doesn't like that, especially with permanent marker)  you get a picture of a dancing bear on her back. She got one mole removed and I was surprised at how much they removed when I finally saw the incision. Her mother was putting a new bandage on it and all of a sudden from the bathroom she is yelling for me. I say "What?" Bev then tells me Lisa has passed out and Bev is trying to hold her up. I just had knee surgery so I am trying to hobble into the bathroom to help. I get there and grab her and help her into the living room and get her in a chair. Apparently Lisa looked at the incision and that was all it took. I never knew she got that queasy over that kind of stuff after all these years. But it did not stop me from laughing once she was okay.
4 stitches to get that one out.

AARP has been trying to recruit me for a couple of years now. I am not at their age limit thank the Maker. We even look at RV communities when we are looking for a wintering place. So many are "55" and over and we smile and and tell ourselves "Not yet".

That's all for this wacky episode of "Dorks on Parade". My inner voice is telling me, "Hey buddy, lets go find some ice cream".