The road less travelled

The road less travelled

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Day in the Life or a Blog About Nothing

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP! Was that an alarm clock I just heard? WHY? We are not working right now. Apparently our friends, Doug and Cheryl, who we worked with at the Strawberry Festival (I want to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb when I think of that) are leaving today and they are leaving around 9:00 to 9:30 in the morning. Really. Isn't it still dark at that time? I thought they were decent people but now I am not so sure. So Lisa set an alarm (without telling me) so that we would be able to have our required 2 cups of coffee. Also to give us time to wipe the drool out of the corner of our mouths. We are so high maintenance.
Moose and I having coffee and reading blogs.

We bundled up because the news said that it was a very cold 46 this morning. Luckily we had our winter gear since we are from Minnesota and trudged on over to their site for handshakes and hugs. I always thought that you were supposed to ride off into the sunset, not the sunrise. Maybe they need to be in Michigan by tonight. I don't know. So off they went to greener pastures.
Lisa, Cheryl and Doug leaning against the truck to stay awake.

I said to Lisa, "Well I might as well make breakfast since we are up at the crack of dawn". I rummage through our freezer and find little containers of leftover fajita's. Breakfast burritos it is then. Then it is time for our walk, or as I like to call it my heart attack test. Every day she makes me have to pass the test. If I don't have a heart attack I pass and can enjoy this lifestyle another day. We like to walk for an hour at a vigorous pace. It is almost prancersizing (google it, you will be amazed). It is a little unpleasant to walk vigorously with 2 burritos bouncing around inside your gullet. But being the trained professionals that we are we made it.
"These feet where made for walking".

The day is quickly moving along. I start my lunch.
Mouth watering heaven.

I call it the "magical bowl of noodle goodness". I got turned on to these in Yellowstone. They are more expensive than just Ramen noodles but, hell, I'm worth it. I left Yellowstone with cases of these, worried that I may never find them again. On our travels though I have come up with a secret supplier to keep my noodle habit going. I'm not going to tell you who it is because I don't want there to be a nation wide shortage or even worse, a price spike.
Tastes as magical as it looks.

Next item on the agenda is to resupply after the Strawberry Festival and we have our daughter and her friend visiting. So it is off to Aldi. We love Aldi. If we spend $120 at Wally-world, we spend only $80.00 at Aldi. It is such a huge difference. Bring your own reusable shopping bags. That is one way they keep prices down. You can get bags there, but they charge you for them. Another ingenious idea of theirs is that it costs you a quarter to rent a shopping cart. You get the quarter back when you return the cart. I think it also helps with preventing theft of their carts. I am not going to steal their $200 shopping cart and risk losing my quarter!
You put your quarter in and it unlocks it from the other carts. Return the cart and lock it up to get your quarter back.
So we return home with our bountiful booty and Lisa multi-tasks by putting her booty away and also doing our laundry. We thought that we would have time to wash our home but looking and judging the position of the sun, I had to declare that the work day was done. This is how I do it. I look at the sun and formally in an authoritative voice say "The sun is over the mizzen mast". And by doing that all work ceases and cocktails are picked up. "Cheers" are echoed by all crew members on a successful day. 

Stay tuned in for tomorrow's wild and fabulous adventures. "Hoozah!"

Monday, March 13, 2017

Strawberry Festival Parking Review

If you would have told us a year ago that we would be standing in a parking lot in Florida for 12 hours a day, with the Florida sun beating down on us, I would have told you. "You are bat crap crazy." But it turns out, we are the ones that are "bat crap crazy". We are the ones actually standing out there doing a thankless job. Live and learn.

It started with oriantation. That should have been the first sign. Talk about organized chaos. 50 people mingling around without direction. We finally filled out our paperwork and were told to show up on Thursday at the parking trailer. Great!
 "Uh, where is the parking trailer?"
"It's over there, just off of Seminole Lake road."
"Uh, where is Seminole Lake Road?"
"It's on the west end of the complex."
"Uh, which way is west?"
And so it was off to a flying start. They obviously assumed that we are familiar with this festival and the area around it.

Thursday was baptism by fire. We found the parking trailer to punch in. Most of the people that are doing the car parking look like they have just come from the homeless shelter. Seriously, I really think they did. Then there are just a handful of work campers. We went to our lot and met the lot supervisor Doug. Nice enough guy. Really talks a lot. He told us where to park the cars and said "go to it". Just like that we were professional car parkers.
Don't try this at home folks, we are trained professionals.

It is important to get them lined up right to maximize your space. You have to be on top of it or else they will park anywhere. I never thought of parking cars as rocket science. But apparently to some of our other co-workers it was. They needed to be re-trained daily. It took all of my patience and restraint from going up to them every day and shoving my flag up thier ass's.
11 days and I didn't get run over once.

We were fortunate to work with another couple who had common sense. Doug and Cheryl Palin.
Doug and Cheryl posing for Parking Life magazine.

 We met them briefly working at Amazon. We  worked with them for 12 hours a day for 11 days and really got to know them. That has always been a plus for this lifestyle. Meeting some nice people we will always keep in touch with and hopefully run into each other again down the road.
This is what a "happy lot" looks like.

After Thursday came the first full weekend of the festival. This thing is almost as large as a state fair. It got busy fast. That Sunday 981 cars came through our gate (Sorry, no spread sheet to go with those numbers). Our lot is not big enough to park all those cars so when we get full we send them to the next lot down the line. Common sense would say that you would close your gate then, right? Not here. What really makes it fun is that when the other lots are full they send them to us. Cars start circling in the lots and that does not make for happy drivers.
Lisa checking the line.

"Listen to me or I will wave my flag at you!"

Our little break room and porta potty.

People get angry and then take out their rage on the first person they see. Who do they see? Us. Not the parking lot managers, not the fair board, but us lowly little flag people. We have been bitched at countless times. Lisa was called "Booger lips" by one highly intelligent individual. She told him to treat people with respect, it wasn't our fault. I told one lady that I only get paid to wave the flag, so I waved it in her face. I think one guy wanted me to give him his 5 dollars back because we didn't have a spot for him. I told him to go back to the front gate and get it.
At the end of the day our feet were filthy. We threw away our socks.

Every morning was interesting. I would walk the lot and find out where all the dirty diapers and vomit piles where so that I wouldn't step in them. Fair goers are really classy people. A funny thing did happen with a diaper though. The vendors come in before the gates to the midway open. This one group always showed up in 4-5 vehicles. So I park the first one, step over to the next spot next to him and the second car comes in and runs over one of the dirty diapers. It explodes all over his buddies car. It was hilarious.

We were in blue lot. The next lot over was the red lot. Most of those people had no clue what was going on. They would just stand in the middle of the road and just flap their flags. You could have gotten one of those inflatable wacky guys to do the same job.
So many of them seemed sketchy to begin with. I guess 16 of them got fired for various reasons. Some for smoking pot while working. Some for drinking in their cars. Some for having sex in their cars while working. One guy on the last day got arrested for soliciting sex from young girls walking by.

This job was one of those things that we can say we did and won't do again. 11 twelve hour days is a long stretch to work. You can't leave for lunch, we did get breaks though. We couldn't even go inside to see the fair. Being out in the sun for that long is hard on a person. People bitching at you. The low pay. All in all it just would not be worth it. Like I said, Live and learn.

Two good things that did come out of the whole ordeal were, getting to know Doug and Cheryl better and we met some other friendly people that we may be working for in the future. Stay tuned to see how that pans out.
Could this be our next working opportunity?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Alligators, Ants and Beach Bunny's, Oh My!

We are enjoying as much of the sunshine as we can. The weather has been just perfect.

Lisa's sister Heidi and her two son's Nyle and Orion came for a visit and to escape the never ending snowfall in Colorado. Lisa's dad has a house here in central Florida so she stayed at his place. He has a pool so who wouldn't? Besides we were only 20 minutes away. They flew in Sunday and got settled in. So we went for a visit on Monday.
Lisa, Heidi, Orion(in the pool) and Lisa's dad LaRay
After a couple hours of the girls chit chatting, we decided to go for an air boat ride to see some alligators. There is a lake north of Orlando called Lake Jessup. According to our boat captain, he said that they used to take all the nuisance alligators that animal control caught and dump them in Lake Jessup. So the population of alligators in this lake is around 9500. I don't think it would be a good lake to go skinny dipping in, if you know what I mean.
Air boats are the bees knees!

We were up front enjoying the swamp spray in our faces.

A couple of small ones by the boats.

Heidi and Orian looking for Sasquatch.

This was the only picture of Nyle I got.
Here's a fun fact. To figure out the size of a gator with just his head showing in the water you do this. The distance in inches from the nostrils to the eyes will tell you how big he is. Say the distance is 10 inches from snout to eyes. That means that that is a 10 foot gator. 1 inch = 1 foot. Also of the 10 foot length, 5 feet would be body and 5 feet would be tail. I think it helps to have a tape measure with you to get an accurate reading.

We left the Orlando area on Thursday. Moving over to the Tampa side.
Our house under the trees.
A big problem I have with Florida is the ants. They are everywhere. They have tiny ants that you can barely see and of course the biting red ants. Some campgrounds do a pretty good job of keeping them under control at the sites. This one, not so much. So when we set up, I spray everything that touches the ground with bug killer. I do this once a week. I also have a can of raid that I will attack every ant hill I see. This is done daily. I set out Terro ant traps around the rig. Those are eaten in a day so I keep putting more out. And finally I was up on the roof to install vent covers and noticed ants up there. See all that Spanish Moss over our rig? Some of it was touching, so I cut and pulled everything touching the rig. As of right now the score is: Dino-1000's, Ants- 1. They scored one because we were sitting outside having cocktails and I felt something crawling on my neck. I swatted it and it turned out to be a red ant which bit me in his final moment of life.

We met up with Heidi and her boys one more time before they had to fly back to Colorado. She was staying in St. Petersburg so we drove that way for a beach day.
St. Pete Beach

My favorite beach bunny.
It was a super nice day. The water was cool. We all got too much sun but that didn't hit us until later.
I don't know what they talk about all day. Must be recipes.
I even did a little metal detecting. I did not strike it rich. All I found was 2 batteries, a bottle cap and a gum wrapper. Someday I will be able to retire on my findings, I hope.

The Strawberry Festival starts in a couple of days so we will be quite busy with that. I hate strawberries. We will have to find a corndog festival or something yummy. 

Stay cool or warm, wherever you may be.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Inspired by Greatness

After reading a friends blog about how he McGyvered his old camp chairs to fix them, it inspired me to take matters into my own hands to fix ours. That McGyver wanna-be was Jim from JimandBarbsrvadventure. Ours have been looking pretty bad. Being left in the rain many nights after Margarita contests and from just pure neglect. I look at it this way. If they did not like the treatment we gave them, they could walk away. They have legs right?

This is the way his chairs looked before his rebuild.

And this is his final result. Nice Job Jim!

Our chairs really needed a big overhaul.

This is Lisa's chair. The table is starting to rot away. The hardware is rusting. The fabric how ever is still in pretty good shape.

My chair on the other hand is in tougher shape. The table is in good shape though but the fabric is almost worn out and so sun faded. Mine is steel and very heavy for a camp chair, while Lisa's is aluminum. So I found a website, and found a place where I could get new fabric, table and an aluminum frame to replace my steel frame. Armed with nothing but time and money, I got to work rebuilding our chairs. I drilled out all the rivets because they would have to be replaced anyways. Removed all the fabric.

I found some great paint at Home Depot and I sanded Lisa's frame down. I then primed and painted the frame and hardware. Our fabric arrived along with the new aluminum frame for my chair so I quickly painted that to match. I slid the new fabric on the frames. Put on the table and added a table to the other side that can hold a six pack of beer. That was my best idea ever.

All said and done I think I have 50-60 dollars  of supplies and labor in each chair. I think they came out great and best of all they are matching now.
See the six pack cooler on the right chair?

In the words of Redd Green, "If the women don't find you sexy, at least let them find you handy".

If you believe all that horse crap, sorry. We went to BJ's wholesale club and bought two chairs for $40.00 a piece.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Soaking and Other Stuff

I would like to say that we have been so busy here in Florida that I just don't have the time to blog. But that is not entirely true. The reasons for not blogging  are many and I stand behind every one of them.

First off is the fact that we have both been sick for the last 10 days. That really sucks. I got sick on Sunday the 29th of January. Not the puking, pooping flu but more of the chills/hot flash, body ache type of flu. I coughed so hard and for so long that my entire stomach muscles hurt every time I did it. Then as I slowly got over it Lisa caught it. We knew it was going to happen because of our small living environment. But we are both feeling better now.

Second reason for not blogging is the fact that it so damn nice here. We will have our coffee outside in the morning. Then go for our morning walk and then enjoy the day outside. Soaking up the sun or just lounging under the awning. Happy hour arrives early when it is so nice out.

Lisa has turned into the "Cat Whisperer". Stray cats are all over in the park and Florida in general. Most shy away from human contact but there is one that has finally warmed up to us. She is so sweet and friendly for a stray cat. We call her Peanut. Whenever we are outside she will come over and visit us. Our cats no longer hiss at her. Moose will just sniff her and then he doesn't care anymore. Journey is just indifferent.

Things we like and don't like about central Florida. There is a lot of crime here. So much of it is just random violence. The traffic is horrific, especially on I-4. I-4 is also under construction and will be for several years. We just purchased a Sunpass to avoid it as much as possible. A Sunpass is a transponder for your vehicle so that you can go on the toll roads without stopping to pay the tolls. It is linked to a credit card so it pays automatically.

Things we like are obviously the warm weather. More beach days are in store for us now that we are feeling better. So that is our life in a nutshell.

"Happy Hour!"

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wekiva Falls RV Resort and New Smyrna

I will have to be honest when I say that I was a little leery about pulling into this camp ground. 835 RV sites. That is by far the largest RV resort that we have ever been to. I thought it was going to be loud with people running and driving all over the place. A free for all kind of place. But I will say that I was wrong.

There is a sulphur spring in the middle of the campground which they have turned into a pretty nice swimming hole. You do get the smell of sulphur when the wind is from the right direction. It is a good thing we spent the summer in Yellowstone because we have gotten used to the smell. Actually if you are sly enough you can get away with ripping one every once in awhile. Lisa told me that.

100 yds further downstream it joins the Wekiva River.

The spring flowing out. Too shallow for manatees.

Swimming area
We are in the yellow area of the resort. On this side of the resort are the premium sites. Boy are we glad that we splurged for one of those. They are about 75-80 feet long and about 30 feet wide. We go for our morning walks to the otherside. They would be okay but they are quite a bit smaller in size and it is more crowded.
Our site

Premium sites along the main road.
Down at this end they have a Tiki Bar that they open for the weekend.

Tiki Bar
There is also a nice camp store that sells everything from beer, camp supplies, ice cream and beer. Since it is a RV resort, there are other activities planned throughout the week. Bingo, breakfasts, hamburgers and hotdogs Friday night, pickleball lessons, pickle ball court and shuffleboard, several laundry facilities pool and of course the swimming area. All-in-all it would be a nice place to spend the winter. We are only here for a month so that we can enjoy other areas of Florida.

Wednesday found us heading to the beach. Not Daytona though. We went to New Smyrna. Lisa and I have and argument on how it is pronounced. I like New Ssshhhmearna versus her New Smirna. You can drive on the beach for a small fee which is so worth it. That way you don't have to schlep your chairs, umbrella and cooler miles to the beach all the while listening to your spouse say"Gosh it is hot! Can you hold my stuff too?" The water was a little cool, 65 degrees. But then it is January.

It was not that busy today so we had plenty of beach of our own.

This beach is on the Atlantic side. So we sunned, waded and walked the beach for awhile. Then we drove to both ends as far as they would let you drive.

Lil' Blue playing in the sand.
At the far northern end there was a natural area in the dunes. We walked that a little bit and found some tortoises living amongst the dunes.

Not sure what light house this is.

That is it for today. The weather has been very nice. We think we will stay awhile.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Foxy Knoxy-ville

We left the bitter cold temperatures behind us and headed to Campbellsville KY. to pick up our fifthwheel. We left it there because the owners were nice enough not to charge us and also we didn't want to drag it all the way up to Minnesota and then turn around and then drive it to Florida. We got in early enough to de-winterize it. The temps weren't too bad. In the 50's so we didn't have to worry about frozen water lines and sewer lines. The warm weather brought some pretty strong winds causing us to stay in C-ville  for an added day.(That's what they call it. There is also E-town. They shorten it when the name is too long. E-town is Elizabethtown.)

We left C-ville and made the short drive to Knoxville TN. We pulled into the KOA and figured that a KOA would be pretty nice. After all they have a reputation. This one was not. The sites where narrow, muddy. and over priced. Our awning would have touched our neighbor if we would have put it out. So we only paid for 2 days and then went on a campground recon mission. We checked out the Good Sam park, Escapees and a Passport America park. The Escapees was the best and it was eleven dollars a night cheaper. You don't have to be a member to stay here so we packed up and moved. In summer you have to have a reservation because they fill up. So if you are a snowbird passing through this area, skip the KOA and go 5 miles farther south to the Raccoon Valley Escapees park.


We are in the area for 6 days for an appointment to get our sewer valves replaced. So what to do, what to do? There are a few sights to see. So the first thing we did was to go to Dandridge, TN to the Bush's Baked Beans factory. They have a nice small museum that relates the history of the Bush family. There are no factory tours but they have a very informative film that shows you the whole process. It is a highly automated and modern factory for being family owned. What stuck out for me is that they have a machine that will label bean cans at a rate of 1000 per minute. Amazing that there is that many cans of beans being consumed. Stop by if you are in this area. The price is right. It was free.

This might be our Christmas card

They also have a scale that will tell you how much you weigh in beans.
I don't know what I weigh in gold but my worth in beans is 195,072.

113,664 for Lisa. I have more worth, finally.

On the way back to Knoxville we drove by Douglas Lake created by Douglas Dam. Like Lake Mead out in Nevada, the water is very low. It looks like it is 30-50 feet below the high water mark. Signs of the ongoing drought.

Knoxville was the host to a World's Fair back in 1982. So we drove downtown to the World's Fair park. Lisa was pretty impressed by the Sunsphere. (I wonder why?)
Sunsphere from the 1982 World's Fair
Inside the sphere

You can go inside it for a nice panoramic view of Knoxville. That is also free. Also downtown is the Market District. A revitalized area with many restaurants and stores.

The day finally came to get our sewer valves replaced. Let me tell you that that is not an easy job on this particular model. The technician was pretty frustrated by the end of the day. So much so that he never had time to finish it. So we will be here another day. 

While we were gone today, we drove to Gatlinburg TN. Unfortunately there were just too many tourists so we turned around and drove back to Knoxville. We couldn't get to our rig yet so we found a park with ducks and geese in it. Once you start feeding one, the word spreads fast. Soon there are waterfowl everywhere.
Duck and goose party
It was getting late in the afternoon so we drove back to where the RV was getting worked on.  Lisa found a friend.

So hopefully it will be fixed in the morning and then we will start to head to Florida and the warmth and also the sun. We have not seen the sun in over a week now.