The road less travelled

The road less travelled

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

VIP's

As in the words of Paul Harvey, "And now the rest of the story".

We were laying low in an undisclosed location.
Using our assumed names. Mine is Tango Allejandro and Lisa's is Josephene Butterpump. She will also answer to Booger Lips. We were very aware that there were VIP's in the area. (VIP-Very Incontinent People). We were out enjoying a wonderful Minnesota afternoon with cocktails and revelry when who do you think pulls into the very campground we were in. We couldn't believe it! Daisy and Dakota!
Daisy and Dakota
We have been very good friends with Daisy but it was the first time we met Dakota. What a nice young lady she was. They also brought Jim and Barb. RV rock gods from jimandbarbsrvadventure.blogspot.com. They have nearly 400,000 hits on their blog so we were quite humbled when they wanted to camp near us. "Be still my giddy heart". Jim and Barb asked us, "What is there to do in this area?" To which we said "Nothing, you should probably move on". But they convinced us to give them the grand tour.

Day 1- First stop on the amazing west central Minnesota tour was stopping in Rothsay, Minnesota. You have to say it like a Norwegian. Roth-Saaaay Mini-sooo-dah. Home of the Giant Booming Prairie Chicken.
Lisa, Jim and Barb waiting to get pecked.

These creatures were huge when they had free reign of the prairie. This is actually life size. For the next stop, stop #2 we took them out to a genuine Minnesota woods. We tried to ditch them there but they are just too darn fast for old people.

Stop #3 was a short drive over to Phelp's Mill. A turn of the century flour mill. This mill is in very good condition. It doesn't grind flour any more but a lot of the equipment is still inside.
Phelp's Mill
Stop #4 was the infamous Insane Asylum of Fergus Falls. An amazing building in it's own right. But, alas, we were a couple of years too late to drop off Jim and Barb. It was closed. 
A real Asylum. Insane! Right?
Stop #5 was the giant Otter of Fergus Falls. Jim loved this big guy. I didn't have the heart to tell him it wasn't real.
He was up there for about an hour. He just would not come down. Only when he declared that he had to poop where we able to get him off of it so that other kids could get their turn. That wrapped up day 1.

Day number 2 involved traveling to the metropolis known as Fargo. But first we travelled to Moorhead to show them our house that we lived in. Lisa and I are both from this area. Next stop was to see the most famous star that ever came from this area. Thats right everybody. The woodchipper from the movie "Fargo".
For some odd reason he just wanted to keep trying to stuff Barb into it. Mumbling something that sounded like this "pie ditch, pie!" So we quickly left the wood chipper behind. We decided to look for lunch places but being in Fargo, most breweries didn't open until after noon. How can you do some day drinking if you can't start in the morning? We found one that opened at 11 so we went. Plus the girls found coupon books.
What happy faces. That's what BOGO beers will do for you.
Then we went to JL Beers. One of our favorite watering holes.
Barb, Jim, me and Lisa
We went to the Scheels super store because again the girls found free Ferris Wheel coupons.
As you can see from their faces, it was a very special day for our very special people.

We then showed them all over Fargo. It took about a half hour. Then back to the campground and Happy Hour.

Day #3 involved Lisa and Barb driving into Fargo again because Daisy was having a spa day. Jim and I hung out in Barnesville. We did take Dakota swimming.

Dakota teaching Jim how to throw her toy.

Jim offering encouragement when she couldn't find it.
All of our down time for some reason involved helping them get rid of all of the alcohol that they couldn't bring into Canada. I am glad we were there to take one for the team. Dinners and "Happy Hours" where frequent and there were many. We even played a game of strip ladder golf.
Barb in the zone and Jim already lost his pants.
All kidding aside. We are glad that they could make the time to visit with us. It has been awhile and we just haven't been able to go to where they are at. So we really appreciate the effort that they make for us. Until our paths cross again.







Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Florida Wrap Up or It's All About the Butts.

We arrived in Florida in mid January and overstayed our welcome until the end of May. It was a nice visit. We enjoyed a couple of different areas and really got to know them very well. Lots of exploring was done and good times where abundant. Wait for it. But.............

"Lessons Learned", is what I should have titled this blog. We really learned a lot about wintering in Florida. We were under the impression that you had to get there early and book a spot in one camp ground the entire winter because they are full and have waiting lists. I am sure in some areas like Key West that is true, but .......(there's that word again) in central Florida it is not.

Our first month we stayed at Wekiva Falls. It was a huge campground near Sanford Florida. It never filled up. They had lots of empty spaces. It was also the nicest campground we stayed at except for Ft. Wilderness. The next 2 months we stayed near Tampa at Southern Aire RV Resort. It was maybe 50% full the entire time we were there. The rest of our time was spent between 2 campgrounds because we joined Thousand Trails. So we stayed at Thousand Trails and Lake Magic. Both were far from full but....... (word again) it was late in the season now. We stayed a week in Ft. Wilderness and they were very empty. I wish their rates would have reflected that but........ ().() no.

Lessons learned now. We joined Thousand Trails (a campground membership) because financially it was cheaper than staying a month and 1 or 2 weeks at a campground. The problem we had with this is that you have to move every 14 days. That is why we bounced around between Thousand Trails and Lake Magic. Also the amount of rules imposed on us. Like at Thousand Trails you could not wash your RV even though they ran sprinklers all day. Also you could not do any maintenance at all. We had tire issues and I was going to pull them off and get new ones. They said "no", but...... ().() they gave us a card of someone who will come to your sight and do it for you. I had to hook up and drive to the tire shop and back again. They had mobile RV techs going in and out of the campground all day long. I think they must get a piece of the action.

Lesson learned: We got to Wekiva Falls in January and the nights were a little cool. So we used our propane fire pit. We emptied our propane tank , so I took it in to exchange it. Emptied it again in 1 week. So I took it in again to exchange. Then I noticed the sign at Publix which said. Propane exchange. 15 lbs. in small print. They were putting 15lbs. instead of 20lbs. Then I noticed it at all of the propane exchanges I saw.

Lesson learned: We were enjoying the warm winter weather in sunny Florida, flocking with the rest of the Snowbirds. We were told of the great migration that starts April 1st. We really didn't believe it but..... we witnessed it first hand. April 1st arrived and all of a sudden the RV parks looked a lot emptier. Amazing to behold. I can understand because after April 1st it got extremely hot quickly.

Our son and his new fiancee came for a visit. They were going to visit for 12 days and wanted to take in the attractions that make Orlando famous. Disney and Universal along with some beach time thrown in. We moved the RV over to FT. Wilderness. Disney's campground. That is what the perfect campground looks like in our eyes. Immaculately clean. The bath house is nicer than most peoples houses. That is the only camp ground that I will pay over one hundred dollars a night for. But....... not for too many nights though.

It was a very hectic 12 days. We always feel that we need a vacation from Disney after we had just been to Disney. Long days of sun and fun and of course battling the crowds. To say the least, we really enjoy it there. They opened the new Avatar land while we were there. Animal Kingdom on opening day was a mad house. Just the line to get into that section snaked around to the front of the park and was actually growing to the exit of the park. The wait times for the rides where ranging from 180 minutes to 250 minutes. Needless to say we didn't even get in.

I think Heather really enjoyed herself. She had never been there before. It was fun to listen to her scream and gasp. There is too much to list of everything we did so I will just end with some pictures of the our fun times.
At-At at Hollywood Studios.

Mt. Everest at Animal Kingdom.

Roman and Heather on Main street USA.

Opening ceremony at the Magic Kingdom

The new light and fireworks show at Magic Kingdom.


Universal Studios.
Roman and Heather getting soaked.

Fire Breathing Dragon at Gringotts.

Roman and Heather and their new portrait.


Till the next adventure.












Sunday, April 30, 2017

It's not all Wine and Roses

There I was, cruising comfortably over the Korean Peninsula in my F-86 Sabre jet.

From out of nowhere "KA-BOOOOOOOM!!!!!" 
"This is Drifter 1, I have been hit and going down! I repeat, Drifter 1 is going down! Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!"

It really didn't happen like that but in the heat of the moment it felt like it. That moment I am talking about is our recent little trip down Interstate 4 in Central Florida. Traffic was heavy but then it is I-4 and there is always heavy traffic on it. Traveling from Tampa to Orlando when I hear a horrendous noise behind me. I look in the side mirror just in time to see a bunch of rubber go flying off our fifth wheel along with some other parts that used to be attached.

We have a tire pressure monitoring system and I didn't get an alarm or anything. But I know it was from our rig because all I see is bent metal and broken plastic. I turn on my turn signal to get over to the shoulder and quickly make an emergency landing. I get out to take a look and Lisa pulls up behind me. She thought I ran over something and then realized that it all came from us. She likes to follow pretty close in traffic so she had the joy of running over everything I just discarded. Luckily no flat for the Jeep.
Separation anxiety.

Looking at it I can hear the tire hissing at us. For some reason I think of Star Trek and the Wrath of Kahn. "From hell's heart I stab at thee" the tire says  in it's dying breath. That is why the tire pressure monitor didn't go off. The tire was still inflated but all of the tread around the tire separated. 

A bald tire.

We find a place a little farther down the road that is wider so that we can get farther off the road. Florida drivers don't move over at all. They are passing us at 70 mph and each time a car or truck goes by, the rig rocks. One bad design about this fifth wheel is that they put the spare tire inside the lower compartment. There is a door on the other side but the tire doesn't fit through it. So we have to empty everything to get the tire out. We get the tire out and wouldn't you know, it is flat. My bad. I throw it in the back of the Jeep and head down the road to the next exit. I find a Marathon station and it has a working air compressor. Whoohoo! It would have been nice if I brought the tire pressure gauge. My bad again. Oh well I will just go in and buy one. I should have brought my wallet or some money. I am so bad. The air compressor takes quarters and there were some in the cup holder. Whoohoo! I should call Lisa and tell her I am on my way back. I maybe should have brought my cell phone. I am oh-so-bad now. 

I get back to Lisa with the tire aired up. Whoohoo!

"Don't you have roadside assistance?"

"Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and we do have roadside assistance". We used it once to change a flat a couple of years ago when we were here in Florida.(Hey, I am seeing a trend here. Florida=flat tires) It took hours for them to arrive. 15- 20 minutes later we are back on the road. So many people recommend the Goodyear G614 tires. Very heavy duty and very expensive. So sick of our tire problems, we bit the bullet and purchased 5. Ouch! So if we have a problem with these, I will hunt down everybody that recommended them.

On a fun note we went to Sea World one day. That is always a fun park to visit. The rollercoaster that we like was not working that day but they have some new ones that were beyond our capabilities. So we took in some shows. The dolphins and the Shamu show which they will be ending in a couple years. Watch them now because they will be gone for ever.
This Dolphin just kept swimming upside down.

Manatee


Dolphin show.

Shamu

View from the sky tower.
Till next time.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Out of the Blue and High Flying Fun.

We decided to go to Ybor City on Wednesday to check it out. It is an area that has a lot of Cuban influence and we have heard some good things about it. We chose the Columbia restaurant. It has a rich history dating back to 1905.

One of the 15 dining rooms.
The Columbia in Ybor City.

Now it has grown to the size of a city block and has 15 dining rooms. It was very fancy because the waiters were in Tuxedos. We felt a little under dressed in our T-shirts and shorts. The food was very good. We both had Cuban sandwiches and I chose their 1905 salad. They toss it right at the table.
A real Cuban and 1905 salad.

Just by chance I put it on Facebook that we were having lunch there and soon as I did I got a reply from a friend of mine. It said "Answer your phone". Oops, I had the volume turned off. Well, anyways it turns out that my roommate when I was in the Air Force (back in the 80's) had just gotten to town. He was in Apollo Beach just 20 minutes away. They flew in from Pennsylvania for a wedding and said we should stop by. So we did.
Kelly, Rich, Lisa  and me.
We met his friends and we got caught up a bit. Everyone was so very nice. Time ran out and they had to go check into their condo at Siesta Key. So it was a short visit but worth it.

Friday we went to "Sun n Fun" fly in air show. Thanks to our friends Mark and Kris who gave us some complimentary tickets. This was by far the largest air show that we have ever been to. There were so many planes and exhibits that it took us hours to walk through it before the flying demos began. I have been to air shows in the past but usually because I was working at them, never really enjoying the flying at all. So it was great to be able to just sit back and watch it. And to top it all off, the Navy's "Blue Angels" finished the show. What a performance.


Blue Angels

Lisa caught this great photo with her phone since our camera died.

There was an area off to the side where small aircraft where doing flights. If it wasn't so windy that day I would have gone on one. I was really drawn to the gyrocopters. They really looked fun.



Gyrocopters.

Coming from a military background I naturally had to check out the military planes. I didn't get a lot of pictures of them because our camera decided to go "Tango Uniform" on us. The ones I did get are a little fuzzy. Sorry.


Lisa

F-16 Thunderbird

Mig

I was telling Lisa that being away from it for 9 years now, really made me miss being in the Air Force. I was a part of that for over 26 years after all. Watching the military demos was awesome.  

It was a great show and if you ever get the chance it is worth going to. 

We were hoping to be working at Sun n Fun but it just didn't work out. So for our work camping friends who may be in Florida next winter check this out. They have a work camping campground. It is all volunteer work. You work 24 hours each for your full hook-up spot. You work four 6 hour days(Mon.-Thur.) and you can do just about anything. Landscaping, carpentry, auto mechanics if you have the skills, painting and the list goes on and on. Your commitment is Jan. 15th to around April 15th or whenever the fly-in is over. We heard about this job from Mark and Kris who we met at Amazon. They even gave us a tour of the whole facility back in March. Thanks again Mark and Kris for the tickets to the air show and for the fun day we had.

April 8th, 1960 something. The day that changed the world as we know it. I got another year older. I didn't try to but it just happened. Thanks to everyone for the Birthday wishes. Next year though I could use cash. Keep that in mind.

Until the next adventure.













Monday, April 3, 2017

Battle of the Busch and Other Hairy Situations

I am happy to inform you that this post is not about bikini waxes gone bad. (Unless you really want to hear about that). It's not about us trekking the jungles of the Amazon (I have already wrote many blogs about that). It's about us visiting Busch Gardens in Tampa. This theme park is modeled after the "Dark Continent". Africa.

We have never been to Busch Gardens before so it was a nice surprise to go and check it out. Since it is themed after Africa, the areas of the park where named after different areas of Africa. Like Egypt, Nairobi, the Congo and others. There are plenty of animals scattered throughout the areas along with various plants and lots of birds.
Our train ride through the Serengeti.

I think this little Gazelle was playing leap frog. Not really sure though.

A 12 footer.


A topiary.
Tucan Sam.

They also have many roller coasters and other thrill rides for adrenaline junkies. There are also many kid rides for the little ankle biters if you want to bring them along also. Nothing says "you are on vacation" like a bunch of screaming and whining kids and the parents that yell at them. Good times. We however are not into the thrill rides all that much anymore. We do like rides like Disney has, like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise. All the rides at Busch Gardens are pretty much vomit inducing. We did find our new favorite coaster after checking out all of the others. We then gave them all a hurl factor ratings and found the one that won't make us blow chunks. That coaster was called the "Cheetah Hunt".
Cheetah Hunt roller coaster.

It sling shots you in 3 different areas. It was very fun. We even did it a second time, that is how much we liked it. It was rated 20 out of the top 50 coasters in America which is pretty darn good for us to go on.

It was a very enjoyable day at Busch Gardens. We would definately come back here again someday.

One day last week we declared a beach day. We heard about Venice Beach in Florida (not the California one). Apparently shark teeth are prone to wash up on the beach. It is kind of famous for that. So armed with my scoop for metal detecting and our swimming trunks we hit the beach. I dredged and dredged and excavated about 10 cubic yards of sand and found nothing. Just my luck.
Struck out again. Sexy man boobs.
It was a beautiful day though. The pelicans were feeding just offshore. It was interesting to watch them as they dove into the water to get the fish.

A Pelican splash down.

It was so nice we both just got fried. Not really realizing it until we got home. Oops.

Our daughter Kendra and her friend Vicki came out for spring break. We saw them a couple of days but they spent most their time at Disney. It was nice spending some time with them because we have not seen them since August of last year.
Vicki and Kendra.

And if you didn't think we were busy enough, we were able to squeeze in a dinner with Lisa's uncle who lives in Palm Harbor Florida. We ate at Bon Appetit right on the gulf.
Lisa's uncle Gary, me, Lisa and Trish.

We have been busy the last couple of weeks with more to come. However it has gotten very hot here. Lisa is in heaven because of the heat. I am in the opposite area. 

One other note of interest. Now that it is April, a great migration has begun. This is comparative to the wildebeest migration of Africa, or the Elk herds moving into the mountains. This is the great Snobird migration. Snobirds moving back north for the summer. Our park is getting empty as I am sure most parks in Florida now are. 

Stay tuned for some high flying action next week.