The road less travelled

The road less travelled

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.


Dolphin show.


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.


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.


F-16 Thunderbird


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.

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?