Monday, February 25, 2019


We are between shows at the moment. That gives us time to do other things. To relax and to sightsee. We are still at the Florida State Fairgrounds before we move over to the Strawberry Festival on Monday. The weather is extremely warm which we love. So with the warm weather we had to get back to the beach.

Our plan was to go to Venice Beach in Venice, Florida. It is a little bit farther away but they have shark teeth that you can find right on the beach. We were here last year and I excavated about a couple of tons of sand and found nothing. This time I was just casually scooping up handfuls of shells when I finally found one.
As you can see that it isn't that big. Must be from a baby shark, da doo da doo da doo baby shark. Our plan was to get to the beach early. Sit and enjoy it for awhile. Then go to a beach bar for lunch and then go to Siesta Key Beach which is Florida's number one beach. So the first part of the day went as planned.
Venice beach wasn't that crowded and the water is starting to warm up. Well we were getting hungry so we packed up and were going to drive to Siesta Key and hopefully find a cute little place for lunch along the way. That plan didn't work out very well. We couldn't find a place to eat and when we got to Siesta Key, the parking lots where full. We were about to call it a day but when we were driving through Longboat Key, we found a small little beach without very many people.
We frolicked in the surf for about an hour having fun. We also got sunburnt. Oops. Then we started to head home. Florida is a nice place to visit but I would not want to live here. I hate the traffic. It doesn't matter what time of day it is either. There is always traffic. It took us 2 and half hours to go 55 miles. No wonder there is so much road rage around here.

I also took the time to create my own beer flight. I call it the working man's beer flight and you can buy them in bulk at Wal-mart.
You know it's good because it's served on a piece of wood.

We also took a day to get over to Busch Gardens. It wasn't busy like Disney usually is and it is a nice park if you like to ride roller coasters. They have quite a few and also some good animal exhibits. They have also brought back free beer. Each person gets two free beers. Nothing wrong with that.

It's Monday and we are at the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds. It's a change of scenery anyways and the festival starts on Thursday. We are making plans for our journey back to Minnesota and also we have a big announcement for later on. So stay tuned for some exciting news.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Man and His Tram

 "Just a small town girl
living in a lonely world
she took the midnight tram going anywhere...
Just a small town boy
born and raised in south Moorhead
he took the midnight tram going anywhere..."

And so our fairytale life began. But.......... It didn't start that easily. No.

Years ago we were parking cars at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Getting insults and garbage hurled at us. Choking on exhaust fumes and dust. Thats when I saw it. A tram.
I got down on my hands and knees and vowed that someday I would look down upon the world from that drivers seat. Years went by. I worked my way up from barrel trains.
To hay wagons.
Finally the day came and I was getting called up to the big leagues. Come down to Texas for a try out y'all.
The owners had a stable full of trams.
I was assigned Tram 4. It's nostalgic lines beckoned me to come closer. To view life from simpler times. I knew deep down that Tram 4 and I would have a long and adventurous life together. Going places no trams have gone before. Mike said "Drive it, learn it. Become one with the tram". And so I did.
I learned that tram 4 could be gentle and kind when it wanted to be. But most of the time it was a cantankerous old beast that in all of these years of hard use, still did not want to be ridden. It would pop and sputter as I would drive it along. Then when you hit a bump the steering wheel would get ripped out of your hands and just shake until you slowed down and it recovered.
Here we are working on the front end. I replaced the steering box and also the front tie rods. I also tightened all of the tie rods on the trailers because they were fishtailing like crazy. We were finally ready for our first show. The Polar Bear Express. We were all glitzed out with glam and glitter, only to make it halfway through the event. Tram 4 developed a transmission leak. More than a leak, it was gushing out of there. It was taken to a tranny shop and returned. It finished The Polar Bear Express and then was shipped down to Florida for the big trifecta of tram tours. The RV Show, State Fair and Strawberry Festival.
As proud as a Jockey on a champion race horse, we were ready. The RV Show was first. Day one went great. Parading back and forth from the gate to the entrance full of happy campers. Day 2 was completely different. Tram 4 woke up on the wrong side of the stable I guess. It would drive along fine and then all of a sudden pass out. Right in front of everybody. I would stick the spurs to her and she wouldn't budge until she wanted too. Finally it would start and drive for a little while and then just pass out again. Heat stroke I think. In Texas it was cool but in Florida it was hot. We were thinking vapor lock. So Mike took it away and did some tweaking with it and returned it to finish the show. By the way the transmission leak came back, bad as ever. We finished the show and hung our heads low as we limped back to the stable.

The State fair was next. 12 days of tram work. How was it ever going to make it. We were put at an out of the way gate so that it didn't have to work as hard. We limped through the first full weekend. Dumping quart after quart of fluid in it to get it through. We got a break during the week and it was hauled off to the tranny shop again for another rebuild. 

It came back with a little "giddy-up in its gate". Things were going great when out of the blue it died again. It hadn't died since the RV show and we thought we had that fixed.  Mike brought me the spare tram and took tram 4 back and put a new carb on it and a fuel pump and then brought it back. We finished the fair and it was running fine.

I will have to admit that these trams are old and parts are hard to come by. You really don't know of a problem until it happens and you have to fix them on the fly. Used parts are "iffy" at best because you don't know if that is a good part or not. So it is a lot of trial and error. But now I think that most of the bugs have been worked out of tram 4 and it should perform with honor I hope. Knock on wood.

Since the state fair is under our belts, I can honestly say that I hate people again. Coming up next is the 11 day stretch of the Florida Strawberry Festival.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Laughing Out Loud

We took a break from our duties at the Florida State Fair for a couple of days. We were getting a visit from some VIP's again. A visit that has been in the planning for many months and our anticipation levels where high. In fact, they are so VIPish that they are "Friends with benefits". Now before your naughty little minds think of something else, your wrong. The benefits I am talking about is that I will let Jim go into my refrigerator when I am not home and drink my beer. Anyone else would get shot or something. That's right, Jim and Barb from fame.

A little bit about them for those that may not know. They are from Wisconsin(which we overlook) for one thing and they have perfected the art of "Alcohol Adventures". Whatever we plan for the day better involve some kind of alcohol consumption. Lisa found a new drink recipe to try and whoo them which I think she did. But that is getting ahead of myself.

We had two and a half short days for this visit so we had to be prepared. I removed all of the food out of our refrigerator and replaced it with beer. Lots and lots of beer. I worked the first day of their arrival so it was up to Lisa to show them around the fair and entertain them. Half way through my shift I got a text that we were running low on beer. Dang! I thought 2 and a half cases would get us through day one. Lesson learned. I finished work and got home to many hugs and handshakes. To be honest now that I think of it, I think they were just frisking me to see if I had any beers in my pockets. They had a good time at the fair and plans were made for the next days "Alcohol Adventure". With our beer consumed, they quickly said good night which sounded like food fight. So I quickly launched my corn dog at Jim and poked him in the eye with the stick. He was going to feel that in the morning.

The next day we drove over to their campground and picked them up and drove them to Tarpon Springs and the Greek sponge docks.
We walked up and down the street and decided to go to lunch at Hellas. A very neat and interesting little Greek restaurant.
Now I figured that they would see the bar in there and try to drink it dry but they seemed a little sheepish. After drinking my place dry I was wondering if they had reached their limit.
All they had was water and sweet tea and Gyros for lunch. We then finished walking down the street and looking at some of the sponge boats.

With that done we then made the trek back to their place for dinner and drinks. There's the Jim and Barb we know. Lisa decided to unleash the Kraken for some kind of drink. As you can see from the bottle they did a good job on it.
They made some kind of drink with the Kraken and spiced ginger beer.
Judging by those smiles, it looked like it knocked their panties right off. Jim stuck with Malibu and Cokes. I was the driver so contrary to what some might have heard, I behaved myself. Plans were then made for the next day and guess what? They involved drinking. 

The next day we were taking them to Ybor City.
Ybor City. Kind of similar to the French Quarter.
One of the many discussions we had was the pronunciation of YBor City. People that live down here call it Eebor City. But if you are from Wisconsin they call it Whybor City. Tourists?!

It was cloudy and rainy but we did not let that deter us. There is a little corner of YBor City that is actually owned by Cuba. So there is a piece of Cuba in America. We walked the few block to find it and just as I was going to take the perfect picture, this troglodyte of a Wisconsin tourist got in my way.
Well he finally moved on so that I could get my picture.
We then decided to walk down to a famous bakery for some treats. Ybor City is famous for the chickens that roam the town. We saw some of them. Just as I was about to take another photo some hillbilly in camo steps in the frame.
Well we made it to the bakery.
There was some confusion on how this next part happened so I will make sure that I tell it the way it really happened. We walked in and looked at all of the goods in the showcases. I waited patiently for them to make their decisions. After about a half hour I said "Does everybody know what they want. If so I will get a number for serving us." They all assured me that they knew what they wanted. I get the number and wait in line until they call my number. I tell everyone that they called our number. Now they are all back at the counter looking and changing their minds or something. I don't know. So I order what I want and pay. Then they say that they didn't get to order. I said they called our number and I called to you and no one came. End of story. So they then had to get their own number and wait their turn again. Like when I am driving a tram. When I say "All Aboard" I mean get your asses on board, sit down and shut up.

We then walked over to "The Columbian" for lunch. Another famous place to eat in Ybor City. They are famous for their Cuban sandwiches and 1905 salad.
Everyone went for the Cuban sandwiches and salad. I had a roast pork sandwich. All very good. The little ladies had Sangria with their lunches while I chose a Spanish beer. Just as I was going to take a photo of my beer, Barb's breast photobombed the picture.
So try not to focus on those. We then wanted to go to a rum tasting at the Gaspar Rum Distillery but they didn't open until 2. So we then jumped onto the trolley and rode that to downtown Tampa.

Things were getting pretty silly and we really hadn't started drinking yet. We got off of the trolley and walked the river walk for a little bit. Then got back on and headed back to Ybor City. The little ladies found a free shot glass coupon in the tourist guide book and they wanted it. They were not going to leave without it. So off to Silverhawk distillery for their free shot glass.
Here they are trying to decide what whiskey to sample. They thought that maybe they should try a free sample than rather just walk in and ask for the shot glass. They got their glass, took the free sample and both of them almost spit it up it was so strong and then quickly high tail it out of there. Good times.

Next stop. Gaspar Rum Distillery for a rum tasting. It was a cute little pirate themed distillery. They have been around for a year and are doing well.
They make 5 different rums. Now Lisa and I don't knock back straight rum but I think the Nelsons where very familiar with the process.
It was very strong stuff. Me being the driver I had to ask for half shots. Smart thinking on my part.
These are the faces of some happy pirates. With the tasting came a little tour of how they make their rums. It was a very small operation.
The tour if you decide to go is twelve dollars a person for the tour and tasting. I was thinking that since I bought a bottle, I should have gotten the tour for free. Next up was the Coppertail brewery.
Everyone began to sprint inside to get that rum taste out of their mouths.
Lisa getting here posh on.
Jim and Barb where getting a flight of beers while Lisa had a cider and I just had a light lager.
Barb was really enjoying herself. I think maybe a little too much. And she hadn't even started to drink her beers yet. Afterwards we went back to the campground and had dinner with David and Sharon. Fellow RV dreamers we met in 2014 and haven't seen them since 2015. It was nice to get caught up with them.
Jim, David, Sharon and Lisa. Barb may have passed out by this time.

Hugs all around and then it was goodbye. We are not sure when we will see any of them again but somewhere down the road we will.

We laughed so much in two days my face hurts. Until next time.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Death March or Trail of Tears?

Much discussion has gone on in our household lately. The controversy is this. Our morning walks. I have affectionately called them "Death Marches". Our discussion is that I must not be doing it right because I don't die on these marches. So how can it really be a death march then. So I then offered this point. What if we called it the "Trail of Tears"? Because everytime she mentions our walk, it makes me want to cry. And before anyone sends me a complaint from the native American community, I am 35 % Native American. So put that in your peace pipe and smoke it.

Lately we have been getting an upper body workout. We have been noticing that our RV looks faded from the sun. It started last winter when we had moved down to Debary, Florida after Lisa's father passed away and we had put our camper into outside storage. The Florida sun and salt air was not good to it. We had always said that we would hire an RV detailer to wash and wax and detail it for us.

So with some free time between the RV show and the State Fair Lisa checked into it. One place Lisa called and got a quote of $20.00 a linear foot. We have a 40 foot fifthwheel. So if my old fashioned math is correct that makes it $800.00. Ouch. We would have paid $300-$400, but not that. Lisa remembers that fellow RV'er and blogger Jim Belisle had used a Meguiar's wax and he detailed his three step process for taking care of his RV. However we must be lazier than him and only did a 2 step process.

We decided to do it ourselves. $800 dollars is $800 dollars, right. We can definitely do it for less. Off to our goto store for supplies, Wally World. Plenty of Wal-martians but no wax. Jim said that West Marine  should have it so we googled it and drove into Tampa to find it. Bingo! $40.00 for the One Step Compound to take care of our oxidation problem. Now back to Wally World for cotton cloths to apply the polish and microfiber towels to buff it.
Now the One Step Compound is like a rubbing compound. It has a little grit to it and it takes a little elbow grease to apply it and buff it off. The directions say not to let it dry on the RV so we had to work fast and in small areas.

You can really see the difference between what we polished and what we hadn't. We knew it was getting bad but not that bad. What a difference. Two and a half days later we finished the entire camper. It looks great, like we had just bought it. It was recommended that we wax over it to keep it that way. Back to Wally World to look for the wax. Strike one. Let's try General RV since there are so many RV dealers in this area. Strike two. Lazy Days then just down the road. Strike three. Well we know where we got the compound so I guess we will drive back into Tampa and go to West Marine again before there is a strike four. $28.00 dollars for the wax.

Our arms and backs are tired by this point but we have to do it. Even my feet hurt from standing on the top of the ladder. We start the wax process and it goes a lot easier than the rubbing compound because you don't have to scrub as hard. Just waxy on and waxy off.
Lisa getting her back into it. So another 2 days waxing and Presto! We are done.

Now I can see why they charge $20.00 a foot. But it was satisfying to have it done and knowing that we did it ourselves. Now to keep it that way. The guy at West Marine said that it should be waxed twice but that we can wait a few months to do it and also use a cheaper wax.

So for less than $100 dollars for supplies and about 40 hours of labor we finished the job.

The State Fair starts on Thursday. Yippee!