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HURRICANE IRMA — DAMAGED US ALL

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The most serious hurricane damage, was not physical…

Hurricane Irma caused millions of dollars worth of damage, as she roared savagely through our state. Very few manmade structures were not impacted in some negative way. Giant trees, that had stood for centuries, were torn from the ground and left toppled to the ground, gasping for breath. Countless species of wildlife were thrown into survival mode and our utility infrastructure was devastated as well. Tons of raw sewage flushed from septic tanks and sewers and the storm drains were no match for the rapidly rising water. Major escape routes were left at a standstill and gasoline, ice and drinking water became more valuable that gold. Millions of frightened eyes were glued to television screens and ears strained to hear the latest report on the radio. Text messages were flashing “Red Alert’s” and weather radio alarms were screaming with every passing moment… Cell phone signals from the spotty system were deluged with called from worried relatives up north, trying to verify the safety of their loved ones…

The more people we love, the more opportunities to worry.

Our decision to “RUN” north, ahead of the storm, was not an easy choice.

We were relying on meteorological reports and our memories of losing our in home in 2005 to hurricane Charlie. We had no desire to be here for a replay… In the horror that was Charlie, we remained in our home terrified as the roof was torn off and our neighborhood — leveled. I will never forget the fear I felt for Lucy, Aimee and baby Alexis, as we sat in our Suburban, closed up in our dark garage, listening to the terrible shrieks of the wind and sound of falling trees and pouring rain… We decided back then that we would not voluntarily “Go through another one”.

South bound and down, loaded up and truckin’,
We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done.
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.
I’m south bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run.

We left for home on Thursday, September 14th, nervous about the conditions we might encounter…

We were anxious  to survey the damage at our waterfront beach house and start the process of recovery. One big question was – “Will we have electricity at our home?” (more on that later) Our first day was marred by a vehicle breakdown, shortly after we hit the road. We were making good time, on excellent roads, with almost no traffic. I scan my mirrors frequently – learned in my pilot days – to stay aware of any eminent threat. My heart sank as I checked the rearview mirror and saw an enormous cloud of SMOKE. There was no one behind us… the smoke was coming from Voyageur. “Holy Shit!”  I yelled. I knew it was catastrophic. Lucy exclaimed “Are we on fire?” her thoughts were for the safety of “Ava” our African gray parrot and “Amelia”, our daughters beta fish. Lucy knew our cage bound bird and bowl bound fish had no chance of escape without our assistance.

“Are we on fire?”… exclaimed a terrified Lucy…

I immediately slowed and turned into the first cross road. It was “Sloan Road”. A quick survey revealed there was NO fire. The smoke was from automatic transmission fluid that escaped from the disconnected transmission cooling line. The fluid that sprayed onto the hot exhaust pipe and a huge cloud of smoke ensued. First fear alleviated – we were not “On fire”. My heart sank for two reasons, 1. We were dead in the water, until the loose hose was reattached and new ATF added and 2. The hose had come off once before and I had not done my due diligence by adding a better hose bibb. No time for self abuse now, how am I going to get this van back in running condition, in the middle of nowhere? It was all my fault.

“Howdy. Do you happen to have any automatic transmission fluid I could buy?”

As luck (or GOD) would have it, James Head was mowing his lawn just a few hundred feet away. He asked me what I needed and I, very embarrassedly, explained my plight. He said he “had no fluid” and immediately offered to drive me to a “nearby” auto parts store. (It was twenty four miles round-trip) While I explained the reason for our southbound travel, our conversation turned to our religious beliefs and how his two adult sons had recently “accepted Christ”. James too was a believer. I was touched by the story the kind stranger told of his walk with the Lord and what it meant to him to see both of his sons “Saved”. The NAPA store – he was a frequent customer – had everything I needed to replace the lost fluid. I even had the presence of mind to buy a special funnel to prevent a spill, as I added the fluid. When we returned to Lucy, Ava and Amelia, James slid under the van with me to survey the problem. As it turned out, James was a retired corporate mechanic with forty-four years of experience keeping vehicles rolling. In addition, both of his sons were circle-track racers who campaigned very well built and maintained dirt track cars. His huge barn was a complete mechanic/machine shop.

“This is the wrong hose fitting.” James explained…

I told James the truth. I knew the fitting was bad and had decided to just make do, instead of replacing the fitting with a proper one. He accepted my confession without judgement and started to consider alternatives to fix the problem. I already felt bad enough and was glad he didn’t pour on “burning coals”. James did not have the “right” fitting in his shop, so he decided to alter my existing hose bibb, to eliminate any more problems in the future. He took the fitting to his shop, made the necessary alteration and returned shortly with the modified hose bibb, two new hose clamps and a roll of teflon tape.

James Head,  “Our Angel” didn’t have the right part – so he just modified my original one. Fantastic! “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40

In only a few more minutes, the modified hose fitting was installed and the appropriate amount of ATFC was added. We then proceeded to his outdoor shop sink, “Super Orange” hand-cleaner and dry shop towels to complete the “paperwork”. We both agreed we love the smell of the hand-cleaner because it always meant the “job was done”…

The entire experience was made much less horrifying, by this Godly man and his willingness to help a stranger…

Wrong again… the engine would not start… I knew “It was ALL my fault.”

A few months ago, the same situation had occurred. The engine would turn over just fine, but it would not start. I used my scanner to determine the problem was a faulty Camshaft Position Sensor. Full of confidence, I ordered a replacement part and planned to replace the CPS. As it turned out, on each subsequent attempt to drive the van before the new part arrived, it started and ran. No problem. Chalking it up to a one-time fluke  – I put the new part in my parts bin and didn’t bother installing it.

I had this part, safely stored in my shop, instead of doing the right-thing and installing it.

Our vehicle finally running again, we set our next destination into our GPS and drove off with happy hearts. We were on the way home. We had planned to drive to a campsite at “Yellow Jacket RV Park” but fatigue got the best of us and we settled for any-port-in-a-storm. We started scanning ahead for the first campground that was open. Lucky for us, it was “Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park”. A large part of the park was closed, due to hurricane damage, but they had a nice drive-through site available and we took it. In only a matter of minutes were plugged in, setup and headed for a hot shower. It had been a very long day (Not as long as the next one). The soothing hot water helped to relieve our stress and our feelings turned to hunger. The “SOS Cafe”, located right in the park, provided delicious food at reasonable prices and for those so inclined, it was “Karaoke Night”.

Delicious food, bottomless pitchers of Sweetea, friendly attentive waitstaff and very relaxing atmosphere. 

SOS, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, campground provided a safe retreat with electricity and hot showers. We were fortunate to find an open campsite. The majority of the campground, that was reopened following the storm, was almost full of hurricane refugees, like us.

We were up early next morning to continue our trip south. We decided to make another stop at the “SOS CAFE” before leaving the park. We both ate large, delicious breakfasts and left feeling ready for the day. We had reservations at our favorite campground, Silver Lake, in the Withalacoochee State Forest.  Lucy and I had reservations for three days at site-16 – our favorite. We were very excited about spending three days enjoying the cool waters of the lake and launching Camo-Tow for some sedate river cruising…

As it turned out – this was not to be. More vehicle problems took over…

Hungry again, we stopped at another favorite eatery, Riverside Cafe in Nobleton, Florida. From there it would only be a fifteen minute drive to our campsite. WRONG! When we finished our lunch and returned to our Roadtrek, it would not start. It just kept turning over, the battery was new, but the 5.9 V-8 wouldn’t fire up. Deja Vous………………

For over three hours the van sat in the hot sun defying every attempt to start it. We began calling AAA immediately and request a tow to Chillston’s Garage in Floral City, Florida. I forgot about the identical problem that had occurred months ago and sat baffled at the reluctance to start. Finally I hooked up my scanner again and got a fault code for Defective Camshaft Position Sensor. Crap. Again, it was ALL my fault. Remembering our 200 mile towing feature on our Premier RV AAA coverage, we spent hours on the phone trying to arrange a tow for our van and boat trailer. This was frustrating and pointless. While I was on hold with AAA, Lucy decided to go out and check on Ava and Amelia. I said “Why don’t you try it one more time.”…

VROOOOOOOOM! MIRACLE! She fired right up…

I was filled with mixed emotion. On the one hand, exuberant that our vehicle was running, on the other hand, disappointed that we would not be going to Silver Lake. We were afraid to shut it off again for fear it would not restart. With a full tank of gas onboard and ten spare gallons, in two gas cans, in the boat, we drove the entire 165 miles home without turning the van off. With every passing mile –  we suffered with the knowledge that it might stall again, leaving us stranded on a deserted country road, totally in the dark, miles from home. The tension was almost unbearable. Our conversation was limited by our unspoken fears and we drove on in relative silence.

Danger Behind Us…. At first we were unaware of the danger that followed us…

We stopped for a bite to eat at a fast food joint and left the motor running. When we finished our meal, darkness had fallen and it was time to turn on the lights. I confidently pulled the headlight switch expecting two bright shafts of light from the two new headlights I had recently installed. WHAT? There was no comforting twin beams of light when I pulled the switch. Total darkness continued. DAMN DAMN DAMN! I realized at that moment, that I had never installed the brand new headlight switch that I bought when this intermittent problem had occurred in the past. We NEVER drive at night and I had forgotten all about the previous time I had to “wiggle the switch”. Wiggle it I did and we were finally greeted by the glowing HEADlights…

This new switch shouild have been installed months before our hurricane escape. I was just to lazy…

Our WAZE App set our course over miles of narrow, winding backroads through darkened farm fields…

We drove on nervous for an unexpected outage from the defective switch. We drove past several small homes, totally dark, with no illumination, due to the power outage. We were truly in the dark… Again it was ALL my fault. Worst thing of all, guess what was at home in my shop right next to my new CPS? Yes. You guessed it. A brand new headlight switch. I had not installed it because “We never drive at night.” and “Its a big job. I have to remove part of the dash.” Now I felt like an even bigger FOOL. Was this the worst that could happen? Oh no no no. Read on my friends…

Stopping for a roadside pee break, I noticed no taillights on the van, or boat trailer. SHIT!

Again, I lamented, in utter embarrassment. This was, ALLLLLLL my fault. What am I going to do? Still hours from home. Totally dark two-lane roads and nothing to warn approaching drivers of our presence, except for the small reflectors that would glow in the light of the overtaking headlights. I knew we would be driving more slowly than any overtaking vehicles and I was terrified at the thought of making the remaining night-drive home. There was nothing I could do. If we could even find a place to pull over on the narrow roads we had no idea if the van would start again in the morning. With no other choice, I taped a small flashlight to the rear of our van and drove on in the inky, all encompassing blackness. We drove on in silence each of us lost in our own private thoughts of guilt, worry and dread. Through it all, Lucy never showed a bit of anger at my stupidity. She was the perfect example of a loving Christian mate… Believe me – I was angry enough at myself to make up for her forgiveness…

How come no van or TRAILER lights? Again. ALL My fault.

These brand new LED TRAILER Lights, purchased for our Camo-Tow trailer did no good at all sitting on my shelf. Will I ever learn? Procrastination is a sin.

I bought these new lights for our trailer several months ago. Why didn’t I install them you ask? Well, I was concentrating on the restoration of my Land Rover “BELUGA BUILD” and we NEVER tow the trailer at night. I am such a dumb ass. Lucy was right.

So….. This week I will be busy; installing new Camshaft Position Sensor, Installing new headlight switch, Installing new trailer lights, welding up our broken spare tire mount and wearing a very embarrassed, red face, while gorging myself on HUMBLE PIE. Lucy, I am so very sorry…

We did make it home safely, arriving at 1:00am… No thanks to me.

Our pool cage screen was blown out and our AC did not turn on.

 

Tons of yard debris, lots of tree damage, but our electric power was on.

Our air conditioning man, Scott Baker, of SCOTT AIR, arrived bright and early, on our first morning home and restored our cooling. We spent our Homecoming Night (Thursday) in our nice cool Roadtrek. We both slept like babies, happy to be safely home, thankful for our minimal damage, and praying for others not so fortunate. I learned lots of lessons on this trip and reconfirmed one undeniable truth….

I have the best spouse in the world… Thank you Lord.

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What does OOC Mean?

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I want to tell you a little bit about O.O.C.

My Love for the outdoors and everything related to camping under the stars, began at the age of thirteen when I joined the Boy Scouts. Even as a young lad, I took comfort in the quiet of the woods. I learned to appreciate the solitude and the mystery. I continually sought the quiet that could only be found deep in the woods of central Florida. Accompanied by my fellow scouts, I learned the benefits and values of sharing these special adventures with close friends.

It was wonderful to discover, shortly after our marriage, that my spouse also loved nature and the great outdoors.  As each of our four daughters was born, our camping equipment increased, as did our joy of spending family time together. It was wonderful sharing the activity we loved and seeing the contentment that our daughters found as well…

Fast forward almost fifty years…

Our Airstream doing what it does best.

Our Airstream doing what it does best.

We are now “camping” full time.  Seems as if our love for small spaces never changes. We are currently living in our twenty-seven foot, nineteen seventy-two, Airstream “Overlander”. There is no inconvenience, there is no lack of space and there are seldom any occasions when Lucy and I rub elbows – unless we want to. The intimacy of sharing a small space is a perfect foil for the love we feel for each other. We move about like honeybees in a hive. It is a symbiotic relationship. Our decision to move into the Airstream was predicated on the fact that our youngest daughter, Aimee, wished to return to Florida and had no immediate plans for a domicile. We asked her (actually begged her) to move into our comfortable home and allow us to enjoy her family while we lived in the backyard. We call it our “Old Folks Home”. Initially, Aimee was reluctant. She felt bad to see her parents move out of their home and into the tiny enclosure, under the big shade tree. Little did she know, the pleasure of having her family here with us, far outweighed the imagined inconvenience.

Back to the question “What does O.O.C. mean?”

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“Back To Eden Garden”

It means land that is zoned for agricultural use. It means that we can raise honeybees, vegetables, fruit and nuts – exactly as we want to. There is no conflict with our neighbors, or with the regulations of the County. Every since we first arrived, we began enriching our surroundings by planting new living things. We took care to preserve the beautiful citrus trees that were already on our property. There are five different types of oranges, two types of grapefruit, two types of lemons and we have our first lime tree. It is three years old and will be bearing soon. We planted an “Eden Style” garden last year and found it perfectly suited to our needs. This year, we have been somewhat lazy about getting the seeds in the ground in a timely fashion. Perhaps, along with our increased “laziness” we were also hampered to a degree, by constant rain and frequent needs to be somewhere else. It is always more fun to go on a road trip in “Voyageur’, or one of our Land Rovers. Visiting with family always takes precedence over working in the ground.

"Bora Beans" reaching for the arbor, Butternut squas growing up.

“Bora Beans” reaching for the arbor, Butternut squash growing up.

This is not necessarily the proper way to run a farm, but it makes us happy…

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“It’s easy being green”

All the plants that live here are just as happy in their surroundings as we are. They are all lush and verdant and often remind Lucy and I of what it might have been like in the Garden of Eden. Honeybees are allowed to roam freely. Beneficial insects are not killed and only reluctantly do we ever dispatch the occasional cockroach that invades one of the structures. The benefits far outweigh the harm. I wish we had more birds at OOC. Lucy says they will return this winter

Kale Kale the Gangs all Here…

Kale is an amazing green. The nutritional benefit is of the chart

Kale is an amazing green. The nutritional benefit is of the chart

We have learned a lot about what will grow and flourish here. We can’t grow all of the varieties we would like, so we make the best possible use of the ones that joy it here. Kale has proven to be a bountiful provider. The more we study about this valuable green, the more we learn about its many beneficial properties. The last planting provided food for us for more than eight months. The fact that it tastes delicious no matter how it is prepared, makes it a big favorite with the O.O.C. Saff and visitors…

We have learned that most plants are not picky about the home they live in…

These "Maters" are happy in their cast-off buckets

These “Maters” are happy in their cast-off buckets

All they need to flourish is ample water, a generous amount of sunshine and an occasional healthy snack. Our tomato plants are doing fine in the cast-off five gallon buckets that we get from our neighbor, Dave the Painter. We do water them twice a day and watch them closely for any sign of insect infestation. We find that the old fashioned “10-10-10” fertilizer meets the nutritional requirements for almost everything that grows here at OOC

OOC is also a wonderful campground…

 

RV there yet?

RV there yet?

We have always enjoyed the atmosphere that we find in an isolated campground. The proximity of happy people makes all the time we spend camping just that much better. We have always enjoyed looking out our windows to discover who is camped in the campsite next to ours. Many of the friendship’s formed have lasted for many years. Here at O.O.C. we have ample opportunities to see several different styles of recreational vehicles. The only difference is… we own them all. Lucy often remarks that when she is sitting under the majestic Banyan tree, enjoying her fresh brewed morning coffee, she feels the same sense of joy and fulfillment here at home that she does at a distant campground.

O.O.C. is also a hideaway…

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Great place to disappear for a nice rest

I am amazed at the size and vigor of the Elephant Ears, Ginger, and Galengall plants that Lucy has planted on our property. Some plants, gifts from past visitors, seem to be doing best of all. Whatever she plants – they all seem to blossom under her loving care. I can’t begin to name all the different flowers and shrubs she has planted. I also cannot begin to name all the species of wild flowers that are allowed to grow, bloom and go to seed, here at O.O.C. We love the natural look and cannot abide the manicured look of most modern homes. It is our desire to have this property remain as close to its natural state as possible, while still allowing us to move comfortably about. We don’t nip, cut, prune, or otherwise alter the inter-plantings that have occurred naturally. We try to add our fruit and nut trees in a way that compliments the already existing flora. We focus on taking maximum advantage of sun exposure and proper drainage.

 O.O.C. is a Land Rover lover’s mecca…

Aimee loves her roomy Range Rover Classic. It is a LWB "County", perfect for her high-adventure family

Aimee loves her roomy Range Rover Classic. It is a LWB “County”, perfect for her high-adventure family

Turns out… our youngest daughter loves her vintage Range Rover classic, as much as her mother and I enjoy our Land Rover Discovery’s. We are living the life that these fine vehicles were built for. They more than meet our needs, completely satisfy our comfort requirements and in all types of terrain, provide safe, efficient, transportation…

Lucy's Land Rover Discovery II, patiently waiting for another great adventure.

Lucy’s Land Rover Discovery II, patiently waiting for another great adventure.

I will certainly admit that for me, the romance attached to the world traveling Land Rover Marque, is one of the reasons I hold them dear. There are newer vehicles with much higher mileage capability. There is however no other vehicle that would provide the same degree of personal satisfaction I feel when I’m driving a Rover. I’m so happy that Aimee and her family feel the same about their roomy, luxurious, Range Rover County. Anyone with a love for these fine British automobiles, will feel right at home here at O.O.C

OOC IS HAUNTED…

Haunted by friendly ghosts. Who ya gonna call?

Haunted by friendly ghosts. Who ya gonna call?

We never had ghosts at OOC until our granddaughters, Alexis and Olivia arrived. I’m not sure if the girls attract these filmy characters, that travel by night, or if they in fact created them, just to frighten their Poppy…

One of the most wonderful advantages of having our daughter and grandchildren living here, is the ability for us to be transported again to the happy days, when every occasion resulted in some form of bright ornamentation. No matter the occasion… Aimee and her two willful workers, create magical scenes around the property. It would make us sad, to not to be able to enjoy their presence.

So much wonder, so much love, so much laughter and an abundance of happiness is present, all the day long…

I realize that it will take more than one post to answer the question, “What does O.O.C. mean?” Please enjoy this first chapter. More, much more is on the way…

Cheers and Happy Halloween to you all,

“Spokesman” David

The other woman… 1976 Fleetwood “Prowler” 19E

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Hello readers…

Lucy and I have been talking about…

…acquiring a travel trailer that would be small (light) enough to be safely towed by either of our Land Rover’s and yet still provide the type of accommodations we enjoy.

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In the past, whenever we camped with the Florida Land Rover Club , our only option was a tent. There is nothing wrong with a tent and we still enjoy sleeping under canvas (or rip-stop nylon) very much. We have camped for so many years, we have learned what we need to be very comfortable “sleeping on the ground”. The primary reasons we wanted a towable RV were: Ease of set up and break down. No worries about enduring rainy weather and putting away wet muddy gear when we break camp. Much better control over internal temperatures. Staying warm has not been a problem in the winter, but staying cool during the balmy summer nights is…

A single phone call and our desires were met…

My good friend Belinda Smith called me and said she and her husband Bryan had purchased a new camper. She said she had to get rid of the old one “NOW”. Apparently, her shiny new one was on the way. Lucy and I didn’t know a thing about her “old camper”. We didn’t know; brand, size, condition, age, color, sleeping accommodations, or even if she was sound enough to tow back to O.O.C. So what? I just said “Heck yes we want it. I will come and get it right now.” We loaded up my 12 volt air-compressor, a can of WD40, two different sizes of hitch balls and headed for Cape Coral. Turns out… little “Missy”, as Lucy named her, is exactly what we would have ordered if we had bought her brand new. We had successfully organized our first ever “menage a trois”

Our trip home came off without a hitch…

No. Wait a minute. We did use a hitch…

disco and missy

It only took us a little while to air up her rotting tires and hit the road for home. I drove very slowly and definitely felt the absence of proper trailer towing mirrors. Wider mirrors would have allowed me to keep track of following traffic. Oh yes… we also had no lights. No running lights and NO brake lights, or turn signals. Traffic was light and we just stayed in the right lane and took our ime. It was only twenty-four miles back to home base and we made it just fine. “Missy” seemed to really blossom under all of the new love and attention… We still had no idea what worked and what didn’t. We still had no idea if the roof leaked or the air-conditioner ran at all.

What sexy lady doesn’t love a nice bubble bath…

clean missy

Soon as we got her home, Lucy insisted on washing her from stem to stern… She seemed to purr under Lucy’s rubbing. (I know I do) Soon as Lucy had her outsides looking as good as possible, she grabbed our shop-vac, bucket of soapy water and headed inside. Good news – the window air-conditioner – worked just fine. Lucy spent most of the day looking into every cupboard and drawer and did a real “Snow White” clean up. Once she was satisfied with her work, she allowed me back inside. The two of us sat with a blank pad of paper and started making a “To Do” list. Of course, we prioritized every item based on: Safety – weather tightness – convenience – appearance – comfort. The list is long, but it will be a labor of love…

roomy interior

Missy’s interior is open and airy. The rather vintage colors of the “Seventies”, take me back to my younger years. The rear bath is quite spacious with a separate stall shower. There is lots of storage room in the galley, and a stainless-steel, double sink, that is large enough to actually hold a dish. A four-burner, gas, range with oven will handle the cooking chores. Those of you that know Lucy and me, know we love to cook… The dinette seats four, on very comfy benches that actually fold down to create a three-quarter width bed.

Missy’s re-tirement…

First on the safety list was a new set of tires. It was off to Pat’s Tire and Auto Service where we purchased a full set of Powerking, Towmaster, STR, E-rated, 10 ply tires. Pat’s crew mounted them just right with brand new high-pressure valve stems and then ran them up on the computer balancer until they were spot on. The trip home was marvelous. She seemed to have much less rolling resistance and definitely less sway. i will be re-packing the wheel bearings and checking the brakes…

Pats tire

Over the coming months we will attack the tasks on our “To-Do” list, in the order we believe will be the most efficent. I know there will be surprises, unavoidable delays and unexpected challenges. That won’t bother us a bit. we always have “Voyageur” to hit the road in, if the wanderlust becomes to overpowering… Look for a new installment soon.

Safe travels,

“Spokesman” Dave

Very first fish!

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Pam said “Terry has never caught a fish on his own rod.”

When I heard this, my mission was ON. Terry would catch his first fish, on his own rod, while fishing out of “Camo-Tow”. In case some of you are first time visitors to “Five Spoke Wheel” I must explain that Pam and Terry are new friends, who have completed two years of overland travel, in a custom built Land Rover Defender camper. They are a delightful couple from Wales, whom we met on a recent Land Rover camping trip to Holder Mine. They have been staying with us for a few days, here at O.O.C.

Sanibel Causeway Island Park

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“Freddy” on the left and “Voyageur” catching some rays…

We are very fortunate to have a wonderful place to set-up a beachhead, right on the Gulf of Mexico. “Sanibel Island Causeway Park” is one of the last places where you can park right next to the water. There is ample parking, some shaded by gorgeous Southern Pines and the rest fully open to satisfy the desires of sun-worshippers. Lucy and I , always concerned about preventing skin cancer, chose the shade… Just after we finished setting up Pam told us she “Really wanted to sit in the sun.” She reminded us that the weather in Wales is frequently; cloudy, rainy and cold… We offered to relocate, but she said she was fine…

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l to r: Pam, Terry and my Lucy.

The beach was well attended, but there was still plenty of room for all. Terry’s Land Rover Defender “Freddy” attracts attention wherever he parks it. Our beachfront location was no exception. Terry answered questions for the many curious people who strolled by and posed for several photographs. The custom vehicle, equipped with right hand drive, is not only a fine rolling-home, it is a great conversation piece… “Voyageur”, our trusty Roadtrek, was quite hurt, as she got nowhere near as much attention. There was however, one jovial beach goer, who offered to swap his Honda Element for our well equipped camper – “straight up”. We declined his offer… We sat in the shade, enjoyed a few ice-cold adult beverages and planned our fishing strategy.

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Our salty little yacht “Camo-Tow” was in full “Fishing” mode

We were all ready for some hardcore fishing. A quick stop at a local bait shop and my bait bucket was brimming with two dozen, very lively shrimp. The shrimp were dying to get on the end of one of our hooks and give it all for the cause. The weather was ideal for the little Gheenoe. Comfy swivel seats, convenient rod-holders and a wide beam, combine to provide an ideal fishing-platform. There is no boat ramp at the park. No problem for our little craft. I unhitched the trailer from Voyageur and Terry and I simply rolled it into the surf for the launch. I wish we would have taken some photographs. Pulling it back out of the water required a bit more effort, but it was actually no problem for we two incredibly strong, senior citizens, Camo-Tow is equipped with a 6.6 horsepower outboard that provides a proper cruising speed while only sipping a tiny bit of petrol…

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“Then you twist it around six times and run it back through the double loop” I explained…

Terry confessed he just did not have much experience with a rod in his hand. First lesson was to demonstrate one of the proper monofilament line fishing knots – guaranteed not to pull loose. On the third try, I finally got it right. I heard a few chuckles (with a British accent) over my multiple attempts. Terry opined “It was a good idea showing me how not to tie it first.” Ha Ha Ha… We set up our fishing rigs on the beach, so we would be ready to drop our hooks immediately…

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“Terry, be sure you put plenty of sun-screen on your head!” Cautions Pam

Camo-Tow, our 15′ 4″ Gheenoe, while small in size, is huge in fishing comfort, stability and good looks.  ;O) We carried everything we needed with a “no-frills attitude”…

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A hearty “Bon Voyage” and we were off on our three hour tour

FISH ON!

There was very little breeze, calm waters and the tide was perfect for catching… I wish I had taken some actual fishing photos, but we were too busy pulling them in… We set up to drift through the deepwater channel, normally a very productive method. In this case, 30 minutes of hardcore beer drinking and drowning shrimp, resulted in no fish. I cranked up the outboard and motored a half mile to a new location. Thirty seconds after Terry’s bait hit the water WHAM! “FISH ON!” He hooked and landed his first fish. Catching it on his brand new, open face spinning rig, made it even more special. It was a nice 1.5 pound Speckled Sea Trout. Perfect size for the skillet and one notch down on his four-fish bag limit

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Speckled Sea Trout

The scrappy little Speckled Sea Trout hit hard and fight bravely. All to no avail. Our British Buddy landed all but one. The fish is one of our favorite for a crispy Southern fish fry. In only a few minutes we had caught our “limit’ and the two dozen shrimp I had bought were gone. There was a lot of excited hollering and yelling, some in a stately Wales accent, and a good bit of Florida Crack caterwalling. It was a wonderful fishing trip with enough fish in the box, for a fantastic seafood dinner. I cleaned them on the side of the boat and left the entrails for the crabs. Terry had a wall-to-wall grin that lasted for the rest of the day. We couldn’t wait to return to the waiting women and show off our catch. They both admitted equal amounts of surprise and appreciation. “I can’t believe you caught all those fish.” Pam commented…

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Terry’s happy smile, lit up the entire beach

Good friends, Good fishing and Good fun!

These are not big fish. Each was carefully measured with my trusty fish-ruler, to make sure they were “legal” Terry did catch the two largest trout, but we didn’t get a proper photo. These little beauties produce a tender, sweet meat, with very few bones. I made a batch of “hush puppies”, a first time treat for our friends from the United Kingdom. There was nothing left on the platters when we left the table… All in all a perfect day at the beach. We hung around for most of the afternoon and then retrieved Camo-Tow and headed for O.O.C.

My mouth was already watering…

As I thought of the delicious dinner to come…

Peace and love, “Spokesman” Dave

The British are coming, and we are glad…

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You meet the most interesting people in a Land Rover

Lucy and I had a marvelous time, tent-camping, with a group of Land Rover owners, at “Holder Mine Campground” in Citrus County, Florida. One of the high points of all of our off-road adventures, is the people we meet. In this case, an amazing couple, Pam and Terry who left their home in Wales, in their fully self-contained Land Rover Defender 130, for a two year tour of the Americas. We absolutely fell in love with this couple…

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The Brown’s travel in style. Their Defender is a fully self-contained camper

The first hint of their eminent arrival was the distant clatter of a big diesel V8. (It was actually a 2.5 Turbo-diesel but it sure sounded like a BIG V8. Thanks Theo) We all loved the sound and waited anxiously for them to pull into view. For me it was love at first sight. Of all the vehicles I have; seen, driven, owned or imagined “Freddy” is by far the one I covet most. It is an absolutely amazing vehicle…

Pam and Terry both arrived with huge smiles.

Pam and Terry both arrived with huge smiles.

We all wanted to have a giant gab fest but the first order of the day was to make camp. We would have plenty of time to visit later…

"Drive in, turn off ignition, pop the top and open a beer." That is how Terry described setting "Freddy" up for camping.

“Drive in, turn off ignition, pop the top and open a beer.” That is how Terry described setting “Freddy” up for camping.

This well-traveled couple had their cozy home on wheels ready for living within minutes. They have already driven from the southern tip of South America to the Northern tip of Alaska. They are definitely a well-oiled camping machine. After two years on the road they really have their preparations perfected. It was fun sitting in my folding chair watching them work. They have everything they need and nothing they don’t…

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“Freddy” making friends with the Disco Queen…

Their custom “Camper” is well equipped. Full galley, five batteries, solar panels to keep them all at full charge and a convenient casette-toilet when a bush just won’t do. The living quarters are well insulated as is the cab. A Webasto diesel-fired furnace provides adequate for any weather. The somewhat utilitarian stock Land Rover seats have been replaced with premium Recaro style seating to insure comfort regardless of trail conditions…

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Pam in the blue T-shirt

We had an absolutely wonderful time with Terry and Pam. They were the ideal campmates. Sitting around our campfire, hearing about their amazing trip, was a very pleasant way to spend an evening. We are very happy to announce they will be here with us at O.O.C. for a couple of days, as they wind down to the end of their journey. I will have a nice post on their visit. You can check out their BLOG by clicking here.

Keep on trucking,

Spokesman Dave

Land Rover “Lovers”

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1960 Land Rover Series and 1976 Boler travel trailer

1960 Land Rover Series and 1976 Boler travel trailer

Meeting “Tinkerbell”…

When I was a young boy, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell were two of my heroes. (I had a crush on Tink) Of course, at the time, I believed they were quite real. Having met Danielle and Drew my belief was confirmed. They are in fact – very real

Last weekend…

Lucy and I were planning a ten day, tent based trip. We decided to leave “Voyageur” our Roadtrek at O.O.C. and do the trip in one of our Land Rover Discoveries. First thing we did was to call our good friend, Aldous Cosmo Gitles and ask him to join us. Fact of the matter is, we asked him to pick the location for our rendezvous. “Cosmo”, as his friends call him, was ready willing and able to meet us for another four wheeling off-road adventure. He offered a couple of alternative locations in central Florida and we chose “Holder Mine Campground” in the Withlacoochee Forest…

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We began planing, organizing and loading our gear for an exciting adventure with some great old friends. From there, it just got better and better. Cosmo called us back a couple of times and said the group was getting larger. In fact he said we would love the new people that were meeting us and that a couple other members of the Florida Land Rover Club would also be joining us for some trail riding. Fantastic! The more the merrier. For this BLOG I am going to speak about one couple, Drew and Danielle. Lucy and I chose to call this couple “Tinkerbell and Peter Pan”. Their fun BLOG is “The Wild Rovers”

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Their kind, loving, spirit was evident from the first moment we met them…

Drew and Danielle were set-up on their campsite when Lucy and I arrived. Everything looked as “neat as a pin”. We were looking forward to meeting them, because we had viewed their blog and immediately felt a kinship with this amazing young couple. So many memories flooded my mind. I immediately thought of my Lucy as a young spouse, complete with honey-sweet voice and gently strumming guitar. Even their smiles radiated the same joyful, unassuming innocence. We as couples were alike in so many ways. I am not going to do a lot of “Splaining” (Ricky Ricardo’s voice) because they have all the details on their blog. What I want to talk about is how impressed I was by their attitude about life. Best part was, it didn’t come from books, seminars, or self-help tapes. They just “Get it”. Having graduated from college with degrees in Journalism (Danielle) and Mechanical Engineering (Drew) they were tired of the day to day constraints of excessive order, disciplined study and schedule driven academic lives. They are not running away from something they are moving closer to something. They both love and miss their homes and family in Nova Scotia. Each of them spoke of the wonderful people, scenery and energy that they left behind in their homeland. Both Drew and Danielle maintain close contact with family and friends while they are on the road. I believe they just want to make sure that what they think – Nova Scotia is the best place to live – is accurate. For the entire time we were sharing the woods with this marvelous couple, I never heard a “discouraging word”. even as they spoke of little setbacks and challenges they had encountered, they were grinning from ear-to-ear as they explained their inventive and sometimes comical solutions. The only sad part for me was the realization that none of our – now all grown up daughters – ever got to enjoy such a freeing adventure…

Saturday, January 12th. Happy Birthday Danielle

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As luck would have it, we got to celebrate Danielle’s 23rd birthday with her. She and Drew participated in our first off-road trail ride in their very own “Ole Yeller”. The venerable old Land Rover was shod with standard tread street tires, but managed to handle every obstacle in it’s path with a pronounced British “Stiff upper lip”. Many of the other trucks had oversize, heavily lugged, trail tires and extensive modifications. They put nothing over on the rugged, leaf sprung, Rover. Drew proved he had “Bad Ass” driving skills and Danielle maintained her stately place in the procession, regardless of the severity of the trail. If the happy occupants would have been enjoying ice-cold “GnT’s”, they wouldn’t have sloshed a drop… In celebration her special day, “Kaz”, a member of the Florida Land Rover Club, offered her the pilot-seat in his extreme, off-road monster, a huge Discovery powered by a beefed up V8,  rolling on huge, nobby tires. Never you mind it was her first time running an off-road trail truck. Seeing the tiny blonde lass piloting the massive rig was a joy to behold. They say you “Never forget your first time.” How bout that Danielle?

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with these traveling troubadours…

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Danielle and Drew share a love for music. They are a wonderfully talented duet carrying a full arsenal of stringed instruments with them, writing new songs en-route. We were gifted a copy of their first album “Honey Hill” by The Harts. D n D co-wrote the excellent songs commemorating their travels and often perform at various open-mikes and other venues along the way. Drew serenaded Daniele with a fine rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” on his newly acquired fiddle.  They voices – like their lives – are in perfect harmony…

“We’ve got all we need for where we’re going.”

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The young couple do a wonderful job of living a GIANT life in a diminutive space. Their tiny rolling home, includes everything they need for housekeeping and living comfortably, with nothing added to compromise their enjoyment of whatever space they are in. The skill they exhibit in keeping it all together extends way beyond their time in years. We could all learn a lesson about the joys of living simply. “All we need is love” the Beatles…

Well and truly missed…

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You can teach old dogs new tricks. The time Lucy and I spent with Drew and Danielle renewed our faith in the younger generation. They taught us a lot about; humility, love, contentment and the joy of appreciating every moment of life. We will never forget them. So often in the past we have been fortunate to spend time with really incredible people. These two folks will certainly occupy a niche very near the top of the list. If I got to live my life over again, I would hope I to be a lot more like Drew… Happy trails to “The Harts”.

Love to you all,

Spokesman Dave

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