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Kayak Delivery and tenting at Wekiwa Springs

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When we recently sold “Stillwater” our twenty foot long, three cockpit kayak the owner said “Will you deliver it to my grandfather’s house, if I pay for your gas?”… Thought for a minute and replied “Heck yes.” I just figured Lucy and I would make it a fun road-trip with a couple of stops along the way…

Packing complete the night before… we were up with the morning sun…

Set the Garmin GPS on “Back Roads” and with full cups of coffee we were on our way.

Road conditions were perfect and traffic was nonexistent. We drove for a while on the “Florida Cracker Trail”. The recent rains had everything looking like the “Emerald City”. We love the low and slow byways that take us through quaint towns and offer constantly changing points of interest. I find the Interstate Highway a path of last resort. Lower speeds equate to less fuel consumed and less stress on our brains…

I thought Sierra – our cute little American Eskimo Dog – was growling in the backseat. I listened carefully and heard it again several times and then realized it was not Sierra. Turned out it was Lucy’s stomach. “Are you hungry?” I inquired… Receiving a positive response we started looking for an appropriate lunch spot. Just over the next hill the perfect spot appeared. A shady parking spot for the Land Rover and a cool, shady, outside deck that was dog friendly…

Food was delicious and our waitress made me feel right at home…

The Butcher Shop – right across the street made us think about our daughter Aimee. She and her Fiance’ have opened “Heaps Meat Processing” in Hartsell, Alabama. They are already very busy providing meat cutting services to the local populace…

Bellies full we resumed our trip to drop off the boat as Sierra snored in her crate. The scenery just kept getting better and better. We both love central Florida…

In only a little longer we safely delivered our cargo. The Land Rover seemed happy to be free of the one hundred pound load on it’s roof rack. I know the new Owners will have many wonderful waterborne adventures in their new craft… Mission One accomplished we resumed our travels toward our reserved campsite at Wekiwa Springs State Park. We were really looking forward to setting up our brand new tent and heading for a swim in the seventy two degree, crystal clear spring…

Oops. One more stop on the way…

Lucy was hungry AGAIN sooooooo… another pit stop. This time for a large, chocolate malt milkshake. She made me get one too…

Finally…

New Kelty Green River Four all set up and gear stowed. Time for a bike ride to the spring. I was very happy to be finished driving. Seven hours behind the windshield…

“Mee Mee” Lucy spotted the wheelchair assist, for getting into the cool water and immediately thought of our incredible granddaughter, Alexis Jade Spencer. Alexis is wheelchair mobile due to cerebral palsy. She loves to swim and this convenient lift will be fun for her to try… Once in the water she swims like a Mermaid…

Even though the waters of the spring were beckoning, we were both so tired we decided to return to camp to prepare a healthy supper and enjoy our polar plunge first thing in the morning… We were lulled to sleep by a gentle rain falling on the roof of our tent and enjoyed the best nights sleep we had had in months… To be continued.

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Part Seven: Voyageur’s foreplay…

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This morning I loaded up the reconditioned frame for the Roadtrek and delivered it to “Cobra Shop”

It is only a short drive from O.O.C. (Olga Outdoor Center) to the Cobra Shop. Full glass of ice-cold Sweetea (Truvia of course), climate control on 72 degrees, NPR on the stereo and my “Gypsy” (Garmin 276c – GPS) giving me directions in her soft, sexy, voice… As soon as I drove up, Mike and Tim greeted me with instructions to back my trailer right in the door “Be careful of that custom truck next to the door. We just painted her and that is a six thousand dollar job.” <gulp> I inched my way carefully through the tight passageway. Success. No scratches and I was safely inside the shop…

It took my eyes a few seconds to adjust to the relatively dark shop after coming in from the full Florida sun. At first I didn’t see Rusty Voyageur. Aha. There he is, way back in the corner. He was a little embarrassed at having me see him as his butt was sticking up in the air at a rather unnatural angle. Voyageur is kind of shy.

I felt as if I was visiting a beloved family member in pre-op. It sure is a wonderful thing, knowing Voyageur will soon be carrying Lucy and me safely down the winding back roads of the U.S.A. (Makes me think of Dinah Shore). I had a short visit with the crew and discussed some last minute details. I asked Tim how long it would be before I could pick Voyageur up. He replied “Less than two weeks.” Fantastic. Now I can head home and finish preparations for our Land Rover based – tent camping trip to Wekiwa Springs State Park. First project was to install Lucy’s anniversary gift.. a leather BROOKS – “B17 S” – saddle…

The “B17 S” is specially designed for a lady rider. I know it will provide a comfortable ride for Lucy for many, many miles…

Three day prep for a four day trip…

Tent camping anytime takes a lot of planning, purchasing and packing. Summertime tent camping takes even more preparation because of the fan and five-gallon water cooler that we carry. We freeze two large Tupperware bowls, full of filtered water, a couple of days before  our departure. Just before we leave we put the ice from the two bowls into our five gallon Igloo water – barrel and then fill it with more R.O. filtered water. We usually have ice as long as three days after we leave. It is important to set the cask in the shade…

In the background you can see Lucy’s Land Rover. Hers is pouting because – again – she has to stay home. These vehicles are not large and their gear space is quite limited. Careful packing and utilization of space is crucial…

Lucy has chosen to ride “Grocery Getter” her Giant 870, a gift from JRA Cycles in Punta Gorda, Florida

First thing in the morning I will install our “Hollywood” bike rack and our two bikes. The loaded bikes make it difficult to open the rear door. We are really looking forward to our trip and getting to spend some time unwinding in the cool, clear spring water… It always takes me a full day just to “come-down” from all the get ready work. In this case, knowing our Roadtrek is well on the way to recovery will make relaxing even easier. We will post photos from our adventure…

Best wishes from,

“Spokes-model” Lucy and “Spokesman” Dave

Part Six: “Rusty” is going to be okay.

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Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

This is my “Happy Face”…

After a couple months of; worrying, investigating, planning, parts-ordering, dead ends, more praying, visits to two previous shops… We have success. The incredible team at “The Cobra Shop” have completed their inspection, provided a scope-of-work and a cost estimate and we “pulled the trigger”. Dismantling will begin today and tomorrow I will deliver the donor frame to the shop. The price was very fair and we are completely confident in their ability to put “Rusty” “Voyageur” back in safe, road-worthy, condition… We are very excited…

I will post follow ups as the project moves forward. Word is that “Voyageur’s” frame will be stronger and better than factory new. Once the undercarriage is complete the entire underside of the van, running gear and frame will undergo a complete rust-proofing (better than undercoating) treatment to prevent a recurrence of this problem. Stay tuned…

Thank you Lord and thank you staff and crew of “Cobra Shop”…

The Cobra Shop

(239) 995-8314
8921 N Fork Dr, North Fort Myers, FL 33903

Thank you for all the words of support and for those who spoke to God on our behalf.Spokesman Dave

Part Five: “Rusty” Restoration

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Sorry we have been off line for a while.

When we last spoke, Rusty (aka Voyageur) was on his way to Pam’s Motor City. We had high-hopes for Pam’s but it turned out bad. She called “Pat’s Body Shop” (owner has 44 years experience) and he said “No way.” basically he said it was not repairable and mixed in a lot of other problems. Bottom line was – they did not want to tackle the job. Said there was a lot more rust than I thought there was.  I never met the man or spoke to him. Pam assured me that he had a lot of “Up North” experience with salt damaged vehicles and it was an impossible task. Disappointed to have still another dead end, I pressed on…

The staff at Pam’s was very courteous and it was not their staff that turned it down. They don’t do any body work. I did schedule a four wheel alignment for my Land Rover.

Fearful of all the “Additional rot and rust that the body man said I had… I opted to pay $75.00 to have it towed fourteen miles to my next to the last hope “The Cobra Shop”. I had a previous visit with Mike and he was pretty sure they could do the job… Colonial Wrecker took it to Cobra… The grille and bumper are at home in my shop.

Lucy and I arrived while Mike was out picking up a sandwich, so we visited with Becky, until he returned. I spent some time inside “Rusty” retrieving a few more items that we would need on our Land Rover trip to Ocala, next week. Just a few minutes later Lucy tapped on the window and said “Mike is here…”

By the time I stepped out of Rusty”, Mike was already laying on his back under the front end. Mike spent some time examining the damage and then slid out to discuss what he saw. He indicated that the damage appeared to be exactly as I first thought – confined to the frame horns, forward of the spring perches. He explained how he would do the repairs. He spoke with a rare depth of knowledge and confidence. Mike went a step further and indicated that he couldn’t be one hundred percent positive until he had it inside and up on a lift. He seemed quite sure that there was no additional rust damage. He will be calling us first of next week with a thorough diagnosis, treatment plan and estimate.We are very optimistic…

“Worst come to worst”…

A few of our friends have asked us, “What will you do if “Rusty” just can’t be fixed?” Good question – answer – get over it. We will not let any problem that can be fixed, or was caused by money, steal our joy. Having a sick child, personal injury or loss of a limb could certainly dim our outlook. Anything else is just a MINOR set-back. As long as Lucy and I are together and our children and extended are healthy and happy… nothing else really matters. If I am with my Lucy, I am happy. It doesn’t matter if we are camping in a forty three foot, Cass-A, motorhome, Rusty, or sleeping in our Kelty Green River tent. We have chosen to enjoy every moment of our lives and to be grateful that we are a couple. While Paul was in prison and could have been killed at any time, his worried followers sent a representative to visit him, to discover his condition and offer their support. He told his followers “Don’t worry about me.” He went further and said I will honor the Lord in my Life or in my death. It doesn’t matter which.”

I feel the same as Paul. I am doing all I can to make “Rusty” roadworthy and safe. At the same time, I am not “Leaning on my own understanding.” I am “Acknowledging Him in all my ways and trusting Him to guide my path.” In the first chapter of James, Christ said “Consider it all JOY my Brethren, when you encounter various trials, for these shall build endurance.” Thank you Lord for the freedom of your love and the security of my salvation…

Stay tuned,

“Spokesman” Dave

Part Two: It’s gonna cost how much?

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The Voyageur saga continues…

I got safely back to O.O.C. and breathed a sigh of relief. Still knew I had a lot of work to do to put our ‘Trek in shape, but unaware of the real problems that would be revealed.

Lucy couldn’t wait to give her a bath. We had fun washing off the “Trail Dust”. Once we finished the “spit and polish” she shined like a new dime. While I finished the outside work; tires, wheels and chrome polish, Lucy grabbed her basket of cleaning stuff and started on the interior.

She fell in love with the roomy interior and remarked that she could live in the Roadtrek with no problems. It was a hot day and as you recall the air conditioner did not work. We decided to resume our interior clean-up and outfit the interior for camping, in the much cooler morning hours…

Out with the old…

The time had come to replace the old Fedders AC. First task was to find an air-conditioner with the correct dimensions to fit the existing space… I found a remote controlled “LG” unit that was just the right size and it was Energy Star Compliant

Getting the old unit out was a chore. I wound up having to use a 2X4 up against a tree to assist. I had Lucy hold the 2X4 between the tree and the rear of the air conditioner, through the hole where I had removed the rear AC vent. Just backed up a little toward the Oak tree and the unit finally slid out.

When I removed the old unit I found extensive rust damage in the AC area. The condensate had actually caused two holes through the sheet-metal of the compartment. I sanded it all down to bare metal and coated the affected area with “Ospho” rust inhibitor. It was allowed to dry overnight. Next morning I applied fiberglass resin to the entire interior of the AC compartment and used two layer of glass cloth to reinforce and close the holes. Another overnight curing time and I was ready to install the new “LG”. I fashioned new Oak trim pieces to cover the opening left by the slightly smaller new AC. Once I was done she fit like a glove…

Next day we left for our first real RV camping trip. We headed to Peace River Campground, happy as clams, still unaware of the real perils that had not been revealed. Another project complete but oh brother, we had no idea what was in store for Voyageur.

Peace River Campground – Hunkered In

Watch for Part Three: I’ve been framed!

It only gets WORSE.  ;o(

Spokesman Dave

Chaza a whatski?

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Now I am getting excited…

Lucy was browsing Kevin Mim’s website “Visitflorida.com” and she decided she wanted us to do a nice camping trip to Chassahowitzka River campground. We will drive our Roadtrek “Voyageur”, towing our little Gheenoe, “Camo-Tow” . It will be the perfect combination for cruising and fishing this gorgeous central Florida river…

“VOYAGEUR”

Our Roadtrek, 190 Popular,  is compact, fuel-efficient and fully self-contained. After previously owning many different sizes and models of recreational vehicles we decided that this one would provide the most bang for our retirement bucks… She will pull “Camo-Tow” just fine…

“CAMO-TOW”

The little, thirteen foot Gheenoe, is extremely stable and moves along nicely when powered by a single gas-sipping, 6.6 horsepower, Johnson outboard…

She also handles extremely well when paddled with a pair of double bladed kayak paddles. Camo-Tow floats nicely in as little as six inches of water. Narrow enough for the; creeks, estuaries and rivers we prefer and yet stable enough to allow the male occupant to safely stand for any personal needs.  ;O)

Perfect platform for preparing some of Lucy’s healthy, delicious, waterborne snacks…

“SIERRA”

Admiral “Sierra” gives it two paws up”… She is right at home in the bow, or lounging midships.

“Camo-Tow” is so well camouflaged the hardest part is often, finding her for our return trip home…

Have any of you camped or boated on the Chassahowitzka River? Any other Gheenoe owners out there? I would love to hear about your experiences…

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