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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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The Lord was with us. Escape from hurricane IRMA.

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Fight or flight? We chose flight…

We left home, in our 1999 Roadtrek camper with a lot of faith and a little angst. Unsure of our destination, but firm on our direction – NORTH! As time passed we learned that one of our daughters had been discharged from a local hospital early… High anxiety.

Amanda was discharged from her hospital stay one day after we fled. She was on her own…

When we left home they told us she would be kept “until the threat of the hurricane had passed”. Wrong. She was discharged against her will, with no place to go. We knew she was resourceful, but had no way to confirm her safety. Amanda was totally — on her own… Our prayers increased.

We used the WAZE app and stayed well clear of the parking lot that was I-75

We stuck to the backroads and had no traffic at all. Even though we were in “Flight” mode, the incredible scenery kept us enthralled and the knowledge that we were moving farther from harms way lessened our anxiety…

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The looming storm made our exodus even more urgent.

Our initial destination, was Silver Lake Campground in Brooksville, Florida. This beautiful park is holds of fifty years of happy memories, for Lucy and me. Once again, it proved to be our solace. We even got our favorite campsite… Number sixteen…

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Our favorite lakefront campsite, number sixteen, was the perfect overnight spot.

The next morning, backroads beckoned again and we shifted our GPS to points further north…

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If you have not used the “WAZE” app, give it a try. We love it…

An old campground, Deer Run, appeared, just as we were both feeling the need for a break from the road…

Just as God must have planned, we rented the LAST campsite. Once plugged in we settled down to unwind, attempted to contact family and friends by phone and social media and then enjoyed a full nights sleep… We discussed our future travel plans as we sipped our morning coffee.

First thought was to head to Frank Jackson State Park in Opp, Alabama, but they were full.

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There is just something about a journey on a tree lined dirt road that elicits joy from within…

Lucy and I loved traveling the dirt roads and marveled at the scenery.

As we were trying to decide where to “run”, our close friend Mandy Walker invited us to join them in Byron, Georgia. Fantastic.

We found an open gas station, filled our tank and set our WAZE App to head for safe haven in Byron.

The womenfolk, Mandy, Leigh, Alicia,

The trip was wonderful and we arrived to big hugs from our daughter Alicia, happy grandchildren and the entire Walker family. Mandy’s estate was the perfect place to feel; safe, loved and relieved. She even had an empty outbuilding that was a perfect shelter for our Gheenoe “Camo-Tow”. While MiMI Lucy relaxed with the girls in the big house, I called it a night and went to bed…

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“Voyageur” our venerable Roadtrek made a perfect hideaway.

Next morning we awoke to beautiful weather, cool temps and clear skies.

There was no indication of the fury that was hurricane IRMA. Soon after we woke, Mandy told us that our old friend Ryan Jones and his mate Krissy had invited us for a cook out. Man-O-man. That was wonderful news after a week of fear and doubt. As the hurricane continued its destructive path toward our home in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Lucy and I were treated as honored guests at the Jones estate.

Tender and juicy pork loin and chicken quarters dissapeared quickly. Ryna cooked enough for a small army. We ate like one…

Bryan had three different kinds of meat in his smoker and plenty of beverages to keep our throats from getting dry, while we shared hours of wonderful conversation and fond memories.

The highlight for me, was getting to know Krissy, Riley (four years old) and Hunter (one year old) better. First time meetings for me.

Ryan relly knows how to handle his meat…

Ryan gave me a big bag of his “Secret Rub” to use when we return home. Fantastic!

Ryan gave us tour of his beautiful new Class-A, motorcoach and Krissy invited us to “Make ourselves at home” in their spacious abode. Chickens in the yard and a horse next door made the scary hurricane seem even farther away…

There were happy, laughing, kids of all ages, filling our space with joy. We continued our lively gabfest with the delicious aroma of smoking meat fueling our hunger to the max.

Krissy’s potato salad and Ryan;s perfectly seasoned and smoked meat  were definitely in competition for “What did you like best?”…

Four year old “Riley” was kind of shy at first, but by the time we left she and I were best friends. I already miss her.

It was an incredible joy to spend time with Ryan, Krissy, Riley and Hunter…

This little family is built on “Cherish, Honor and Love”. I cannot recall a time when I felt more at peace and at home.

Krissy and Ryan are true achievers. They plan their work and work their plans. If God had given me a son, I wish he would have been just like Ryan Jones…

Lucy and I have no idea what will greet us when we return to our home, but as for now… It is well with my soul….

 

Overcoming Dissimilar Inertia

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It is the differences that makes it fun…

Howdy readers. it has been a long-long-long time, since I have visited our BLOG. I really have no excuse, other than laziness. I was all enthused about sharing my interesting (?) life with my Lucy, until I started thinking, “Why would people care about what some old “Florida Cracker” thinks is the secret, to a long and extremely happy relationship, that just happens to be based on an old-fashioned marriage to a person of the opposite sex. Nothing special about it—— or is there?

My mate for life – and beyond. I promised GOD.

When I was a boy, divorce was very rare. (Actually, both of my parents were married to other mates and divorced prior to meeting each other.) There was only one divorced woman in my neighborhood. She was either the target of every horny, frustrated husband within her view, or disdained by all the other married women who did not share her obvious comfort with her incredible body. Clothes were only chosen to prevent “Indecent Exposure”.  Those around her seemed to base their expectations of what was “proper”, based solely on their gender. She was always over-dressed for the men and to scantily for the women. Anyway……… I guess she is a big part of why I thought getting a divorce would be a terrible experience subjecting the two “X’s” to a life of pain and sorrow. “If I ever got married”, I vowed “I sure wouldn’t get a divorce.” Well, I did and I haven’t….

Lucy and I promised GOD that we would be together until “Death do us part”. (I’m not too comfortable with the last part. I wouldn’t care about going to Heaven, if I didn’t know Lucy and I would be mates forever and ever.) You already know the amazing story about how God put us together, but why has it lasted? Here is my story.

Dissimilar Inertia –

The dictionary basicly explains inertia as follows:

Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion; this includes changes to its speed, direction, or state of rest. It is the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity. The principle of inertia is one of the fundamental principles of classical physics that are used to describe the motion of objects and how they are affected by applied forces. Inertia comes from the Latin word, iners, meaning idle, sluggish. Inertia is one of the primary manifestations of mass, which is a quantitative property of physical systems. Isaac Newton defined inertia as his first law in his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which states:[1]

The vis insita, or innate force of matter, is a power of resisting by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavours to preserve its present state, whether it be of rest or of moving uniformly forward in a straight line.

Well the same applies to each one of us. We are all objects (some easier to look at than others – but still “Objects”.)

I remember an experiment in my high-school physics class, where the teacher dropped a ping-pong ball and a golf-ball off the top of the auditorium, to see which one would reach the ground first. Dissimilar weights should produce a discrepancy in the landing time, right? Wrong. They struck the floor at exactly the same time. Go figure…

Spend each day trying to out-nice each other. There will always be two winners…

“Nothing’s quite as beutiful as Lucy in the morning…” (Must be sung)

Ideally, a married couple would enjoy the same results. Lucy and I will be leaving our beach house for a trip to the country to visit family, enjoying the country atmosphere and on Sunday, celebrate our Granddaughter Olivia’s birthday. Initialy, we planned to leave yesterday, Friday. That was changed. Next we decided to leave this morning, Saturday. Now it is Saturday evening and we are now leaving “early in the morning“. Sunday. Well, you might ask, “Why so many time changes?”.

So many fun shop projects to finish

Excellent observation and quandary. Lucy wanted to go, go, go and I just wanted to complete a few more tasks and projects in my shop. “If I just had a little more time I could finish this.”

“Honey, just a few more hours. Please?”

Lucy did not pout, stamp her feet, or withold sex. She accepted my desire and delayed our departure to suit my “wants”. Was it a “Selfless” act of love on her part? Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. Each partner must decide which way to go based on their own appraisal of their own dissimilar inertia. Yes. Give and take. We seem to take turns going with the flow and being firm in our desire.

Lucy is the best shop hand a man could have – but she’s mine all mine.

So… what’s the point? In every situation, chose carefully the hill you want to die on. Some things are worth fighting for and some are not. If the potential adversary is your partner – suck it up mate – the makeup sex is fantastic! I have never been sorry to bend to Lucy’s desires and she is happy to provide all (most) of mine.

So many, many, reasons to be grateful and Lucy is one of the biggest.

Agreeing with the one you love, is always way better than “agreeing to disagree”. Believe me, you can take that homespun wisdom to the bank….

 

Go do something nice , just because you love her.

Stealth camping in our Roadtrek…

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We spent the entire day at “Sanibel Island Causeway Park” and since we knew there would soon be a gorgeous sunset, followed by a stunning full-moon rise we decided not to leave. “We” was Lucy and me and our friend from Canada, Ross Fish. Ross was in his self-contained Class-B “Pleasureway” accompanied by his beautiful Brittany Spaniel “Barney”…

Barney was one of the most awesome companions I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

Barney was one of the most awesome companions I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

Sanibel Island, Fort Myers, Florida has long been one of our favorite; bicycling, fishing, kayaking, beach combing, kite flying destinations.. We have spent many, many, days parked under the beautiful long-leaf pine trees that shade the waterfront. We have never attempted to “stay all night”, due to the signs posted all over the park “No Overnight Camping”. We decided that we weren’t going to be camping we were going to be “Fishing“. We set up a couple of rod-holders on the beach and settled in for the night…

When we arrived, we parked on the west side to take advantage of the shade and sunset…

east side causeway

We arrived early to some very low temperatures… We were the only ones on the beach.

The west side of the causeway is the best side to see the sunset and a nice view of the Gulf of Mexico. We brewed a pot of coffee and relaxed. Barney loved walking the beach and chasing the wading birds…

Lee County provides some very nice picnic tables and spotlessly clean rest rooms...

Lee County provides some very nice picnic tables and spotlessly clean rest rooms…

We all enjoy each others company and we took advantage of Ross’s visit to catch up on all the news that he had to share since his last Florida visit. Ross travels for a month in the winter and then another month in the spring. The stories he tells keep us laughing. We brought simple foods to keep meal prep to a minimum. Lots of healthy snack-food, and no heavy dinners.

Lucy wore her hoodie to ward of the chill of the strong sea-breeze...

Lucy wore her hoodie to ward of the chill of the strong sea-breeze…

We stayed on the west side of the span until the sunset was over. Packed up and drove to the east side to enjoy the full-moon rising over the water…

As the sunset ended we loaded up and headed to the east side of the causeway to watch the full-moon rise.

As the sunset ended we loaded up and headed to the east side of the causeway to watch the full-moon rise.

When we arrived on the other side Sanibel Lighthouse was flashing its cheery light through the gathering darkness… There is a museum and gift shop located at its base…

Sanibel Lighthouse welcomed us with its warm cheery glow.

Sanibel Lighthouse welcomed us with its warm cheery glow.

We had a marvelous night. We sat up visiting and sipping adult beverages until the wee hours and fell asleep with the balmy breeze rustling the curtains that covered our windows. It was truly magical waking up on the island. No traffic going by and no other people…

It was a perfect place to camp. No I meant "fish".

It was a perfect place to camp. No. I meant “fish”.

It just a few minutes the Kelly Kettle was boiling and we were enjoying steaming mugs of coffee brewed in our aero-Press. It was a glorious time to be alive. Total cost: ZERO

Just a few twigs picked up from under the gorgeous Long-Leaf Pines and the water was on-the-boil...

Just a few twigs picked up from under the gorgeous Long-Leaf Pines and the water was on-the-boil…

Maybe it is being with people you love. Maybe it is being on the beach with the smell of the salt water and the soothing sounds of the surf. All I know is our fresh ground, Aero-Press brewed coffee, always tastes better in the great outdoors…

I was up early and had the coffee makins on standby. As soon as I heard Lucy stirring I fired up the Kelly Kettle. Nothing beats coffee brewed in an Aero-Press...

I was up early and had the coffee makins on standby. As soon as I heard Lucy stirring I fired up the Kelly Kettle. Nothing beats coffee brewed in an Aero-Press…

I spent an enjoyable hour wade fishing, but had no luck. I did meet a few other long-time causeway fishermen who were putting a few Speckled Trout in their ice-chest. It just wasn’t my turn…

The fish just were not hungry for what I offered. That's why they call it "fishing" and not "catching"...

The fish just were not hungry for what I offered. That’s why they call it “fishing” and not “catching”…

… If we were camping it was wonderful. Fishing, not so much. I tried live-shrimp, assorted plugs and spinners and finally some Greenbacks that I caught in my cast-net. I never got bit, but I had a marvelous time…

Two men and a dog... Good times (Oh yes. Lucy was still fast asleep)

Two men and a dog… Good times (Oh yes. Lucy was still fast asleep)

Our overnight on Sanibel was another fantastic outing. I think the fact that we might have been awakened by a deputy and asked to leave, made it even more exciting. No one bothered us and we bothered no one else. Just a fabulous “Fishing Trip”…

 

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

Living happily in one hundred seventy five square feet…

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“The more you know, the less you need.”

Lucy and I have spent a large portion of our lives living in small spaces. Perhaps one of the most bizarre was the time we both worked full-time, had four daughters in school and lived with no electricity, in a forty foot, fifth-wheel. We had purchased sixteen acres of raw land in central Georgia and planned to live in the fiver until we had dried in our new house. The land was so remote that we had no access to power-lines. As it turned out, we sold the land, bought a business and moved on. We did enjoy full-timing in the RV and the girls handled it just fine. They still speak of that brief time with fondness…

“One if by land, two if by sea”

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“Southern Cross” fifty -seven foot Chris Craft Constellation, docked Fort Myers Yacht Basin

During several other rather adventurous periods in our lives, we have lived aboard one of three different motor-yachts. In fact, for the first three years of our time in Fort Myers, we lived on our fifty-seven foot Chris Craft Constellation, “Southern Cross”. (pictured above) It was a luxurious vessel with enough space to make it feel palatial. Our youngest daughter Aimee was living with us and she really enjoyed her private cabin and head.

“We live on the water. Drop in some time.”

Aft deck

The enclosed aft-deck was a wonderful Florida room. Roomy and comfortable with a wrap-around view of the river and marina…

Aimee quickly made friends with some of the other live-aboard kids and attended a nearby high-school. Living “right down town” in the Fort Myers Yacht Basin, put her smack in the middle of all the outdoor festivals and special events. We celebrated the Millennium aboard the Cross and I will never forget the holiday spirit, crowds of very happy people and the unbelievable fireworks display that was launched right over our anchorage. It was truly amazing…

Aimee kayak

Daughter Aimee and her good friend Lizzy heading out for some time on one of the easily accessible islands. They both loved the live-aboard lifestyle…

“Mister Bluebird’s on my shoulder”

Bluebird

Our very comfortable rolling home. All of the creature comforts, with no wasted space…

When we grew tired of life in the marina, we sold the Chris Craft and bought a Bluebird, “Wanderlodge”, motor-coach. We leased a site in a very nice RV resort and enjoyed the RV life, as well as all of the resort amenities. We never felt cramped for space, or lacked any of the traditional features normally found in a conventional home. As always, we spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors.

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood”

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One of the benefits of returning to a conventional home and land, a fantastic vegetable garden and a bunch of beautiful hens…

Finding ourselves back in a “board & block” seemed strange at first, but we quickly came to enjoy the additional space and wide surrounding porches. Our interests swung back to our earlier “farm roots” and we soon had a yard full of brightly colored chickens and gardens overflowing with ripening vegetables, berries and nuts…

Our rolling "Chicken Tractor" was their temporary home befor I built their luxury coop called "Starclucks"...

Our rolling “Chicken Tractor” was their temporary home befor I built their luxury coop called “Starclucks”…

“No time like the present”

"O.O.C. Luxury RV Resort and Outdoor Center" also known as home sweet home...

“O.O.C. Luxury RV Resort and Outdoor Center” also known as home sweet home…

Lucy and I have often considered “selling-out” everything and moving into our Airstream. Now we enjoy the best of both worlds. Our daughter and her two sweet daughters decided to “come home” from Alabama. She wanted time to “sort things out” before moving on into the next chapter of her life. Perfect. we get to spend time with our awesome granddaughters and their mommy, we get to live in our comfy, cozy Silver Bullet, keep all of the benefits of a piece of land in the country and still travel freely in Voyageur. Fantastic!

Perfect layout for a adventuresome, loving couple celebrating their second honeymoon

Perfect layout for a adventuresome, loving couple celebrating their second honeymoon

We have everything we need and nothing we don’t. Easy to keep it clean and orderly and just a few steps for our granddaughters to come over and visit. We do spend lots of time together in the “Big House”, but when we want a little alone time, we just close the curtains, lock the door and veg out…

Fully equipped “Home Office”

There is nothing missing in our technology arsenal.

There is nothing missing in our technology arsenal.

Our new wall-mounted, bedroom, VIZIO, LED, “Smart TV”, is a wonderful outlet for watching thousands of online movies, or just keeping up with local news and weather. My dining room office is MAC equipped, roomy and comfortable. It is a great spot for updating http://www.fivespokewheel.com

In my next blog I will photograph and explain all the wonderful details of living comfortably and happily in only one hundred seventy-five feet. Please post and specific questions and Lucy and I will do our best to answer…

Namaste – Spokesman Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other woman… 1976 Fleetwood “Prowler” 19E

7 Comments

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

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