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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

How to benefit from inflation…

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Not everyone is negatively affected by “Inflation…

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Marianne assembles the paddles – last items out of the van – and heads to the put-in

Marianne and Randy “Boondockerswelcome.com” asked if there were any paddling destinations near O.O.C. We told them “Yes indeed, Telegraph Creek is a wonderful place to visit by kayak.” Seeing no kayak on top of, or behind their Roadtrek, we offered them the use of two of ours. We also offered to transport the kayaks to the launch. “No worries” replied Marianne “We have our own.” “HUH? Where is it?” Marianne explained that after a good bit of research they had purchased a 380X Sea Eagle inflatable kayak. “Well I’ll be darned.” I responded…

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Lucy on her Salsa MUKLUK, heading to the launch

Lucy and I were very intrigued by the ability of carrying a kayak inside our little RV. We just had to see this Sea Eagle in action. We jumped on our trusty pedal powered steeds and headed to nearby Franklin Lock to watch them assemble, inflate and launch the inflatable boat. (I was somewhat skeptical)…

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Three small bags contain the entire Sea Eagle 380X

… In only a few minutes the busy couple had carried the various parts to the waters edge. Randy made short work of inflating the 12’6″ kayak. The seats were installed after the hulls were fully inflated. They explained that the cushy inflatable seats – complete with backrests – could be removed from the boat and used as camp or beach chairs. Marianne also explained that she often reverses her seat – while on the water – when they stop and enjoy their floating picnic linch. Very cool…

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“You need to Pump-it-up.” Instructs Lucy

“Looky Lucy” sat on one of the wooden benches and made sure they did it right…

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With a 650 pound carrying capacity, we barely made her settle on her lines.

It was a pleasant surprise when Randy turned to us and said “Why don’t you guys take it for a ride and see how you like it. It handled much better than I expected. Lucy fell in love with the cushy seats and decided we need to add one of the Sea Eagles to our O.O.C. Navy fleet…

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Always wear your PFD. Off they went…

In a matter of minutes the happy couple had paddled out of sight on their way to Telegraph Creek. When they returned ot O.O.C. that evening they both agreed it was one of the nicest water-based trips they had ever done…

You will find a link to purchase your own Sea Eagle on Marianne’s award winning website: http://www.frugal-rv-travel.com/Inflatable-boat.html

We thoroughly enjoyed having Randy and Marianne as our guests and our test ride in the Sea Eagle…

Paddle strong, 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

“Poppy. What do you want for Christmas?”

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My answer to this question was wrong…

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From left to right: Grandsons – Julian, David and Kaden

 

When my eight year old grandson, Kaden Armstrong, asked me the question, I did not give sufficient thought to my answer. He was quite disappointed with my response. “Nothing” I replied “I have everything I want.” I realized – too late – that this would make no sense to an eight year old boy. Truth is.. he probably wanted to buy me a gift and really wanted to know. (I later mentioned; Old Spice Cologne and socks. Not very exciting but true.) He continued to probe. His next question was “Wouldn’t you like a knife or sumthin?” I did no better as our conversation continued. As I prepared to say goodbye, Kaden chimed in “Hey Poppy! You didn’t ask me what I want for Christmas.” Damn. another fatal mistake… Last year I asked for an egg-beater. He asked “What’s that?”

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My Christmas list…

I thought about this, long after my conversation with Kaden ended. What does happen to our “Christmas List” as we get older? I can remember as if it was yesterday, instead of sixty years ago, sitting around our big kitchen table with my brother and sister, writing our Christmas lists. Our mom was always right nearby, to help us with our spelling and to offer suggestions. “Mom how do you spell Erector Set?” Our young minds were filled to overflowing with great expectations. How wonderful. All we had to do was think of the items we wanted most, write them down – in a letter to Santa – be continually well-behaved and PRESTO! On Christmas morning, most of the items would appear, gaily wrapped, under our Christmas tree. Boy-O-boy. That Santa Claus, what a great guy… Little did we know, how our parents struggled to find the money, do the shopping and then wrap and hide the wonderful gifts until the special morning. I remember most of all, how much less we wanted back then. We didn’t have a television to cram all the latest gadgets and geegaws down our young throats. There weren’t billions of dollars spent marketing toys – mostly made in foreign countries – into our very impressionable minds. we were satisfied with “One” special toy and a stocking full of surprises. I can still remember how thrilled I was to receive a little bag of “Cat’s Eye” marbles. I loved the paper kite and the roller skates that never stayed clamped on my Red Ball Jet sneakers. “Don’t lose that key David. Here let me put it on a string and you can hang it around your neck.” I think every kid in the fourth grade, had a skate key dangling under his T-shirt. They were simpler times. We believed in Santa Claus because the evidence was unmistakeable. We dismissed with great disdain any “Big Kid” that foolishly tried to tell us “There ain’t no Santa.”…

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Truth is – there will always be a Santa Claus…

We still make Christmas lists. Difference is, it is a list beginning with how much we “Can” spend this year and what we want to send, or give and to whom. Everyone has to live within their “Budget” some – not ours – are quite large. We have enough to live the lifestyle we enjoy, but frivolous expenditures are not in the cards, Christmas, or otherwise. We don’t need to make our own lists because we truly have everything we need and want. The old proverb is true; “The more you know, the less you need.” We must know a LOT.

I really do understand the confusion in Kaden’s mind, created by my saying “I don’t want anything.” My mission will be to help him understand what a wonderful condition that is… Thank you Lord for my many, many, “gifts.”

I’m Baccccccck… Long time, no BLOG

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Isn’t it amazing how many, many, things can get us off our BLOG schedule…

 

It sounded so easy when I first had a BLOG explained to me. “Every day just log in to your BLOG and type in some of your thoughts. A few photos would be nice too.” Turns out, as in many other cases, that is not as easy as it sounds.  Actually, I have no excuse. I thought of a few: Too busy at my job – NOPE – I am retired. Children take up too much of my time – NOPE – They are all grown-up and on their own. Health problems prevented me from accessing the web – NOPE – my health has not changed. Hmmmmm… That only leaves one possible reason why I have not continued to improve or post to our blog – YEP – laziness! Damn Nation! I hate admitting that. After a while, I just ran out of reasons to explain why I was not posting. I started thinking (telling myself) nobody reads my blog anyway… That is not true. Several of my followers and friends have written asking me “Why” I stopped updating Fivespokewheel. Once again, I had no proper answer. I figured “Black Friday” was a good day to resume my installments. I don’t like shopping and I don’t watch televised sports. At first I thought I should go back and post a whole bunch of updates covering all the stuff that has been going on since July. That ain’t gonna happen… (For those who may be curious as to the “goings-on” from the last 120 days, check out my Facebook page by clicking here) I am just going to start again and TRY to keep it up. (That’s what she said)…

Thanksgiving Day 2012

I am typing this at the little table in “Voyageur” our comfy little Roadtrek RV. Once again we are parked under the giant Grandfather Oak tree in Alicia’s front yard. We arrived here last Wednesday in preparation for a four-day Thanksgiving holiday. We were invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with Jo and Tom Polch, rapidly becoming a very pleasant holiday tradition with Lucy and I….

 

When it came time to drive to the Polch residence, less than five miles away, Lucy asked “Hey David. How about if we just ride our bikes?” It was perfect weather for a bike ride and we wouldn’t have to unhook the RV to make the short drive. “Lets do it.” I agreed and minutes later we were on our way. Turned out to be a fantastic idea. We had a wonderful ride through some very pretty neighborhoods and even received some shouts of “Happy Thanksgiving!” along the way. We arrived with great big smiles on our g faces, flushed pink with the exertion of the fast paced ride. Lucy does not understand the term “Leisure ride”…

 

Just arrived at the “Polch Palace”. Lucy looks as fresh as she did before the ride. Thankful for her excellent health…

We ride our bikes a good bit. So many benefits to our bodies, our psyche and the planet… What’s not to like. It really does roar us back to our childhood. So much fun to just jump on and ride. We always race, we always laugh our butts off and we always feel like kids again…

Everybody brings a dish to share. The good-eats are all set up buffet style in the cozy kitchen and the dinner is enjoyed inside at one of the many tables, or dining alfresco, poolside. Lucy and I opted for the fresh air…

Seems some of the cousins always wind up on the bank of the lake, feeding the abundant fish. Later they were back with fishing rods, reducing the population of the hungry inhabitants. They actually caught a couple of two-pound Large-mouth Bass. I love watching these boys and reminiscing about the times my brothers and sister and I did exactly the same thing…

Granddaughter Abigail kept a close watch from her tree top spy location. Said it was her “Branch office”…

Granddaughter Alana had to keep her feet firmly on the ground. She spent a good bit of her time running after her little sister Lucy Jo. Alana is a very protective big sister and the love between them is obvious…

MiMi Lucy decided she wanted to be a spy too. Next thing I knew she had joined SPY Abby in the SPY tree…. Careful Lucy. Sure don’t want any broken bones.  ;O) I am very proud of Lucy for continuing to enjoy her “Little girl” side.

Amanda and Dave were a happy couple of  “Thanksgivinger’s”. Here they are watching Kevin trying his fishing skills on the resident school. Amanda brought a delicious squash casserole and refused to give me her “Secret Recipe”. I had three helpings… ;O) Dave Parcells played his first-time-ever game of “Corn Hole” and decided to stick to golf.  ;O)

Once again, Grandmother Lucy dominated the corn-hole court and swept the field with her super accurate tosses and always-fun-to-watch, “Body English”… We were all spared further embarrassment, by the sudden, welcome, ringing of the dinner bell…

Brian Giles from Fort Valley, Georgia, was a welcome member of the festivities. He semed to enjoy the perfect weather and lakeside activities as much as his much younger cousins…

All in all a wonderful day, the first of our four day holiday excursion to Bradenton… More later.

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!

This little motorhome is “Bad Ass”.

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I know, I know… I shouldn’t talk about a donkey here on WordPress. Somehow it just fits.

I have been a bad Blogger. Seems having fun, while traveling around may have muddled my brain. We have been camping in Voyageur since Friday. Started off at Silver Lake Recreation area and then moved here to Chassahowitzka River Campground.  The weather has been perfect. Plenty of sunny days and nice late evening rain. The only bad thing was… I lost my new camera. Still have not ordered another one. I would love suggestions for a waterproof, lightweight, digital camera…

I am going to post this one photo from my phone and then launch Camo-Tow for some fishing. Soon as Lucy and I are back at Site 17, I will post a proper “BLOG”. I don’t want her too get angry. She is Readsy to hit the river NOW.

The Chassahowitzka River is crystal clear. Lots of fish and other aquatic life. I bought a long handled crab net at the campground store and we hope to boil up some tasty Blue Crabs this evening… Liz and Doreen are doing a marvelous job of running the campground and making us feel right at home. The facilities are pristine and the traffic low. As long as you don’t mind DEET spray on your exposed body-parts, sitting out by the fire in the lush tropical rainforest surroundings is stellar… “GONE FISHIN”…

Spokesman Dave

Purely Physical…

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“Object of my affection”

Lucy is in Bradenton visiting two of our daughters, so I am alone. When I am by myself… strange, random thoughts, occupy my diminutive brain.

When I first asked Lucy to marry me, I had never heard her voice, seen her in the daylight, or knew her name. She walked in front of my car, late one night, on her way to the “ladies room”. My little brother and I were sitting in my car in the parking lot of the local “Steak and Shake” drive-in restaurant. In those days – 1967 – all of the carhops were on roller skates. Steve and I had hoped to meet some “Babes” and I had no idea that the one woman would alter my life forever…

My mom always told me not to “Judge a book by it’s cover.” She also told me that beauty is just “skin deep.” Well on this particular night “skin deep” was deep enough… When Lucy walked by, she was the perfect vision of poise and confidence. She appeared totally unaware of the beauty that she was. I instantly loved the way she walked, the way she looked and the shy smile she cast my way as she glided confidently by. That one look, changed me forever. When she was on her way back to her car, I approached her. She was quite shocked when I looked her in the eyes and said “I am going to marry you”. Even in this awkward moment, she was the perfect lady. She stepped slightly away and pointed to the engagement ring on her finger. “Thank you, but I am already engaged.” Even in the face of my bizarre statement of affection, she was kind and polite. Hearing her voice for the first time was like a warm spring breeze covering my entire body. I never felt so totally in love before. My mind was racing. I couldn’t think of anything to say to further my chances of making her my wife and in fact, ever seeing her again…

Later, when she and her girlfriends drove out of the parking lot, my dedicated quest began. I told my brother – “I am going to find her and marry her.” That was forty four years ago.

I love her now… more than ever.

We had a wonderful bike ride on the Withlacoochee rails-to-trails bike path that ended in a gentle rain. It amazes me that Lucy looks gorgeous, even in a bike helmet. Thank you Lord.
 

I did eventually find her. It was a one-in-a-million chance. I won’t tell you the mushy story of my search and eventual engagement – unless you ask me to.

As Rod Stewart said “The attraction was purely physical…”

Best wishes, Spokesman Dave

Part Nine: “Voyageur” is home. HOORAY!

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This is a photo of a very happy RV traveler.

We picked up our Roadtrek from the Cobra Shop and the frame looks better than new. Mike and his crew did a marvelous job. Everything feels solid and true. I will schedule a “four-wheel alignment in the next few days just to straighten everything back to – perfect. Our new front bumper is on order from “Discount Auto Parts” and I expect it to arrive within the next week…

Yesterday, I prepped the new aluminum, custom-made, air-conditioning louver, for installation. It will provide a waterproof vent for the air-conditioner exhaust air. I didn’t like the flimsy factory original so I had one fabricated locally.

The new louver will fill the opening and be secured over a fresh bed of clear silicone caulk with 3/16″ aluminum pop-rivets…

My new LG air-conditioner needs room to breathe and this should work fine…

Since everything is already apart I decided to sand – Ospho – and paint the old bumper brackets. They were kind of rusty and I DO NOT WANT ANYMORE RUST. Before I install the new bumper I am going to clean and prep the backside of the chrome bumper and paint it with a coat of spray-on bedliner. The way Chrysler designed the huge bumper makes it subject to retaining water from road-spray. I figure “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Self Portrait of the hard working “Queen” – Spokes-model Lucy…

As soon as “Voyageur” was parked safely in our driveway, Lucy got busy preparing the inside. She is packing all of the necessary cooking and life-support gear. Due to the incredible amount of “tucked away” storage, in this little twenty foot long RV, she is using labels made of blue painters tape to list the contents of each compartment. It will take a lot of searching to find a few of the items.

What is your favorite flat-screen TV?

We are currently shopping for a 12 volt, flat-screen, LED television and wall mount. If any of you have suggestions for suitable units please post them under “comments”. We would like one with an integrated DVD player…

We still have a weeks worth of RV chores and projects to complete but having a totally sound frame is an incredible relief…

Best wishes from Spokesman Dave

The Only Woman… (Day one)

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The invitation said; “Family event” suitable for man, woman and child…

When I told Lucy about the “Florida Land Rover Club” get together planed for a weekend to off-road around the Citrus Recreation Area… she was all in. Turned out she had a wonderful time even though she was the ONLY woman in the woods. Needless to say, she was treated like a very attractive queen…

Lucy and I don’t like to hurry- unless we have to. In this case a sedate, leisure pace was in order. Stops to prowl around were allowed. We weren’t expected to arrive at the campground until late afternoon…

… We like to “travel light” (tongue in cheek) so we only loaded the “bare” essentials… As usual our oldie but goodie 1996 Land Rover, Discovery, was the ideal vehicle for our varied needs. The vehicle is wonderful, both traveling at seventy miles an hour on the interstate and crawling along at five miles an hour on the nastiest trails we can find…

We drove several hours before our first stop just North of Lakeland, Florida in Polk County.  Gator Creek Preserve is a clean, well maintained park with some awesome hiking/biking trails and a large covered pavilion. Perfect to enjoy a couple of Lucy’s delicious homemade sandwiches. Sierra the wonder dog was ready for a break too…

Since this was to be a four-wheel drive off road adventure we did not carry our mountain bikes or Nordic trekking poles. It was really to hot to hike anyway. I set a waypoint in our Garmin 276C GPS for a return trip to explore the entire trail system… Due to the recent rains from tropical storm Debby, everything in the park looked lush and green…We finished our midday meal, saddled up and resumed our trip. Sierra went right to sleep…

It took a few minutes to explain to “Sierra” the wonder dog that she had to ride in the back. Once she was settled back on her fluffy bed – she fell right back to her normal travel routine – SLEEP. While often taken for a Spitz or a Pekinese, Sierra is actually an American Eskimo Dog. She is the perfect size and personality for us. She has a wonderful spirit for adventure. As long as she does not lose sight of Lucy, she is a happy dog. (Sounds like me)…

As luck (and our GPS) would have it, we were routed right past Lucy’s favorite hot-dog restaurant “Coney Island Drive Inn“. This wonderful eatery is located in Brooksville Florida on Highway 41. Lucy lived in Brooksville with her parent and spent her senior year of high school at Hernando High. Lucy and I married in 1968 and our first trip to Coney Island for a delicious foot-long Coney Dog was in 1968 – go figure. Nice people, and a dog friendly patio. Sierra even got her own bowl of ICE water…

Since we didn’t encounter any more – must stop – food joints… we finally arrived at Holder Mine. Trip organizer Aldous Cosmo Gitles was already set-up in a prime campsite and we settled in right next door. Beer was on ice and the huge Oak trees made setting up in their stately shade quire pleasant… “Cosmo” as his numerous Land Rover friends call him, is always the perfect host…

Turned out old friend “Jeep Jockey” Don and his sweet little dog “Maggie” were set up nearby. Don recently bought his new Heartland Edge and a gorgeous fire engine red Jeep to tow it with. Don is a commercial crabber from Largo, Florida and he surprised with some hot, fresh, just out of the fryer soft shell crabs. Deeeeeeelicious. Thanks again “Donmeister”…

Since Lucy was the “Only Woman” I had plenty of assistance setting up camp. Lets just say she never had to ask for anything more than once… The “Guys” made her feel right at home and much “loved”.

Everyone was anxious to hit the trail. Soon as our “City” was built and gear was stowed… Cosmo yelled out “LINE EM UP!” and we were off in a cloud of dust…

It only took a few minutes and a few miles, before Alex stuck his Rover. Then the real fun began. It’s why we all came. ;O)  Tree straps ready, winch grinding and he was quickly and efficiently underway again. A fantastic bunch of guys driving some incredible British Iron and some of the best trails in the state. It’s on………..

The rains had the trails in excellent condition. Dust was minimal. Another great, FLRC trail-run complete, we returned to camp to prepare our evening meals. Great food and big a big fireside planning session for our next full day of off-road adventure…

Our campsite was fantastic. A constant breeze and tons of shade. The night time temperatures were so cool we actually slept under our covers. The moon was bright, the fire flies were abundant and the stories around the campfire went on and on… Another great day and—– I got to sleep with “The Only Woman”

Spokesman, Dave

To be continued:

Part Eight: Roadtrek frame rust restoration

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Amazing progress has been made at the hands of restoration artist, “Mike”…

Mike did not want his picture taken. He finally said “Oh. Alright…” He is a very modest man, as are most truly talented men. In one of my conversations with Mike he revealed he had been around a “body” shop since he was three years old. Seems he absorbed much of what he observed. I find him very easy to talk to, but I would definitely slow his progress with many continued adoring, admiring, comments and my incessant questions. Best if I just shoot a few photos and be on my way. Mike said he may have it complete by Saturday. The work he has done so far is spot-on…

I attached this photo to show how really dangerous the condition of the frame was, when I unknowingly drove it home from Kentucky… “By the grace of God”…

Mike scarfed the new frame section in just forward of the spring-perch. I can tell you from having seen it first hand – he is an artist… This shot of the passenger side shows the amazing job he did of marrying new part to old…

Driver side is just as “pretty”. I have no doubt the new frame section is stronger than the original it replaced. I was completely at the end of my rope on this Roadtrek. I had prayed almost continually for a solution and spent hours looking for a suitable technician to save our dream vehicle. When God puts the right worker on the job, nothing can stand in the way… I am so full of gratitude and thanksgiving I have tears in my eyes while I type this. Thank you Lord and thank you Mike. The “Cobra Shop” has made it all happen…

Cobra Shop ordered the two new “headlight baffles” (white sheet-metal pieces) from Dodge and replaced them as well. There was enough rust in that area to make it unsafe. The red cross-member was part of the frame that came from Sebring, Florida. Mike actually had to drill out about two hundred factory spot welds to properly install the very important frame component. I am taking all of these photos, so that in the unlikely event we decide to sell “Voyageur”, the buyer can be assured he is buying a completely sound vehicle. I wish I would have been so lucky…

It is my personal belief that God can use any situation as an opportunity to increase our faith. I have learned to forgive. I have no animosity for the person I bought the van from. I believe I should have done a better job of researching before I purchased the vehicle. I also believe that God used this situation to teach me patience and perseverance. Through the long process, I learned not to doubt, but to remain strong in my faith. I asked God to help me glorify His name through the resolution of the problem. He chose to do so and we are forever grateful…

Just a few more days and Voyageur will be back at O.O.C. where we will make final preparation for our first trip. Destination Hartselle, Alabama, for a reunion with our daughters Charlotte and Aimee… I am very excited.

Please feel free to contact me about the repair, the Cobra Shop, or Mike – the expert that is putting everything right…

Spokesman Dave

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