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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

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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:

$12.50 a can!

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One little tip I would offer about camping anywhere – don’t shop at the concession

Even though we packed very, very, carefully we did overlook two critical items; marshmallows and MOZZIE SPRAY. “No worries” I thought “I’ll just cycle over to the little campground store and buy some.” Well… they had no marshmallows, but the did have repellent. Twelve fifty a can seemed quite pricey, but I think the park had made a deal with the mozzies. “You keep biting the campers and we will split the profit on the spray.”… I bet I won’t forget that item on future trips…

We had a great nights sleep – no mosquito bites – and we arose early, for coffee, breakfast and a bike ride to the springs. The temperature was unusually cool, but her “Majesty” still enjoyed our thrift store fan….

During our four decades of camping, we have tried many, many, different ways of producing our morning brew. We tried all of the “tips” for making simple “Cowboy Coffee” and it sucked. We went from fancy – Coleman stove top drip coffee maker to a paper cone sitting on top of our mug. Nothing we have previously tried makes better coffee or is easier to store and clean-up than our  Aerobie, “Aero Press” coffee maker. This light weight little brewer just never fails to please… I might nickname it “Lucy”.

Since I unfortunately suffer from the “Big 3”; Type II Diabetes, chronic kidney disease and ultra high Triglycerides we eat very healthy meals. I enjoy the “new vs old” combination of cooking gear. On the one hand our Primus “EtaPower” stove is the latest and best in fuel saving efficiency, but we choose to cook our vittles in our, 50 year old, “Wagner”, cast-iron skillet… Everything seems to taste better when prepared and consumed outdoors…

We enjoyed our coffee and breakfast of turkey bacon and O.O.C. eggs and then we loaded up the bikes for a leisurely ride to the cooling Wekiwa Spring. Of course, we cleaned up and organized our campsite, before we departed. The ride is basically a two mile nature trail. Tons of birds, squirrels and even a couple of browsing deer. We arrived early and had no problem scoring a ringside seat on one of the many comfortable benches, located around the perimeter of the crystal clear spring. The entire park was spotless and free of any type of litter. As many of the novel writers say.. “The water was gin clear”…

Lucy was anxious to get in the water, but she found it a little colder than she anticipated. “I can’t feel my body.” she yelled “I am numb all over.” Bad news for me. The springs is large enough to accommodate a large number of people and never felt crowded. People of all ages and many nationalities were enjoying Mother Nature’s swimming pool…

My Pentax “Optio WG2” underwater camera, had no problem capturing Lucy’s floating image. We can’t wait to return to this pristine place with our grandchildren…

The “Swimmin Hole” is huge. Definitely room for everyone. Shady parts for people like us and lots of sun exposure for the “thong clad” sun worshipers.

Do not leave your bikes at home. Two-wheel travel is the best way to get around on the smooth pavement of the park roads. Traffic is light and motorists were careful. There are nine miles of off-road trails for those wishing to explore the natural world – off the beaten path…

To be continued on day three.

All the best from,

Spokesman Dave

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.

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

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