Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Travel Review / 2011 Outlook

We have now been “on the road” for 1257 days and we enjoyed a great travel year in 2010. We started the year in Pasadena, traveled to the Eastern most point of North America in Newfoundland and are now ending the year in Southern Florida. We stayed in 62 different places while putting 11354 miles on the RV and 11472 on the CRV. We traveled through 28 states and stayed in 21 of those including eight new ones; New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Delaware We also added five new Canadian provinces; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. A big change in our travel style was spending 15 nights at Walmarts, rest areas or friends when we were only stopping for a night. We dry camped for extended stays five times and had five month long stays, all of which helped reduce campground costs.

We had some great firsts including the Rose Parade, Quartzite, driving to the top of Mt. Washington and, of course, two great months in Maritime Canada. Being able to stand on the shore in Labrador and watch the humpback whales up close was one of our greatest experiences ever. We revisited several places including Betty's, our favorite park, in Abbeville, LA. I know I say it to often but seeing people while traveling is one of the best things about this lifestyle. We spent time with friends and family at 22 stops this year. We started the year with Valerie & Richard, John & Ann, Emile & Raymonde, Bob & Gini and other SKPs at the Rose Parade in California and ended it with Jack & Mary Lou in Florida. In between we had planned visits with Joan & Dick, Tom & Georgie, Rick & Denise and Mike & Sherri, a week with Jean Paul & Celine in Quebec and several stops with Class of 07 mates. Other visits were chance meetings along the road with Mike & Loretta, Otis & Mary and Richard & Val. We went to the Escapade and reconnected with many SKPs. The list is really too long to name everyone. We had a great time at the Yanni wedding in Cleveland and seeing all our old pals during our extended stays in Washington. That stay involved many doctors visits from routine check ups to Nanc having her knee scoped for a torn meniscus. All of which turned out well.

Looking forward to the 2011 travel year we plan to leave Florida in early February depending on when NASA plans to launch the shuttle. We are going to Betty's for a month of Mardi Gras celebration. We want to add Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri to the map on our way back to WashPA for our annual visit in the spring. Next we will add Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota on the way to the Escapade in Gillette, Wyoming over Labor Day weekend. If we stick to this plan we will have visited all of the lower 48 since going full time. We plan to winter in Arizona with stops on the way at Yellowstone and the Balloon Fest in Albuquerque if the weather permits.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A New Dish for Christmas

I know this will come as a big surprise to a lot of people, but after 41 years of marriage I decided it was time for me to get a new dish. I have gotten along fine all these years and until we bought the motorhome I did not really have a need for one. But after spending three and a half years living together in the close quarters of an RV where I often get a lot of static I knew it was time to move on to the next level. Of course the new dish is for our two TVs. Now that I am retired I have the time to watch sports and, being a political junkie, I can now get my fix of news and politics (yes I sometimes even watch CSPAN) anytime I want. There is a picture of me and my new "dish" below.
Bill's & Judy's home all decorated for Christmas.
It was great spending time with them going to movies, Christmas parties, playing games and getting caught up with all that has been happening in our lives. We look forward to returning to see them in the future.
The last night we were there we got together with several friends for an evening of dominoes and cards. Left- Judy, Nanc, Velma & Donna. Right- Joe, Bill & Carroll.
Here I am with Riley who installed our Christmas present, the new dish. For someone who never owned a TV until we bought the rig having 200 channels is a bit daunting.
We have moved on to Jonathan Dickinson State Park near Jupiter where we will be spending time with Jack & Mary Lou until after the first of the year. Now that we have the NFL channel we were able to have them over to watch the Steelers on Thursday. For the first time in my life I was the "master of the clicker" and jumped back and forth from that game to the Pens. Isn't life grand.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Wildlife in Florida

The wildlife is one thing that makes Florida an interesting stop and I'm not talking about Fantasy Fest or Girls Gone Wild. We see many animals that we never saw in PA. There are a huge variety of birds that we can watch right from the RV. Many of these animals, including the human kind, have been suffering with this recent cold spell.
Left are ibis and right is a Sandhill Crane.
We went to Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees. The park surrounds a huge spring where over 104 million gallons of warm 72 degree water comes out of the ground daily and flows into the St. Johns River. During the colder weather the manatees gather here in huge numbers. Even with these warm spots, more then 200 manatees have died in 2010 because of the cold. When the spring became a park in the early 70's the population was down to approximately 14 manatees. On the day we visited the count was 261 and on the colder nights there are many more. Most of these sea cows are gathered on the sunny side of the spring.
This manatee passed right under the viewing area along with many different species of fish. Even though they are very fat they are not well insulated against the cold.
Left is a heron and right is a turtle on a log and cormorants on the branch. We did not see any gators but there were signs warning that they are in the area and swimmers and divers should be cautious.
One of the humans who has suffered during this cold spell.
YES, that is an ice covered plant and Nanc with a sweatshirt, gloves and earmuffs. There have been three nights in a row of below freezing temps and December has been the coldest on record for the Orlando area. We don't remember the last time we had to sleep with the furnace on. If they are going to continue to charge those high winter prices they are going to have to improve the weather.
Next week we will be heading farther south to spend the holidays with Jack and Mary Lou in Jupiter. After that we have reservations for a couple weeks in the Northern Keys and a week near Fort Meyers. We then plan to go to the SKP park in Bushnell before heading to Louisiana for Mardi Gras around the first of February.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chillin in FLA

The plan was to just chill here in Florida for most of the winter. Unfortunately, some of the chillin part has been the weather. Orlando had record cold this week to the point there was frost on the strawberries. I know it is nothing compared to PA but it is still not what we signed up for. That said, we are enjoying the Christmas season and all the socializing and fun that goes with it. We have spent several days with Bill and Judy playing cards and games, going to movies and getting caught up with what has been going on in their lives. I even helped Bill put up the Christmas lights at their house. It's not too bad doing that when it is 60 and sunny.
We went to a dinner at Zellwood Station with Judy and Bill (left) and several of their friends. The food, entertainment and table talk were great.
I thought the Teddy Bear Christmas tree was really neat.
The book 1000 Places to See Before You Die has nearby Mount (184') Dora as a must see for a look at how Central Florida was before it was Disneyfied. It is a great little town with many shops, restaurants and beautiful homes. It has several festivals a year and the lights were spectacular.
It was still warm the day we were there and it was nice to be walking around in shorts looking at Christmas decorations.
The lights on this tree danced to carols. Unfortunately, the video did not come out so it looses something.
We drove to Clermont to attend the Escapees Chapter luncheon. Paul Anderson (standing) is president and in the Class of 07. Other 07 mates, Joe and Marcia Jones, were also there and as with any SKP event we made some new friends. This retirement and travelling thing really is grand and I think it gets a little chilly once in a while just so we keep things in perspective.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Family, Food, Football

We had a great traditional Thanksgiving weekend with Judy and Bill. This is the first time on the road that we had a whole weekend of home cookin, which meant we had the usual turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pie and more on Thursday and then enjoyed the leftovers all weekend. We all ate to much, but that is part of what we do during the holidays. On top of that it was a great weekend of football with the traditional games in Dallas and Detroit on Thursday and then the Backyard Brawl on Friday with my school Pitt against Judy's WVU. It was not the usual rivalry for me because I was hoping Pitt would lose so maybe they will fire their incompetent coach. On Saturday we watched Bill's team Ohio State clench a piece of the Big Ten title and then on Sunday we saw the Steelers pull out a close one over Buffalo. All of the while eating turkey sandwiches, stuffing and more pie. I loved it!!!

Other big events were our birthdays with Nanc answering the questions asked by the Beatles that she still needs me and will still feed me when I'm 64. Next, for the first time in my life, I slept with a 60 year old woman after Nanc's birthday on the 28th. She has since been rewarded for living that long with a senior discount at the movies and lunch. Isn't life grand.
Judy and Nanc preparing a great feed.
Bill's sister Helen gets ready to start digging in. You can see why we were able to have leftovers all weekend.
Judy surveying the table before everyone sits down to eat. Bill at the sink in the background. Unfortunately the group picture did not come out.