Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Spy

Atlantic Ocean in Florida by http://DearMissMermaid.com copyright by Dear Miss Mermaid
The Atlantic Ocean
Off the East Coast of Florida

Paris Mountain State Park in South Carolina by http://DearMissMermaid.com copyright by Dear Miss Mermaid
Road to the campground
Upstate South Carolina

Virginis flowers by http://DearMissMermaid.com copyright by Dear Miss Mermaid

The road less traveled suddenly offered up this fabulous view in Virginia. There wasn't a place to stop, but I picked up my camera snapping this photo while driving.  The flowers appear to be blowing in the wind, while the trees are stoic.  

I call this type of picture a drive by shooting. 

What a big wide beautiful world we are so fortunate to visit. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rut Roh

Thank You
I've been reading all the wonderful comments, some with questions too. I am going to address the questions (soon) and use some of the comments for future ideas. I do check the comments daily, what fun!

Rut Roh
I've been a real klutz lately. I stepped on the puppy dog's paw, which made him cry. That made me cry. So we both had a good cry. I cuddled him in my arms, babied him and loved him, so he would hopefully understand it was an accident. He gave me kissy face after awhile, so I hope that is puppy dog speak for forgiveness. 

As the sun creeps up, the morning fog begins to dissipate.
This was my view an hour or so after I reported to the hunters station.
Scenes  like this make workamping in the boonies well worth it. 

Big BooBoo
I have an angry red injury right on my silly face. I manage to cut my mug from mid forehead, across my left eyelid and down to my upper cheek. Face cheek, not my rump.  That was yesterday afternoon. This morning I look like a horror show!  I couldn't brush my hair in front of the mirror so I didn't brush it for hours. I let it look wild like my ragged face. Ugh.

I am supposed to go to a potluck luncheon today. I would love to cover it up with thick makeup, but I am afraid of infecting it.  I iced my face a good bit yesterday, plus slathered antibiotics on it several times.  It hurts and it looks awful. It's complicated to explain how I managed this disasterous feat. But basically I got the bright idea to relocate the camping gazebo. 

One of the upper frame strut joints is broken. I had tucked the broken frame strut back in place. Eventually I bought super glue to put it back together, but then forgot what the super glue was for. Duh...  The other night I got the bright idea to do a project of gluing nonskid rubber to the back of a rattan tray, using up all the super glue I had on hand. I use the tray on top of the compact washer in my bedroom. It holds my drink, remote control, cell phone and bowl of popcorn if I am having that for dinner. In my haste to reach the bathroom, I bumped the tray, which slid across the washer, dumping iced tea all over the basket of dog toys and puppy sweaters. What a mess. 

Realizing I had some spare grip-it shelf liner (pvc coated rubber typically used in boats and RVs) I got this bright idea to custom cut a piece to fit the bottom of the rattan tray.  This would prevent it from skidding across the washer should I be a klutz in the future. The washer lid is slightly angled downward. 

This worked so well, I decided it would be handier if the rubber was glued permanently to the bottom of the tray.  I am a sailor and still think like one. I keep forgetting I live in a motorhome and not a boat. But still the motorhome tosses around when driving, maybe not as bad as a sailboat at sea, but things rattle, slip and slide inside the cabinets and drawers, if you don't have this wonderful grip-it shelf liner.

I carefully super glued the rubber, utilizing all the super glue I had on hand, which was 3 tiny tubes. I was extremely proud of this feat, because I managed to do so without gluing my fingers together (a common problem when you cross a klutz with super glue).

So when I moved the gazebo, the broken strut popped out of place, flying into  my face attacking it. About that time, I suddenly remembered why I bought all that super glue. Ah ha!  

I ran inside to throw a wet cold cloth over my face before I could bear to look in the mirror. Luckily my eyeball is fine as my eyelid instinctively closed tightly a nanosecond before the attack. When I finally worked up my nerve to look in the mirror, I was a tad shocked. A jagged piece of broken plastic can do a lot of damage. What's even worse, is that I already have old facial scars.  I really didn't need a new one.  Grrrrrrrrrr...

It would have been much easier to stay home and not go to the luncheon, but I had enthusiastically volunteered to make several dishes, plus a gallon of  iced tea and bring my shoe box of ice from the freezer. Eventually I faced the mirror, fixed my hair, doctored up my face with antibiotics.  There was just no way to hide the obvious booboo without making it even more conspicuous. I tried covering half my face with my long hair. While it looked alluring, it wasn't very functional for a luncheon, though I could have probably gotten away with it in a dark nightclub. 

I tried my sunglasses on, but the luncheon was being held indoors rather than outdoors.  My glasses are very dark, so it would have looked very unfriendly. Finally, I decided to just go and try to think up creative answers to my accident. 

Like ages ago, when I busted my knee in a rough boating accident during a storm. I was living in the Caribbean on my old sailboat. For months, my leg was wrapped in bandages while I hobbled around on shore with a walker or a cane. When I sat down, I had to prop my leg up on another chair. Tourists kept asking me how I was injured. Tiring of the same old story, I began creating new ones. I told one crowd I did it on a bad landing from skydiving. Another inquiring mind, I replied I fell out of a coconut tree while making a pina colada.  While in a beach bar, I told some inebriated patrons that it was injured by a shark bite. 

That story came back to haunt me hours later. A reporter from the local newspaper tracked me down for an interview.  He was quite deflated when he found out the shark bite was farcical. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Summer in January

Summer is here!  It's January and by 10am the past few days, our temps have gone from 50F to nearly 80F degrees. That's what I get for buying long bluejeans and a flannel night shirt. Summer arrived in January. In central Florida.  Wheeeeeeee!

We don't have a weather reporter for our area. We apparently get different weather than the TV weather station which reports what's happening north of us in the Orlando area and east of us in the Melbourne area.

Lately I am banging on my Blue Ox tow hitch pin. It is a keyed lock. The RV didn't come with a key for it. A check with the past owners revealed they had no key either. An RV forum discussion claimed awhile back, that I could bust it off with a hammer.

Ha ha ha!  Who are they kidding?  

So far I've made tons of noise, enough to attract a curious camper, who spent a half hour banging on it too. It's still firmly attached. 

I did have great luck repairing the door locks. I couldn't lock the door.  I like to be locked in at night. I don't want raccoons or Sasquatch to come walking in on me after dark thirty. All the screws were loose. Just like me...  a few screws loose. 

I repaired the ceramic electric heater, it works better now but it still grunts and groans on occasion if I ask it to oscillate or rotate too often. Not sure which is does. Maybe it swings. My heater was a swinger. Maybe now it's old and too tired to swing.  Sounds just like me, too tired to be a swinger again...

Recently I realized I utilize 4 electrical devices to stay warm when it gets cold around here. The last winter in Florida was pretty brutal, but not so this year. Oh sure we have some below freezing nights that sent me and the dog burying under the covers. But I have the 1500 water ceramic tower heater that is pretty compact and efficient. However,  when it drops below 45F degrees, the RV starts to shiver and shake. I have 2 of those tiny 200 watt ceramic heaters that are about the size of of a little square tissue box. One keeps the bathroom toasty, the other I often use near my feet to make sure they are warm or I move it around to where I need it. 

Lately the nights were mild enough, that I could close all the windows and just run the two small 200 watt heaters.  The fourth item I use to stay warm is an electric mattress warmer. My bed is located right on  the top of the basement storage area.  This can make the mattress icy cold but the bed warmer makes me  feel like a well fed kitty curled up to mama cat for a long winter's nap. Harley dog and I have changed places in the bed. 

I now sleep the opposite way changing my foot to the head of the bed. Harley dutifully moved to another  corner of the bed diagonally from where he used to sleep. Sometimes he sleeps in his own puppy bed, other times he loves to commandeer the afghan on my bed as his lair. 

On top of all that I have the propane guzzling furnace that I rarely use. I love it, because it works fine and feel greats,  making it toasty warm but it can empty out my built-in propane tank pretty quickly. They do sell propane only 8 miles away next to a pricey convenience store. So sadly, I rarely get to use the furnace, unless I am super cold, then I use it to kick in the heat until the wheel estate feels comfy again.  While it's my first choice, it's pricey, and well I am still living on a small budget, trying to keep everyone happy and warm. 

But now all this is for naught.  Summery temps are here in January, at least during the day. Yippie!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

RV Budgets (Part One)

This is a reversed sunset. I took this picture in the south,  facing east while the western sun was setting in north Osceola county in central Florida.There, that covered all points on the compass. 

And you wonder how I get lost so often...

Just amazing!  This world is just oh so beautiful. The more time I spend with nature the less regard I have for cities full of asphalt, concrete and excess traffic.  Give me mother nature any time. 

Now, beyond the beauty...

Many people email me about budgets for RV-ing. I dare say you can pretty much pick a budget, then learn to stick to it. You too can live happily ever after,  as a vagabond in an RV. That is much easier said than done. 

One way I keep my budget low is by not owning a car. My camper is a Class C (built on a van chassis)  so I am able to drive it to run errands. I combine all my errands, keeping lists (which I frequently misplace) of suggested foods or supplies I need or desire. Eventually I go fetch them  but I typically combine all that with a major outing that might  involve camping elsewhere, even though I may already be workamping with my "spot" provided for me. 

When I am traveling, without a homeport,  it's easy to shop as I go along from place to place. People often point out that my gas cost must be more since I am driving the RV instead of a car. Maybe it is, somewhat, but on the other hand, I am not paying for the cost of a car plus all the upkeep that involves. That empty hole in my budget leaves me money for gas. 

Sure lots of folks insist on towing their car behind their RV, everywhere they go, so they have a car when they get where they are going. But I think outside the box, I live quite happily without a car. Yet, I don't feel deprived in any way at all. 

I am not one of those folks that has to drive somewhere each and every day to be happy. I work at home (in the wheel estate) and I take on workamping assignments, that typically involve "volunteering" for the government in exchange for camping "as a perk" for volunteering.  In the end, this saves me camping fees, but I do have to donate my time. 

In many ways, shopping in my RV is a lot more fun. I can put my groceries in the refrigerator, right in the grocery store parking lot. The dog gets to go everywhere with me. If it's too hot or too cold for him to be in the RV alone while I peruse the food selections, there is the generator, to keep him in climate controlled comfort in his rolling dog house. Some non-food stores, allow the dog to shop with me. 

Harley has been in his share of hardware stores, RV stores, auto part stores, pet shops and so on. 

My private restroom goes everywhere with me, no more tracking down public restrooms when I need them. As a reward to Harley, I walk him right after I go shopping. He has come to understand the difference between the short "go piddle" walks we take in the landscaping of the parking lot  from the leisurely, let's tour the entire park or campground walks. (Yes, I am a good pet parent, we walk with poop bags and don't leave unsightly puppy deposits behind.) 

Because I don't own a car, I don't dash out for frivolous things. I plan ahead and keep a pantry in the RV stocked up with most of the food stables I like to have around. Even when I do shop or go out in my RV, I tend to make a whole day or several days  of it. Since my entertainment budget is pretty close to zero, I search the internet for dog parks and public parks that I can enter for free. Often after I am through with shopping, then I go explore a free park. This way I get more bang for my buck.  I've already spent the gas to go shopping, why not do some exploring and photography too. 

When I was workamping in north Georgia, shopping was 30 miles round trip, but the dog and I mostly took the whole day, taking time to enjoy freebies before we came home again to the park we were working in. 

Recently I've had to travel to Melbourne for medical mess, once a month,  which is only about 40-ish miles one way from where I workamp. Rather than just dash over for my appointment and back again, I made campground reservations for a few nights in Melbourne in Wickham Park. Besides the medical mess, I shopped at all my favorite bargain stores assembling groceries and supplies at discounted prices. Harley went to the dog park, we went to public parks, plus we camped out. We do a lot of touring on foot and paw. This is very budget friendly, as a little exercise has fabulous health benefits. 

A friend had offered to drive me over to the doctor's appointment and back in their vehicle, but I graciously declined. They seemed perplexed, saying they wanted to help me save money, it seemed a shame to drive the RV 80 miles, r just for one appointment. 

But I rattled off I wanted to go to Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Lowes, Winn Dixie, the dog park, the Latino place that has cheap produce plus the doctors appointment and maybe a few more places in the area.  Since all that would poop me out, I might as well spend the night at Wickham Park, and since it's so lovely there, it would be such a shame to pack up and leave the next morning, so I was going to stay at least two nights before coming back. Might as well enjoy the beautiful scenery there and shoot some photos, continue working on my writing, and repairing the RV, the usual stuff. 

So all in all I put about 100 miles on the RV what with shopping around the medical appointments,   but look at everything I did in the interim. With a car, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to spend the night in an alternate town or campground. 

Because I have this fatigue problem at times, having the RV along is wonderful. I came out of the grocery store, feeling a bit rough recently, so I put away the food, then closed up my shades, laying down for a short nap.  This refreshed me enough to continue with my errands later. 

Having my RV along, means I don't spend money dining out. The dog and I can eat anytime, anywhere, right out of our own fridge. Forgoing restaurants is a huge savings on a tiny budget. I feel that I eat much healthier foods, than  is typically available at restaurants these days. So many are chain and franchise places where the food was partially made thousands of miles away with lots of sugars and preservatives, then trucked to the restaurants for heating and serving. So I save money and hopefully prevent many future health problems by avoiding these rampant preprocessed food chemicals. 

I make meals into an art form. We've dined in parks and at wayside picnic areas, often enjoying the view of a lake, stream or river. We often have far better vistas than  are available at the local restaurants anyhow. 

Many people think it takes a lot of money to live in an RV and travel, but there are many ways to do it on a small budget too. Even a tiny budget. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg of some of the ways to live fulltime in an RV on a reduced financial plan.  

I will go into more details in a future post. 

It's raining...
My copilot is wearing his little red mackintosh, in anticipation of a walk in the drizzle.
Even the dog is on a budget. His raincoat cost $1 and he has been using it for almost two years. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ghostly Aura

The eerie fog that greets us almost every morning.
It's extremely hard to photograph, but I keep trying.

It's raining. Of course it's because of me. 

First I bought some winter clothes deeply discounted. That triggered us into record breaking summer temperatures, yet it's January and we have had 80 plus Fahrenheit degrees for a week now during the daylight. 

So I got the bright idea to begin washing the wheel estate. I say begin, because it's so big and I tucker out so easily, that it takes me days to wash the exterior from top to bottom, and end to end.  I am barely half done after toiling away on it for 3 days. 

Well guess what. 

The heavens opened up and the rains poured down. The temps even cooled to a mere 77F. 

Am I controlling the weather or what?

More later I am still pooped out. 

The early morning fog gives the forest an ethereal  ghostly aura.
If Big Foot came walking out, I would not be shocked nor  surprised. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Camouflaged closeup of a hunter's travel trailer. 

Seven days makes one weak...  I get  tuckered out so easily, it's frustrating at times. Of course I wake up with enthusiasm, trying to stay busy all day long. I have so much to do, I never get it all done. When someone tells me they are bored or need something to do... my jaw drops open in total shock. 

Maybe I learned it from my mother. She was never bored (nor boring.) As a child, if I dared to say I was bored, heaven help me. She would rattle off a dozen things I could do from going outside to play to reading a book to folding the laundry or doing the dishes. On a pretty day, she never wanted us indoors. I can hear her voice now. "It's a beautiful day!  Go outside and play!  You need some fresh air and sunshine!"

Is that a donkey or what?

I've been busy with repairs. It's never ending.  The other evening it was way past dark thirty when I closed the door to the wheel estate. It would not lock. I like to  lock all the doors at dark thirty. I found the tool box then commenced fiddling with the lock. I guess one screw vibrated loose, which made the whole lock a little wiggly. It bounced  as I drove, loosening up more screws. It's a darn miracle the entire lock didn't just fall off completely. The second lock, the one I rarely use as it doesn't seem as strong as the deadbolt, is missing a screw. I just hate that. Well, I have to take out the twin, then size up a new one for that too. 

Yesterday, for some fool reason, I decided to wash the outside of the wheel estate. We've had summery weather every afternoon the past week. What I didn't realize was that my RV was well overdue for an outside bath. It doesn't want to come clean!  It didn't look that dirty, until I washed one area, then the rest of it looked positively dreadful. Rather spiteful of it, don't you think?

Even worse, it is 10.5 feet high and I am 5.25 feet tall. My neighbor was amused at me only washing the bottom half, so he brought over his long handled scrub brush. Grrrrrr...  OK, I was gracious about it...

About the time I got the upper side good and sudsy, I frantically realized the windows were opened. Oops!  I never thought I would get so much washed. 

I dashed inside to close them all firmly. Then back out to rinse off the drying suds. Now the flat calm air turned to gutsy gusty winds. As I tried to rinse off with my long wand attached to the water hose, the gale blew all the rinse water back at me, soaking me and my clothes. Harley ran under the wheel estate whimpering. 

I managed to scrub about 40% of the RV before I pooped right out. I dare say only 20% of it looks kind of clean. Oh pooh. 

Puppy dog and I laid down. I was so exhausted, it worried me some, but this happens to me often enough, that I am more or less getting used to it. We both fell asleep for a good 90 minutes. It used to be I could get by on a 20 minute nap, then a 30 minute, then a 45 minute snooze. lately I am astonished to wake up, realizing I have been at my siesta for 90 or more minutes. 

It's 11:15am as I type this, I have over 2 more hours left at my 8 hour shift at the hunters station. I am dead tired, ready to nap. Oh dear me! 

Well, I will get up and start puttering around, trying to jar my self into staying awake. Sure I've been busy since 4am, when I woke up, but now I am fatigued. No fair!


OK, I went out and played ball with the puppy, then we went for a walk.  Next I shook all the muck out of the rugs and washed them. Whew. Anything to keep me awake for a few more hours until my shift is over. I ran out of work to do, as we had no hunters at all show up today. I cleaned up the station, did the paperwork, waved at the workers that went in to spray bushes.They are vague as to what they are doing, but there's a crowd of them in there doing it. They drive 100 miles every day to come spray. I waved at the wildlife biologist who drove by. Then a little old lady blew through the stop signs and entered the wildlife area.

She didn't even stop when I tried to flag her down. Very strange. At least she didn't run me over!  

Life is good. 
The palmetto prairie at Three Lakes Wildlife Management is just awesome. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Traffic Jam

We got  stuck in heavy traffic this morning at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area. Um... do cows qualify as wildlife?

Harley does this when the indoor heat is set too low. You can't even tell where the head ends and the tail begins. 

Harley waits for lunch. Notice his tether is going six different directions. 
Harley's fur is growing back out from the erratic trim he received when sand spurs stuck in his fur last October at Hunting Island Beach, South Carolina

Waterfront lots with idyllic views like this make Long Point Park in Florida very popular for campers. We had to leave on Friday because the weekend was sold out completely by advance reservations.  Just for grins I checked into a monthly rate for next winter. The quoted rate was nearly double my modest erratic monthly income, so obviously, this won't be happening. Guess I better find more workamping!  Long Point Park does not use workampers at all. What a shame, I would have pestered them mightily for a position. 

Harley is practicing to be a big game hunter with his new raccoon toy. Harley says  THANK YOU with a big slobbery kissy  face to the fan that sent him this fur play critter. Should I be jealous?  Harley gets fan mail and gifties!  His raccoon came with two squeakers, which he loved the sound of so much, he spent days and nights entertaining me, himself and  the other campers with his tossing and throwing and frequent squawking of the raccoon. Recently a certain somebody (hint: comes with 4 legs) managed to remove one of the squeakers. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Short Legs and Long Tales

Yesterday was a travel day, so no writing. I woke up, tried to get a few things done. I felt so lousy, couldn't think straight, so I went back to bed. Woke up again astonished to find out it was 11:30 and checkout was at noon. I was looking for the phone number to call about another day, knowing this was probably impossible. Long Point Park is extremely popular. The county residents of Brevard get a discounted rate, so many use this to fill up the park on the weekends. In the past I have mostly visited the park during week days, due to my inability to plan ahead to get proper reservations.

I have to escape these doctors. They seem to be making me sicker. How does that work?  Maybe I just catch bugs when I am in the waiting room with the sick people. Yuck. 

Here I am parked at Long Point Park. Or was. It's cheaper "inland" than on the water front lots, so I am inland. You can see my rumpled awning is rolled up with repair tape dangling off one end. It's really just shot to pieces at this point. It has braved a few too many storms and one flood. 

Even this visit to Long Point RV Park was on a whim. When Wickham Park filled up, I moved to Long Point. Now it's  filled up, with snowbirds and weekend warriors. My appointments are done, even though I still did not get to the dentist and eye doc. I need new eyeglasses and my tooth broke off. Oh well. More poop to deal with in the future. Ugh. Time to get back to the prairie with my sick self and get back to work. 

I did get a very reasonable quote on replacing my RV shade awning and repairing the frame. Dream on!  It ain't happening anytime soon...

They gave me one all inclusive price for installation and they are willing to travel out to the prairie where I am back workamping now. More wishful wistful thinking... but at least I have a price to work with and dream and drool  about. 

Sadly, it's not something I can install myself. My 17 year old awning has been dying a slow tortuous death. The last bad storm when I was on the coast of South Carolina finished it off. Matter of fact, that was during that stormy period that also sent a heavy tree limb through my roof and into my kitchen.  The awning is in tatters.   It's time to drag out the bugle and play Taps.  

You need two people, ladders  and special tools to take the old awning off and replace with a new one. I've tried looking for used awnings, but had no luck at all thus far, finding the size I need in a good enough shape to consider the ridiculous pricing. Some folks want an awfully high price for used junk. One RV shop had a used awning and frame, but they wanted the same price as a new awning and frame. I don't understand this kind of pricing. Maybe I look like an idiot and other idiots give me idiotic prices. 

Maybe it's the female thing...  I had similar problems when I owned and lived aboard my old sailboat. Some boat yards, would give me ridiculously high prices for work and parts that they would never dream of quoting to a male. Very frustrating. 

When I deal with RV shops, it seems to be a real hit and miss. Some are fair with me, others think my wallet is gold plated and my brain is out to lunch, so they figure up a quote, them multiply it by 3 or 4 or 5 to see if I am stupid enough to pay that. 

Someone else recently told me they had their RV engine "serviced" and it came to $2,800.00  I said "My gosh, did you have the engine block chrome plated?"  They said, no it was just "regular servicing" for an oil change and "routine maintenance stuff".  I didn't want to insult them by saying they were crazy, but if someone gave me a bill for an oil change and "routine maintenance stuff" for $2,800.00 you would definitely hear about me on the news. 

Woman runs over RV service manager repeatedly, claims it was payment for routine maintenance stuff...

Well, I will work Saturday and Sunday running the hunters station. I may just drive my RV and park across from the station.  This is a much warmer arrangement, as I need to stay warm as part of my get-well health routine.  But the 50ish night time temps are soaring up during the day lately. Yet recently we were down to freezing temps at night. Matter of fact, two workampers had their plumbing freeze overnight just recently. I was surprised as they are old timers not newbies. 

50F on the coast feels nice, but inland on the prairie with the high moisture from the swamps and marshes, makes it a wet cold that is bone chilling. 

Luckily, summer suddenly arrived with temps pushing 80F yesterday.  Matter of fact, we are supposed to have several summery days this week with middle of the day temps in the high 70's through Friday.  Yippie! 

You can thank me for this sudden weather shift. I just recently assembled my winter wardrobe. That's why winter vanished!  If you want it to rain, just wait until I hang my laundry out to dry. Does the trick every time. 

Last winter in Florida was particularly brutal. I was in Orlando for November and December then Titusville for about 10 weeks starting in January. I also made it to other parks here and there. I have that wandering spirit, so hard for me to stay put.

I nearly froze, it was so c-c-c-cold. My long leggings were ancient and the seams and material gave way so as winter bore on, I had to trash them. As spring hit, I found winter leggings deeply discounted, so I bought two pairs. This winter they have been a lifesaver, the only long pants I own.  Some days I had to wear two pairs at a time to stay warm though. Some of the sweaters I bought used from Goodwill the last two winters, wore out completely (holey and threadbare)  leaving me with two sweaters for this winter. One is rather lightweight, and the other is heavily bedazzled with a beautiful sequined design, more for a party than for working or playing. Matter of fact, I bought it used, to attend an elegant  party two winters ago.  I don't get invited to many elegant places lately. But since then, sometimes I wear it for fun.  Makes everyone think I am going somewhere special. It always draws great comments. But it's not suitable at all for working at the hunters station, removing deer jaw bones, hacking off quail wings and getting occasionally splattered with hog blood. Double yuck yuck!

Recently Big Lots sold me two screaming red men's sized sweat shirts for $3. They are very long on me, coming down to mid-thigh and very warm.   I seemed more or less ready for this winter. 

While doing my medical mess, I saw a store with a huge sign on the window advertising that much of their clothing was on sale at 70% off. I had just received a unique windfall from a wonderful gambling friend who sent me some of their winnings as an early birthday gift. WOW!  I was gong to save it for emergencies... 

But I found myself touring the store, checking all their 70% discounted racks. Lo and behold, they had petite jeans which fit my short legs perfectly. I have not owned bluejeans in decades!  There really was no need to own any in the Caribbean. Buying pants, other than leggings has always been problematic for me. Even the leggings are so long, I wear them right over my feet like toe-less socks. This helps keep my feet warm, so it has worked out fine thus far. But bluejeans can't be worn that way. The petite jeans were on the 70% off rack. I had no idea what size I wore. The saleslady snatched up a pair and said "Try these!"  I couldn't believe it when I tried them on and they fit perfectly. She must have a good eye for sizing up the looks and lumps of me. 

When I decided to buy the jeans, the price was so fantastic, I asked her if they had a 2nd pair in my size. She went on her computer and said they had a pair in a lighter blue jean color (the ones I had picked out were the typical dark indigo color) but they were at a store 350 miles away. 

Oh well.

However, she said I could buy them now, and the other store would stick them in the mail to me, with free shipping. I couldn't believe my ears. So after some hemming and hawing, I decided I wasn't likely to find bluejeans that fit me so perfectly being sold so cheaply again anytime soon, so I decided to splurge and buy both pairs. I am used to Goodwill and Thrift store prices, as much of my wardrobe is second-hand stuff I acquired. But with jeans at 70% off and Goodwill charging nearly that much for used pants that aren't even jeans, I figured this might be a good deal all around. 

I don't know why I fret over buying clothes. If I packed up my entire wardrobe, it would all fit in one suitcase. I am always astonished when I see my friends' homes and their huge walkin closets that look like a mid-sized clothing store. 

So that's why we have summer weather. It's my fault. I bought long pants!

A park ranger came by to remind me to leave at noon. I told him I was running late, would that be a problem?  He said , no not really. Most Friday arrivals don't come until late afternoon.  Checkin was at 2pm, so I might be OK for awhile. He thought the office could probably squeeze me in some where for a night, but not at my existing spot. 

Harley was sad to leave. We were on an end lot, that came with an incredibly huge grassy/weed area. He was playing on a 100 foot tether, having great fun entertaining the pedestrians while he fought with his teddy bear and squeaked his barbell loudly. 

One thing I noticed at this park, I had not really noticed much at other parks, was that many of the snowbirds who had moved in for the winter, had put up little fences between their lot and the neighbors lot. This struck me as rather odd.  I sure don't want a fence and feel no need to stake one out on my camping lot. 

My neighbor gave me the stink eye, because I parked perpendicular to the way he was parked, but I wanted to be that way and this particular park doesn't care how you park on your lot. Everyone in the row was lined up nice and neat and parallel to each other. Then I came along and screwed up their row...

Basically, my windshield was facing the utility post that separated our lots. So  my windshield was facing the side of his RV. I put my front windshield curtains up at night, so he didn't have to look at me. 

It wouldn't have mattered. I found a 70% off flannel night shirt in pink plaid with red hearts. Oh man, that thing is oh so cozy at night. I threw out my other two nightshirts as they were both pretty disgusting, and in such sad shape I am sure the thrift shops would not have been able to recycle them except for pathetic rags. 

I feel like a new person, all dudded up,  now if I can just get my body to get well and stay well and quit irritating me.  In the interim, back to bed for me.  I need to rest up before my shift at work. No rest for the sick here!  Crack that whip and get to work.  Since it pays the rent, I've no choice really. I woke up  and I am happy and I have a silly little dog too. I must be the luckiest person alive!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nosy Navigator

I must sound crazy. But that  is old news...

We got lost again. My navigator had his nose glued to the window, barking out directions.  He claims the Atlas is too big for his wittle paws, so he will just sniff out a new route. 

Somehow, somebody took US-1 south instead of A1A south...  Do you know that bridges are few and far between going east across the Indian River from US-1 to A1A?  

I thought Harley was over his bridge phobia. We worked really hard on this at Hartwell Lake. 

So, we drove south, south, south, then east then north, north, north... so that 70 miles later we were 27 miles from our starting point. It reminded me of sailing upwind, how you zigzag back and forth doing twice the miles to get where you are going. 

Maybe my dog is a sailor. He can tie knots. He loves to pull on ropes. He enjoys slowly going nowhere at great expense.

A day at the beach for the wild things. 

Later, while chatting on the phone, I was bragging to a friend how I had purged my drawers and clothing closet in the RV of stuff that was holey, ragged, stained and thread bare except for one sentimental shirt I should part with and just have not. It has traveled with me for 28+ years. Simply amazing. It is now pretty thin, when it used to be rather thick. Why can't I just throw it away?  What could be so sentimental about a faded threadbare old nearly rotten shirt when space is at such a premium?  Just for good measure, I have slept in that shirt on a warm night now and then. You can see right through it, which is not how it was designed. 

My friend, who has visited in my motorhome several times, laughed and said "Is there anything left in your closet?"

"Of course there is, just that now there is lots of spare room too!"

My friend replied "I've seen your closet, what is it, about 12 inches wide?  And you have, what two or three dresser drawers?"

We both burst out laughing. I measured. My closet is a whopping 16 inches wide and I have 3 dresser drawers underneath it.  Amazingly the closet holds dresses, shirts, sweaters, tunics, jackets and shoes.  With room to spare thanks to me throwing the rags out. 

Lately my housekeeper has vanished. 

Harley couldn't carve his initials into this tree, so he peed on it to let the others know he was here. Interestingly, there are some hobo marks on it too. 

Oops!  I am the housekeeper.  That part of me has left the scene of the crime. I've let everything just pile up everywhere, while I concentrated on the daggum medical mess appointments and the infernal paperwork associated with same. I've had to drive my RV almost everyday to and from the campground to appointments, as I don't have a car. I think of myself as  "being green and eco-friendly" by not owning two polluting vehicles.  This has worked out fine except juggling numerous appointments spread out over several days. Not my choice, but the powers to be don't understand why I want to schedule everything on one day and knock it all out at once. 

The birds at Long Point Park Campground on the spacecoast in Florida are totally unafraid of campers and dogs. 

Just for grins, I drooled over e-bikes again recently. I am saving up for an electric bicycle that can also be pedaled.  Actually it's really a battery assisted bicycle with a rechargeable battery. I figure that way I can ride the bike, and if I get pooped out, I can flip a switch to use the battery assist to get back home again. Strangely enough, the "used" E-bikes in the classified ads are listed for sale at the  same or higher prices than they can be found new. Am I missing something in this scenario? I thought used junk was supposed to be discounted. 

I was hoping to buy a cheap E-bike, to see if this is going to work for me. Of course Harley wants a little front basket so he can tag along on trips. Add to that a bike lock, another rear basket for groceries or stuff like a jacket,  a ding-a-ling bell and a night light in case I misjudge sunset and...   suddenly the accessories add another 50% to the cost of the bike. Probably more, because I will also need a bike rack on the back of the RV and perhaps even a head helmet and knee pads. Good grief.  I already own a 12volt air pump for the tires. It came with the RV when I bought it. At the rate of my erratic income, the E-bike may have to wait another year or two or more. 

Well, in the interim, doggy and I walk when we can and drive when we can't. It is fun to take the dog everywhere. The day he was in the animal hospital for his alteration, I was  sad, lonely and lost. 

I have been trying to sell my used Blue Ox Aventa II Tow Bar Class IV (10,000 pound) 2 inch receiver that takes up weight and space on the rear of the RV for towing a car. It came with the RV and I don't own a car. I had this silly idea of selling it and putting the proceeds towards the E-bike. So far, in two years, I've had no luck of selling it. I place ads, they expire, I forget. I've had some buyers who contacted me after I had drove 300 miles away...

One buyer actually came out in person, was extremely rude, and told me in a very loud voice that "It's NOT new!" as if my ad had been misleading (it was not). It seems most everyone who needs a tow hitch, has one, so selling one is apparently problematic. However, if you want to buy it, I am in central Florida and here is my Email .

It used to be I would clean up the entire RV before I drove anywhere. Lately I've just been stashing the breakables, then driving the motorhome to my appointments, on my merry way. Anyone that dares to peek in my windows certainly gets an eyeful of what the aftermath of an indoor hurricane looks like. I've had to cough up tons of paperwork lately. Computers in the last 3 decades seem to have done nothing to abate the mountain of paperwork required to get simple things done. 

I'm changing my residency again, a chronic problem for full timers in RV's. The USA refuses to accept that well over a million folks live with "no fixed address". The list of papers I need to switch over my driver's license is frighteningly long. I may need a file box on wheels to push into the license department, to accomplish this task. They have seemingly asked for everything except my DNA and first born child. 

I try not to travel with breakables, but it's hard to live a semi-modern life without them. Breakables include stashing the laptop computer and components, tying up the circa 1994 coffee pot carafe, stabilizing the electric heaters, 2 are tiny but one is not and making sure the semi-fragile medical equipment is lassoed to prevent breakage. I have a few breakable dishes, but they  live in a jumbo kitchen drawer and I have those thick and thin rubbery shelf liners to wrap around the coffee mugs so they don't chip or rattle or break in the drawer. I just can't seem to bring myself to drink coffee out of a plastic mug. I have spare ceramic mugs too, for company.  

Recently I purged and rearranged my dresser drawers. Now my breakable electronics get to ride a in a comfy drawer with my undies as nice soft cushiony padding. Since RV drawers are designed to stay locked in place when not in use, this is working rather well. Somehow, in my cleaning and purging of the drawers, I ended up with a small EMPTY drawer. How did that happen?  

A friend left behind a bottle of wine.  I rarely ever drink, but might as well save it for a special dinner with company or a future gift. So it is living in a drawer with my leggings and socks now. On the sailboats, I worked aboard, the wine very often lived in the bilges. Sometimes it got wet and the labels fell off. 

Shopping for food in all plastic containers is not always feasible, but I have built-in places for keeping the glass jars and bottles, as long as they aren't too big. 

By golly, I think I am getting the hang of it all, this business of living in an RV that doubles as a car and home and dog house and office and hospice and cave and padded cell and...

Life is grand!  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Comedy Team

Harley and I have become a real comedy team. Maybe we should call ourselves Giddy and Goofy. My nose is doing a tad better from the vice grip slap. The next morning, I even climbed along the floor, looking for them under the furniture. I didn't want to stub my toe on them next. 

The leaping tea bags were corralled inside a clear zipper bag; the heavy duty type they wrap pillow cases in when they are selling them separately. While their offending box (which as I previously wrote, slapped my nose twice in one day) was thrown to the garbage. Matter of fact, I went to look for a jacket, then suddenly purged my own closet of clothing that was holey or stained or wore out or any combination of that. Well, that certainly left more room in the closet. I looked to see if any of the clothing could be donated, but frankly it was all in such super sad shape, I can't imagine anyone paying to wear it again.It was all clothing I had bought used that simply gave out. 

After a long day dealing with the medical mess, then a trip through the dog park, to make us laugh, Harley and I made it back to our campground at Wickham Park in Melbourne, Florida. Our camp site is a tricky spot with a few obstacles. I backed in while neighbor campers watched to see if I was going to take out the utility post or the tree or the picnic table or the dump station or the signs.

I swear I heard two guys placing bets. We came within inches of each, giving them something to point and gasp about.  Since the park is full, I was assigned a least favorite spot, which is very narrow, on a curve and at  the dump station. It requires some creative turns to avoid hitting the sign posts and plumbing at the dump station while dodging the utility post, two trees and the 8 ton 6 foot picnic table. 

Seeing a woman alone arrive at near dark-thirty to complete these maneuvers, is quite the entertainment for some of the bored pensioners who live here all winter. 

Luckily our spot came with a wonderfully cheerful neighbor, who chats us up several times daily while her cat gives Harley smug dismissive looks. We discuss and gross out over the number of folks that handle their sewer hoses bare handed while utilizing the dump station. Yuck!  Obviously they have never studied the life cycles of parasites and the diseases they can cause. Double YUCK!  

What's Eating You?: People and Parasites

I am very fortunate my wheel estate came with an outside faucet that has hot and cold water. In the little faucet compartment, I am able to keep soap stashed there as well. I use heavy duty gloves to handle the sewer, then wash them under the hot soapy water,  next I wash the faucet handles, before I even take the gloves off, so all is nice and clean. Hopefully if all goes well, I don't get any sewer on any part of my skin, therefore avoiding my participation in the life-cycle of parasites. 

For you non RV folks, a dump station is where you empty out your holding tanks. Black water is the toilet sewer. Gray water is the sink and shower water, so RV's come with two holding tanks, one for each type of sewer. This park does not have individual sewer hookups at the camp sites. 

Once we were backed in, I hopped out with Harley attached to the leash which is attached to a jumbo carabiner which also has a bag on it with doggy poop baggies and my keys to the motorhome and engine. 

I remembered to lock the driver's door, because we planned to enter through the main entry door, after we hooked up the umbilical cords. 

While outside the motorhome, I plugged in life support, namely the heavy 30amp electrical cord and the ancient fresh water hose that is cantankerous.  It folds up on itself, preventing the water from moving freely. I unkinked and unfolded the decrepit  water hose until I could hear the whoosh of fresh water. Then it taunted me by leaking. I found some Teflon tape to unscrew it, wrap it in tape, then  rescrew it, hoping that would resolve the leak. It didn't. I think this particular hose is possessed by the devil. It's probably 17 years old. It came with the motorhome. My other newer water hoses were left out on the prairie, still attached out there, as I wasn't planning to be in Melbourne near this long. 

Harley and I took a quick stroll around the campground while he watered the landscaping here and there.  The fading sunset quickly plunged into darkness as the temperatures seemingly dropped another 10 degrees. I wish I had taken time to put my jacket on, but I was just getting out to hookup the motorhome, not realizing I was going for a walk as well.  We had to stop while Harley greeted some of the other dogs out on their walks, plus several campers were in a chatty mood. 

Some pet parents are not very friendly, yanking the leash of their dog upon approach with any other dog. This instantly frightens their dog into being overaggressive, thinking that the yank of the leash is the owner's way of panic.  Their dog now shifts into protection mode, becoming very unfriendly rather quickly. 

Not fun. 

Incredibly, if the pet parent would pay attention, they would notice that one second earlier, their dog was happily wagging his tail,  in anticipation of meeting another doggy. Meanwhile the pet parent claims their dog isn't friendly. But typically their dog wants to be friendly, but the canine brain thinks the pet parent is freaking out with that rapid tug of the leash thus, needing aggressive protection.  

So while some pet parents and their canine critters were relaxed and friendly, others were uptight and not so hospitable.

Back at the motorhome, it was practically pitch black. I held up the carabiner to access the door key. That's when I noticed  there were NO KEYS attached at all. Oh what a sinking feeling. I felt about 2 inches tall at that moment. A check of all three doors was futile but I dutifully checked anyhow. They were all locked. The windows, which are pretty high up, when you are standing outside, were all closed and firmly locked. 

Here we were, standing in the dark shivering.  All pooped out.  We were locked out of our nice little  warm wheel estate. Harley jumped up on the door step, then back down again, then up again, wagging his tail, staring at me, as if to jar my brain to open the door. Even more maddening, I could see one set of keys dangling from the ignition. I have no idea what we did with the other set of keys. Some times I wish Harley could answer these mysteries. But his memory comes and goes too.Some days day he plays fetch, bringing the ball back to within inches of me. Other days, he can't remember to get it within six feet. 

Oh pooh.  

As I pondered our ridiculous predicament, I thought about homeless folks and how deflated they must feel out in the cold, night after night. I said a prayer for them, thinking I should try to do more than just hand over jingly change when I meet someone down on their luck.

However, I heard about a local panhandler who has a hilarious sign on his shirt that reads "The truth is I  wanna buy beer and cigs."

Another one stands on a busy street corner with a sign "Bet you can't hit me with a quarter!"  I don't know why I was thinking of all this instead of how to get inside my wheel estate. 

But eventually a tiny lightbulb dimly came on in my head. Ah ha!

A long time ago, I became worried that one day when I hopped out to pump gas or check the parking levels before turning off the engine, Harley might push my lock button down. He is often enthusiastic, when I stop, bouncing around like his feet are spring loaded, placing his front paws all over the driver or passenger window as he looks outside to see where we have stopped.  Thus far he has never locked me out. Until now. But technically it wasn't his fault, just that usually the keys are on his leash.

Awhile back I had hidden a spare key to the entry door in a place that no one is likely to ever find at all. It is very cleverly disguised. I had not checked in ages upon ages to see if it still existed in its safe hidy hole. 

It was time to say our prayers, paste on a great big smile (because smiling makes things better) even in the dark.  I searched for the spare key without benefit of a flashlight, as they were all locked up inside too. I guess I should put one in an outside locker.  Duh... the things I think up when it's a bit too late.  Amazingly, in the dark,  I located the spare key.  Eureka!

Giddy and Goofy... averted disaster once again.

Yippie doodle doo!