21 October – 17 November 2015; A Rally, Family, Friends, and More Fixes!

When will I ever learn?  I have said for the past 3 months now that I wasn’t going to wait so long between posts because its takes so long to recreate where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and get the right photos lined up.  Speaking of photos, have any of you switched to the Apple Photos?  I hate it, and want iPhoto back.  I used to be able to categorize all of my photos for the blog on the fly which it made it real easy to determine which ones I would use for the blog.  Well, apparently that option is no longer available, so it takes me twice as long to get the photos I want in the right place…ugh!  Along with that, I am almost out of space for media storage on my WordPress account.  I think I found an alternative to this whole mess at the rally we attended.  More on that in a minute.

We last left you in Bradenton, FL at the http://www.livingthervdream.com gathering, or rally.  We registered on Wednesday, the 21st, and were treated to door prizes and a great talk by Greg Gerber, editor of the RV Daily Report.  Greg keeps an eye on the RV manufacturers and produces a daily report which is free.  Check it out if you can.

Thursday the rally was in full swing.  John and Kathy Huggins presented a seminar on Full Time RVing basics.  We attended a couple of other seminars as well.  One on Electrical issues which was really good.  In the evening, we participated in a live recording of the Living the RV Dream Podcast…a first ever live recording with open questions and answers.

John and Kathy hosting the live PodCast.

John and Kathy hosting the live PodCast.

About 100 people at this rally, which is the right size in my mind. You can really get to know folks when it isn't so big, and the seminars are not so large.

About 100 people at this rally, which is the right size in my mind. You can really get to know folks when it isn’t so big, and the seminars are not so large.

Friday we attended seminars on work camping for profit, which was followed by Chris and Jim Gould from Geeks on Tour, http://www.geeksontour.com who presented a seminar on Google Photos.  This goes back to my previous issue with Apple.  Google seems to have it together…free unlimited storage, easy manipulation, etc. etc.  I now have our entire library loaded on the cloud.  I also learned how to use Goggle Photos to store my photos, then link them to my WordPress Blog so I will not have to worry about the storage issue on Word Press.  I said I learned how…I just have not figured out “how” to actually do it yet.  I have to make the folders public of the photos I want to share, and you cannot do that with a mobile device just yet.  You have to use Picasso Web and enter your library and make the public folders.  I’ve got to do this soon, as I only have about .5 gig left on Word Press.

The Geeks seminar was followed by Eric Johnson, http://www.technorv.com who presented a seminar on getting the most out of the park WIFI.  Eric also did the electrical seminar.  Park WIFI is a hard bugger to crack.  The upload and download speeds are usually real good, but bandwidth is the killer.  The more in the park, and the distance you are from the wireless device are all integral to how well you will be able to operate.  Eric had several ideas on signal boosters and such.  We will have to invest soon, as our WIFI experiences have been sketchy at best (except for the park we are in now…more on that later.)

Eric has nailed Maslow's new hierarchy of needs pyramid for RVers...I think he's right on!!

Eric has nailed Maslow’s new hierarchy of needs pyramid for RVers…I think he’s right on!!

Friday night was a great Chicken Pot Luck, followed by a comedian and more door prizes.  Terri won a book by Nick Russell called the Frugal RVer.  We’ve already learned a lot from that book.  Check Nick out at http://www.gypsyjournal.com

On Saturday, John and Kathy had a seminar on Lessons Learned the hard way over 10 years on the road.  We learned a lot there as well.  The Geeks presented another seminar on Google Maps, followed by a cookout on the island of the park we were at.  In the afternoon, we attended a great seminar conducted by Al Hesselbart, former historian of the RV/MH Hall of Fame.  Saturday night was the wrap up, with some fantastic grand door prizes…and nope, we didn’t win any.

Sunday was move day.  We were up early, and took a walk before we left and found out that the folks in the older Airstream Motorhome down the way had their motor home open for touring.  What made this one unique is it has a sky deck!  A complete area up top with benches, a sink, stereo and all, and is accessed from steps on the inside.  What a neat concept, and hard to believe no one else has ever produced this.  Apparently airstream only made this model for a year or two.

Up on the sky deck.

Up on the sky deck.

The rails you see up top are the back of the benches on the deck and fold in for travel. Kewl!

The rails you see up top are the back of the benches on the deck and fold in for travel. Kewl!

Sunday the 25th was move day.  We moved up the road to Orlando where we could be closer to our daughter Mandi and her husband Justin and my parents who live in Leesburg.  Much of the next almost two weeks was spent having fun with them, and meeting up with some old friends.

Our spot at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake.

Our spot at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake.

This is a real nice city park, with some full hook ups.  We were in a site without sewer for the first week, and moved to one with sewer for the next week.  It is quite a luxury when you have full hook ups.  Using your own shower all the time, able to use your own washer/dryer, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, most of the parks we have stayed at have great shower and washing facilities, but I like mine!  We were also close to where we have our “stuff” in storage…you know, the “stuff” you couldn’t manage to part with about a year ago, and have not missed since!  This was good though, as we made some changes inside the RV with some of our old “stuff.”  Terri also took the time to remodel the area under the sink in the bathroom the same way she redid the area under the stove and sink in the kitchen.  She took out the old carpet and replaced it with laminate that matches the countertops.

On the 30th we were excited to catch up with Kevin VanderMolen and his band My Remedy in Orlando. Kevin and I were in the service together, and it is great to see him this successful in his music career. Michelle joined us as well, and it was a great reunion.

On the 30th we were excited to catch up with Kevin VanderMolen and his band My Remedy in Orlando. Kevin and I were in the service together, and it is great to see him this successful in his music career. Michelle joined us as well, and it was a great reunion.

We also got to spend more time with mom and dad and actually got out for a nice walk around the lake where they live...and played cards too of course!

We also got to spend more time with mom and dad and actually got out for a nice walk around the lake where they live…and played cards too of course!

The original chair form the RV now on the patio (later moved to storage.)

The original chair from the RV now on the patio (later moved to storage.)

We thought that my Tall Man LazyBoy from storage would fit...nope. Way too big.

We thought that my Tall Man LazyBoy from storage would fit…nope. Way too big.

So back to the storage unit I went and got Terri's chair...it fit just right!

So back to the storage unit I went and got Terri’s chair…it fit just right!

It fits me just right too...not as well as the tall man, but it does the job and is in much better shape than the old chair we had.

It fits me just right too…not as well as the tall man, but it does the job and is in much better shape than the old chair we had.

We also enjoyed being close to Mandi and Justin and were able to spend a lot of time with them.  What’s the deal Florida???  Breaking temperature records in November??  Man it has been hot.  Over 90 for the first week of November.  Never happened before. This is exactly what two people who don’t like the heat needed.  Oh yea, had the you know what scared out of me one night at Turkey Lake.  When it was finally cool enough to sit outside, I was in the dark reading on my iPad when I heard some awful screams and growling and falling I think?  Come to find out, three raccoons were in the palm trees right next to me fighting over the seeds and knocking each other out of the tree.  Man, first skunks between my legs and now this…that the heck?  Not a great shot, but if you enlarge it you can see the little buggers.

IMG_5921

Bill Frederick was a real nice park, and had plenty of hiking and biking trails, along with fishing, boating, a pool, a farm with horses, cows, pigs, goats and may other activities.  It is a very well run city park and very affordable too.  Oh yea, I managed to steal a day away and headed over to where we used to live to see my buddy and best auto service man I know, Lou Schlenker.  I got the oil changed and tires rotated and got to spend a great time with Lou at lunch to catch up.  If you are on the space coast and need anything done auto service wise, give Schlenker Auto in Rockledge a call…professional and honest…not an easy thing to find these days.  Our daughter travels from Orlando to get her work done there…and no, this is not a paid advertisement, just the truth.

On Friday the 6th we relocated to a nice park in Williston, FL called Williston Crossings.  We’ve driven past this place for over 10 years and never knew it existed…the hunting lease I was on is near there.  Our friends also have property near there as well, so I drove past it a lot.  Shows to go ya what you miss when not looking for something.  It was a great park, and gave us the opportunity to catch up with Trase and Shonna over the weekend.

Nice concrete slab site with full hookups.

Nice concrete slab site with full hookups.They have pull throughs as well, but due to the heat we wanted to be in the trees…only issue with that is Florida has a bumper crop of Acorns this year, so it sounded like it was hailing out every time the wind blew.

Nice touch in the middle of the park. They have any amenity or activity you can imagine here.

Nice touch in the middle of the park. They have any amenity or activity you can imagine here.

Checking out the pasture in Bronson.

Checking out the pasture in Bronson.

And a nice sunset to boot. We had a blast enjoying great friends and great food.

And a nice sunset to boot. We had a blast enjoying great friends and great food.

Monday was off to Cummins in Ocala to get settled in their park before my appointment on Tuesday morning.  I needed to get that oil dipstick tube repaired, as well as the crack in the exhaust flex tube.

They have pull throughs as well, but due to the heat we wanted to be in the trees...only issue with that is Florida has a bumper crop of Acorns this years, so it sounded like it was hailing out every time the wind blew.

Not bad for a Cummins shop.  50 AMP and water as well…no charge.

They got us in first thing on Tuesday morning.  As long as I was there and noted that they were a Country Coach and HWH certified repair facility, I asked them to replace the two rear ride height valves (the left rear has been giving me issues.)  I carry two spares with me, so I asked them to replace both rears and give me back the right rear as a spare.  I also asked them to check out the leaking dash AC line.

Here’s the scoop…Exhaust fixed.  Oil dip Stick Tube…no dice.  They could not find a replacement part anywhere.  I’m going to have to find someone who can make one.  They did clean it all up and used some heavy-duty heat-resistant tape to stop the small leak, so I should be good for a while.  Ride height valves…no dice.  The one’s I have didn’t fit.  Will have to find another HWH specialist, because these Haldex valves are the replacement part for the Nuway valves that I have on the Coach now.  Hmmmm…just when you think you know what you are doing.  AC line…no dice…its the connector valve and not the hose.  Crap.  Now trying to find one of those.  Oh well, all part of the way things go on the road.

It was later in the day when they got me out, so we spent another night at “Camp Cummins.”  While the coach was in for repair on Tuesday, Terri and I found our next home.  The Grand Oaks RV Park in Lady Lake Florida.  What a nice place!  About 1,000 acres of horse paddocks, stalls, carriage rides, museum, Bistro, awesome concrete slab sites, and on and on.  Check them out at http://www.grandoaksrv.com

Dumb Ron or Dumb Coach…not quite sure.  We were on the road by 11:00, as it was a short distance and check in was noon.  Remember the thing I mentioned a great while back about traveling during the week because if something goes wrong you can get hold of someone to help?  Well, we needed it.  It was only about 30 miles to the park.  I always monitor all of my critical temperatures while I drive…oil, transmission, coolant, turbo, etc.  Everything was nominal.  We pulled into the park, and stopped short of our site to unhook.  I went around back and grabbed hold of the tow bar to unhook the truck, and Terri and I both noticed at the same time that everything was covered in radiator fluid!  Yuck!  I got the key for the engine cover, and when I opened it up, we were treated to a bath of radiator fluid gushing out of the return line from the block to the reservoir.  Ugh!  I shut it down and checked all the temps again.  There was plenty of fluid in the block, so we quickly unhooked and I quickly backed into our site, got level and got the slides out and we shut her down again.  We went about our normal setup while waiting for things to cool off a bit so we could make a better analysis of the situation.

After about an hour or so, we took another look, and sure enough, there was a small hole just above the hose clamp where the hose comes out of the block.

Just below my finger is where the leak was.

Just below my finger is where the leak was.

The plug you see is what is keeping the coolant in the block while a new hose is being acquired.

The plug you see is what is keeping the coolant in the block while a new hose is being acquired.

Try as we might, we could not get to the other end of the hose at the back of the reservoir to get it undone and go in search of a new hose.  1-800 Good Sam Road Side Assist here we come.  They were great.  They had someone on the way in less than an hour, and called every half hour to check on the progress until the job was done.  I will say this again, as this road side assist program has saved our bacon more than once.

Tech Tip…Again:  If you are going to go anywhere in an RV, make sure you have a roadside assist program…Good Sam, Coachnet, FMCA, whatever…they are all about the same price per year, and you will find good or bad on all of them, but I will say that we have never had an issue with Good Sam, and we’ve used them 4 times now…it has more than paid for itself.  What did this get me?  No service call charge (about $150) and no mileage charge (about another $150).  With mechanical breakdowns you pay labor and parts only when they are on site working.  Mechanics rate was $85 per hour which is less than you pay at most repair facilities.

Well, after getting the new hose on and adding about 3.5 gallons of radiator fluid, we are back in business…we hope.  the real test will come on Friday when we move again.  Man, I’ve got to get that engine steam cleaned.  With the oil leak and now the radiator fluid issue, it’s a mess.

Enough of that.  We have enjoyed the property here, and guess what?  Awesome WIFI!!  We have been able to even stream stuff on NETFLIX and AMAZON.  We have not had that luxury in about a year.  There is hardly anyone else in the park during the week, and we are right next to the clubhouse where the WIFI is located.

We also got to spend more time with  mom and dad, and went to church with them on Sunday, and they joined us at the park for a bit as well.

Finally got the flag flying on Veterans Day. I guess we are about the only ones that would break down while leaving a repair facility!

Finally got the flag flying on Veterans Day. I guess we are about the only ones that would break down while leaving a repair facility!

Looking out over one of the many pastures here.

Looking out over one of the many pastures here.

Awesome sunset.

Awesome sunset.

Enjoying time with mom and dad.

Enjoying time with mom and dad.

Panorama of the back of the Club House.

Panorama of the back of the Club House.

Well, today is my birthday, as well as that of our daughter Mandi…happy day young lady!!  It seems like only yesterday, not 30 years ago, that we were blessed by your presence in a hospital in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Terri took me to breakfast this morning and asked me how it felt working on my 55th year…I stopped in my tracks, dumbfounded.  “I’m 53 today, right?” I said.  Nope…I guess I’m a big dummy after all.  I really have never paid attention to birthdays in my own right.  Just another day.  As Satchel Paige says, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you really are?”  The day the Coach broke down again…very old.  Today…30!

After breakfast we walked around town a bit, and we have been giggling about the tons of golf carts here in the Villages.

Golf Cart Capitol of the World me thinks. They are everywhere, and every design you can think of.

Golf Cart Capitol of the World me thinks. They are everywhere, and every design you can think of.

We then went and got me a new toy.  I’ve been looking at battery operated small leaf blowers for a while.  They are great for cleaning off your site as well as the roof when you have tons of leaves, pine needles, or acorns!  I found this Milwaukee set up at Home Depot (cheaper than Amazon.)  I went with Milwaukee since I have a Milwaukee drill and the batteries are interchangeable…along with good reviews.  I got it home and checked it out and it works real well!

Nice small setup.

Nice small setup.

Drill battery works great...the blower does run it down quite fast, so I will invest in another larger battery in the future.

Drill battery works great…the blower does run it down quite fast, so I will invest in another larger battery in the future.

I'm sitting at a table just to the right of these Lazy Boys in the Clubhouse typing this right now. What a nice place!

I’m sitting at a table just to the right of these Lazy Boys in the Clubhouse typing this right now. What a nice place!

Well, that’s it for now folks.  We plan to leave here Friday and get over to the SpaceCoast where we will be staying at Wickham Park until 6 December.  We have some friends joining us at the park on Friday and Saturday nights in their own rigs.  What a great time that will be…they only live a little ways away, but will come out to enjoy the lifestyle for a bit.  After 6 December, who knows, but if it stays warm here, I guarantee it will be North of here!

One last thing…our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the Paris massacre.  This is not a political blog, so I will not expound beyond the fact that terrorists are cowards and they suck!

As always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy and Living Your Dreams!!

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