18 Nov – 12 Dec 2015; Family, Friends, Travels, Experiments

Hey folks!!  Greetings from Fort George G. Meade, MD!  Yep, we headed north this week.  More on all of that later.  I think I finally figured this Google Photo and WordPress interface out!  I’ve spent most of the morning and afternoon trying to get the interfaces to work.  I mentioned previously about my space on WordPress being limited, so I’m using my Google Photo account to link to the pictures I have, and Google has unlimited storage.  So…we will see how this goes.  Let me know what you think about the photo quality compared to the older posts please.

We spent the 18th with my mom and dad, and actually got out to the mall.  It had been a while since mom was able to get out and about, but now she has new wheels!  She has a scooter that allows her to get just about anywhere, which has greatly expanded their ability to travel.  Mom said she has wanted a scooter since she was a little girl…I guess sometimes you just have to be patient.  She got her first one at the young age of 87.

A day at the mall with mom and dad and mom’s new scooter. The thing breaks down real nice and small, and fits easily in the back of their car.

We had a great day with them and played some cards again, which is always fun.  The 19th was spent mainly on travel prep.  We got the tanks dumped, and everything ready to roll early on Friday, the 20th.  We headed over to the Space Coast near where we used to live, and set up at a great county camp ground called Wickham Park.  Just as we were finishing setting up, we were joined by friends Eric and Ellen and Tommy and Donna.  They live near by, but came out in their motorhomes to spend the weekend with us!  It was an absolute blast.  Friday night we went to the Marina at Patrick AFB and caught up with a lot of other great friends.  Afterward, we headed out to Charlie and Jakes:

The Wickham Park Gang.

On Saturday morning we were privileged to be able to attend Pat Billman’s celebration of life.  What a great lady and great family.  Greg and Dania did a fantastic job and everyone was more than touched once again by Pat’s great life.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the family!

Saturday night brought on a lot of rain, but it did not dampen the Wickham Park Gang’s spirits.  We cooked out, and invaded Donna and Tommy’s Coach for the evening.  We must have had a really great time, as it was very “early” when we all got to our respective domiciles.

Sunday was the day for them to head back, but we were able to spend the morning together outside of Eric and Ellen’s Coach:

Sunday morning coffee clutch.

Eric snapped this pic he dubbed the Battleship USS Ten Haken:

Nice, large sites at this park.

The festival of lights goes on at the park from the 17th of November until after the 1st of the year.  Here is a panorama of what you can see from the RV Park.

Ok folks, gonna go on a rant here for a bit, so if you’re not of the Tech Tip bent, skip ahead.  On Monday, Eric wanted me to follow him to Camping World in Cocoa so he could drop is Coach off..again.  You see, he had the Coach there the previous week to get the tow wiring and hitch and all installed.  It was supposed to have been done by the 20th, but they were not done by the time that Eric and Ellen were going to meet us at Wickham.  Eric noted that his recently installed back-up camera had stopped working as well, so they must have gotten the job partially finished before he picked it up on Friday and never reconnected it…so, a couple other items for them to fix.

Fast forward a couple of days…Camping World calls and says the Coach and tow vehicle are ready, so I went with him to check it out.  The system is not too dissimilar than mine, so we were able to go over everything.  The only thing that didn’t make sense is that the brake light indicator on the dash never lit up when Eric hit the brakes en route to the RV storage area at the base.  This is the light that lets you know the Coach has activated the braking system in the tow vehicle…kind of an important feature, as you want your tow vehicle to help you slow down in certain situations…you don’t want all of the responsibility put on the Coach brakes.  Oh well, we passed it off initially as something to check later.

Later that night, Eric got a phone call from Camping World asking where he was at with the Coach, and not to move until they could get a tech out to “take care of something they omitted” when they installed his tow system!  Cutting to the chase here…what happened was that during installation, one tech started the job, and another finished it.  The problem is that the guy that finished the job never hooked up the tow vehicle braking system to the Coach wiring!  No wonder they said they would come to wherever he was and not to tow!!  They sent out another tech the next day to make the thing right.  This happened to be the same guy that installed my system over a year ago.  It took him a couple of hours, and he got the job done right.  He was hesitant to leave until he was certain that Eric was completely satisfied…hmmm.  Liability concerns??  Thank God there was not an issue getting to the base with the Coach when the system was not working.  Me thinks in that case Eric may perhaps be the new owner of a Camping World store.

Word to the wise…never, ever take anything for granted when getting RV service work done.  This goes back to the seminar Terri and I attended in Bradenton where we learned that there are so few RVIA certified technicians out there, and the industry is growing so fast that people are being hired with little to no RV technical experience.  If I were just graduating high school right now, I would jump at the chance to get certified as an RVIA technician…you could write your own ticket pretty much with decent pay.  Bottom line is you need to research any and everything as much as you can to ensure the work is being done correctly.  Mega operations like Camping World are taking the RV community by storm…the small mom and pop suppliers and repair shops are disappearing because they cannot compete.  In fact, my favorite RV mechanic who had his own business walked away from the industry a few months ago.  Granted, he was getting up in years, but one less RVIA certified guy with tons of knowledge and experience out the door.  Nuff said on this topic for now.

Thursday was Thanksgiving!  We were invited to Eric and Ellen’s and we had an outstanding time with great food and great friends.  We were happy to be able to see Hillary and Allison again as well!

We went out to the beach earlier in the day to check out the wild surf…the winds had been whipping like crazy:

The wind did not deter anyone from checking out the surf.

We also received several nice pics from the kids throughout the day:

Logan and Peyton

Mandi and Justin at the UCF game.

Ashley, Toby and Garreck getting ready to watch the Packers get their butts handed to them.

It was a fantastic day all around (except for the Packer game) and was capped off by a trip to Tom and Diane’s for dessert.  I’ve gotten terrible at remembering to take pictures lately…none with Eric and Ellen, none at Tom and Dianne’s, none at the marina.  Pffft.

We got back to Orlando on the weekend and spent time with Mandi and Justin moving some furniture around and watching them get the house ready for Christmas:

Man, the tree, couch and love seat sure do look familiar??? Great job on the tree!!

Saturday night we went to our old Church and had a blast afterwards with Kevin and Michelle at dinner (again, no pic.)  Sunday was a craft fair in Port Canaveral, and we took advantage of the location to get together with Barry and Bridgette.  What a great Condo they have!

Awesome view from Barry and Bridgett’s deck.

The rest of the week went by like a blur.  We had a great dinner on Thursday night with Al and Marlena at their awesome house in Satellite Beach…again, no pics Dumb Ron!  Friday was spent with mom and dad and Mandi and Justin.  Terri and Mandi helped mom and dad get their place decorated, then we headed back to Orlando to have dinner with Justin.  We went to an awesome place called the Wine Barn in Winter Park.  Food was fantastic…the wine wasn’t bad either!  If you are ever in the area, check this place out!

Great company and great food!

The walls of the place are filled with wine as you can see. The prices are not bad either, and no corking fee.  Actually, the prices look bad on this picture. There are some really good less expensive wines.

Saturday was prep to move day, and the Millennium Christmas Party on the Indian River Queen!  What a great opportunity to catch up with great folks!!  The weather did not cooperate though.  It was so rough on the river, we stayed docked, but I do believe everyone had a great time.

So…where did we move to???  Well, you saw it up front.  We headed up to MD to spend the holidays with Jason, Meghan, Peyton and Logan.  We also found out yesterday that Toby and Ashley are coming to visit later this month as well!!  We had a good trip up here, although it was quite wet at times.  No issues with the Coach other than a gray tank valve that seems to be seeping a bit again…thank you once again Camping World of Cocoa and Bowling Green!  Here are some pictures of the trek north:

First stop…Camp Lake Jasper in Hardeeville, SC. Nice park, nice cloudy sunset.

Nice pull through sites.

I noted the solar panels on the flag light were getting really nasty, so Terri did some research and found out that 400 grit sand paper and a little tooth paste will do an awesome job of cleaning the panels.

What a difference, huh??

We were on the road early on Monday.  We had planned on about 300-350 miles per day, as the total trip was just shy of 1,000 miles.  Our reservations at the Ft Meade FamCamp were to start on Wed, the 9th, but if we had good weather and good travels, we could make it on Tuesday.  Monday started out great.  Cloudy, but no rain.  That soon changed, and we were in the rain all day long.  The good thing is that as soon as we stopped at the Carolina Crossings RV Resort in Roanoke Rapids, VA the sun popped out!  What a great park!  It is new, and is a Passport America park, so half price for us…!

We are a bit further north, so the grass is not as green. This place is real nice. Some sites have gazebos, and the lodge has gas grills, pool tables, hot tub, etc.

I took this sunset shot, then used Google photos to frame it. Love it.

Tuesday was clear sailing, and we made it to Ft Meade early in the afternoon…after a horrible experience trying to find fuel.  The truck stops here are so tight and overcrowded.  It took us more than an hour to re-fuel.  I wanted to make sure the diesel is topped off because of the cold temperatures we will be facing over the next month.  The Hurricane Hydronic heater runs off of diesel.  The heat pumps on the AC units work well until the temp drops below 40, at which time they do nothing but blow cool air.  The hydronic heat is great, and also provides heat for the tanks and underbelly.  The temps are great right now…was 60+ today, but we know that won’t last all month.

We have a great site here, and since we are far away from the park WiFi and closer to the outdoor rec building, the nice lady at check in gave us the code for the office WiFi…we are screamin streamin!!

We were all set up early on Tuesday afternoon, then headed over to see Meghan, Jason and the kids.  We have had an awesome time already since we’ve been here.  It’s hard to believe how much these little ones change in a short period of time.  We last saw them in the beginning of October in WI.  Here are a few shots of the last couple of days:

Logan sporting the Badger jacket.

Peyton with her new car after a trip to the Post Thrift Shop.

Our huge Christmas Tree! Peyton made decorations for it, and we will post them once she comes over to decorate.

We made a trip to Bass Pro to see the Big Guy!

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help Peyton with a little target practice!

That is about it for now folks…please let us know how the pictures look!  As always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy and Living Your Dreams!!


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