January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009
Go back to 2008
1/1/09 to 1/3/09
Sleeping until 10:am, we got dressed and went into the house to find that Diana was already back from the airport, having taken Philip and Marylou to the airport for their flight back to New York. We stayed for awhile having coffee, breakfast, and conversation.
Eventually we backed the motorhome out into the street, hooked up the car and headed through downtown Tampa to the FamCamp at MacDill AFB. The base consists of a large peninsula, just south of Tampa, that sticks out into Tampa Bay. The FamCamp is at the southern tip of the base and includes a large beach and marina. The FamCamp is separated from the rest of the base by what I understand is an excellent golf course. With all of that it is understandable that this is a very popular campground during the winter months.
There are some 336 RV sites with 54 of them set aside for maximum 2 week stays. Since the other sites can be reserved up to a year in advance, people make their reservations a year ahead of time, arrive here in October or early November and stay until spring. Since we want to spend Christmas with the kids the only sites available to us are the 2 week sites. Accordingly, on January 15 we either have to leave MacDill or move into the dry camp area (no hookups).
So far we're very much enjoying the 70° sunshine. For the last three days I''ve been wearing shorts and a T-shirt, while I week ago I was wearing long underwear and still freezing. We're not crazy about Florida, but it certainly isn't a bad place to be in January and February.
Our campsite in the two week area
Odometer reading = 95,881
Miles for day = 32
1/4/09 to 1/10/09
Well we've been here for a week and a half and in five more days we will be moving to a dry camp site (no hookups—water, electric, or sewer). They don't seem to know how long we'll be dry camped before being able to move into a partial hookup site (at MacDill that means no sewer). Right now it seems that you are only dry camped for several days. Anyway, we like it here and it looks as if we'll stay here for an extended period of time. This afternoon we tried to make reservations for next November but discovered that several days ago they stopped taking reservations for next fall as there are already several hundred people on the waiting list. Oh well.
In the meanwhile, the weather is fantastic. Daytime temperatures have been in the 70's (one day in the low 80's), dropping into the 50's and 60's at night. Except for one day that rained, there has been nothing but clear skies and sunshine. This is definitely a nice place to be in January!
Whereas Hanscom FamCamp with it's 67 sites is a really nice campground, MacDill with it's 300+ is a community, and a nice community at that. There are numerous kinds of dancing several times a week (Sharyn took me to ballroom dance class several nights ago), potluck dinners, bridge, Sing-A-Longs, exercise groups, dinners at the Beach Club Restaurant, dinner trips to various Tampa Restaurants, free Continental breakfasts on weekends, Friday Night Live with live music and karaoke, sewing groups, etc. There are also boats available for rent at the marina, and judging from the number of guys I see heading that way while carrying fishing poles on their bikes, I suspect that the fishing must be pretty good as well.
The other day we checked out the multi-million dollar physical fitness center on the main part of the base and it looks as if Sharyn is going to sign up for the program they are putting together for the FamCampers. The physical fitness center is a two mile bike ride from the FamCamp. Also, today I rode my bike four miles to the BX, and then on the way back searched out the base library where I checked out several books. The library is about 2½ miles from the FamCamp. The weather is so perfect that with the wide roads and level terrain, everything lends itself to traveling there and back via bicycle. There must be a hundred bicycles in the FamCamp and I'm back to riding everyday. All and all, everything is great, and life is definitely good!
Downtown Tampa across the bay with exercise trail in foreground
Two of the beach pavilions with St. Petersburg in distant background
Another view of beach with Seascapes Beachclub Restaurant in background
One of the small boat docks at marina
Sharyn talks with one of the guys from the line dancing class
Chow line at pot luck dinner
Odometer reading = 95,882
Miles for day = 1
1/11/09 to 1/29/09
Having been her for almost a month, we're enjoying it a great deal. After our original 2 weeks we had to move to the dry camp (overflow) area, but we were only there for three days when we got a partial hookup site next to a tidal canal. Sharyn said the canal was nice as long as there were no alligators, which there weren't. I think we were there about a week when we got back into a full hookup site. That was about three days ago. We're hoping that when this two weeks are up the FamCamp population will be on decline so that we do not go back to dry camp, but I suspect that will not be the case. It will probably not be until late February that people start pulling out and heading back north. In spite of how it sounds,and how we thought it would be, the moving about really isn't bad. While it is less than convenient, we keep getting new neighbors, and since all of the rotating people are in the same boat, it's okay.
Since the weekly bike rides at Hanscom were so successful I thought I'd try to start the same thing here. Sharyn reminded me that since we aren't the hosts here I can't just go posting signs around the place. Instead I printed up a bunch of paper slips
Group Bicycle Ride
that I than distributed to people who had bicycles next to their RV's. The first week we had eight riders, the second week it was 46° and we only had four riders, but yesterday we had seventeen. Inasmuch as everyone (almost everyone) said they enjoyed it, I think it's clear that this eight miler will be a weekly event.
The other day when Circuit City started it's inventory liquidation we went to buy Sharyn a camera. The place was jam packed but the sales weren't as spectacular as we had been led to believe, but we did get her a small 10MB Nikon CoolPix that she can keep in her pocketbook for any "I wish I had a picture of that" opportunities. The first such opportunity came one day when, as we were going out the gate, a giant radar surveillance aircraft with the big saucer on the top came in right over the top of the car. Unfortunately, the camera was back in the motorhome! Oh well.
I think that Sharyn's favorite thing about this FamCamp is the line dancing that they have two nights a week. Sharyn, who was probably born to dance (and married me anyway), loves it, and never misses a night. An hour and a half later she returns to the motorhome pretty much worn out. There's a group of about thirty regulars, mostly women, who show up every time and have a lot of fun.
Several days ago we rode over to Camping World and ordered a new awning to replace the one that was destroyed last October when the wind coming across the flightline at Hanscom demolished our old one. We were either the third or fourth rig to loose our awning to the wind at Hanscom last summer. It had to be ordered, but by this time next week we should have it on the motorhome. It will be nice to have again, both for the protection from the hot afternoon sun as well as for the added protection it affords our bikes when it rains.
The other thing we finally took care of was addressing the fact that one of our solar panels was not working. We first discovered that one of our two 120 watts panels was not putting anything out back in the summer of 2007 when we were boondocking (dry camping) in some of the Provincial Parks in Newfoundland. Of course out in the wilderness there is nothing that can be done about it, and then upon return to civilization where we're not doing any extended dry camping it was a non-issue and was forgotten about. Anyway, the other day in dry camp, it again became a factor in maintaining our batteries. To get right to the point, I called the manufacturer, Kyocera, and told them that one of our panels wasn't working and gave them the serial numbers. A very helpful girl (lady) told me that those panels were manufactured at a time when they had some bad panels come off the line. Since the panels are warranted for 25 years they are sending us two replacements. I told her that only one panel was bad, but she said that since they had consecutive serial numbers they were going to replace both of them. They should arrive here tomorrow and all we have to do is place the old panels in the shipping carton and use the prepaid return shipping label to send them back. That's pretty nice customer service.
The only down side we see here at McDill FamCamp is that cell phone service really stinks. While everyone has a problem, we seem to have more of a problem than anyone else. Typically, our phones just don't work here. We are entitled to some kind of free, or discounted, telephone upgrade on March 13 so we'll see what we do then. It could be that our phones are not what they should be.
Dry camped in the overflow area
Sharyn reading one of her books
Yesterday's bike ride leaving the FamCamp (Photo by Sharyn)
Satellite view of FamCamp, beach, and marina
Odometer reading = 95,883
Miles for day = 1
1/30/09 to 2/16/09
Since the last entry there have been a few things that I can write about, but the big event was Gasparilla. Everyone knows that New Orleans has its Mardi Gras, but fewer people are aware that Tampa has its Mardi Gras also —they call it Gasparilla!! It's sort of a loose reenactment/celebration of the return to Tampa of the legendary 18th century pirate, Jose Gaspar. Of course none of that's true, it's just an excuse to have a giant party. If you really want to know about the legend (or any of the several legends) of Gasparilla you might want to look at http://www.josegaspar.net.
Basically, the way it works it that "the pirate ship' is anchored in the bay just off of Bay Shore Blvd. for about a week before the big day. When the day arrives Bay Shore Blvd. is closed to traffic and the big Gasparilla parade gets started with all the large floats and land based hoopla.
The main action, however, and the part that we participated in takes place on the water when pirate ship, with cannons roaring and fireboats leading the way, is slowly towed to the head of the harbor and up the river into the heart of downtown Tampa. The trip takes several hours as the pirate ship is escorted into Tampa by all the boats participating in the event. Since anyone with anything that floats can participate, the bay and river get quite crowded with perhaps 800-1000 boats slowly moving into downtown Tampa. As the procession gets closer to the head of the harbor and then begins moving up the river it's like everyone is working their way through a funnel that's getting more and more narrow and more and more crowded. Eventually everyone gets jammed up and the boats come to a near stop as there is no remaining room to move or maneuver.
As all of this has been progressing up the harbor and then into and up the river, the people on the boats have been throwing Mardi Gras beads to other boats, along with a good number of Jell-O shooters laced wit rum, vodka, or whatever. There is also the occasional overheated girl who has to lift up her T-shirt to cool off. By the time everyone is jammed into downtown Tampa, the people on the boats and the spectators on the land are only separated by a few feet so the bead throwers, Jell-O shooters, and overheated girls are no less prominent on the shore than on the boats.
After a while an occasional boat makes its way back through the crowd and out into the bay to be slowly followed by another, and then another, until eventually there is a slow but gradual exodus back out to the bay. What may have gone on later in the heart of downtown as afternoon turned to evening I can't say as we weren't there.
This experience was made possible for us by Sharyn's cousin Diana and her husband Carl who had invited us and two other couples to experience Gasparilla with them on their boat. It was a great day and we had a great time.
The pirate ship gets underway
Led by the fire boats
Lots of boats
Really lots of boats
Lots of flags
Law enforcement was well represented
Could this be excessive power?
Capt Carl's 1st Mate
Their daughter Jenny
Closing in on downtown Tampa
Some of the dockside spectators
A particularly low key spectator
Some are younger than others
Could this be Jose Gaspar?
There were smaller boats . . .
. . . expensive boats . . .
and "party" boats
Shirts or beads, it's all the same
The exodus has begun
Diana and Carl live right around the next corner
Odometer reading = 95,941
Miles for day = 58
2/17/09 to 2/25/09
Since Gasparilla things have been rather sedate around here. The weather has been beautiful, mostly sunny and in the 70's. Not bad for February!
Last week I took a two day course in picture framing at the framing shop here on base. Since then I've gone back and framed another photograph that I took a number of years ago. It's a beautifully equipped shop with all the professional picture framing equipment. Basically it's a framing shop where you take things to have them framed. However, if you take their training course you can then use all the equipment to do your own jobs. Pretty nice! I'll try to frame one more photo before we leave.
Once a month the FamCamp has a restaurant dinner trip where those that sign up travel (via FamCamp vans) to different restaurants in the area. We signed up last week when the trip was to Top's China Buffet in Brandon, about 20 miles from the base. We like Chinese so we frequently do Chinese buffets, but this one must have had twice the selection of the next best place we've ever gone to, plus the selection was all good stuff—more than we could even sample. The only problem was that as I was coming back to the dinning room with my fourth dish of ice cream everyone else (about 35 people) was getting up to leave. We'll go back again!
Several days ago we were visited by George and Bunny, and Manny and Grace. For the most part we spent the afternoon sitting outside talking and walking around the FamCamp. We then had lunch on the deck of the Surf's Edge Club adjacent to the FamCamp. That was the first time Sharyn and I had ever been there during the daytime and we had never sat out on the deck that overlooks the beach. The general consensus was that it was pretty nice.
By the way, it was nine years ago today that we started our full-time RVing life style. That makes this the first day of our tenth year!
My first framing venture (photo from Nova Scotia — 2007)
Our neighbor's water connection was leaking, much to the enjoyment of some other neighbors
Odometer reading = 95,941
Miles for day = 0
2/26/09 to 3/3/09
Having been here at MacDill for just over two months, tomorrow we're moving across to the east coast of Florida where we'll be staying at the Patrick AFB FamCamp while visiting Sharyn's sister Carolyn.
Yesterday I finished up my fourth, and last framing job. I used a cropped version of a picture of a swan that I had taken at the Iris Gardens in Sumter SC several years ago. It really came out nice and we both like it.
Last night was Sharyn's last night at line dancing which she has thoroughly enjoyed two nights a week since we got here. I think it was her favorite thing here.
This afternoon we returned the remaining books we had from the base library and had the front wheels on the car balanced at the auto shop. We had developed a front end shimmy that was getting worse. It now feels like a new car.
This morning we went to Dunkin Donuts at the food court for coffee and donuts (I had an egg sandwich), and tonight we rode our bikes to the Seascapes Beach Club adjacent to the FamCamp where we had big hamburgers with bacon and cheese for dinner.
Typically when we leave someplace it's because we've been there long enough and want to move on. That's not the case this time. We're both very comfortable here and would probably stay another month if we didn't have to be on Long Island by the end of the month to attend to a rental home we have there. Our tenant of six years is leaving and we'll have work to do to get it ready for, and find, a new tenant. Since we want to do some visiting before that, we must get started now. We plan, however, to be back here when we finish up our summer hosting job at the Hanscom FamCamp in Bedford, Massachusetts.
A Photoshop creation of Sharyn's line dance instructor that Sharyn gave her as token of appreciation
A quick snapshot photo of my framed swan
Sharyn (far left) as we wait for sunset at Seascapes
View from our table
Odometer reading = 95,941
Miles for day = 0
3/4/09 to 3/11/09
(Patrick AFB FL)
We left MacDill around 11 o'clock and arrived at Patrick FamCamp several hours later. We rode our bikes around the campground to find Bob and Sherry (friends we first met in April 2006 at the FamCamp at Beale AFB in California) who we had talked to on the phone several days before. That evening we went with them to the Lobster Shanty, a popular seafood restaurant, on Route A1A, two or three miles north of the main gate. While dinner was good, the concusses was that it wasn't that good and was considerably overpriced. I don't think any of us will go back again.
The following morning there was a free Burrito breakfast served at what might be called the "community circle" in the middle of the FamCamp. There were several types of burritos, fresh fruit, coffee and orange juice (plus some other stuff I can't remember), all of which was supplied by Outdoor Recreation and was enjoyed by all.
Since then we have had dinner with Bob and Sherry at their place, and they at ours, plus shared wine and cheese on several occasions.
One day Sharyn met with her sister, Carolyn, who lives in Palm Bay, for lunch and a day of shopping. The following morning we picked Carolyn up ay her home and the three of us drove down to Port St. Lucie to visit their brother, Alan, and his daughter. After visiting with them for several hours the three of us drove over to my sister's who has a place not too far away, where we visited and stayed for dinner.
The only problem we are having to deal with is the lack of refrigeration. After a steady decline over the last several weeks our refrigerator has finally died. It was 23 months ago that we replaced the cooling unit (basically the entire back of the refrigerator). The unit has a two year warranty so when we get back to Virginia (mid-March) we will again remove the cooling unit and return it for replacement. In the meanwhile we are using two picnic coolers—not the most convenient system!
Sunset as seen from our table at the overpriced seafood restaurant
Cooking up the tortillas
Breakfast serving line
The overall turnout was substantial
Dinner at Bob and Sherry's
Bob and Sherry join us for wine and cheese
So did this guy (of course I was sharing the peanuts)
Sharyn relaxing on our "patio"
Odometer reading = 96,093
Miles for day = 151
(Patrick AFB FL)
Last night I had proposed to Sharyn that this morning we should go somewhere for "an intimate breakfast for two." She suggested that we go north from the main gate and look for a place in Cocoa Beach, which we did. As it worked out we went through Cocoa Beach and continued on towards Cape Canaveral. Stopping for traffic at a red light we found ourselves right at the entrance to a place advertising itself as having all kinds of breakfast omelets. It sounded good, so we pulled in. The place was kind of crowded and the sign said, "please wait to be seated," so we stood there, number three on line. Next to the please wait to be seated sign was a blackboard with the daily specials. At the top of the blackboard, in large print, it read, "Congratulations to our new president." The next line read, "Today's special, 'Barack Obama Special.'" I looked at that and said to Sharyn that I didn't want to eat there. She looked at it and said, "let's go." So we did. We ended up at Zachary's, a family restaurant in Cape Canaveral.
After breakfast we decided to continue north on A1A to see what else was there.
Last night they were supposed to launch the space shuttle from the Kennedy Space Center, about 25 miles north of here. Our plan was to watch the launch from the beach, but about two hours before launch time we heard on the news that it had been canceled due to a leaking valve. Driving along, as we approached the Kennedy Space Center we were looking off to our right to see if we could see the space shuttle on the launch pad. We didn't see it from the highway, so after we doubled back we decided to take the exit to the Space Center figuring if we got closer we'd see the shuttle. Well we never did see the shuttle, but we figured we stop at the visitor's center and check it out. Surprise!—the least expensive entrance fee to the visitor's center was $38, or $76 for both of us.
It seems to me that there's something wrong with that kind of admission fee. We, the American People, pay hundreds of millions of dollars per year to finance the space program, but then if we want to check out the visitor's center to see what it's all about, we have to pay still more. We left without going in!
From there we hit a Dairy Queen for a large Oreo Blizzard and then returned to the FamCamp
Odometer reading = 96,093
Miles for day = 0
3/14/09 to 3/16/09
(Charleston AFB SC)
After pulling out of the Patrick FamCamp it was only a few miles to I-95. It had been our plan to stop at King's Bay, the first exit after crossing into Georgia, but before we got to that point we decided to just continue on. I've been having trouble with my back and there was some question as to how far I could drive (how long I could sit in the seat) in one day, but it was going okay. We set the GPS to take us to the FamCamp at Charleston AFB and just did as Jill (the voice we have chosen) told us. One thing that bothered me (and still does) is that Jill told us we'd be getting off of I-95 and onto US-17 at Exit 33. Long before we got there we pulled into a rest area to take a break and as we pulled back out onto I-95 Jill "recalculated" and told us to continue on I-95 to Exit 53 where we'd pick up US-17A. A computer that appears to arbitrarily change its mind is a somewhat scary thing and makes you wonder if you should pay any attention at all. Sharyn suggested that perhaps if we choose a man's voice instead of Jill he might be more stable!
One other thing that caught our attention was the fact that as we progressed north we were gradually moving the temperature control on the dashboard from full cool to ¾ heat. When we pulled into the FamCamp and were signing in with the host, he was wearing long pants, flannel shirt, and a jacket; I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and freezing.
Anyway, the following morning we picked up our granddaughter Mary for a two day visit. Shortly after getting back to the FamCamp she and I went for a 4 mile bike ride. She thought the "4 mile" part was pretty cool. Unfortunately, it then started to rain and stayed pretty wet and rainy for two days. At one point it cleared up a bit and Mary, who plays tennis on her Wii at home, suggested to grandma that tennis was a real easy game (the tennis courts are adjacent to the FamCamp and basically right in front of the motorhome). After about ten minutes on the court with grandma Mary said that it was not what she expected and that it was a lot harder playing tennis on the court than it was playing tennis with Wii. Anyway, they both had fun.
Mary posing at grandpa's request
Mary returns the ball from grandma's serve
Odometer reading = 96,504
Miles for day = 411
3/17/09 to 3/21/09
Since it would be quite some time before we are on another military base, Sharyn wanted to stock up on nonperishable grocery items at the commissary before we left. It was shortly after noon when we left the base, eventually heading north on I-95. We went as far as Wilson NC where we exited and drove some four miles to a Walmart to spend the night. We have stopped at this particular Walmart several times in the past and one of the eating establishments within walking distance was Golden Coral. We wanted to try the seafood buffet that Golden Coral has been advertising on TV so that was part of our decision to stop when/where we did. The crab cakes were quite good, and Sharyn also enjoyed the large coconut shrimp. They were good but I would have preferred without the coconut.
Anyway, after dinner we walked back to the motorhome and watched NCIS on TV before deciding that with Louisa only 3½ hours away we should just bite the bullet and continue on. Sharyn wasn't totally in favor of that since she also likes The Mentalist which follows NCIS, plus she thought I'd fall asleep driving. I don't know why she thought that since it has never happened in my life, but she sometimes thinks I'm getting old. I didn't fall asleep, and at ten minutes to one in the morning we backed into Jordan's driveway and onto our concrete slab, plugged in the electric, and went to bed.
Since Jordan leaves for work at 6:30 am we didn't see here until she came home that evening, but since she works four 10 hour days, she has been off ever since so we've had lots of time to visit.
One thing we've finally managed to do has been to pull the refrigerator out of the wall so we could remove the cooling unit and ship it back to the rebuilder under the two year warranty that runs out in three weeks. The whole deal is a real pain in the butt. This cooling unit died about a month ago and we've been using a picnic cooler since then to keep stuff cold (plus we've thrown away a lot that went bad). The plan was that when we got back here we'd ask Phil to help Sharyn pull the refrigerator (we've done it several times) but my back has improved sufficiently that she and I were able to do it ourselves. We have a Norcold refrigerator that, after 96,000 miles, has given us more trouble than all other components of the motorhome put together. This is the second refrigerator and will be the third cooling unit! If you have an RV and it doesn't have a Norcold, it will have a Dometic. Reading the RV forums, the people with Norcolds have all kinds of problems with them, and the people with Dometics don't like theirs either. It seems that someone should be able to build a reliable RV refrigerator. Sharyn's ready to just buy a new refrigerator (which we may end up doing) but I don't know if it we be any more trouble free than what we've experienced in the past.
Refrigerator on floor in motorhome prior to removal of cooling unit
Cooling unit after removal (this picture is actually from the time we did it in April 2007)
Jordan helping her friend Robert install
locks on her sheds
Note: (1) She's not paying attention to what Robert's doing, and (2) That cool tool belt
Odometer reading = 96,980
Miles for day = 476
3/22/09 to 4/4/09
We had planned on leaving Virginia on April 3, but the day before we were to leave Jordan asked us if we had gotten an e-mail from her friend Susie. We had not, but Jordan was running in the Charlottesville 10 mile race on April 4 and had not planned on telling us. Susie had told Jordan that if she (Jordan) did not tell us, she (Susie) would. Obviously we were not going to leave and not see her run, so we stayed over and went to watch the race and cheer on Jordan and the other runners. It turned out to be quite a nice day, and although we lost sight of Jordan in the mass of humanity at the starting lineup (some 2700 runners had signed up for the race), after the start we drove to a location about halfway down the course and waited for the runners to come by. When Jordan ran by with a wave and a "Hi Dad," I felt better knowing that she could still speak. Of course we were also waiting for her as she came across the finish line. I think it's great that she did, and was able to, complete the run. Actually, I think it's next week that she's doing a half-marathon (13 miles). The longest run she's ever done in the past was four miles!
Start of the Charlottesville 10 Miler
Jordan passes the half way point
A very happy Jordan crosses the finish line
Sharyn's most excellent chicken soup
Sharyn, Jordan, Phil, and I have dinner in a tiny home cookin' style restaurant near Phil's house
Phil's new goose blind
Jordan (a little blurry) demonstrates
It got foggy on the way home from Phil's
Odometer reading = 96,980
Miles for day = 0
4/5/09 to 4/11/09
Leaving the the day after Jordan's 10 miler, we decided to again take US-301 rather that I-95. Heading south to Virginia last fall we had taken US-301 and it had worked out pretty well (Sharyn does not like I-95). This time was markedly different—it took us more than 12 hours cover the 451 miles to get here. It was a very long day that, coupled with getting up at 5:30 two mornings in a row, left us exhausted.
On top of the long time frame, on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway some guy towing a large equipment trailer nearly wiped out the right side of the motorhome (that's what we thought had happened) but luckily only took off the mirror. The mirror was hanging from the electric cable (it's a heated, remote control mirror) and banging against the side of the motorhome, but Sharyn succeeded in leaning out the window and grabbing it. She held on to it for a half hour until we finally came to a place that was safe to pull off. With some oversized screws we were able to refasten the mirror and continue on our way. We had talked about taking the Orient Point ferry to New London CT when we leave here (about $100) for Massachusetts, but after once again experiencing driving the motorhome through New York City the ferry is now guaranteed. Sharyn said this was the first time the stuff in the medicine cabinet got knocked over. Think of an old fashion laundry scrub board and you'll have a picture of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Long Island Expressway, the Cross Bronx Expressway, or any of the other roads that take you through New York City. They're all terrible!
Our destination in Southold was the small rental house we have here. Originally we had bought it for Jordan when she was working up here, but then when she went back to Virginia we rented it. Now, after seven years, our tenant has moved out and we are here to paint, clean, replace carpet, etc., plus find a new tenant. I might put a clause in this next lease that this tenant can't leave during my lifetime. Anyway, it was dark when we arrived in Southold so we just parked in the driveway for the night. Back when we first bought the place we had installed sewer and 50 amp hookups behind the house so that when we visited we'd be all set, but getting the motorhome in position behind the house is not something we can readily do in the dark.
The next morning, while maneuvering the motorhome into position, the front right wheel went over and collapsed the cesspool cover. Luckily that jack prevented the motorhome from dropping far enough to cause damage to any part of the motorhome, and by working with numerous blocks and two large timbers we actual managed to get the wheel up and out of the cesspool. That was a relief, and something I had not been too optimistic about. We had a fellow come today who replaced the cover with one twice as thick as the one that had been there, but I don't think we'll drive over it anyway!
At this point we've been cleaning for four days and still have a very long way to go. The place basically looked like an abandoned crack house and we'll really be hustling to get it finished and rented and get to Hanscom FamCamp in time for the May 1 opening. The photos below give some idea as to the condition in which we found the place. Bear in mind it was all freshly painted with new wall to wall carpet when the tenant moved in seven years ago.
With all that we are doing, our 42nd anniversary very nearly went by without either one of us realizing that it was April 8. That is something that neither one of us has ever forgotten.
One final thing (before I go to bed). Several hours ago the guy called to find out where to send the refrigerator cooling unit. It's finally fixed—but now we have no time to focus on it!
The storm door is destroyed and this is not wall-to-wall carpet, nor is it the carpet that was there when she rented the place
This also is not the original carpet (which means she destroyed two carpets)
She didn't clean windows either
Odometer reading = 97,432
Miles for day = 451
4/12/09 to 4/28/09
For these two weeks, while we did pretty much nothing else except clean, scrub, scrape paint, repaint, replace rotted window sills, clean up the yard, etc., there were a few diversions.
We celebrated Greg's birthday, and had dinner with Cathy and Charlie, friends from many years ago, and on Easter Sunday we had dinner with Greg and Paulette and her family. In addition, Sharyn went to see our grandson PJ play varsity baseball where he stole several bases and hit three home runs, including a grand slam (at the next game they walked him rather than pitch to him).
Unfortunately, when all was said and done, we will be heading for Hanscom AFB FamCamp tomorrow morning without having found a tenant. The house is now freshly painted, newly carpeted, and ready for a happy tenant. We've given it to a broker and hope she does well for us.
Easter dinner at Stonewall Golf Course (photo by Sharyn)
PJ steals home (photo by Sharyn)
Charlie came to visit with Eddie and (I forgot the dog's name)
Charlie, Eddie, and the unknown dog head back home
Odometer reading = 97,432
Miles for day = 0
4/29/09 to 5/6/09
Leaving Long Island, we lucked out on the 10:am Orient Point to New London Ferry. It was 9:30 when we pulled out of the driveway, and 9:58 when we pulled into the ferry facility at Orient Point (our goal was actually the 10:am boat). They held the 10:am ferry for us while they measured our length and Sharyn ran to the office to purchase the tickets. They measured us at 53' overall and it cost us $149.43. That sounds like a lot, but considering that it knocks 3½ hours and 179 miles off of the trip (including two toll bridges and negotiating through New York City) we see it as a pretty good deal. Besides, when we got off the ferry in New London CT, we were on I-95 and only 2 hours and 10 minutes from Hanscom.
While the FamCamp is supposed to officially open for the season on May 1, beginning this year the entire office operation will be computerized as are most of the FamCamps in the military system. Since we do not yet have our computer, the actual opening here has be delayed for one week until Friday, May 8. Hopefully, by then we will have our computer and some rudimentary training on Rec-Trac, the software system we'll be using. In spite of the fact that the FamCamp opening has been delayed we have cleaned and opened the bathrooms and showers. Chips had already opened the laundry room.
For purpose of explanation, even when the FamCamp is "closed" during the winter, there are a number of winterized campsites that are usable year round and a number of them are occupied during the winter months even though all the FamCamp buildings and facilities are closed down. During the winter any FamCamp business such as site payment or propane sales must be done at the Outdoor Rec office on base. The FamCamp itself is located off base, across the flightline from the base itself.
Sharyn's birthday was several days ago and it didn't go very well. My sister surprised her by coming down from New Hampshire to help celebrate the occasion, and later that afternoon the three of us went out for dinner. Halfway through dinner I developed pains in my chest/upper abdomen area. I thought I should go back to the motorhome and lay down, but they took me to the emergency room at the local hospital instead. To my surprise they kept me overnight and through the following day while they ran numerous tests. While the eventually ruled out a heart attack, which was a reversal of the preliminary diagnosis, I now have outpatient appointments with both a cardiologist and a gastroenterologist. While I feel fine, Sharyn's birthday was somewhat of a bummer for her.
Chips in front of his new 5th wheel (photo by Sharyn)
Odometer reading = 97,562
Miles for day = 130
5/7/09 to 6/2/09
First of all, all the medical stuff described in the last segment turned out to be an anomomoly — all of the follow-ups that were done found nothing wrong. That was good. Also good, was that fact that my sister, who works at the pain management center at a New Hampshire hospital, set up an appointment for me to be seen by one of the physicians at the center for the back pain I've been suffering from since Gasparilla in Tampa back in February. It had severely limited what I could do, to the point that I was concerned about my ability to do my job here at at Hanscom. Anyway, he did a nerve block which within 20 minutes had reduced my pain by 90%, and within a week I had no discomfort whatsoever, no pain, no numbness, no nothing. It's wonderful!
So what else is going on? We officially opened the FamCamp on May 8 even though the computer had not yet arrived. We just continued doing things as we had been doing them last year. We should have opened on May 1 as scheduled, but that's water under the bridge. We are now doing all sales transactions, campsites, and inventory control, on the computer. As our proficiency with Rec-Trac, the software program we're using, has improved, we're to the point that the computerized system is an improvement over what we were doing before. Sharyn, who was initially intimidated by the computerized system (she successfully fought it off last year) is now showing me and Chips how to use it.
Last week we had a FamCamp barbecue, the first event for the season. Outdoor Rec (FamCamp is a part of Outdoor Rec) got us a brand new grill and we were excited about using our shinny new grill for the first time. Luckily, we checked it out earlier in the day, because, after showing it off all day, we discovered that one of the shutoff valves would not shut off the gas flow and we had to go back and get our old grill. The manufacturer is sending us a replacement valve which should get here before our next event. We didn't have quite as many people attend as we were having last year, but I think it's still a little early in the season (Sharyn thinks our occupancy rate is down from the same time last year).
My computer, a six year old Dell desktop, is kind of like the "old gray mare" — she ain't what she used to be! Not only has it been getting slower (and/or I'm getting more impatient), but my camera is producing photo files that are probably several times larger than the photo files I was producing six years ago. Some aspects of Photoshop, such as Adobe Bridge, go so slow that I can't even use them. Accordingly, it's been my plan for a number of months to upgrade my system with a larger monitor (I can't see as well as I used to) and a new computer. As for the monitor, I'm somewhat limited as to size by the fact that we're in a motorhome and the monitor sits on the kitchen table. After reading numerous reviews and following discussions about monitors on http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/ (the best photo forum on the web), I had decided on a Dell 2408WFP. The purchase date of the monitor was accelerated when I found one, new in the box, on Craig's List for $400, about $200 below MSRP. With respect to the computer, I'm waiting for the arrival of computers with Windows 7 installed. I don't want Vista, and it seems that within the next several months Windows 7 will be available, preinstalled.
In the interim, the 1.5 TB internal drive that I installed last year when some 70 GB's of pictures had my hard drive bursting at the seems, has disappeared in that the computer can't "see it." When the IT guys on base connected the drive to another computer, all my files were there and accessible, but they could not get my computer to see or recognize the drive (I've called it my M Drive, and the only thing on it is the "My Documents" folder, which basically means everything I've ever saved is on it). I have an backup that automatically backs up every file I save or modify and that backup, on a separate external drive is intact. The day that the M drive disappeared I ran down to Staples and bought another 1 TB external drive and made a duplicate of my backup! Anyway, tomorrow I'm taking the computer to Computer Network Solutions (http://www.cnsonthenet.com/index.htm), a major service facility throughout New England. I've talked to them on the phone and am hopeful for a fix.
Other than all that, we've gone out for dinner on several occasions, and in an attempt to avoid the 10 pounds we each put on last summer, we have, thus far, limited our visits to Bedford Farms and/or Kindall Farm — great ice cream places — to a total of three trips!
Our brand new barbecue grill — the one that didn't work
Brought back into service, the old one worked fine
The FamCampers enjoyed their barbecue . . .
. . .Including these four
By night, this young camper (with grandparents) enjoyed the campfires
By day he nearly wore out our funny bike
My new Dell monitor sits on the kitchen table (as did the old one)
Odometer reading = 97,562
Miles for day = 0
6/3/09 to 7/8/09
Early in June we took a drive to Gloucester to check it out — and, to see some of what this part of the Country has to offer. It was a nice drive and visit to a historic seaport village whose history goes back to the early 1600's. Unlike many places we have visited that speak of their historical heritage, yet have been paved over with parking lots and modern shopping facilities, or have designed and constructed a "restored village," Gloucester remains substantially lost in time, and largely dependent on the sea and commercial fishing. Not to say there is no focus on tourism, but tourism does not rule. We had been told that if we did go to Gloucester we had to eat at the Causeway Restaurant for some of the finest seafood available anywhere, which we did. We had to wait about 15 minutes to be seated and while we were waiting there was a guy at the end of the counter eating a big plate of some very good looking stuff. I asked him what it was and he told me it was "Peter's Platter" (fried clams, scallops, shrimp, fish, etc — I don't remember exactly) and that it would be an excellent choice. When we were seated I ordered Peter's Platter and Sharyn had lobster pie. Both were excellent, but I think that next time I'd go for the lobster pie also.
In mid-June we had a pot luck here at the FamCamp. We did not have a lot of campers at the time and the turnout was kind of light. Those that did show up had a good time and good food. As someone remarked last year, these women have been been cooking for 50 years and they've really got it right!
Our grandson PJ graduated from high school on Long Island on June 27. We did some shuffling of days off with Chips so that we had a four day weekend and took the New London Ferry ferry to Orient Point, Long Island to get to Eastern Long Island without having to drive all the way to and through New York City to get there. It worked out that we had one day to visit, one day for the graduation, one day for the party, and a final day to visit and head back to Hanscom. It was really nice since it doesn't happen too often that we have the opportunity to be together with our four kids. On Monday afternoon when we headed back to the ferry, the four kids went out on Greg's boat for an afternoon of fishing in Plum Gut (the water that flows between Orient Point and Plum Island).
On July 4 we had a big barbecue here at the FamCamp with a great turnout. We have been here since late April and may have had ten days of sunshine in all that time. When planning the barbecue we were concerned if anyone would come out if the rain did not stop. We really lucked out when it stopped raining that morning. I think that everyone here had cabin fever (OK, RV fever) after weeks of rain and was thrilled with the opportunity to get out and talk to someone besides their spouse. We went through 72 hamburgers, 48 hot dogs, several cases of soda, plus all the food that the people brought themselves. The sun lasted for Saturday, Sunday,and Monday, and then when we were off on Tuesday and Wednesday (today), the rains returned. Tomorrow we are going to start building the ark!
That's it for the text (not too much), but lots of photos to follow (many by Sharyn). . . .
Sharyn outside of the Causeway Restaurant
Inside Causeway "dining room"
Famous Gloucester Fisherman statue
This memorial is to honor the 5368 Gloucester men who went down with their ships since 1623. The memorial is circular in shape and surrounded by plaques containing the names of all 5368 men. The first plaque is visible at the very right edge of the photo.
A portion of the plaque the two men are reading in the above photo can be seen and read here
Gloucester's Main Street (the street is being repaved)
A very pretty window box on Main Street
Sharyn crossing Main Street
Fishing boats tied up at fish processing plant
Window boxes on house outside of Gloucester
Sharyn and Chips planning what's going to happen next
Sharyn with her favorite coffee cup
F-15 Fighting Eagle
C-5 (Unfortunately I missed the tail section on this aircraft that can carry a payload of 463,000 pounds — almost half a million pounds!)
Then there was this restored Stearman trainer from the 1930-40's
Sharyn got this one of Chips on his motorcycle
The turn out at our mid-June potluck was kind of light
Sharyn, Phil, Jordan, Scott, and Shane on Greg's deck prior to graduation or party
Greg, Scott, Shane, and Phil preparing for the graduation party
PJ with Paulette and his newly awarded diploma
Scott, Paulette, PJ, and Greg
PJ's ready to cut the cake
Jordan, me, and Phil watch the party goings on
The party begins to wind down
Greg at the helm of his boat during an afternoon of fishing at "The Gut" with all his siblings (Photo by Phil III)
As we were on the ferry heading for New London, Phil took this picture of the sun going down at Plum Gut
Chips and I work the grill for our July 4th barbecue
There was plenty of food for everyone
Including char broiled burgers
These were some happy barbecue'ers . . . .
. . . as were all of these!
Odometer reading = 97,562
Miles for day = 0
7/9/09 to 9/20/09
I have trouble trying to remember what I did yesterday, so the idea of updating this page by trying to reconstruct the events of the last 2½ months from memory is almost silly. Typically, updates to this site cover a much shorter period of time. Also, I refresh my recollection by looking back at all the pictures I've taken since the last update. This time there are very few pictures to look at — partially because we didn't do too much, and partially because I didn't take my camera on a few occasions when I should have.
Anyway, searching my memory and looking back at the few pictures I did take, I am reminded of the following:
How about we bought and installed a new toilet? Many of the components in a motorhome or other RV are not designed or intended for full time use and will basically wear out. That's what happened to the toilet's valve assembly that is actuated by the foot pedal. I had replaced that assembly a number of years ago and considered replacing it again this time. Skipping over the details as to why, we ordered a new, and better, toilet through the campground store. Not only is it a better toilet, but it looked much nicer than the old one. For reasons not clear to me, Sharyn says she likes the old one better.
Bill and Cheryl, RVing friends from Arkansas that we met in Gillette, Wyoming, in the summer of 2000 came up for a visit (they have appeared in this travelog a number of times in the past). They had never been in this part of the Country before. Neither New England nor the East Coast. They are a fun couple and we always enjoy them. Unfortunately, a short time before they left Arkansas Bill had been bitten by a tick, and as a result of that tick bite he ended up spending two days here in the local hospital. He was substantially weakened by his ordeal and I'm sure it detracted considerably from what could have been a much more pleasant vacation for him. The four of us nevertheless managed to spend a day in Boston, dinner out on several occasions, multiple episodes of wine and cheese, etc., plus a few trips to both Bedford Farms and Kimball Farms ice cream.
One night we were invited by Ken and Gwen, friends and campers, to have dinner with then in a small restaurant located in the basement of a Revolutionary War era tavern in Concord that on Wednesday nights has a small New Orleans jazz group play. Apparently they ("they," for the most part, being whoever happens to show up that night) have been playing there for years. We had dinner while watching and listening. Dinner was good and the music was even better! That night I did not have my camera with me. Dumb!
It was in September, 2003, six years ago, that we bought the Dell computer that we've been using since that time. For a number of months now it's been giving us trouble of various sorts, frequently locking up and requiring a reboot. In addition, in spite of the fact that a long time ago I installed an additional 1GB of memory, some application were running extremely slow. Adobe Bridge was so slow that I could not even use it. I told Sharyn that I didn't know if the computer was getting slower or if I was just getting more impatient. She suspected it was a combination of both. Anyway, for some time it has been my plan to get a new computer when Microsoft replaced Vista with a new operating system. When they announced that Windows 7 would be available pre-installed on October 22 that pretty much became the plan. However, shortly thereafter Dell announced that if you purchased a new computer with Vista that you would get a free update to Windows 7 when it became available. That was good enough for me — I bought a Studio XPS Desktop with Intel's i7-920 processor, 12 GB of RAM, and over 3 TB of storage spread over 3 internal hard drives (two of which I already had). Since we have no real audio system in the motorhome I also got an upgraded sound card and a Bose speaker system. I plan on having this computer for quite some time. The only downside for this computer is the physical size of the box itself. When putting together the specs I didn't pay attention to the size of the box — mistakenly thinking that all computer cases were pretty much the same size. Oh well, it still fits under the table, and even if I had been aware of the size of the box I would have bought it anyway.
August 29, the day of Ted Kennedy's funeral, it poured down rain all day. When Kennedy's casket left Boston it was brought to Hanscom AFB to be flown to Washington for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. In spite of the non-stop heavy rain the roads to the base were lined with people standing five deep waiting to pay their last respects. While Ted Kennedy was certainly a prominent figure on the national scene, as non-Massachusetts residents we did not realize how the people of Massachusetts loved him. The outpouring of love and respect was overwhelming. For hours, Sharyn (not a Kennedy fan) stood by the fence that separates the FamCamp from the flightline waiting for and watching all that was going on. Some of the photos she took are shown below.
George and Bunny, friends of our from Jersey were up this way visiting their daughter and stopped by one afternoon for a visit. We all wrapped up the day with dinner at Luigi's and ice cream at Bedford Farms.
After our trip to Gloucester back in June we were told that we should also check out Newburyport, so last week we did. Using the GPS to get there it wanted to take us on the Interstate. In order to stay on the back roads we told the GPS we were going by bicycle — the GPS knows that bicycles are not allowed on the Interstate so it took us along all the back roads. Newburyport is on the Merrimack River where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean and is quite nice. It is less of a working/commercial port than is Gloucester and more of a recreation/vacation destination. We (Sharyn) checked out several antique shops as we walked about the village (It takes quite a while to get past an antique shop when you are walking with Sharyn). We also walked the length of the boardwalk that follows the edge of the bulkheaded river. We ended up having lunch at the Starboard Galley. The lady in the antique shop told us it was her son-in-law's restaurant and that it was very good. I ordered a bowl of clam chowder and a shrimp basket. The chowder came in a dinner plate sized bowl and would have been sufficient by itself. It was a very enjoyable day. We returned to the FamCamp via I-95, and seeing as we were southbound we were unaffected by the work traffic northbound out of Boston.
Twenty-five years ago we lived in Southold, Long Island, and last winter while staying at the FamCamp at MacDill AFB in Tampa we saw another motorhome with a sign saying that they were from Southold. We stopped and introduced ourselves to Rob and Nan. It turned out that they were active duty Air Force when we lived in Southold so we had never met them. We did, however, know a lot of the same people. Anyway, last week they pulled into the FamCamp here at Hanscom and we had the opportunity to get together again. They were only here for a short while, but before they left we again went to dinner at Luigi's, finishing up with ice cream at Bedford Farms.
This past Saturday Sharyn went on a day trip to Martha's Vineyard
that was sponsored by Tickets and Tours on base. There were about 25
people who took the trip, boarding the bus on base, they were driven
to Falmouth where they took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. On the
island they boarded a guided tour bus to see the main sights, were
given time to wander around and shop in Edgartown, and ultimately
boarded the ferry for the ride back to Falmouth and dinner in a
Falmouth restaurant before boarding the bus to return to the base.
She returned tired but happy!
What a beautiful toilet
Bill, Cheryl, and Sharyn at 99 in West Concord
Bill and Roy Rogers after Bill's discharge from hospital
Cheryl and Sharyn on Boston subway
Ken and Gwen; in their 80's, they still ride their bikes, play tennis, and go to jazz festivals
Kennedy's casket is loaded onto the plane
The plane taxi's to the runway
And takes off for Andrews AFB just outside of Washington
Sharyn in Newburyport
Our table at the Starboard Galley in Newburyport
As our last potluck dinner came to an end so had Sharyn (by this time it has been a 12 hour day)
These are our "bosses" Nicole and Stephanie
Rob and Nan in front of their Allegro Bus
The Harbor Master's Shack at Oak Bluff in Martha's Vineyard
View from the ferry while going in to Falmouth Harbor
FamCampers, in their 70's, their motorhome says, "Never be old enough to know better"
A relaxed Sharyn speaking to Jordan
Odometer reading = 97,562
Miles for day = 0
9/21/09 to 11/3/09
Once again, due to a combination of lack of memory and the fact that most of what we did during this time was rather routine and does not lend itself to interesting reading, this will be an abbreviated update.
Some time back, Bob and Sherry, RVing friends that we met years ago at Beale AFB in California, described the concept of a "chili dump." That's where everyone gets together, bringing a bowl of their favorite chili. All this chili is then dumped into a large common pot from which everyone serves themselves (seems like a pretty average chili). Anyway, on September 25, Hanscom FamCamp had its first chili dump. Being somewhat late in the season the turnout was not as large as some of our mid-summer barbecues, but everyone seemed to enjoy it and liked the concept. Since I don't like chili I limited myself to dessert. Anyway, that was the last event of the season. Sharyn had planned to have a smor'es gathering around the campfire on Halloween night, October 31 being the day the FamCamp officially closes. That was canceled, however, because by then it was "winter" at Hanscom — the first snow had occurred several days before!
Hanscom AFB has a quarterly awards breakfast where those whose job performance was particularly outstanding are recognized by a process of being nominated for the award in various categories. From those nominated in each category (most of the categories are military related) a winner is selected. On October 15, having been nominated, Sharyn was awarded Civilian of the Quarter in her category. It is too bad I missed getting her photo when the winner was announced as she was totally shocked and amazed. It goes without saying that everyone that has anything to do with FamCamp or Outdoor Rec is very pleased with the way in which she has been running the FamCamp — and rightfully so!
The group was smaller than for our mid-summer barbecues
But they kept coming back for more
Everyone seemed satisfied
At the awards breakfast Sharyn talks with Col Orr, the base commander, and our boss, Nicole
Sharyn's official Air Force photo (for the awards presentation)
On the morning of November 1 Chips lowered the flag and Hanscom FamCamp was closed for the season
Odometer reading = 97,562
Miles for day = 0
11/4/09 to 11/6/09
It was mid-morning when, after having been in the one place for over six months, we pulled out of the FamCamp heading for Boonton NJ where we planned to visit friends. It was an uneventful drive that got us to Harry and Irene's by mid-afternoon. While there we also got to visit and have dinner with George and Bunny, mutual friends that live about a mile away (Harry, George, and I have been friends for over 50 years and our respective wives for almost as long).
Unfortunately, Irene's 93 year old mother was hospitalized while we were there, putting additional strain on Irene.
The night before we left the temperature had gone down to 26° apparently freezing our water pump or (hopefully) one of the fittings to it. We were unaware of that until we stopped to get gas and saw water dripping out from the utility bay. I'm not sure how or why that happened since, while we were dry camped, we were running the bedroom furnace at night which has a heat vent that goes into the utility bay.
Odometer reading = 97,804
Miles for day = 241
11/7/09 to 11/10/09
When we left Irene and Harry's it was only 7:45 in the morning — one of our earliest departures ever! The good thing about that is that we arrived at Jordan's fairly early in the afternoon. I no longer like to drive at night, and this time of year "night" comes early.
It turns out that Jordan had been sick for several days before our arrival. On our first full day here she left work early and drove herself to the Urgent Care Center at Martha Jefferson hospital where we met her a short time later. After administering fluids and anti-biotics via an IV they discharged her to home. While she's still not doing great (she has not returned to work) she is showing signs of improvement.
Being here at Jordan's we have a concrete slab with full hookups and 50 amp service, plus we get to use her washer and dryer, plus put stuff in here freezer. Since three of our four kids live in the area we plan on being here for Thanksgiving and then on through Christmas. Presumably there will be updates to follow.
Odometer reading = 98,164
Miles for day = 360
11/11/09 to 11/27/09
Within a few days after the last entry Jordan was full recovered, back to work, and back to normal. That was good.
Of course the big event for this entry was Thanksgiving and all the preparation leading up to it — meaning food preparation! Sharyn, in particular, misses the holiday dinners that we used to have when the kids were small and our parents, aunts, uncles, etc., would all be at our house for dinner and the holiday festivities. Our parents, as well as most of those aunts and uncles are long gone, but good memories remain. I have always used the analogy of the leaves on the trees. There comes a time when all the leaves turn color and eventually fall to the ground to make room for the next generation to blossom and bloom. While we have not yet fallen from the tree, we are well into the fall and the world belongs to the next generation.
Mary, our 12 year old granddaughter, spent Thanksgiving week with us and got to meet her cousins, Katlin and Philip, as well as her uncle and aunt, Phil and Kim, none of whom she had ever seen. That was a very nice add-on for Thanksgiving and one that was particularly enjoyed by all the cousins
Sharyn a/k/a Grandma at work in the kitchen
How much help does Grandma need?
The turkey thing worked
All we need now are the rest of the chairs
Phil and Kim
Mary takes her own pictures
Philip and I play a computer game
Mary and Philip doing something
Philip III, Philip IV, and Philip Jr
Grandma and Grandpa (Photo by Mary)
Odometer reading = 98,164
Miles for day = 0
11/28/09 to 12/5/09
Two days after Thanksgiving, Sharyn, Mary, and I took the motorhome to the FamCamp at Shaw AFB from which Sharyn took Mary home to Charleston. I've been having some back problems and the drive from Virginia to Shaw was all I was able to manage.
It used to be that we could come here in December or January and there would be only two or three other RVers in the campground. Over the years that has changed and when we got here the other day, out of the 21 sites there were only two vacant. Two of the rigs here spent time at Hanscom this past summer. If it's a small world, the FamCamp world is even smaller!
We still enjoy spending time here at Shaw. Sharyn particularly enjoys the total quiet with no interruptions, no inquires, and no need to do anything in particular.
Be that as it may, we plan to leave here early tomorrow morning and head back to Virginia for Christmas, hopefully to arrive before dark. As I understand it (from Sharyn) there is Christmas shopping yet to be done!
Sharyn returns from her almost daily walk along the exercise trail
Odometer reading = 98,564
Miles for day = 399
12/6/09 to 12/17/09
We arrived at Jordan's mid-afternoon while she was still at work. As we approached Louisa snow began to appear on the sides of the Interstate and there was about 2" on the ground at Jordan's. The way Sharyn is about driving in the snow it was a good thing we did not arrive a day earlier when this snow was coming down. Actually we would have except that we delayed our departure from Shaw for one day because of the heavy rain in South Carolina. That South Carolina rain was Central Virginia's snow.
Sharyn has been doing a lot of Christmas shopping—she loves Christmas and she loves shopping, so Christmas shopping is a natural. On Jordan's days off they frequently go shopping together on day-long marathons. On those days Sharyn comes home beat. With the exception of one day I have done all my shopping online. I like the way it works when all I have to do is click the mouse and two days later the man in the brown truck brings me my package. Besides my back is still not good and I don't move around very well.
A week ago I made a January 4 appointment at the UVA Pain Management Center in Charlottesville. When the lady on the phone told me I was lucky to get an appointment so soon. I suggested that one's idea of what was "soon" was probably influenced by how bad it was hurting.
This past summer we had a couple at Hanscom who had bought two Euro Style swivel-recliners for their motorhome from Aafes online (the world wide BX online service) that they liked very much. We liked them also and a number of weeks ago decided we would like the same thing, but that we would order one first and try it out before ordering the second one. When the chair was delivered there was some assembly required which I did in the motorhome while sitting on the trunk that Sharyn had in front of the couch. It took perhaps a ½ hour to complete the assembly, but when I went to stand up I could hardly do so. It was my back!
Anyway, we both liked the chair, felt it was quite comfortable, and ordered the second one. The idea was that we would again remove the couch (as we had done several years ago), replace it with the chair, and move the computer from the kitchen table. Phil and Kim came out again to help move the couch into Jordan's back room. He also assembled the second chair for me.
Today Sharyn and I (mostly Sharyn) moved my entire computer setup from where it was, on and under the kitchen table, to a "temporary" setup next to the chair (with a 10' USB cable the printer remains in the drawer under the dinette). It's temporary insofar as we don't yet have a computer desk as such, but what we have set up seems to work pretty well. I can recline in my chair, work the mouse on the arm of the chair, and type with the keyboard on my lap. One problem that I have already observed is that it's quite comfortable and this evening, while reclined and reading Drudge, I fell asleep.
The morning after our arrival at Jordan's
Sharyn has decided she likes her new chair
New "temporary" computer setup
Odometer reading = 98,964
Miles for day = 400
12/18/09 to 12/22/09
Snow, and lots of it! That’s the big story.
As the record setting winter storm roared up the East Coast the center of the storm passed about 30 miles to the west of where we are. That was close enough so that over two days we got 18” of the white stuff (Waynesboro, 30 miles west of here got 28”). Eighteen inches of snow, together with nighttime temperatures in the teens, makes this something other than RV heaven. With daytime temps in the 30’s (in the 40’s for the last two days) we would be able to use our heat pumps for daytime heating except for the fact that the snow on the roof has completely covered the heat pump so it won’t run. I suspect that snow under the cover is probably preventing the fan, and therefore the main shaft, from turning. Hopefully another day or two of 40° will change that.
We are using two 1500 watt electric heaters to keep it comfortable inside. While we are comfortable, at 9.2 cents/KWH we are paying almost $8/day just to keep the interior warm. In addition, we have two other electric heaters, 750 and 1,000 watts in basement compartments to keep our water tanks, pump, and filters from freezing. After freezing up on the first really cold night we turned up the thermostats on those two heaters and have had no problem since. Hopefully by the end of the first week in January we will be at MacDill AFB in Tampa where, as I type this, the temperature is 66° and sunny.
With only three days to go until Christmas, all the Christmas shopping is done, presents are wrapped, and we’re all ready for the big day.
Last night we went to Phil and Kim’s for dinner, and to celebrate Philip IV’s 10th birthday. While the roads by us were pretty good, as we got closer to Phil’s it was difficult to tell that they had been plowed at all (Phil’s just this side of the mountain from Waynesboro). Cars were creeping along at 20 mph which Sharyn said was way too fast for conditions. Things were only made worse by the fact that there were dozens of abandoned cars in ditches, along the side of the road, and sometimes still on the road. At one point abandoned cars were such that only one car at a time could get past. Anyway, we made it there and back, and a good time was had by all!
Happy Birthday Philip!!
The first night it snowed
The motorhome after the snow stopped
The cars were kind of buried
The road was plowed
The driveway was another story
Philip’s getting ready to blow out the candles (on a VERY chocolate cake)
He and Phil start putting the pieces together
With Kim and Sharyn looking on Katlin and her boyfriend Adam look for “Elvira” for some kitchen line dancing
They call this the “Cha-Cha Slide”
When we get home Sharyn and Jordan walk to the motorhome and house
Unrelated to anything, several days ago Jordan took this picture with her cell phone
Odometer reading = 98,964
Miles for day = 0
12/23/09 to 12/31/09
Well most of the snow is gone (not all of it), the roof of the motorhome is clear, and when the outsider air temperature is above 28-29° the heat pump is again functioning (the rear heat pump has failed to heat or cool since mid-summer — we are going to have to address that). Our electric heaters are still doing their job and we (Jordan) have yet to receive the latest electric bill.
It was an excellent Christmas! While no one needed anything, everyone got what they wanted. Much more important than that were the multiple times the family got together, both before, during, and after Christmas.
Phil, Kim, Katlin (+ boyfriend Adam), and Philip, as well as Shane were here for Christmas dinner. Then on Sunday, two days after Christmas, Greg, Paulette, Scott, and Patrick “PJ” arrived after a ten hour drive from Eastern Long Island. That was really a special visit since it had been many years since they had been here. I don’t think Katlin had any real recollection of Scott and Patrick, and of course Philip was not even born at that time. While there had been a lot of relatively recent contact between the cousins via texting and Facebook, it was kind of neat when, after a decade, they all got together in person. In addition to eating massive amounts of food, there was a lot of game playing , loud conversation, Wii challenges, etc.
One very cold morning Phil took Greg, Scott, and Patrick to the range where they all got to try their skills with an assortment of exceptionally cool handguns and rifles. Being from Long Island where use of such weapons is forbidden (Chuck Schumer’s back yard) I think they particularly enjoyed it. Then the last day that Greg and them were here, twelve of us went for some non-serious bowling, followed by dinner at Phil and Kim’s.
It’s now New Year’s Eve afternoon, and while strictly speaking this 2009 travelog should not wrap up until midnight, it’s pretty easy to project ahead for the next eleven hours. Greg and his family are back in Southold NY. Phil and his family are, I suspect, home. Jordan is at work and will be there until 11:pm (she swapped days with someone else so as to get an extra day off while Greg and them were here). Sharyn and I may or may not go out for dinner, but in any event we are almost certain to be in bed before the new year arrives.
(As an unrelated aside, it was many decades ago, before we were married, that I had a date to take Sharyn out for New Years. That was the first New Years date that I ever had that as New Years approached I was not wishing I could somehow get out of it. Perhaps that was an omen?)
Our neighbors house on Christmas eve
A portion of Sharyn’s Christmas dinner table
Philip really enjoys his helicopter
Adam, Katlin, Greg, and Paulette help the cook
Phil & Kim in the kitchen
Time to eat again
PJ and Jill just waiting
It gets crowded in the living room
Jordan takes a few
Katlin appears happy
Time for more food?
Katlin, Adam, PJ, and Philip work on Philip’s model
These guys watch (actually they did bowl)
Odometer reading = 98,964
Miles for day = 0
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Happy New Year!
Skip ahead to January 1, 2010
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February 2000 through last December
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