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Florida from the International Space Station

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Installation of New TV

(Avon Park, FL) Hi 74 Lo 63 – Nothing much to report as far as our park activities the last three days. We attended our first potluck dinner of the season on Wednesday evening, and Dee went to her crocheting group (Happy Hookers) on Friday morning to learn some new stuff. Other than that, we’re just enjoying the retired life and resting up from our summer travels. We had a mild cold snap Thursday and Friday, but today it’s back to the 70’s and muggy.

A few weeks ago we bought a new Vizio 48” LED TV to replace our old 37” Panasonic model that gave up the ghost. We’ve had it sitting on its stand on the shelf of our entertainment center, waiting on a wall mount to arrive that I ordered from Walmart.com. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)

201411 TV Mount Project (2) (1024x682)

Our good friend Dick, a member of our evening cards group, is a woodworking genius, and agreed to build a custom mount for us. Over the last few days he was over a couple of times to take measurements. Here’s what he had to work with:

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The hole previously contained a combination bookcase/TV mount. It was a heavy and ungainly thing that was purpose-designed by Carriage (the maker of our fifth wheel), and was not adjustable to allow for a TV larger than 40-42 inches. Also, it was very difficult to get to the wires that connect the components on the top shelves to the TV. The overall space surrounding the hole is large enough to fit our 48” TV in, but we had to give up the storage in order to install an appropriate mount. That was an easy decision.

Yesterday (Saturday) Dick came over to install the frame that he built. In this photo he’s installing 2x4 braces on the back side of wall of the entertainment center.

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And here he’s holding up the frame to check the overall size and appearance. The frame is made of 2x4’s, with heavy duty gussets on each corner.

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It wasn’t long he had the frame installed. It’s designed to swing out from the left.

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No simple door hinges on this baby. He installed a 20” long piano hinge, which is screwed through the wall and into the 2x4 braces he installed behind the wall.

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On the left side he installed two barrel bolt latches. One would work, but I like the security and stability that two provide. The blocks they’re mounted on are also reinforced by a 2x4 brace Dick installed behind the wall.

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Here’s what the completed frame assembly looks like.

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After this it was just a matter of aligning and installing the tilting wall mount. This is the model I bought. Only 22 bucks at Walmart.com, with free delivery to our local Walmart in Avon Park.

Wall Mount

And voila, we have a beautiful, professionally-mounted TV!

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We could have hung the TV a little lower on the mount to make it look more centered, but we wanted enough room on the shelf below for family photos. We also wanted to keep the three small speakers exposed. We haven’t used them since our original (very cheap) DVD player/receiver pooped out a couple of years ago, using instead the sound bar you see on the shelf. But who knows, I might want to get another surround sound receiver sometime in the future.

This shows how it swings out for access to the wiring. None of the inputs on the TV are covered by the frame or mount, so everything is very accessible. It’s so much more convenient than our old system!

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I want to thank Dick for the super job he did. I love how he over-engineered everything. He could have used 1x4’s, but instead he made everything from 2x4’s, and used larger size screws and lag bolts than the minimum required. My participation in the project consisted of encouragement, and occasionally holding something in place for him. So it’s borderline whether or not I can say “we” installed it. Smile 

Some people may think our TV is too large for the size of our room, but trust me it looks awesome! Our viewing distance is about 8 feet from the screen, which is the perfect distance for a 48-50” TV.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of our TV installation project. See you in a couple or three days.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It Got COLD! - New Phone

(Avon Park, IL) Hi 58 Lo 41 -- It's been a busy few days of doing nothing. We're loving the down time with reading and crocheting, and even catching up on recorded TV shows and movies.

The temps went way down last night, but at lease we don't have snow like up north. It got down to 41 degrees. It's supposed to be back to 80 by the end of the week. We're so glad we came down to Florida a little earlier than planned this year. The park is still almost empty of RV's, so a lot of folks will probably be delayed coming down from up north because of all the snow.

We're getting our doctor appointments done at the beginning of our stay instead of in the spring, in case things need more attention. Jim had his annual physical exam today and is in tip top condition. Blood pressure ok, cholesterol ok, no prescription meds. In fact he's improved in some areas from last year. How does that happen?? I'm still waiting on my test results.

I've been having trouble with my phone for a long time. I had it replaced under warranty a month ago (for the second time), and the new one is doing the same thing. It's very slow, to the point I sometimes couldn't even answer calls before the caller hung up or the call went to voicemail. So we stopped by the Verizon store to see what could be done. I'm not eligible for an upgrade until February, but it just so happens Verizon has a deal going on where you can trade in your old phone for a new Droid Turbo, and you pay $25 per month for it for two years, but Verizon credits the $25 back to you each month on your bill. All we had to pay was the tax on the full price of the phone, which came out to $42. And, although there's no contract involved, I would have to pay off the rest of the payments if we left Verizon before it's paid off. But we have no plans to leave Verizon anyway. I know, it sounds too good to be true. I now have to reload all my apps to the new phone. I'm getting good at that, since I've replaced my phone under warranty twice in the last year and a half. The Droid Turbo is brand new, it just went on sale Oct 30, and boy does it have a lot of fancy bells and whistles! So hopefully I'm set for at least a couple of years. I'm just glad to finally have a phone that I can answer calls on. The guy at Verizon did say that particular model of Motorola phone I had was known to have lots of problems. I'm glad to be rid of it. The new phone is awesome!

We're doing fine here in the south and when something of interest comes up, we'll be sure to tell you about it. Please stay tuned.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Visiting with RV’ing Friends

(Avon Park, FL) Hi 76 Lo 52 -- While everyone in the north is getting a cold blast we’re doing well with highs 70’s, and lows in the 50’s. It will get colder here this winter, but it won’t get very cold and it won't last long. We're glad we made it here before the really cold weather.

We haven't been doing much. Jim is back to walking most days, and we’re both enjoying the sunshine. Yesterday (Friday) I went to my first Happy Hookers get together to see the 97 gorgeous afghans everyone made during the summer. They will all be sent to the Project Linus organization, and more will be sent as we all work through the winter months making more.

Also yesterday we went to meet up with some RV’ing friends for an early dinner (linner) at Chili's in Arcadia.

Dee, Mike, Jim, Rick, Gail and Terri

It's been a while since we've seen each other and we had a great meal and conversation about where we've been and what we've seen over the summer months. They’re here all winter so we’ll be seeing them again.  The food was wonderful and plentiful. Here's what some of us had:

Mini burgers

Turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries

Burritos, rice and beans

We got home just in time to play cards with the group.

Today (Saturday) we enjoyed a visit from new friends, Margot and Chris. I met Margot in the RV-Dreams.com chatroom in January. They both live in a Pace Arrow motorhome in Jupiter over on the east coast. They're now working, but are looking forward to being job-free and full time in a year or so.

Margot and Chris

We grilled some brats and burgers for lunch and enjoyed getting to know them. We showed them around our park and discussed when we might visit them in Jupiter. We plan to visit them in March for sure, so the guys can go to a St. Louis Cardinals spring training game. But we hope to see them again before then.

While we were sitting outside we saw this beetle skitter across the patio.

That's about it for today. See you again in a couple or three days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tumbleweed’s 2014 Travel Recap

(Avon Park, FL) Hi 79 Lo 54 -- We had a wonderful summer traveling from Florida on April 1 and returning to Florida on November 5, 2014. Our path formed a circle of almost 9,000 miles, as we traveled along the Gulf Coast through the southwest, north to Seattle, and back along the northern tier of our country to the Midwest and back south. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

2014 travels

We had very little rain all summer, and our temperatures ranged from a high of 106 in Redding, California, and a low in the high 20's in the Midwest during the fall. But overall the weather was great.

The highlight of the summer was Southern Utah, with Bryce Canyon National Park being the top of the list as far as scenery.
2014-05-28 Bryce Canyon UT (26)

Our travels were split into two halves: the first covering the Southwest, with a one-month break when we stayed in Carson City, NV to be with our friends George and Linda, then the second half covering the Northwest and Midwest.Our least favorite area was the desert Southwest, with many sand storms and dust devils, one of which blew over our satellite dish over and cost us $110 to replace it. Overall, we enjoyed our travels out west for the scenery, but the desolation didn’t appeal to us. Until we got to the beautiful Northwest we missed the green grass, trees, and water. We were always nervous about breaking down out in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone coverage and the nearest town 50 miles away. In fact we did have three flat tires (one on the car, one on the truck, and one on the rig), but we were lucky enough to be near towns, and Coach-Net provided great service in getting us back on the road.

We stayed in some great parks along the way, and a few that were not so great. The park list is on the right side of this page, with lots of info.

We did lots of sightseeing, with enough memories to last a lifetime. Here's a list of where we went and what we saw:

US Navy Seal Museum, Fort Pierce, FL (Just before we left Florida)
USS Texas Battleship, Houston, TX
San Jacinto Monument, Houston, TX
LBJ Presidential Library, Austin, TX
Circuit of the Americas (F1 track), Austin, TX
International UFO Museum & Research Center, Roswell, NM
Carlsbad Caverns, NM
Desert Life Zoo & Gardens, Carlsbad, NM
White sands National Monument, NM
Cattlemen's Steakhouse, El Paso, TX (According to Jim, the best steak in the world.)
USAF Aircraft Boneyard, Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ
San Xavier Mission, Tucson, AZ
Titan Missile Museum, Green Valley, AZ
Saguaro National Park, Tucson, AZ
Tombstone, AZ
Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Mead Museum of American Indian Culture, Phoenix, AZ
Pueblo Grande Archaeological Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball Game, Phoenix, AZ
Heard Museum Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Sedona, AZ
Meteor Crater, AZ
Winslow, AZ (Standin' On the Corner Park)
Natural Bridges National Monument, UT
Goosenecks State Park, UT
Edge of the Cedars State Park and Museum, Blanding, UT
Canyonlands National Park, UT
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Zion National Park, UT
Las Vegas, NV
Carson City, NV
Reno Rodeo, Reno, NV
Virginia City, NV
Lake Tahoe, NV
Sundial Bridge, Redding, CA
Crater Lake National Park, OR
Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band Concert, Bend, OR
Portland, OR
Haystack Rock, Seaside, OR
Lewis & Clark Museum, Astoria, OR
Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA
Harbor Cruise, Seattle, WA
Seattle Mariners Major League Basebell Game, Seattle, WA
Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
Old Mission State Park, Catalda, ID
Garnett Ghost Town, MT
Missouri River Headwaters, Three Forks, MT
Little Big Horn Battlefield, MT
Range Rider Museum, Miles City, ND
Theodore Roosevelt National Park (Badlands), ND
Roger Maris Museum, Fargo, ND
Bonanzaville, Fargo, ND
Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball Game, Minneapolis, MN
Mille-Coors Brewery Tour, Milwaukee, WI
Milwaukee Brewers Major League Baseball Game, Milwaukee, WI

We celebrated when we arrived in North Dakota on August 29. It was our 48th state, which filled out the colorful U.S. Map we have on the side of our home. Many have asked us about going to Alaska, We don't have any desire to tow our home to Alaska, but we may do an Alaskan cruise someday.

Once we completed all 48 states our son created an infograph of our five years on the road. I think he did a great job. (Click on it to enlarge it.)

2014 states on 48 states

The fun of our travels was offset by the need for over $2,000 in repairs to Tumbleweed, which we had done in Elkhart, IN in September. We're keeping this post positive, so if you want more information about that you can check out our posts from late September.

It was a wonderful year of travels, but we’re glad to be in one place to rest up for awhile. The temperatures are quite cold up north, and we’re very happy staying warm here in Florida.

See you in a couple or three days.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cleaning - Movie Day

(Avon Park, FL) Hi 78 Lo 55 -- We're settling in here at Adelaide Shores RV Resort. We're slowly getting some cleaning done. We still have dirty screens and some dust from out west, but we have plenty of time to get them taken care of. Thanks to the recent washing of the RV it shines in the sun, and for the first time in months there are no bugs on it. The last couple days have gone fast, what with visiting and catching up with our friends in the park, and our evenings playing cards with our regular group from last year.

Today we went to see the movie "Interstellar."  It's a movie that makes you think. If you've ever wondered about what the future of our planet may be like, and the possibility of man inhabiting other worlds, you'll find it quite interesting. Jim thinks it will win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and will be a science fiction classic along the lines of "2001: A Space Odyssey." I guarantee you'll come out of the theater discussing it.

Jim got out the grill for the first time since we got here and cooked up some chicken for me and a steak for himself. We can leave the grill out now and have it ready for more meals this winter.

See you in a couple or three days. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Setting up – New TV - Okeechobee

(Avon Park, FL) Hi  82 Lo 57 -- We’ve been busy getting our home set up for the winter. We can usually get set up in 10 to 15 minutes when we’re moving from place to place during our summer travels. But when we get here for our 5-month winter stay, we put out the awning, attach the sunscreen (which isn't easy), put out our chairs and grill, and create more of a "homey" atmosphere.

Way back when we were RV shopping, one of the things Jim always checked out was the size of the entertainment area. He wanted to make sure there was plenty of room for a large TV. Our fifth wheel came with a 32-inch TV, but we immediately swapped it out for a 37-inch model we already had. Five years of bouncing down the highway took its toll and the TV gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago. Once we got settled here he removed the TV and wall mount. The original wall mount was always a pain to keep latched, and it was designed for the specific TV that came in the rig, making it hard to get to the wiring panel on the 37-incher we had. Here's what the space looks like with everything removed.
2104-11-05 Adelaide Shores avon Park FL (3)

After much measuring and research, Jim  was going to buy a 42-inch TV, which would be a little larger than our old one. But I talked him into going bigger. So after more research he discovered that a 48-inch Vizio TV would fit. So we went to Walmart and bought a Vizio E480i-B2 48-inch Smart TV. It's sitting on its stand at the moment. A friend here in the park is going to design a custom mount for us. It's big, and it has a beautiful picture. And did I mention it's BIG? From our 8-ft viewing distance it's like sitting in a movie theater. We love it!
2104-11-05 Adelaide Shores avon Park FL (5)

This morning we had a mobile detailing service wash our RV. It hasn’t been washed all summer and it had nine states' worth of grime and bugs on it. Their price was so reasonable that we had them also wash our truck and car. While that was going on we were fascinated by the crews right behind our site installing cable for Comcast Cable TV. They would dig holes about 20 feet apart and run the cable underground between the holes using some sort of tunneling contraption. Very interesting to watch.
2104-11-05 Adelaide Shores avon Park FL (12)

2104-11-05 Adelaide Shores avon Park FL (13)

2104-11-05 Adelaide Shores avon Park FL (9)

My sister Doris and her husband Herm recently bought a park model home in Okeechobee, about an hour and half south of us. After the detailing crew finished up we drove down to see their new place. If you want to know what the terrain looks like in south central Florida, it's nothing but open, flat pasture land.
2104-11-05 Adelaide Shores avon Park FL (14)

Their new (to them) home is less than half a mile from Lake Okeechobee.
2014-11-08 Doris home in Fl Okeechobee FL (1)

Here's Herm and Doris showing off the pontoon boat they recently bought.
2014-11-08 Doris home in Fl Okeechobee FL (8)

We relaxed for awhile in the boat at the dock.
2014-11-08 Doris home in Fl Okeechobee FL (11)

We're looking forward to some "cruising" along the river and lake in the future.
2014-11-08 Doris home in Fl Okeechobee FL (12)

We took a walk along the levy that circles Lake Okeechobee.
2014-11-08 Doris home in Fl Okeechobee FL (22)

On one side is one of the many, many mobile home/RV parks...
2014-11-08 Doris home in Fl Okeechobee FL (14)

And on the other side is Lake Okeechobee. The lake is over 700 square miles, and is one of the biggest fresh water lakes in the country.
2014-11-08 Doris home in Fl Okeechobee FL (15)

Doris and Jim.
2014-11-08 Doris home in Fl Okeechobee FL (16)

Rain is expected this evening and all day tomorrow. (Of course it's going to rain... we just had our home and our vehicles washed!) We left Doris and Herm's to beat the rain, stopped at our favorite Chinese buffet in Sebring for dinner, and got home to relax the rest of the evening.

We had a wonderful sunset last night, so I’ll end with that.
2104-11-05 Adelaide Shores avon Park FL (7)

See you again in a few days.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Arrived At Our Winter RV Park

(Avon Park, FL) Hi 83 Lo 60 -- We made a quick escape from the park yesterday and made our way south. There was a lot more traffic on I-75, but no problems. It seemed like a long trip to Avon Park, but the 205-mile trip took only four and half hours. What made it seem long was, the last 80 miles was on U.S. 27, with a lot of small towns and traffic lights.

It was 85 degrees when we arrived, and it felt so good! We got set up and it wasn't long before our friends Lee and Rosemary stopped by to greet us. They bought a park model last year and stayed here through the summer. They were full timers for 15 years and decided to settle down. They bought a smaller 5th wheel and traveled a couple months this year to see their family. They said next year they'll leave in July and August because that's when it's the hottest around here. They went with us to our favorite pizza/sandwich place, Market 27. They moved into a much larger facility right next door to our park. The place they bought used to be a night club and it was very noisy on weekend nights. It will be nice not to have to listen to that noise any more. We'll be eating there a lot.

Today we went to Walmart to check out TV's. We'll be making a decision on that in the next day or so. On the way out we stopped by Bill and Doris's to say hi. They're part of our cards group, and it's good to see them again. When we got back home we also did some more setting up. The park delivered our entry steps that they stored for us. They were apparently stored outside because they were filthy and needed a good scrubbing. We also put up our sun screen, which attaches to our awning. That's always a pain to install, so we're glad we got that done. Tonight we're going over to the clubhouse for our first cards night of the season.

We'll be keeping up with the blog throughout the next few months, but we won't be posting as often as we did during our travels. We'll be doing a recap soon of our summer travels. But we won't bore you with our normal park activities. My sister is now in Okeechobee so we'll be visiting her occasionally.

Thank you to all our loyal readers; your nice comments are what keep us going.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Florida At Last! – Movie Day

(Lake City, FL) Hi 75 Lo 54 – Happy election day! I hope everyone exercised their precious right to vote.

Yesterday it was in the 30's when we got up, but it warmed to the low 40's by the time we hitched up to move on to Florida. The owner of the park (A-Okay Mobile Home and RV Park) came to tell us how to leave the park because there were workers installing a new sewer tank and were blocking the normal exit route. We talked for a few minutes. They have big plans for expanding the park. They don’t have a bath house or laundry as yet, but they'll be built this winter. We left at our normal time of 10am. On our way out we saw this sign.

2014-11-01 walter street dothan al (3)

It was short road leading to one house, likely occupied by the Walter family. I wonder if we're related?

We had a smooth and uneventful trip to Lake City, FL.

It wasn't long at all before we crossed over the Florida, and we immediately felt like we were home.
2010-03-14 Florida

We arrived at Oaks 'N Pines RV Park in Lake City around 2:00. We were here last April and we forgot about the unusual parking rules they have here. First of all there's a $5 per day charge for an extra vehicle. But you're not allowed to park both vehicles at the site, not even during the setting up process. I had to park the car in a separate parking area while we un-hitched, then Jim drove the truck to the parking area and brought the car back to our site so we could un-pack it. Sheesh! But that wasn't the bad part. Jim mildly protested the rule, being as there were only a few rigs in the park and we promised to take the truck to the parking area right after we got set up. Well, the owner all of a sudden went berserk and started yelling at us and said if we couldn't follow the rules he will give us our money back and we can leave. And he took it a step farther and actually ordered us to "get out!" Needless to say we were quite surprised and almost speechless at the sudden change in his demeanor. Jim finally calmed him down and he backed off. We probably should have left, but we were tired and didn't feel like looking for another park. So now we're just staying away from the office and looking forward to leaving tomorrow and never coming back here again. The guy's wife was actually very nice, but this guy shouldn't have any contact with their customers. Jim read some of the past reviews of the park on rvparkreviews.com and there were a few mentions of this man's rudeness. And we're going to add a review once we leave. We don't want to take a chance on the owners seeing the review before we leave and ordering us to leave in the middle of the night. That actually happened to one reviewer when some friends came to pick them up for dinner. The owner came over to scream at them and tell them they can't have their car at the site. When the RV owners returned from dinner they had a note on their door ordering them to leave. So we highly recommend you skip this park if you need a place to stay in Lake City. We're certainly never coming back. It's a shame too, it's actually a fairly nice park. This was the first time in five years we’ve had this kind of trouble.

This afternoon we decided to take in a movie. We both wanted to see "Fury", Jim because it's a war movie, and me because it stars Brad Pitt. :)  It was definitely a different role for Brad Pitt (and he had a different look, too). It was a very good movie, and one of the most realistic war movies we've seen since "Saving Private Ryan." We both give it a thumbs up.


We had an early dinner at Red Lobster before coming back to the park. When we pulled in we saw this RV pull in a couple of sites over from us. It's called  Hi-Lo and it's a fancy version of a pop-up camper. Here it is in "travel mode."


And here it is after it was raised to living mode.


It even has a small slide out.


Tonight we'll watch the election coverage. Tomorrow is our last travel leg of the summer as we head to our winter site at Adelaide Shores RV Resort in Avon Park.

See you in two days.