Tucson to Quartzsite

We purposely stayed at Del Sol Casino longer than we had planned so I wouldn’t miss Wednesday’s Survivor episode.  Thursday March 20 we drove to Quartzsite and got there right at sunset.  We parked at a site right off the highway to avoid driving around the desert in the dark.  We had a nice quiet night, then moved to Hi Jolly campground the next day. 

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^ Charging stations behind the Quartzsite Carl’s Jr.

We parked facing north so we had afternoon shade from the RV to sit in.  Behind us was a little wash with a shady area we only used once since it was morning shade.  The stars were amazing.  We broke in the folding recliners well.  I should’ve taken pictures, but the RV was still filthy with red dirt from Texas.  Bubbles and Dolly were allowed to go off-leash with supervision.  Dolly amazed me - she usually doesn’t like walks; we went out in the desert and she took off in the lead like she was on a mission.  Her little legs were moving so fast it looked like she had eight feet.

Someone has planted a ton of geocaches around Quartzsite.  We piled everyone into the Jeep and went out on the trails several times. 

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^ Corny retrieves a geocache

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Corny got to be a cowboy.  We had some harrowing/fun ups and downs.  We’re learning the capabilities of the Jeep - it hasn’t disappointed us yet.  We should’ve had good footage from the dashcam but it got erased by the time we made it to Las Vegas.  We passed the rock outlines where General George Patton’s troops bivouac’ed while training for Africa.  I surprised numerous horny toads and long-tailed lizards on the way to grabbing caches.  No snake sightings.  Otherwise it was lots of black rocks, saguaros and ocotillos in bloom. 

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We were doing fine with water rationing and the toilet hadn’t burped yet, but Corny picked up the weather forecast on his Kindle and it was going to be 91 degrees in the shade the next day!  I didn’t want to be stuck indoors for the next three hot days - we would’ve had to run the generator constantly or plug in at a campground for the A/C.  We decided to collect Corny’s tax paperwork from General Delivery, visit the nudie bookstore for about a dozen VC Andrews books, and make a run for Las Vegas. 

We had planned to stop in Lake Havasu City, but it didn’t look as interesting as we expected.  We stopped in Bullhead City for gas and a fun $15 do-it-yourself RV wash, then on to Don Laughlin’s Riverside casino parking lot for the night.  We drove the Jeep to Harrah’s for their buffet.  Everything was good.

In the morning we drove the hour or so to Las Vegas and the trashy trailer park we like - King’s Row - and signed up for a month.  I was glad to be somewhere we could extend both slide-outs, run the microwave, use the electric can opener  ~and~  it was a lovely 72 degrees.  I have about 20 tv channels, three of which are music videos and four are all movies.  The Internet is less than perfect, but it works if you’re patient.  It took me a couple hours to order the rest of the VC Andrews books I needed to complete every series on my list. Corny quickly got me a wi-fi antenna, which helps a lot.

The first day in Vegas we went to the nearest buffet - Boulder Station casino.  We had a BOGO coupon but since they misspelled Corny’s name (Mr. Crown), he got a free buffet at (re)sign-up.  He played his $3 freeplay and won a couple dollars.  I sat at the machine next to him, put in a $20 and pulled out $45!  Maybe we’ll forgive them for treating us like sheiat last year.  We had thrown away our cards, we were so disgusted with them.  That’s why Corny had to sign up again.

Next day we stayed home and had Sam’s Club frozen fried rice.  I wore my boxer shorts all day but Corny had to go out to get some DVDs from a couple different RedBoxes.  I realized I hadn’t missed the sound of airplanes overhead - there is quite the air traffic in Vegas.

Looking forward to the next month.  Life is Godd!

On a Mission to Tucson

March 8th we took off in drizzly weather towards Laredo.  The Jeep and RV got filthy from all the red dirt the oil field trucks spread onto the road.  We picked up geocaches in three different counties along the way.  Next day we drove from Laredo to Del Rio and spent the night at Wally’s.   We took the Jeep to Amistad Nat’l Rec Area to recon the San Pedro Campground ($4/night).   A van was in “our” spot but they looked all packed up, so we were hoping they would be gone the next day.  After exploring a bit, we stumbled upon a buffet called Sirloin Stockade.  They were smaller but better than Golden Corralph.  They had a huge tub of deep red, juicy chopped tomatoes on the salad bar.  The yeast rolls were so hot they burnt my fingers, and the desserts seemed homemade. 

Next day we got groceries at Wally’s and moved the RV to “our” spot at Amistad.  We stayed four nights.  Corny went out to explore every day; I took one day off to stay home.  I only cooked one night.  We ate at Julio’s restaurant twice (the maker of Julio’s tortilla chips).  We ate at Rudy’s BBQ and had nice/pricey turkey sandwiches the day we went across the Amistad dam to the Mexico border. 

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We took a day to use the wi-fi at the library, wash the Jeep and explore/geocache at San Felipe springs park.  That must be a huge spring - the water makes its own river and is so clear you can see the fish hiding in the plants.  We tried to find the source, but ran into a dead end and private property.

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The next morning the toilet burped, so we headed out to take a dump, refill the water tank and stay overnight at the Marfa Lights viewing area.   I wanted to sit on the sofa and watch all night, but of all the nights to sleep good, this was it.  We didn’t see any strange lights. 

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We found an interesting geocache - it was at a piece of art - a Prada store in the middle of Nowhere, TX.  

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We continued through El Paso and had long naps at the TX/NM border rest area.  We were both awake at 9pm and figured we’d be awake for hours, so why not do some driving.  I love to see all those pesky trucks pulled over all in a row leaving plenty of room on the road for us.  We made it all the way to the Del Sol casino in Tucson - we got there around 3am.  I kept dozing off but Corny is a driving machine.  We were shocked at how many RVs were camped there - somebody must’ve leaked what a nice place this is on the Internet. 

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We crashed for several hours, woke up and had the Sunday brunch buffet.  It’s still good.  We ate their four days in a row!  We found out Sunday - Wednesday is BOGO after 8pm, so we would have a late lunch around town then the 8pm buffet.  We drove across town once for Corny’s In n’ Out burgers.  I played bingo twice but CANNOT win.  I don’t know why I keep trying.  I mined about $15 over the four days we were there.  I got tired of inhaling second-hand smoke so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time roaming around inside.

For his birthday, Corny went to the Pima Air Museum.  He was gone from 9am to 5pm.  I was beginning to wonder what time I should call the police station.  A bit of bad news the morning after - Corny’s old friend Phil died.

Next stop, Quartzsite, and no cell phone coverage or Internet.  Life is Godd!

Mission West RV Park and Golf Course

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We pulled into spot #123 with plenty of elbow room all around us.  The annual Winter Texans all crowd together around the golf course; we chose a spot up toward the road (and railroad track) with a few small honey locust trees.  The first night our electric conked out, so we are plugged into the spot next to us which is now blocked off the map in the office.  Our nearest neighbor is four spaces away, and they are nice big spaces.  It really feels good to have some breathing space after being squeezed in at Suncoast for two months.  We’ve been to the tiny doggy park a couple times, but it is so far away the dogs never make it before pooping.  We never made it to the  pool/hot tub.  Somehow swimming in somebody else’s urine doesn’t appeal.  I collected a few V.C. Andrews books from the library - I had scored big at the last RV Park in Harlingen on the last day.  At midnight.  A-hem.  I’m reading the Dawn/Cutler series now.

When we came from Harlingen to check this place out, I had asked about the wi-fi.  They told us it was free; when I asked if it was “Good” the woman said “Oh yeah, I just went home for lunch and it was running great”.  She forgot to mention it is next to useless in the evening hours.  Corny has been staying up till 3-4am because that’s the only time it’s usable.  Even then you can’t watch videos.  Definitely not able to Skype yer kid.  I really miss chatting with Glenn!  I don’t think we’ll return here just for that reason.  I wish these campgrounds would take wi-fi seriously.  Right now it seems they are all in the “Well, it’s better than nothing; we did just fine without it for __ years” mindset.

I really like southern Texas.  It’s like Mexico, only cleaner.  I can’t believe how many cracked windshields there are on the road.  Insurance must not cover them.  We have a Wally’s five miles to the west which usually isn’t very busy.  There is a D.Q., Subway, McD and Church’s chicken near it.  Five miles to the east we have another Wally’s, H.E.B. super-grocery and EVERYTHING to eat.  There are Panda Expresses way down here.  A Shepler’s western store, too.  I got a new “western” bag at H.E.B. which I love - it is officially a tote bag, so I have room for everything.  The traffic is much heavier and we have to deal with frontage roads if we go east, but sometimes we just have to suffer through it because Wally’s doesn’t carry Julio’s chips.  On Valentine’s Day we went to a Luby’s Cafeteria - as we had hoped, they weren’t too busy.

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We’ve been going to H.E.B. grocery stores more than Wally’s.  H.E.B. has way better produce - local ruby grapefruit for $5/18 pound bag.  It made about a gallon of juice plus the fruit that Corny ate.  Golden delicious apples were .99/pound, bananas .38/pound.  A 24oz loaf of bread was .88.  Also if its early in the day, you can catch some of their donuts still warm.  I got 2-3 donuts/cookies every time we went there.  I would make Corny stick his head in the case to take a whiff.  It smells like homemade Christmas sugar cookies.

One day while we were out for lunch, our engine light beeped and stayed on.  We took the Jeep to the local dealer who told us to come back at 8am.  We were hoping at least to get a reading, like they do within five minutes when you pull up at Auto Zone.  I would’ve felt better knowing if we should be driving the vehicle or not.  The next morning it took them a couple hours to read the computer and tell us it was a bad oil pressure sensor and they would need to schedule a day to keep the Jeep all day because the sensor is hard to get to.  Corny got up at 7am then hung around the 1970s bus station waiting area a couple hours until they said “Oops, we don’t have the new sensor”.  Corny took the Jeep back within a week or so and actually got it fixed…and answered their survey honestly…BEFORE he discovered they had put a screw in the wrong hole and the engine cover was on crooked.   We had debated waiting until the next town (Laredo) to try a different dealership.  BTW, the Jeep has about 4,800 miles on it.

The chihuahuas like sitting outside in their playpen while I read in the rocking chair.  I’ve seen tons of woodpeckers, turtledoves, a herd of resident cowbirds and a kinda rare Great Kiskadee who came to visit us several times.  One day I went geocaching and saw roseate spoonbills in a canal along the road. 

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I saw TONS of green and white Border Patrol vehicles while I was out geocaching - every half mile or so - when  I visited two old missions very close to the Rio Grande. 

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Corny said this is a big drug smuggling area.  The caches were all micros, so I wasn’t real impressed and only went out that one time.  Looking back, I shoulda gone out more because you always find more than caches.  But its okay.  I embrace my laziness. 

The last week in Mission I had Corny dump me and my bike at Bentsen Rio Grand Valley State Park.  It is only a few miles from the RV park.  Turns out Texas State Parks are Geocaching friendly.  The one cache in the park was an ammo can with a certain stamp for a park passport book.  I bought a pathtag in the gift shop.  I didn’t have a lock for my bike, so I didn’t go to the Hawk Tower, but lemme tellya, it was a cornucopia of birds.  Amazing diversity.  The new ones I learned are chachalaca

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(http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/1071/overview/Plain_Chachalaca.aspx), like big prehistoric grouchy chickens, and green jays

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(http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/78/overview/Green_Jay.aspx), which I first thought were parrots.  I also saw more kiskadees

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(http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/852/overview/Great_Kiskadee.aspx), lots of cardinals and woodpeckers

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(http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/850/_/Golden-fronted_Woodpecker.aspx).  It was a little bit of Heaven.

I told Corny it’s a good thing we have to eat every day, or we’d have nothing to do…  Other than eat, we didn’t do much while in Mission.  It was very relaxing and I’m glad to have been here with the birds.  Texas got more rain than usual and one RVer who has been coming here for seven years said this is the first winter that there has been grass on the sites.  Usually it is bare dirt.  That’s how they can charge $50/month extra for a site with pavement.  Thank you God!

We don’t plan on loafing for another entire month until we get to Arizona or Las Vegas.  We have several stops planned, like Del Rio/Amistad Nat’l Rec Area, Marfa, Tucson and Quartzsite, but it will be a night here, two nights there, etc.  Maybe a couple weeks at Quartzsite.  I’m really looking forward to that.  I got new evening wear for Quartzsite - five pairs of men’s boxer shorts.  Plus I’ve got a stack of books to tear through.  Corny has been working hard to get the solar up and running.   I’ve been reading hard and have a four-hour/day TV regimen:  3pm Judge Judy, 4pm Dr. Phil, 5pm The Middle, and 6pm Big Bang re-runs.  Of course Survivor just started Wednesdays (yay!) and Thursdays are fresh Big Bangs.  Life is Godd!

Howdy, Texas!

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 Tons of tortoises along the bike trail

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Pretty cache guardian

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A grey morning for an Earthcache

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a few gems

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At Riverside Lodge, we only had a few good days out of the week weatherwise.  I was able to meet my geo-goal on the bike trail in just two days, finding a little over 100 caches.   I was loving walking the dogs along the river.  Corny put finishing touches on things, which involved crawling under the RV all day one day to run wires.  He had been having some back pain and this didn’t help.  On Wednesday we drove back to Holiday to see Glenn one last time on his day off.  We brought him a blueberry pie and a can of Redi-Whip.  As I was putting it in his fridge, I spotted half a chocolate pie from the week before.  That wouldn’t have lasted in our fridge!

We decided to make a run for it to Texas before the next arctic cold wave made it down south.  We stayed in Crestview the first night and picked up our mail in the morning.  Then we drove to Biloxi.  We spent two nights in the BoomTown RV lot and had buffets at BoomTown (my fav), Imperial Palace (which had pralines!) and Silver Slipper (Corny’s fav) on the way out.  Granny was still there making funnel cakes.

The weather had been cloudy and cool for a couple weeks.  When we hit the Texas state line, we started hearing rumors about a baaad storm front moving in.  It got cold, windy and rainy as we hauled it down the coast.  It was frustrating that we weren’t stopping anywhere to see anything, but we didn’t want to be outside more than a few minutes to water the dogs.  We did make it to a Buc-ee’s and an Aldi where we stocked up on dog food.  We made it to Harlingen/San Benito just before the 42 degree cold spell hit.  It was ugly and windy and drizzly.  I almost bought a Snuggie.  Apparently the whole country had a rough week.  In a few days it was predicted to be back up to the usual 70s.

We picked a campground out of the Passport America guidebook to plug in for heat for a few nights.  I knew right away I didn’t like the place.  It is huge and clean, but cramped with narrow streets and hardly any trees.   We got here and found out you have to pay for wi-fi.  The dog area is so far away, the dogs never made it there.  Except for a pampered library, there is nothing charming about it - our second and third days were spent checking out other campgrounds in Mission and Brownsville.

Our first night we tried the sirloins at Texas Roadhouse.  Once we got used to the blaringly loud music, we were very impressed.  You follow your rolls (and your waiter) to the table, which already has a big bucket of peanuts and the menus on it.  We had a coupon from the RV place for a free bloomin’ onion and couldn’t eat it all.  The steaks were perfect, the potatoes very, very good, and even the green beans were pimped up with bacon and onions.  They also give first-timers a sack of peanuts and a box of rolls to take home.  Verry nice.

The next day, after almost a year, I got a sirloin burger from Jack in the Box.  It was goood.  We found a campground in Mission, TX we liked, even picked out a spot.  It has GRASS and TREES, with plenty of space and free wi-fi.

We checked a couple places in Brownsville the next day but they didn’t come close to the Mission West RV Park.  Although the weather still sucked, we drove around the cute downtown a bit and mailed Glenn a Valentine’s Day package from there.  We went over some curb/barriers to a closed business to get a geocache.  It was too crappy to go to the Gladys Porter zoo.  We’re going to have to come back to Texas’s coast sometime to see it properly.

Finally on our day to leave Harlingen, the weather cleared up and warmed up.  It was grey in the morning but warm enough to get a nice Earthcache in Cameron County.  I drove the Jeep separately the 30 miles or so to Mission and stopped along the way to do a little caching and shopping.  By lunchtime (another sirloin burger @ Jack’s) I was sans jacket, and it felt sooo good to be outside again.  We were ecstatic to walk the dogs around our new home without coats on.  Everybody was sitting outside thanking God for the beautiful weather.  I gather those who have been Winter Texans for decades have never seen such carazy weather.

So that was our trip from Florida to Texas.  There aren’t many pictures since we didn’t do much.  Next entry should be more interesting.  Life is Godd!

Suncoast Second Month

We were good and ready to leave after two months in the same spot!  I reached new records of laziness, hardly ever cooking, geocaching or biking.  Corny started dieting and shrinking almost immediately.  I lost a couple pounds too, despite my best efforts to sneak candy and clandestine trips to McDonald’s.  I plan to lose my Florida weight on the geo-power trails out west…  The days Corny wasn’t doing chores till he was exhausted, he would go for hour-long walks.

The weather was such a roller coaster with cold wave after cold wave - we are thinking next year we will go farther south to Venice/Fort Meyers or even the Keys.  One cold night I made some beer bread just to run the oven.

One random night I was sitting on the sofa listening to the outrageous snoring coming from the bedroom.  I was checking on some family roots stuff as new info is constantly being posted to the internet.  I was linking some Nortons to my Plumbs and noticed a “Download entire GEDCOM file” tab.  I didn’t know how big it was or who it contained, but I was feeling cheeky, so I clicked on it.  OMG.  I found ancestors back to 1400 B.C.  King Dardanus of Dardania, to be exact.  I spent the rest of the month correcting mistakes and merging duplicate records.  I was glad to post the cleaned-up version online so I could take a break from working on it.  I used to print up a new tree every year or so as I added new lines; now my roots are too big to print - it would be over 1000 pages.  It is the “Szabo-Steel” tree at RootsWeb.com.

So while I sat around working on my family tree, Corny ran his little buns off doing a ton of chores.  He hooked up the solar panels, sold the satellite dish, fixed the cracked corian over the stove (which we now call Frankenstove), hooked towing equipment and a new bike rack to the Jeep, and repaired a bunch of little things around the RV.  He was constantly telling me what kind of screw or gadget he needed from Home Depot or Harbor Freight Tools.  He borrowed Glenn’s Dremel tool three or four times.

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FRANKENSTOVE

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New bike rack - they don’t dangle

We saw Glenn usually twice a week; a lot of times we met him at IHOP after work.  He came over for Christmas and we had steaks on the grill and baked apples from the crock pot.  He went to the RV show with us.  I also talked him into getting a flu shot with me - first time I’ve ever gotten one - after hearing about the deaths from swine flu in Dade County.  Other than going with him to shoot his bow & arrow, there wasn’t much else he was interested in doing.  He’s discovered the life of a working man.  He’s taking one course online at St. Pete College, so at least he can work at something less physically demanding in the future.

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Shorty needs a shower with a skylight!

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My hero

This month I saw movies twice again and used up the last of my AMC gift cards:  Walter Mitty, Anchorman 2, Grudge Match, Saving Mr. Banks  and American Hustle (in order of awesomeness).  I really enjoyed the transformation of Walter Mitty.  I’d see that one again.  I didn’t see the original Anchorman; I will now.  My favorite part was when Steve Carrel met the receptionist.  Grudge Match kept me interested although I despise boxing.  Mr. Banks was a bit depressing and the lead was cold and unlikable.  Which brings us to the bottom of the list.  American Hustle. Ick.

Second trip to the theater I saw Nebraska, Her, Lone Survivor, Paranormal Activity and Inside Llewyn Davis.  Bruce Dern did an awesome job in Nebraska - probably his best ever, and I loved the irreverent little old lady.  Again, almost any trip makes for a good movie.  Her did get long at a couple points, but the idea makes you look around the real world a little more suspiciously…  It was painful watching our guys get banged around and shot full of holes on Lone Survivor.  Good job, though, I felt like I was right there next to them.  Paranormal was okay.  Not goosebumps down to my ankles, but some decent scares.  Which brings us to the bottom of the barrel.  I didn’t like ANYTHING about Llewyn Davis.

When Corny went to the RV Park office to settle the electric bill and reserve a spot for next year, they mentioned that we had expected to be in “another” spot, so they were going to credit us for some mysterious amount.  I dunno if someone heard me calling them scheisters or if they were just worried that we weren’t happy because they never saw the whites of our eyes in the clubhouse.  Their reviews on TripAdvisor are already “mixed”.

So we are spending a week or so in Inverness to do the Withlacoochee State Forest rails-to-trails bike path.  It is studded with geocaches.  I had started on each end previously, now I hope to finish the center.  We called about a week in advance and reserved the last site at Riverside Lodge RV Park.  I gasped when I saw our site - right next to the Withlacoochee River.  It IS one of the most expensive places we’ve stayed.  It is fussed over by an older guy with a German accent.  After that week, we’re pointing the RV toward Texas, then north, then down the west coast after school starts in the fall.  We probably won’t be back to Florida until next December.  Yeehaw!  Life is Godd!

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Break out the rockin’ chairs!

Holidays at Suncoast

 

We pulled into our assigned spot (which was different than the one we reserved) on 11/21.  It was a little after closing time, so the office people said we would “take care of the paperwork” tomorrow.  Fine.  We got settled on the roomy site between two RVs from Michigan.

In the morning, we discovered the site we had been assigned to was “premium” and an additional $60/month (x2) to be closer to the dumpster, dog poop area, and pool.  We felt tricked by scheisters.  There were empty spaces just six feet away in the next row with no extra charge.  Cornelius didn’t have a copy of the rates to look at while they were doing the paperwork.   He had put down a deposit so I wasn’t sure how much the balance was.  Never did anyone say anything about a “premium” site.  We just assumed the rates had increased until we went outside and looked at the “late check-in” board where they were posted.  Then we discovered the $60/month fee.  We debated moving the RV but weren’t too optimistic about ever getting the $120 back from them.

Our neighbors are staying six months in the “premium” sites.  They each have big screen-rooms set up to avoid the no see-ums in the evening, since we are so close to the Gulf shore here.  They aren’t a problem unless there is absolutely NO breeze.

The first day here we walked over to the Gulf View mall and ate at Chik fil-a.  We saw Glenn at the IHOP across from Hyundai after work.  We met him there many, many more nights after that.  We also made a habit of walking to Taco Bell, Boston Market, and a nice gyro place nearby.  The time we went across Hwy 19 to Golden Corralph, we drove (much safer, according to Corny).  I debated how pedestrians manage to get hit, because I would wait until the coast is clear.

Glenn detailed the Jeep a couple days after we got back.  I was wandering around as he was working and said “Are those our floor mats?”  I had forgotten how they looked without a half-inch of sand on them. 

I took the motorcycle out a couple times but didn’t like it as much as at ONF, feeling like a sitting duck on Hwy 19.  I used the bicycle more, and we just got a bike rack for the Jeep (yay!).  I’d like to stay around Inverness a week or so and complete the Withlahoochee State Forest rails-to-trails before we leave for Texas.

One day I donned my new snake boots and hiked around Starkey Park for a couple hours finding geocaches.  My hip was hurting in a way I’ve never imagined - spasming and contracting down to my knee.  I think I was walking funny in the new boots.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day, but after sleeping all night I was okay.  This getting old thing sucks.

We had Thanksgiving at Glenn’s house.  We were surprised to be invited, as I haven’t spoken to his dad in about 10 years, but didn’t want to say no to Glenn.  Corny kept the conversation rolling.  There was an abundance of good food.  I was glad to know that Glenn would be eating well through the next week.

We went to a couple geo-events - the first was a cookie exchange in Wesley Chapel.  We went to the park but couldn’t find the event.  It was full of soccer players, but no geo-looking people.  I pulled up the event description on my GPS and discovered it was at 3pm, not 9am.  Ewps.  Luckily Corny had been smiling on the way there (about 30 miles) and made a comment like “It’s so nice to get out of the traffic for a ride in the Jeep”.  We went home, napped, and drove back in the afternoon.  Some of the cookies didn’t make it till morning.

The second event was a blast - we wore our Christmas T-shirts and elf hats and laughed a lot.  It was a gift exchange/steal at a new overpriced bar/restaurant in Clearwater.  You could either open a present from the table or steal something from someone else.  Two different headlamps, an ammo can, 10 lottery scratch-off tickets and some geocoins were stolen over and over again.  One of the stealers got taken out of the running when he went up and opened the “booby” prize we had brought.  We had found a highway department flashing light lying in the grass while walking to Wally’s one night.  It was pretty scratched up - I think a car hit the barricade it had been attached to and it went flying.  I taped a nice Groundspeak Headquarters trackable to the bottom of it.  Of course the crowd laughed at him when he opened it.

While we were at the event, we ordered some nachos to share.  They came with FRESH jalapenos!  Yay!  It had been so long since I had been to Tijuana Flats that I forgot about cutting them into fourths.  I ate a nacho with a whole big slice of jalapeno and nearly burned off the lining of my mouth.  I’ll defer mentioning what happened to my bunghole the next day.

I had Corny drop me at the Oldsmar 20 theater a couple times.  The first time I saw About Time, Last Vegas, Gravity, All is Lost, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Delivery Man, and half of Free Birds.  Hands down, Gravity was the best.  I kept holding my breath and the special effects were outta this world.  Plus, what’s not to like about Sandra Bullock.  I enjoyed Last Vegas a lot; I liked the “old folks” ribbing going on between the guys  (“I have a hemorrhoid older than your girlfriend”) and it was fun seeing the places we had been last spring.  I told Corny he needs to see it.  About Time and All is Lost were also good.  The others were okay.  I just wasn’t in the mood for a cartoon.

The second time at the theater I saw Madea’s Christmas, Philomena, Blue Jasmine, The Book Thief, and Out of the Furnace.  Unfortunately Madea was probably the most entertaining.  It had some hilarious one liners and Larry the Cable Guy had a lot of them.  Next best and most memorable was Furnace, although it will probably win some award for being most depressing movie of the decade.  The tag line for it is “Sometimes your battles choose you”.  I identified with the lead character and was rooting for him in the end.  Philomena was next best - I liked the dynamics between the two leads and the story was absorbing.  Book Thief was very well done but seemed overly long.  It couldn’t decide whether to be innocent or serious.   Blue Jasmine was my least favorite.   I didn’t care for the schizo lead who overacted as the norm. The other characters didn’t make sense.

Glenn came over one day and we went to see Hunger Games II.  It was okay, just very obvious that there will be a III (like the book series).  We enjoyed it; I found out G had been wanting a Samick bow for a couple years but the price never goes down according to CamelCamel (an online price tracking service).  I got him one for Christmas, and Corny got him the target and arrows.

We tried a new restaurant within walking distance of Glenn’s house, Hadgi’s.  Our burgers were solid, they must’ve started out 1/2 pound, and Corny’s chicken gyro looked awesome - I’m getting that next time.  They have a $3-4 breakfast menu for Glenn AND they deliver.  Glenn took a menu home with him.

Well this is getting long and that brings us to the end of our first month, so I’ll break here.  I am LOVING life.  Life is Godd!

Post Finder’s Fest in the Forest

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After all the activities and geotraffic, we hit the trails in the Jeep several times.  The only wildlife we saw was turkeys.  Corny did a face plant on a tree branch while hunting a cache and got a big scratch on his cheek, about an inch below his eye.  At another site I slipped on pine needles and landed on a manly sticker bush.  I pulled a big thorn out of my flesh and had big long scratches on my forearm.  The first day out, I was wearing black socks and never knew I had gotten into a bunch of DAMN chiggers.  I scratched myself silly the next few weeks and even avoided geocaching a couple days because with every step I took, my feet were miserably itchy.  I ALWAYS wear white socks when hiking now.

The first time I took the Dual Sport on a Jeep trail a small bear ran across about 100’ in front of me.  I was worried there might be a big momma behind him, but she must’ve been ahead, or I never saw her.  I was beeping the little Yamaha horn.  Of course the next cache was located right where the bear had crossed.  That was the second time I have geocached with my gun drawn.  I was pretty nervous, ducking into the brush for the cache.  Later I was sitting down resting and a little buck came up the trail and eyed me.  He looked me over then stomped his little feet and snorted before flying into the forest.  It was a real treat to meet him.

The bike was a lot of fun on the sandy Jeep trails.  I was doubting I could make it at first, but I saw the tracks of a motorcycle that had been there before me.  Or was it an ATV.  I figured out quickly that the farther back on the seat I satmyass, the better traction I got.  At one corner the sand was well over a foot deep - more like 1  1/2’ - and I had to turn across the ruts.   I was holding the bike up with my right foot to turn right, but my boot kept slipping away out from under me.  I said “Sorry, bike”, shut off the engine and set it down.  It was hard picking it’s almost 300# back up because both my boots kept slipping out from under me like I was one of the Three Stooges - whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop!  I left quite the tracks in the sand there.  I wonder if the Jeep would’ve gotten stuck.

Sonny’s BBQ ended their “Q for Two” promotion so we had to order off the real menu.  I was very disappointed with my chargrilled chicken sandwich - although tasty, it was just the chicken on a bare bun.  I had been wanting to try the salad bar and was disappointed by it, too.  Not only was the sneeze shield so grimy I could barely see through it, the potato salad tasted like it was from Wal-Mart, the broccoli salad was soggy and tasteless, and the “Greek feta” dressing was ordinary Italian dressing with some cheese crumbles.  Corny’s brisket was good and lean, but was about half the amount of meat on the Q menu and didn’t come with garlic bread.  We really missed the awesome chicken nachos, too.  We didn’t leave hungry, but we’re going to give Sonny’s a break for a while.

We didn’t have any trick-or-treaters at Ben’s although I had put together six little zippy bags of candy just in case.  There is a big bonfire every evening but Corny has only gone over there once to burn some of his receipts.  We haven’t used the pool.  It is in the shade in the mornings.

After Finder’s Fest I stayed home several days nursing an Aldi’s cheese puff addiction because it was too hot.  Then another  rainy cold front moved through and cooled things down again.  I found myself feeling very happy and Blessed, even undeserving, of the great year we’ve had in the RV;  all the things we’ve seen and gorgeous, relaxing places we’ve been to.  I want it to last longer - I’m signing up for another year!  Corny and I talked about how much more fun we’ll have with the Jeep, going places where no other hoomans will spoil our view.

To wrap things up, I had bear sightings about every other trip out, lots of turkeys, a red-tail hawk flying with a 2 1/2 foot snake in his clutches, and the little snorting buck.  I’m a little miffed that I didn’t see any other snakes - not even a black racer.  During our stay here I accumulated about 350 cache finds and moved up a few notches on Florida’s “Rankings” list to #63 (http://www.cacherstats.com/Florida1.html).  In some other lesser populated/snowbird states I would be in the top ten. 

We got a flat tire on the Jeep already.  A roofing nail.  It was $23 to fix the plug.  That day we tried Longhorn Steakhouse for the first time.  We got their pretzel breadsticks for an appetizer - they were awesome.  My steak was good, but Corny’s hamburger was raw inside.  Good God, they can’t cook a HAMBURGER?  We sent it back but by the time the second one came, I was done with my steak.  We got it to go.  They took it off the bill, but we won’t be going back there.

Later that week we went to Outback for lunch and our waitress was sick - couldn’t talk, probably from strep throat.  Her hair looked sweaty, like she was feverish.  I was extremely nervous and didn’t drink anything because she had put the straws in our drinks.  I went home and took every kind of vitamin I had.  Now we know better - if you ever get a sick waitress, quietly leave the restaurant.  Thankfully, we didn’t get sick.

We finally got the dogs to a Vet for heartworm medicine, only Dolly refused to cooperate.  We heard her in back screaming and rolled our eyes.  The girl finally brought her out and said all that noise was to just pick her up off the scale.  They weren’t about to attempt to draw blood.  I wasn’t about to sedate her for routine healthcare.  Anyways, it came to over $300 for two dogs for one year of heartworm pills.  Bubbles needs the expensive kind ($20/pill) that controls fleas, too.  She had been scratching herself silly lately.

While I was off geocaching, Corny installed solar panels, ripped the carpet out of the bedroom and layed vinyl flooring.  We were at Lowe’s one day and a bum was working the parking lot.  I was sitting in the Jeep and he claimed he was trying to get enough money to get a Subway sandwich for his granddaughter.  I told him no.  As I watched him in the mirror, he begged  from old sick people on scooters.  It pissed me off and I was a little bored, so I went inside to report him.  I waited in line at the return counter for a little bit, but when my turn came up the race of the clerk was the same race as the bum, so I left.  There was no greeter at the door to tell.  I left the store and boom, there was the bum right in front of me, begging.  I told him I had just reported him for begging and he was about to get kicked out of there if he didn’t leave.  First he said “What” so I repeated it again, exactly.  He wanted to argue with me that he wasn’t begging or bothering anyone; I said “The end” and walked away to the car.  He was ranting as he quickly left.  There was a young white girl waiting for him, his lookout I suppose. 

After Lowe’s we went to Aldi, and guess who was there begging!  I went in to the check-out area, not the grocery area.  He saw me go in and was glaring at me through the windows.  I told the manager but by the time he came up to the front, the bum was well on his way to Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart has a security patrol, so although it would’ve been fun, we passed up the chance to get him kicked out of there too.  I saw the bum and his “granddaughter” on the sidewalk a couple days later.

After Corny finished up the solar panels, the first time it rained we sprung a leak.  Luckily it leaked inside the TV cabinet and nothing was ruined.

Off to Suncoast!  Glenn is there and life is a bit more civilized, indoorsy and leisurely.  Maybe my bug bites will heal.  Life is Godd!

Ocala, FL and Finder’s Fest #9

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^ We took the bypass around the mudhole…

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^ …this guy didn’t.

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^ HAIL NO that’s not our Jeep! (notice the soft-top)

For years we’ve been stopping in Wildwood to load up on chocolate at the Russell Stover Outlet.  While in Holiday, Corny discovered there is a Thousand Trails campground just up the street!  We scored a coupon to stay for a free “customer appreciation” night and added another night for $32 en route to Ocala.  We had a nice, spacious shady site and free pizza Saturday.  We also played “card” bingo and I think we were the youngest people in the room.  We won a couple backpacks and some chip clips.  The hitch was, we had to listen to a little spiel about upgrading our “zone” membership, etc.

Then we continued the hour or so drive to Ben’s Hitchin’ Post in Ocala National Forest.  We had reserved for a month.  I was driving the Jeep with the Dual Sport on back - we haven’t gotten the tow bar yet.  I stopped at Lee’s Famous Recipe on the way.  The biscuit was so light and fluffy and buttery I ordered four to go.  I don’t know why KFC can’t do chicken right. 

The next morning I took the bike out caching.  Corny stayed home and ripped the carpet out of the bedroom.  He got some vinyl flooring from the Georgetown factory in Indiana while on his storage run to Ohio.  When I got home, we went to Lowe’s, Sonny’s and Aldi just six miles away in Silver Springs.  We’re convinced this Sonny’s is better than the Clearwater Sonny’s, and Holy chicken, are they busy.  They may try harder because there is another BBQ place right next door. 

The next day I went Jeep caching until it got too hot.  I decided for road caching I prefer the Jeep because I can bring the cooler with a gallon of water and lunch and all my geocrap, plus I have shade.  With the bike I’m in constant sun and only have a little toolbox strapped to the seat.  Of course, the bike is way more maneuverable and will shine on a narrow trail.  I wasn’t about to take the Jeep on a Jeep trail before Corny puts the first pinstriping on it. 

The next day I got up, got dressed, lay down on the couch and didn’t wake up till 2pm!  Corny had only gotten up at about 1pm.  I figured the day was shot and stayed home to watch for 300 new caches to be published.  They started trickling in around 6pm, and were still trickling the next morning.  Around 9am we headed out to our first official Jeep trail and had a blast.  We were gone for six hours and it flew by. 

We found about 25 caches which were all brand new, well stocked ammo cans.  We scored five pathtags, an unactivated Ice Cream Man geocoin and were “First to Find” on the cache at the end of the trail.  We “Did Not Find” one - we went around in circles for about half an hour until my legs were feeling raw from rubbing up against the palmettos and oak scrub. 

We bumped into another geocacher in a two wheel drive Chevy truck who reminds me of a hillbilly Glenn - he’s tall and thin, a little older than Glenn with a beard, wears coveralls and cowboy boots and has a little twang.  He told us about the “mudhole” ahead where he had turned around.  I am drawn to him because he reminds me of Glenn, however I think we made him nervous as every time I took a step toward him, he took a step back.  I heard the next day that he had been up all night geocaching in the dark, so he was probably a little out of his head by afternoon.

The mudhole was about 30’ long by 20’ wide and who knows how deep with black water.  We took the “bypass” around it, squeezing between some big oaks.  There were only three caches past the mudhole, then we headed home.  It was already 4:00!  We were thinking about what we could eat when I remembered the Hot Dog event was at 6:00.  We showered, made a big pot of pasta, and sat down for about 10 minutes until it was time to go.

We took our folding chairs and spent the sunset listening to geopeople talk.  I got two grilled hot dogs since Corny doesn’t like them.  He got to try some venison.  Someone had brought some really good potato salad with chunks of tomato and sweet pepper in it.  There were lots of cookies but no brownies - there are usually 2-3 batches of brownies at these events!  I was disappointed, so we went to Aldi afterward and got chocolate cake.

We slept quick because the next morning we had an 8am “Jeep Parade” event to attend.  We got there about 20 minutes early.  It was fun watching all the seasoned Jeeps file in.  Corny perused many of them and pointed out various options.  The hosts had a huge spread for breakfast.  Once we went to a morning event and all they had was Pop-Tarts.  The bananas we had brought went quick.  Anyways, these people brought several types of donuts and rolls, coffee, OJ, hot chocolate, yogurt, bananas and apples.

Much to our chagrin, people stood around flapping their lips for a solid hour.  We were ready to go and felt like we could’ve slept another hour!  Finally we all followed the leader down the Jeep trail we had just been on the previous day.  I guess the leaders didn’t do their homework and thought they would be getting a bunch of “First to Find” caches for the group. 

At our previous DNF, 18 people banged around without finding the cache.  We formed a line and made a sweep of ground zero but no-one came up with the cache.  The hider must’ve fat-fingered the coordinates, or completely forgot to place a cache after getting coords.  I heard he got stuck in a small mud puddle while placing them; maybe he was flustered. 

Our leader had a snorkel on his Jeep so he could go into deep water and not smother his engine.  He plowed through the 20x30’ mudhole and the rest of the sheep followed.  I heard the engines gunning and ran up to the front of the line with my camera.  OHHHHH, NOOOO, somebody’s gonna get stuck!  I watched 3-4 Jeeps swim through; one came out with steam pouring from under his hood.  It was then that my thoughts changed from “I’d better tell Corny to roll up the windows” to “OH HAIL NO, YOU’RE NOT GOING THROUGH THERE!!!”  I waved my finger and shook my head at him and he pulled to the side so the few Jeeps (and a 4x4 truck) behind him could pass.  I told him the third Jeep’s engine was smoking and fortunately he agreed to skip this little experiment.  Oh, I cannot tell you how my stomach felt after seeing the damaged Jeep, then seeing Corny behind the wheel in 4x4 gear, waiting for his turn!  I didn’t want him to hurt the Jeep!  I’m soooo glad he agreed to take a pass, even with a couple people egging him on.

We walked up to the front of the line to the guy with steam pouring out of his hood.  His fan wasn’t working, the A/C wouldn’t cycle on, the fuses were fine and the temperature gauge read “okay”.  I don’t know if the water shorted something out or a branch or pine needles got wrapped around his fan and killed it.  The guy said he would watch the temp and “Let’s go”.  We went back to the mudhole and turned around.  We had left at 7:30am and got back home around 2pm, after stopping at Sonny’s for lunch.

After showers and naps, we decided to skip the Chili Contest tasting event.  We have been doubting the relevance of two anti-social people attending all these social events.  I think Corny is trying to talk me out of coming to FFF next year because he wants to do the California coast in the fall.  I dunno, we found tons of pathtags in swag-filled ammo cans this trip…

The next day was officially “Finder’s Fest”, although we don’t participate in the Gauntlet race or the Poker Run.  Lunch was to be served “after the activities”, which I thought was usually around 1pm.  We went to the event grounds around 12:30pm and the cooking hadn’t started - the #10 beans were still stacked around the grill.  We had lunch at a gas station Subway and headed off to another Jeep trail.  The dirt roads were crazy busy with GXers and also hunters, as 10/26 was the first day of hunting season of some sort in ONF.  I saw a guy gutting a deer at a game station on the way to the trail.  I would have to have starving children in order to kill another being. 

This trail was more interesting - at one point there must’ve been a spring because it seemed we were driving up a little sandy clear stream.  I was a bit nervous - I wondered if we were driving into a big lake, or quicksand.  I think Corny was nervous too, but on some of the higher sandy areas we could see tire tracks - he pointed this out twice.  There were also a few puddles further along, none more than a foot deep.  We got the Jeep a little muddy, but Corny did just fine. 

We found over 30 caches and an oodle of pathtags - so many I started feeling a little guilty about collecting them.  We do put a couple pens and two signature items in each can, so I guess it’s okay.  That’s why people put the pathtags in there, for someone to take them, right?  Not only am I adding 20+ pathtags to my collection, I have over 10 for trades.  I bought five (plus the T-shirt) when I registered for FFF.  I think more people are using personal pathtags now.  A lot of people use a picture of their tag as their profile picture on geocaching.com.  I suppose if I had an income I would have some made for us.  We would have an RV, a Jeep, the state of Florida and maybe a chihuahua on ours.  Or maybe a bear.

I think I’m rambling, but I want to add that in one of the caches we found a card with an ice cream cone on one side and instructions to trade it for a special prize on the other.  After we had been on the trail a good long time, we stopped back at the event grounds to find Ice Cream Man.  I traded the ice cream card for a cool bear geocoin I’ll keep. 

The next day we were supposed to go to an ice cream social at 1pm.  It interfered with my nap - I woke up at 2pm.  We stayed home all day.  Corny grilled burgers and we did several loads of laundry.  I’m kinda glad the events are over.  Now they won’t interrupt our geocaching.  I know I’ll be taking the motorcycle out some more but it has been around 50 chilly degrees in the mornings.  The days I get off to a late start, I will take the bike.  Corny is falling in love with the Jeep - he has asked several times what I will be doing tomorrow and “Would you like to go on some more Jeep trails?”.   Life is Godd.

Holiday, Florida

Since the last Florida entry, we’ve seen a lot of Glenn xoxoxoxo, emptied the storage unit, gave the Yaris to Glenn, attended a Geo-event at Phillipe Park, practiced at the range, survived Tropical Storm Karen (haha), visited Phil and Armando, put running boards and a tow receiver on the Jeep, sold the Virago to a good home, I found more Indians in my family tree, Corny drove the Roadtrek to the Ohio storage facility and back, we used the ”resort” pool, and had two solar panels delivered (they’re still in the basement).

The first few weeks it was just too hot to be outside without shade.  Many times it was miserable just taking the dogs out for a few minutes.  I felt like a shut-in, listening to the roar of the A/C all day.  One Saturday we went to the mall just to walk laps.  Finally after TS Karen, temperatures dipped to less than 90.  I think we came home a few weeks too early.

We went to the Americana 50’s Diner quite a bit - it is Glenn’s favorite restaurant.  Corny and I went to Sonny’s BBQ a lot; once we went two days in a row.  I was doing quite a bit of cooking, too, and our fridge was always packed.  It was a pleasure having Glenn come over after work.  It was a bit of a drive to Aldi for groceries, but Corny loves Aldi.  We grilled burgers a few times.

On to Ocala!

Home is where your kid is…

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BIG SIGH!

FLORIDA!

FINALLY, and not soon enough, we parked it at Holiday RV Park and signed up for a month.  We got there on Glenn’s day off so in the afternoon we surprised him at his door.  He had just gotten home from the dentist and Boston Market, but we dragged him to Cody’s anyway.  He had a roll.  We dragged him to Aldi’s, too, and got him a few little groceries. 

Our first day we went to the storage unit to get Corny’s parents’ wedding album for me to scan.  I ended up riding the Virago home.  We ate at Sweet Tomatoes and when Glenn came over later we fed him Awesome Frickin’ Chicken from the crock pot.

Next day we went up to Port Richey to look at Suncoast RV park, which Corny had me check out last June.  I gave him a good report.  It is especially, glaringly nice after coming directly from Holiday RV Park.  We made reservations to stay there after our month at Ben’s in Ocala.  We went over to the mall next door and got a TV antenna from Best Buy.  I had nearly lost the will to live when we were able to get every channel except CBS when the new Survivor started.  I had to watch the premier episode on the mini-computer.  We are going to be within walking distance of Harold Seltzer’s steakhouse and Chik fil-a up at Suncoast!

Next night (Friday) I made breakfast for Glenn after work.  He was feeling a little pressed for time due to his class work so we told him we’d quit bugging him until he calls us Monday after work.

Saturday we went to the Ferman dealership to test drive a Jeep and ended up buying one!  There was one Jeep in the area with side air bags, so we got it.  It is white, not our first choice, but not our last either.  It’ll be easy to cover dings & scratches.  It is a Wrangler Sport S (the ex “X”) - we pick it up Monday.  We celebrated at Cody’s and had the same table and the same waitress, who remembered us.  There was a big empty spot where Glenn had been before!

It took me two days to scan about 40 wedding photos because I was using a high resolution.  Now the big album can go to storage in Ohio or (preferably) to Corny’s sister and niece in New Mexico.

Well, unless you all are interested in where we eat every day, I’ll put the “travel” blog on pause for a few months.  I’ll update occasionally about anything RV related, or geocaching events.  Life is Godd!