Thursday, September 25, 2014

Keeping Connected

Jacksonville, FL--No, we are not yet on the road again. But we have hopes of hitting the pavement in less than two months. Jim should have the siding on the house done next week (unless we have bad weather). Once that he done, he has to repair the swim-spa, then install a base plate on our Ford Edge (and maybe a hitch, too, so we can haul a small boat), and then we will finally be ready to go!

Jim is busy installing siding on the south side of our house.

The poor swim-spa popped out of the ground. After we emptied its water and before we could refill it, we had a downpour that caused this malfunction. It has to be reinstalled. 

We love our 2011 Ford Edge. It needs a base plate so we can tow it. And we want a hitch on the rear end so we can pull a small boat (not while we are towing it, however).


In the meantime, I am always looking for economical ways to remain connected while we are on the road. This is especially important when I am working on a freelance project, as I have been doing for Reed Business Systems for the last couple of months. Although many RV parks claim they have WIFI, usually it is impossible to connect, unless I take my computer up to the clubhouse, something that is not very convenient to do.

My first venture into mobile computing was a Virgin Mobile broadband stick. It was 3G (which was the best technology back then, in the "dark ages" of only four years ago). It worked pretty well, although coverage was not the best. Also, connectivity was limited to one device.

My next purchase was a T-Mobile hotspot device. It was 4G, and I could purchase data without having a contract, just as I could with the Virgin Mobile device. Not have a contract is important to me. I don't want to pay for months I do not use the data. T-Mobile was the most economical of all the no-contract plans I could find. However, T-Mobile's coverage is sometimes spotty, as we discovered in Georgia and also the Keys.

I've investigated other hotspot devices and service plans, but today we came across a special offer from Karma Go. The offer came through a CNet newsletter Jim and I subscribe to, Cheapskate. This daily newsletter alerts us to special deals, many often free. After much evaluation of the offer, I decided to take advantage of it, even though it meant purchasing yet another device.

The Karma device, in this special offer (which is only for the next couple of days), is $99, and through the offer, we get 1 GB of data free. We will be able to purchase 10 GB at a time, for $99. The good thing: The data never expires.

Karma is using a different approach to marketing, too. The device allows up to eight people to use the hotspot at one time. Aside from the owner, those eight could be strangers. Not good? Not really. They can't get into the owner's data. To use the hotspot, they have to open an account. When they do that, they get 100 MB free data, and 100 MB of free data is also added to the owner's account. Their use does not take away from the owner's data, either. It's their own 100 MB.

Karma uses Sprint's LTE (and 3G, if LTE is not available) network, which is what most of the other no-contract no-name carriers use (e.g. Virgin Mobile and Freedompop). That was actually one of the primary reasons I decided to splurge on the new device. My T-Mobile is 4G, not LTE. And LTE is a whole lot faster than 4G. (I can still use my T-Mobile in areas where Spring is not available.) Spring has also extended its coverage. It's not nearly as good as AT&T and Verizon, but it looks to be better than T-Mobile.

My device is preordered; it won't arrive until December. But that's OK. If we hit the road before then, I still have my T-Mobile hotspot.

If you do any traveling or just want to have connectivity wherever you are, you might want to consider Karma. (When you click on the link, scroll down until you see the hotspot.) But do it quickly. The offer is only good for four more days.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda

Friday, August 8, 2014

A kayak adventure

Jacksonville, Fla. -- No, we are not on the road. And we won't be for a couple more months. Jim continues with his daily IV antibiotic treatments (to cure the bone infection caused by a cat bite), but his daily medical treatment has not stopped us from enjoying life. Even if we can't travel.

Our adventure today involved kayaking.

Several months ago, we decided to start fishing. That decision inevitably led to a discussion about all things floating--bass boats, dinghies, canoes, and kayaks.

Kayaks are relatively inexpensive, can be hauled on top of the SUV, and are great for fishing close to shore in shallow areas of rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes. When we were camping in Central Florida a few months ago, our neighbors bought a tandem (two-person) kayak that had foot pedals to propel it. We thought that was pretty nifty.

With research, though, we pretty much decided that a tandem kayak wasn't really good for fishing; it just wasn't big enough to accommodate two people as well as fishing gear. Single kayaks were another thing, however. Jim kept investigating them and remained keen on them. I wasn't so sure. The only way we would know if we would like kayaking was to try it out.

Along came a Living Social coupon offer: $20 (each) for a full-day's kayak rental at All-Wet Sports here in Jacksonville. It is located on Pottsberg Creek, which meanders for miles.

Both kayaks we rented were sit-on-top style. The "kayak master" had only one detachable seat available for rent; I got it. The seat provided some back support, but had no padding. Jim's kayak was a slightly different style. His seat had a mini-back, but no padding.

The kayak master suggested we turn left off the boat ramp into the creek to have a scenic paddle for about three miles. He said that within a couple hundred yards, we wouldn't hear any cars or see many signs of human habitation. He said we might see some manatees (we didn't), turtles (we did), and various birds (we spied some, including a couple of blue herons). We also saw thousands of hermit crabs scurrying for shelter as the tide went out.

Our adventure took us upstream, paddling against the tide. It was so quiet, it was hard to believe we were in the city not far from downtown. The water was clear although tannin-stained. We saw a couple of fish jump, but no schools or even solitary swimmers.

Paddling a kayak is not a difficult skill to learn; nevertheless, I got hung up a couple of times on sunken tree trunks and shallow water. All in all, we had a good time. When I looked at my cell phone (safely stored inside a clear dry bag), I was surprised at how fast the time had gone by. We had paddled for several hours.

We learned some things:

  • Kayaking is hard work. I'm sure I will feel the effects of paddling tomorrow in my shoulders and arms.
  • Kayaking is wet. I thought that by sitting on top of (rather than in) the kayak, I would remain dry. Not so. Water dripped off the oars, and within 20 minutes, my shorts were soaked.
  • Going downstream is a lot easier than going upstream. Duh! Until we came to deeper water where the current wasn't felt, we did very little paddling going "home."
  • Kayaking is not comfortable. At least not in the kayaks we rented. We left about 11:30 a.m. and returned about 2:15 p.m. Throughout that time we were sitting in the kayak. My feet hurt; my back hurt; and my butt hurt. If I were to buy a kayak, I would invest in some very comfortable seats with lots of padding. But that still wouldn't solve the problem of staying seated for a long period of time. It is not possible to stand up in the type of kayak we rented. 
  • Kayaking is not how we want to fish. I want a comfortable seat and lots of room. I prefer not to get wet unless I deliberately choose to get wet. 
That last point is the most important probably. If we ever sell our house and buy one on some water, we might buy one or two kayaks just for fun. But we really don't want to fish from a kayak. Too much work to get to where you want to go and too much distraction to try to paddle and fish at the same time. 

I'm glad we had our little adventure, and I would probably do it again. It was fun; it was serene. 

But I think we will consider buying a small boat for fishing.

Before I close, a word about the pictures I did not take. I didn't want to take my cell phone out of its waterproof bag, but I was willing to risk harm to my inexpensive Kodak camera. I had put new batteries in the camera before we left home, but the camera malfunctioned and I did not get pictures of Jim paddling up the creek or of the blue heron sunning in a tree. I'll have to let you use your imagination to "see" those images.

Until next time,


Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Fire!

August 3, 2014—It could happen to o you...to us...or to anyone.  It DID happen to Jim’s daughter-in-law.

Teresa was anticipating a great vacation with her two kids. (Marshall is working overseas.) They planned to drive up to Kentucky to spend some time with her family and enjoy the cooler weather in the Midwest. This was not the first time she has ventured out in the motorhome by herself; she has successfully driven it (and her Wrangler toad) several times.

For this trip, she stowed clothes, food, and gear into the motorhome; hitched up the Wrangler; gassed up both vehicles; checked all systems; put the cats and kids on board; and fired up the engine.

A few miles (literally) down the road, disaster happened. The Wrangler caught fire and the fire quickly spread to the motorhome. Both are total wrecks. Fortunately, everyone (including the cats) got out and no one was hurt.


Teresa reported that the fire department responded quickly, but not fast enough to save the vehicles. The Jeep, incidentally, was a new 2013. It didn’t have too many miles on it. The motorhome was a 2007 gas driven, 38-foot RV that slept six. It contained not only their clothes but all types of duplicate small appliances and kitchenware, such as mixer, rice cooker, pots and pans, storage equipment, etc.

Cause of the fire? Still unknown.

We had a similar (but far less devastating) incident the first time we towed our car. Jim had hooked up the car (our old HHR) in the RV storage lot and towed it about five miles. We were turning the corner on Beach Blvd. to Hodges (about two miles from our house), when someone yelled that we had lost a hubcap from the car. Jim pulled over and we discovered that the brakes had locked up and we had essentially dragged the car for about five miles. No fire, but we had to replace two tires and redo the master brakes and brake shoes, if I recall correctly. Not inexpensive, but at least we did not have a fire.

To make sure that never happens again, every time we hook up the car, after checking to make sure all the lights work properly, I watch the wheels turn as Jim pulls forward several yards. We’ve had no problems since that first time.

We are glad Teresa and the kids and cats are OK. In my opinion, she’s a brave lady even to drive the RV herself. Now she can add to that bravery as having survived an RV fire that could have been disastrous.

Until next time,


Your Reluctant Rover,
Linda

Saturday, April 19, 2014

From Tadpole to Full-Grown Toad

If you watch RVs going down the road, you'll notice that most of them tow a vehicle behind them. Most of these vehicles are flat-towed--that is, they are towed with all four wheels on the ground.

Unfortunately for RVers, the choice of which cars can be flat-towed is limited, especially if you want to operate a car other than a sedan, such as an SUV.
Good-bye tadpole, our 2006 HHR.



Hello, full-grown toad, our 2001 Ford Edge SEL


When we bought our first RV, we owned a 2006 Nissan Murano. Unfortunately, it was one of the cars that was not towable. So we had to shop for another car. We settled on the 2009 Chevy HHR, which we misnamed "toad." ("Toad" for "towed"--get it?)

I say "misnamed" because the HHR, although a fun car, was a pretty basic vehicle. And, it was small. It was more like a tadpole, rather than a full-grown toad.

The car was OK, but I was never in love with it. Reliable? Yes. Good mileage? Yes. Cute? Yes. Comfortable? Yes. (Actually, the seats were much more comfortable than the Murano's.) But it was small and I always felt cramped. And it didn't have some of the things I really liked in the Murano, such as a backup camera, a compass, and dual climate controls.

Jim liked the HHR better than I did, but he agreed it was time to look for a bigger SUV.

We did our homework, and we tentatively decided on a Ford Edge, a 5-passenger crossover SUV about the same size as our Murano. Before we made a decision on that car, though, we had to test-drive it.

So, while we were in Orlando last week, we spent an afternoon at CarMax and then at Greenway Ford. We narrowed our selection to the SEL model, which came with most of the things we wanted. You can probably guess what happened: We found a low-mileage 2011 Edge 2011 and  negotiated a really good deal.

I like it. No buyer's remorse. It has the features we wanted. We can even talk to it and it does our bidding. If I say "Radio," it asks what station I want. If I tell it "Climate," it asks what temperature I would like.

Of course, our new toad is not yet equipped to be towed, so I had to drive it home--in a driving rain. (I confess that I almost wiped out when I hit some standing water on the highway, but the car responded admirably and everything was OK.)

Jim hasn't decided if he will put on the towing base plate himself or will have it done. (I vote the latter.) We don't plan to travel for a couple of months, so there is no hurry.

But it's nice to know that when we do travel, we will be comfortable when we take off on day trips.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda
 

Friday, April 11, 2014

We love Campingworld!

When Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Campingworld/Good Sam, came to the grand opening of its Jacksonville operations  two years ago, he held a raffle and gave away tremendous prizes to virtually everyone who came out that Friday evening. And he made us fall in love with him.

We almost did not go to that event. It had started to rain, and the open house started during rush hour. (Traffic is horrible in Jacksonville at any time, but especially at rush hour.) But, we went. We nibbled on whatever snacks that were gluten-free. And we found a Fantastic Fan (an overhead exhaust fan) to replace one that didn't work in Baby, our first RV.

We were ready to check out, but I checked the time first. It was only 15 minutes until Marcus would begin the drawings for prizes, so we decided to wait. Maybe we would get lucky, I told Jim. Maybe we would win (say) $50.

We won much more than $50. Marcus asked each winner what was on their shopping list for that day, and then he gave them those item(s). When Jim and I realized what he was doing, we decided (if our name was called) we would ask for not only the fan, but also a satellite dish. (We could dream, couldn't we?)

A few minutes later,  Jim's name was called. I went up to Marcus, and he gave us our gifts. The retail value of the satellite dish, fan and installation was more than $2,900. Wow!
Our satellite dish


A few months after we bought Junior (our current RV), we arranged to have the gifts installed. About the same time, we quit U-verse home TV service, and subscribed to DISH satellite service, opting for receivers that could be used in the RV.

We have transported the receiver to the RV several times, but I think we were only successful in watching satellite RV once, because the other times we forgot to bring the remote--just like we did this week. You can't watch satellite TV without the clicker.

Because we (again) forgot the remote, Wednesday seemed an opportune time to purchase a receiver and install it permanently in the RV--especially since we had received a flyer last week from Campingworld that it was on sale for only $75.

That flyer, of course, is sitting on Jim's desk at home. But we figured the receiver would be on sale at the local Campingworld. It was--but not for $75. It was marked down to $99. But would you believe? Although the manager could not find the sales flyer we mentioned, he sold us the receiver for the amount we told him was advertised. (We told him we could wait until we got home, but he insisted.)
satellite receiver and other AV equipment


Jim spent the afternoon installing the receiver, which allows you to use your own hard drive to record programs. We brought our hard drive with us, and we are able to not only record programs, or watch them live, we can also watch shows previously recorded. Just like at home.
Just like at home...watching our DVR.


Why did we buy the receiver? It is a tight fit to put the receiver into the audio/visual cabinet. Now we don't have to go to that trouble any more. Plus, at the end of May we are going to discontinue DISH services...cut the cable, so to speak. We have Chromecast on two TVs and Roku on the third, with subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu+, so theoretically we will be able to watch whatever we watch now, just without the expense of DISH, whose costs have escalated over the two years we have had the service. Watching TV in this manner will require adjusting our viewing habits, but we will get used to doing that, just as we got used to only have two receivers and not being able to record as many shows as we had when we had U-verse. Less TV is good, in my opinion.

But, when we are on the road, we can subscribe to DISH on demand, one month at a time. If we are out for a short period and can get good over-the-air TV, we won't bother. But we will have the option. It's always nice to have a choice.

So, thank you once again, Marcus; thank you Campingworld. We appreciate the satellite dish you gave us.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

P.S. We really love Marcus. He's a dynamic business person. Watch his show, The Profit, on CNBC. You can even watch episodes on demand online. In the show, he uses his own money to buy businesses and turn them into much more than the owners had ever dreamed. But, sometimes the deals don't work out, and he walks out if the owners don't live up to their part of the bargain. One of the businesses he bought, Automatch, just expanded to Jacksonville.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stuff...

April 8, 2014--We are on the road again.

  • We haven't gone too far, just to the Orlando area. We're staying at the Thousand Trails Orlando, which is a misnomer, because it is in Clermont, not Orlando. We stayed here once before.


  • Jim has his 60th high school reunion this weekend. He'll be the "youngest" at the reunion, since he was only 16 when he graduated from Boone H.S.
  • Last week, Jim installed a new kitchen faucet in the RV. Nice! I like tall faucets. This one has a pull-out sprayer at the end of it.




  • The trip up here was a bit bit lonely without Charlie sitting on my lap. Xena spent most of her time sleeping on the bed. That's what she does mostly...sleep. She is the same age as Charlie. She seems to be in pretty good health, except she is slowing down a lot. No interest in chasing laser lights, and even little interest in exploring out in the yard. But she's affectionate now, and we are appreciating her.


  • This trip we decided to bring one of our DISH receivers. Jim got it hooked up, then discovered two things: (1) He (he was in charge of the satellite stuff, not me!) forgot the remote control; and (2) the big TV didn't want to power up. He thinks we might be able to change channels through the receiver itself, so he's trying to hook it up in the bedroom, where we have a small TV. It's always something.
  • We don't have any definite plans for this week, other than the reunion, having dinner with Mike and Susan, and going to IKEA. (That's like going to an amusement park.) Oh, and having dinner at one of the Vietnamese restaurants on Colonial Drive. (That's always a treat.) We may also go visit a friend who was Helen's neighbor for many, many years.
  • The RV resort has a catch-and-release fishing pond. It also is located on a large lake with a fishing pier. We intend to explore that later, as well as its other amenities, such as a pool table and miniature golf.


I don't know how "exciting" this week will be, but it should be relaxing. Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Goodbye, Charlie. We love you!

March 19, 2014—The time finally came. I had postponed it for weeks, maybe years. But today, after yet another incident of uncontrolled bladder, I took Charlie into the vet and said my final farewells, crying all the time.


The vet, of course, gave me options. But really, there were none. Charlie was 16 years old. She said he had a bladder infection, which could be cured, but would most likely recur. She said he had chronic kidney failure. And thyroid failure. And heart failure. She could see it in his skin and bones. He only weighed 6 pounds 13 ounces, down more than two pounds from three years ago.


I saved Charlie from the animal shelter in Palm Beach County a couple months after I moved to south Florida in 1998. He was such a tiny thing! Hardly more than a handful. I didn’t want a big cat, and I was right in believing he would never grow big and fat.

I picked him out because he reminded me of my little dog, Poochi. I still cry  when I think of having to put him to sleep. I guess I will cry when I think about Charlie or see a cat that looks like him.

Jim always accused me of treating Charlie like a dog. I guess I did. I petted him, not stroked him. I expected him to be a companion to me. And he usually was.

I gave Charlie a friend, Xena, a month or so after I brought him home to live with me. I thought (erroneously) that a cat should have a companion. Wrong! Dogs need a companion during the day, but cats don’t. They are independent.

Charlie and Xena never got along really well. Despite being “fixed,” Charlie would try to ... well you know. And Xena didn’t like it. She let him know.

Charlie was a good cat, though. He was especially good to Helen, Jim’s mother, who lived with us for six years until she died at age 97. Helen would go to the Senior Center every day, and would return at 1 p.m. Charlie would be waiting for her. He would walk her to her room, and then, when she laid down for her afternoon nap, he did too. They performed the same ritual every night. Usually it was in her bed that he slept.

Helen loved Charlie dearly.

I called Jim from the vet when I made the decision to put Charlie to sleep. I simply said, “Dig a hole.” We both cried as I said it.

When I got home, the grave was ready. He dug it just outside of the porch. He gently placed Charlie in his final resting place. As he was filling the hole, I said, “That’s where we ought to put your mother’s ashes.” Jim thought it was the right thing, too.

Helen’s ashes were buried in North Carolina, at the gravesite of her husband, Jim’s father. But we had saved some. We had talked about strewing them on the pond out back of our house. She loved sitting on the porch and watch the ducks and geese and other wildlife. Something has held us back from doing that, however. I guess strewing her ashes on the pond just didn’t feel right.

But burying them with Charlie did.

We both cried some more. I don’t think either of us had cried ver much when Helen died. It wasn't that we didn't love her. But the tears didn't flow then. But now, we put her and Charlie to rest together. And the tears came.

Charlie and Helen are taking care of each other.

I think I will cry some more tonight. I didn’t think I would. After all, Charlie was only a cat. Not a dog. But I loved him. And Jim did too.

No more Charlie stories when we travel. Goodbye Charlie—and Helen—we miss you already.

Until next time,

Your ReluctantRover,

Linda 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Dolphins, cats, and other topics

February 28, 2014--It was a nice trip. It ended too soon.

Our vacation went as planned: fishing school, fishing, and more fishing. Unfortunately, we never did catch dinner. That's the way fishing is. You can fish, but there is no guarantee that you will catch!

Our last two times on the bridge, we kept casting our lines, hoping that something sizable enough to be eaten would bite. The fish nibbled--they really liked the live shrimp we used as bait the last day--but they sure didn't catch!

As we gazed out on the water, watching our lines and waiting for a tug, we saw several dolphins out for a late lunch. Swimming less than 100 yards from the bridge, they would silently and gracefully dive into the water. Up and down. Up and down. I thought possibly that as they fished for dinner, their prey would come our way. But no such luck.

Despite the poor catching, we enjoyed the fishing. An hour or two casting is very peaceful for the soul. And the sun felt good, too! We are determined to improve our fishing gear and even try surf surf fishing, which the school emphasized.

Other topics...

Charlie was a champ during our vacation. He ate well (seemed to have gained weight, too); slept well; and even went outside to play. We would eagerly wait at the door and want to go outside. I can't say he was eager for the leash, but he tolerated it.

Xena didn't want to be outside. She decided the shotgun chair was her bed the entire week, and that's where she stayed. She sometimes also tolerated Charlie to sleep with her, too. Sometimes...not always.

When we got home, we put the cats on the porch. Within minutes, Charlie went around the front and tried to go back into the motorhome. What surprised us, though, was that Xena did the same! She climbed in after Charlie and they both refused to come out. We let them stay with us and take the RV down to storage. They returned home uncaged in the car. They were good travelers...almost like dogs!

Once we got home again, we transported them to the porch. It was dinnertime for them, and Jim put the food out. Charlie was nowhere to be found. Finally, after some time, Jim heard meowing at the front door. Charlie had gone around the house--I guess in search of the RV! When he couldn't find it, it meowed until we let him in. I have no idea why he didn't just go around back and come in as he normally would. Cats! Give me a dog. They are so much smarter. And companionable.

The first day when we arrived at the RV park, we had electrical problems--again. Jim dismantled the entire cord from its reel and wired it directly into the electrical system. Then somehow he reset the inverter. After that, we had no further electrical problems. I think they are finally solved. He would still like to fix the reel problem (rebuild it with new brushes), but so far he has been unable to locate the correct parts. So, we may do without the reel and have to coil the cord manually.

We are having a problem with the microwave, but we will be getting a new one later this summer, so we should be OK on that account. Oh, another thing...our portable ice maker also died just before we left. We had worked it hard for almost three years, so I guess it lived a good life. Jim will either fix the freezer's ice maker or we'll purchase another portable unit.

We haven't decided where our next trip will be. Sometime in the early summer (after a few projects on the house are done), we'll either go out west, then up through Utah and back through the midwest, with a stop in Chicagoland, or we'll go up the east coast, swing out to the midwest and back home. That trip will probably last about two months.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gone fishin'

February 23, 2014--We went fishing, but we didn't do much catching. Despite this, we had a lot of fun.

The waters around here are supposed to provide some of the best fishing in Florida. But you couldn't prove it by us. Jim caught two or three throw-backs. I think I had two. So for dinner tonight it will be pulled pork...not exactly an angler's catch!

We did put our new fishing knowledge to work, but unfortunately, the fish seemed to prefer the lines and bait of the people down the bridge from us. While we stood there, throwing our lines in the water, the husband and wife 30 feet away pulled in a couple of "keeper" bluefish. Nice! They were using chunked-up bait fish. We were using clams. I guess the fish didn't like our gourmet dinner as much as theirs.

Jim is attempting to take the little puffer fish off my line. The little critter came out of the water and blew up like a balloon!
After a couple of hours, we drove down the highway a bit and pulled into a parking space by the intracoastal waters. I swore there were no fish in those shallow waters. Jim says the fish are the same, both sides of the highway. I suppose he is right, but we didn't get very many nibbles, let alone catch any.

Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day. It's just nice being out in the warm 80 degree sun and breathing in the fresh salt air.

We are going to the RV park's ice cream social in an hour. I think we'll have better luck eating our dessert (before dinner) than we did pulling in the big ones.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda


Friday, February 21, 2014

A fish school

February 21, 2014--The main purpose of our week's vacation was to learn how to fish. And that's what we did today.

The seminar wasn't exactly what we had anticipated, but we learned a great deal about surf fishing, as well as fishing off a dock or bridge. (I had wanted more information and techniques for fishing in the river or at least off a bridge. But most of what we learned was applicable for those areas.)

Did you know that fish can smell? I didn't. I knew they could see; that's why you put attractive bait that they want to eat on the hook. But smell? Well, it makes sense.

Rodney Smith, the publisher of a statewide fishing magazine distributed free at bait shops, was the main presenter, along with John Detmer, a long-time angler and owner of a bait and tackle shop. Smith used to be a fish guide; he has won recognition for hooking the biggest snook on a certain type of line. He knows what he is talking about when it comes to fishing.

The bait method Smith and Detmer suggest using is called the 3-S method: sight, sound, and smell. When all three are used together, supposedly fish will jump into your net. Well, maybe not. But using a lure that is attractive, adding scent (either with a scent plug or spray), and also adding a rattle within the lure makes the lure more alluring, since it immitates real bait fish.

And did you know that a smaller hook is better than a bigger one? And that you can actually catch a very big fish on a lightweight monofilament line?

I didn't know these things, but I do now, and I can't wait to try them out.

Part of the fishing school was inside an auditorium at a conservation center on Melbourne Beach. After a couple of hours, we went down to the beach. Unfortunately, the wind was fierce and clouds were overhead. Rodney and John demonstrated how to bait hooks and how to cast into the surf, using a 12-foot fishing pole. But the weather was too bad for any hands-on experience, assuming some was planned.

Fishing is like any other sport: You have to learn how to do it. Sure, you can just throw out a line and hope for the best, but it's better if you have at least a little knowledge. The fishing school gave us that.

So, tomorrow, if the weather is better, perhaps Jim and I will head out to the beach and try our hand at surf fishing. I can't wait.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Frogmen

Feb. 20, 2014—Do you remember the movie, Frogmen? I do. It was about the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team (UDT), the predecessor to the Navy SEALS. I was pretty young when I watched the movie starring Richard Widmark, but I remember thinking how cool it was to swim underwater. Scuba diving wasn’t yet a recreational sport, if my memory is correct.

Today Jim and I traveled down the road to Fort Pierce, Fla., where the UDT SEAL Museum is housed. Quite interesting.
UDT-SEAL Museum

Frogman Jim


The museum tells the history of the UD teams and SEALS and have a lot of artifacts, including weapons as well as uniforms and equipment, used by these brave sailors.

Outside, the museum has a number of different vessels used by the SEALS, which incidentally, stands for SEa, Air, Land. (President Kennedy was the one who created this unit as it is known today.)


Cost is minimal; enjoyment is good. This is another hidden gem, which we really enjoy finding. (We are going to visit a science museum in Brevard County on the way home. It may also merit a “hidden gem” award:>) 

Tomorrow our fishing class.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer
Linda

The Cat's Meow

Feb. 20, 2014—Charlie, our 16-year-old-on-death’s-door cat, is still around.

Tuesday afternoon we brought Junior (our motorhome) to the house so that we could load and leave on Wednesday morning. Charlie, who almost never goes into the front yard, saw (or heard) the motorhome and sat in the middle of the driveway, watching us go in and out of the house with our belongings.

And, like a puppy dog, he started following us—into and out of Junior!



We couldn’t get over it.

I think he is confused (probably a little dementia).

When we were ready to leave Wednesday morning, of course, he took off and hid. We were smart, though, and had closed doors and locked the outside cat door, so he couldn’t hide too well. We found him under our bed. He came out not too reluctantly.

Xena was no problem, either. She wasn’t as happy about going into the motorhome as Charlie, but once we got underway, they were both fine. Charlie spent a lot of time in my lap. Xena slept on the bed.

They may be Reluctant RoVers, but they are coming around.

P.S. Charlie seems to be doing well, and actually may have gained a little weight. I guess it isn’t his time yet.

Until next time,
Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Will It Never End?


Feb. 19, 2014—The never-ending sage of our electrical problems continue.

Ever since we purchased this motorhome, we have had intermittent electrical problems. Last trip out (down to the Keys), Jim thought it was the electrical cord. Then (just before spending $150 for a new cord), he found the real cause: bad brushes in the reel that winds up and stores the cord.
He disconnected everything; temporarily fixed the problem; and determined he would replace the brushes (some copper doohickeys) when we got home.

He did, last week.

It took hours. The worst part was putting everything back together, because he needed to use steel rivets. Very hard to use. (Steel is hard!)


He thought everything was OK, but then suddenly we had a problem with the inverter, a device that allows you to get 110 electrical power in the motorhome when using batteries or on the generator. The inverter lit up like a Christmas tree; it did not show any charging.

Jim figured that would sort itself out once we were plugged in at an RV park.

Wrong!

In fact, really wrong. When we got to Vero Beach tonight he plugged in the cord and puff! (Literally.) Everything shorted out. And we still had a Christmas tree for an inverter. No power anywhere.
After testing everything, he finally decided that he would take apart all of his work, disassemble the entire reel, and attach the cord directly to the motorhome (instead of going through the connection in the reel).

Finally. We have power. Even the inverter is working (at least for now). I’m not 100% certain that the inverter doesn’t have an intermittent problem, but we won’t know until our next trip or at least until we try to use it without shore power. (Jim thinks it just needed to reset itself. I hope he’s right.)
Don’t get me wrong. We like our motorhome. It is luxurious. It is large. It is comfortable. But it is a pain the you-know-what. Luckily, my husband can fix almost anything.

We still have some things to fix that we knew about when we purchased this home-on=wheels—like the automatic awning.

And we have some updating to do. We purchased a very nice tall kitchen spigot with a pull-out sprayer. He may have time to install it while we are here. We also bought a bidet to put on the toilet. Those are little projects, which should be easily accomplished.

Should be. Easy to say. We’ll see if they are.

Later today are off to a Navy Seals museum in Fort Pierce. Tomorrow we attend our fishing clinic. And the rest of the week we plan to catch fish.

Until later,

Your Reluctant Rover,


Linda

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Winter waterland

We live in mostly sunny and warm(er) Florida, so by and large, we ignore the advice and articles on winterizing RVs.

However...

Last week, the polar vortex extended its cold breath as far south as Florida, and we experienced a hard freeze. For two or three nights, the temperatures dropped below 32 degrees. I believe it was Tuesday morning that I awoke to 25 degrees.

Last weekend, when it was warm and sunny, I saw the weather forecast and asked Jim about safeguarding the RV against frozen pipes. He hadn't given it much thought (since this is something we almost never have to think about), but then considered that it would be a good idea.

He drove down to Junior. His winterizing effort included turning the propane furnace on and setting the thermostat to 40 degrees; emptying the hot water heater, and turning on the faucets to get the water out of the pipes. he also removed the windshield water reservoir, since it did not have an anti-freeze agent in the water.

Yesterday we returned to the RV to undo his efforts, since the freeze is now over and temperatures are in the 70s.

As Jim replaced the thermostat on the outside of the RV, he asked me to turn on the bathroom faucet to fill the hot water heater. I did. Water flowed for several minutes. I decided to go ask Jim how long he wanted me to run the water. As I walked through the galley, I saw water streaming on the floor! My first thought: broken pipe!

Yikes! That's all we needed.

Jim came in to look. I had turned off the bathroom faucet, but I didn't know he had left the kitchen faucet open. The kitchen cutout (counter top that fits over the sink) was over the sink, the faucet (unknown to me) had been spouting water over the counter and onto the floor! What a mess. A lot of water.

The floor is vinyl planking, so it wasn't damaged. And a good mopping never hurts.

The moral: Think ahead if you have to winterize an RV. And close the taps.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda