Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RVing with my iPhone

I got my iPhone a week before we got the RV. How anyone RVes without one is beyond me.

The second page of apps is reserved entirely for my RV and Navigation tools. I'll probably eventually delete about four or five of the redundant apps. I'll test to figure out which are my favorite. My iPhone is almost full with apps, so app space is a premium for me. The rest of the storage space on my iPhone is devoted to audiobooks and podcasts. I'm hoping the a future iPhone OS upgrade will enable users to put many more than just 11 pages of apps on their phone.

When we're driving in the RV, I keep the iPhone mounted on a Griffin Technologies RoadTrip FM Broadcaster (with "SmartScan"):

The RoadTrip broadcasts whatever is playing on my iPhone to the radio. Sound quality is excellent. I have rare instances of slight static, but it's usually happens under lots of high tension electric wires. If I put the iPhone on the RoadTrip with the earphones plugged in, I can answer calls and talk on the phone and the RoadTrip will still broadcast to the radio. If I don't have the earphones plugged in at first, then plug them in, I can listen to audio without it broadcasting to the radio. This is a good option if I want to listen to an audiobook without disturbing anyone. Of course, I could just turn the radio off, I guess. Either way, no calls are ever broadcast over the radio.

I've also tried the Griffin WindowSeat with the iTrip. I like that I can also use it in landscape mode. The only thing I don't like about the WindowSeat is I have to take off my iPhone case to put it in the WindowSeat cradle. I haven't decided which I like better, but so far I use the RoadTrip the most.

From their website:

Key features:

It visualizies your
  • current speed
  • average speed,
  • time,
  • elapsed trip time,
  • heading,
  • altitude,
  • your location on the map (Street and Satellite image Google maps supported),
  • weather forecast for nearest 48 hours the with 3-hour time interval,
  • maximum reached speed (during the current trip or all your trips), maximum altitude and maximum distance to the starting point of your trip.
  • current playing music track;
Also it shows
  • positions of the nearest known speed cameras within an adjustible range
  • it's speed limit (if known)
A newer version I've downloaded has a small map that follows where you are. The weather information come out of Norway, and tends to be about 10 degrees off here in Florida. I like that I can adjust the speed limit warnings. The feedback helps keep gas mileage under control.

Another update since the picture above changes the GPS MotionX to GPS Sport MotionX. This app is intended for adventure, tracking, and recording trail rides/hikes. Since we'd be doing some hiking on our trips eventually, I keep this app on the RV page.

Google Maps for iPhone is the next app, and still my main GPS and direction app. It integrates well with everything on the iPhone. It has taken us on some off-beat paths where we were really glad it did. In Pennsylvania and West Virgina, we would have missed some really nice sites if we'd just used a map.

GPS Drive MotionX is another MotionX app.

It's a turn-by-turn GPS direction program. This one uses Bing as it's map source. The best thing about it is the price: $2.99, with the optional voice subscription at $29.99 a year. Apps like Tom-Tom are $99, big programs, and sometimes a bit out of date. The trade off is with GPS Drive you have to be on the network to get a map. Edge network can be VERY slow to update your tracking. Tom-Tom doesn't have to be on the network. I may eventually try the Tom-Tom, but I don't need it quite yet. So far, I'm really satisified with MotionX apps.

GasBuddy is a website as well as an app.

I've set my GasBuddy app to look for diesel. So far, it's been very accurate and up to date. This app is a must for saving money on Diesel, or finding the closest pump when you're running on the memory of fumes.

Gas Cubby was recommended by the Apple Staff, and had excellent reviews. You can keep records of pretty much everything with regard to the vehicle. I use it mostly to track miles per gallon. I like being able to track the costs per mile option, which includes all vehicle related expenses. The biggest problem of using it is the time it takes to put in the information. When you're on the road, you'll tend to keep the receipts and do it later. In realityIn the future, I'll get a scangauge2, and probably won't need to use this app as much.

TripIt Is an a social trip planning and itinerary site. You can setup a trip and share it with people you choose on TripIt. Kind of like LinkedIn for travelers. There is also a mobile TripIt website available. I haven't used it that much, and this would probably be one of the first apps I'd delete.

RestArea will list and map the rest area's closest to you, and the amenities they offer. It will tell you exactly how far you are from a specific rest area.

ezLevel, iWoMoSet, and iHandy Level are all leveling apps. Once they are calibrated, you can use the app to help level your RV. The iWoMoSet was orginally in German, and is difficult to use, but the default dimension are set exactly for our Winnebago View. The ezLevel and iHandy Level apps have a flat level. Here's a screenshot of the exLevel:

When we get to a campsite or overnight parking area, I set my iPhone and the floor next to the drivers seat. I make adjustments (either leveling blocks or different parking places) to get as comfortably level as possible. Once I'm done, I put the iPhone on the flat surface in the refrigerator to see if it's close enough. Other than comfort, the fridge is the main reason to get as level as possible. As long as I'm pretty much in the circle, the RV is level enough.

ZipFinder is a GPS zip code location finder. This app really helps in using the website on the road. You'll need a membership to overnightrvparking to use the website, but if you're on a long trip and don't need to use a campground every night, the website can really help. I use zipfinder to get the zipcode of where I am, the put the zip in the overnightrvparking search too. I really hope someone works with the overnightrvparking site on either a mobile version, or an iphone app.

AroundMe finds all kinds of things near your current location. We use it mostly to find the nearest Grocery Store or Super Market. When you're in a city, this app is a real time-saver. Driving time, mostly.

OffLeash is an app that will find the nearest Dog Park. If you're a dog owner, you'll love this app. It's by Eukanuba, and it's free. Even though many campgrounds have a dog area, they tend to be small, and not many other dogs to socialize with. Our dogs love dog parks, and love to be off leash in one.

Continuous Traveler RVParks app in a must have for the RVer. This app will find our current location, then show you the closest campgrounds near you. I even use this app to find campgrounds for places were planning to go. You can find a campground, the look at the location, the website, even call from the contact list. Members of the website can add and edit campgrounds. The app started at $14.99, and is now $4.99. For the RV it's a huge bargin. The developer does frequent updates to both the app and the database.

RVCompanion is a new app for me. The main reason I purchased it was to test the leveler section, and the procedures section. I need to use this app a bit more before I can really do a decent review on it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My First RV Podcast

Introduction to my "WinView" Audioboo Podcast:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pennsylvania, GW, and the National Highway

After months of planning and preparation, Nancy and I left the driveway of our home at 4:00pm on Friday July 31. We were able to get out of the city before the traffic hit, and headed up I-4 to I-95. We hit Jacksonville soon after, and decided to stop in Darien GA, at the Inland Harbor RV Park.

Inland Harbor was our first experience at a late checking. We pulled in after the main office was closed, followed the instructions for late checking, and found a nice level spot. I like not having to do the whole leveling thing. Our original intention was to stay overnight at a Cracker Barrel parking lot in Poole Georgia. Neither of us were comfortable with doing the overnight RV parking thing, just yet. The campground was clean, nice, easy to access, and easy to use. The entire time we were there, we saw no one. No workers, and no other RV'rs. That was a bit strange.

Back on the road, we drove up I95 till we got to Emporia Virgina. We stayed at our first Jellystone Campground. The owner/operaters were there to greet us. They were nice folks. The campground was clean, and the pool was heated. After a long drive, it REALLY helped to even have a twenty minute swim. Nancy's leg and hip were bothering her, so I convinced her to swim in the morning. It made us leave a little later than we wanted, but it was time well spent. An evening or morning swim while traveling makes a huge difference.

Nancy's insert:
The dogs really enjoyed their walk through the wooded campground with all the un-Florida smells and I enjoyed my first sighting of lightning bugs in fifteen years! The dogs did not enjoy the horseflies the next morning, however. This made me recall that when I lived in SC in summer (where we had lightning bugs and horse flies) I used a spray on product designed for horses called Flys Off on the dogs.

We drove through Virgina, Maryland, then into Pennsylvania. Driving through Washington DC was an experience. The scenery through Maryland and Pennyslvania was breathtaking, especially for this Florida boy. I live in a flat state, so any amount of hills are wonderful to see.

Nancy's insert: hills are wonderful when you've spent too many years as a flatlander!

It was raining a wee bit as we came into Bedford Pennsylvania. I was tired from driving, grumpy, and ready to stop. The Shawnee Sleepy Hollow campground wasn't difficult to find, and we had the area pretty much to ourselves.

It was nice to not need to use the air conditioner, but waking up to 60 degrees, both inside and out, was a surprise.

Nancy's note:This area was spectacular with its mountain views and morning mist. Lots and lots of rabbits and more lightning bugs. Clear pure air and no allergies. The owner's house was a half log half field stone house from the mid seventeen hundreds. And yes, it was haunted until the owner had the ghost exorcised when it got nasty over a musical choice of his teen age son!

The next morning, we interred Nancy's mother, Nordena Miller Wayman.

Nancy's note: At the historic Chestnut Ridge Union Cemetery just outside of Schellsburg. Schellsburg, by the way, is a picture postcard town full of old houses dating from just after the Revolutionary War and the mid 1800s. It is where my mother's people came from.

It was the primary reason for coming to Pennsylvania. Nancy read from the Holy Bible, and a poem from her book about her mother. She also read one to her father.

Later that day, we went to Fort Bedford Village, and Jean Bonnet Tavern.

Fort Bedford was a rebuilt village from colonial times, using the actual restored buildings from all over the area. Some people lived there part time, practicing things like weaving, tin smithing, candle making, etc. as though they were in that time.

The Jean Bonnet Tavern was nice. It was older than our country, and haunted. When we asked if it was haunted, they brought a notebook showing us the evidence from a recent Ghost Hunters evaluation. Seems that Jean Bonnet Tavern is one of the most haunted places in the US.

Needless to say, we had an entertainingly tense meal. We kept looking for the ghosts. When we asked, the waitress said, "There's NO WAY I'd live here."

Nancy's note: I was not tense. I would have liked to see a ghost! And the peanut butter pie was great. By the way, we were all sweaty from trekking thru Bedford Village so we just parked the Winnie in the restaurant parking lot, showered and changed right there and went in to eat. Very convenient not having to return to campground first! Lovely shop there, too. And out back, chickens, a goat pen, an old gas pump at least 60 years old and great piles of coal.

We got back to the campground that night, walked the dogs, and got to sleep pretty quick. The next morning, we headed for Fort Ligonier.

Fort Ligonier was instrumental in the French and Indian War. We learned that war didn't actually start here, and is considered by many to be the true, First World War.

From Ligonier, we drove to and through Pittsburgh. But not on purpose. We were originally going to drive straight to Nancy's childhood home in Upper St. Clair, but, luckily, I got on the wrong road, and we wound up driving through the city. Even though I was very irritated and grumpy about it, I would have never seen the city.

We eventually drove through the city, through Mt. Lebanon, and to Nancy's old house.

From reading Nancy's stories, her house was nothing like I'd imagined. It really helped to see it, and I can see why she enjoyed growing up there. Good job, Mr. and Mrs. Wayman.

Nancy's note: The pine and spruce trees in the yard were our Christmas trees, planted afterwards by my dad. The stones in the chimney were from the foundations of his great uncle's farmhouse, once upon a time adjacent to Route 19. The woods I once roamed are gone now though, as is the farm down in the valley behind the house. Forty years of progress? I loved seeing Pennsylvania critters again: red squirrels, chipmunks, deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, beaver, gophers and groundhogs.

We looked for a parking lot to stay in that night, but even Nancy's former church couldn't let us. Seems the Upper St. Clair police are picky about that. If you live in Upper St. Clair, that's probably a good thing. We found a KOA in Washington Pennsylvania, only about 40 minutes from Upper St. Clair. On the way, we passed the school where Nancy's father went, Washington and Jefferson University. Beautiful school, and beautiful town. The people at the KOA were very nice and helpful. We decided to join KOA.

The next morning, we toured two historical homes in the city, then headed toward Fort Necessity and Falling Water in Mill Run Pennsylvania. By the time we got to Fort Necessity, the visitor center was closed. We looked around a bit, then went to find a campground. Luckily, Jellystone Campground of Mill Run was very close. That campground rivaled Fort Wilderness in Disney World. The place was huge, and very fun. I wish we had more time to stay there.

The next morning, we tried to get an appointment to tour Falling Water. I'll let Nancy fill you in on that attempt.

Nancy's note: I called three times on my cell phone since WiFi didn't work in the mountains much at all and finally got a human female on the line. When I said I wanted to reserve a tour (like the brochure said you had to) she said there were no tours at all available that day. I said, "Oh no we really wanted to see it. We're up from Florida and stayed over an extra day just for that!" She basically said, "tough luck, lady" (But not in those words). I could hear the shrug over the line. I got PO-ed after I hung up. Danny suggested we drive over there anyway. We did, paid at the entrance, waited a few minutes in the cafe until our number was called and got an escorted tour. Advice: don't bother to call. Just show up. The place is amazing. A don't miss it. Make sure you have several hours free, at least.

Falling Water was beautiful, and one of those "must see" place. According to the Smithsonian and it's one of 28 must see places, two of them are in the USA. One is the Grand Canyon, the other is Falling Water. I'd have to agree. I still need to see the Grand Canyon, though. Going to be tough to beat Yosemite.

After the tour, we went back to Fort Necessity, where we learned the road we'd been on, US 40, was America's first highway. The fort itself is much smaller than the visitor center. After that tour, we went to see The Mt. Washington Tavern that George Washington himself built.

Nancy's note: up in Pa people refer to "GW" all the time. I got a real kick out of it being George Washington, not George Bush. Nobody referred to George Bush, or Barak Obama, at all.

After the Tavern, we headed out of Pennsylvania, through Maryland, into West Virgina. I thought Pennsylvania mountain were cool, but West Virgina's mountains almost floored me. As we drove into the mountains, I started feeling light headed and dizzy. We found the KOA campground, part of a large hotel/convention/amphitheater/campground complex in Flatwoods. The next morning we walked up the large hill to the hotel to get breakfast. We told the waitress about how hard the hill was to climb. Her reply, "What hill?" made us realize our Florida flatland perspective.

Nancy's note: I don't know why they named the town Flatwoods. Nothing was flat. We saw herds of whitetail deer everywhere along the highways, feeding at dusk.

After breakfast, we headed farther south. As we climbed higher, about 1000 feet higher than Penn, I got really bad vertigo. More times than I'd like to remember, I thought the motor home was tipping over. Nancy convinced me it wasn't. We stopped and got me some Dramamine, I took a short nap and felt much better. I didn't feel sick, just not very stable. We drove to another KOA just south of Charlotte. Got up fairly early, for us at least, and headed home. By 8:30pm that night, we were home in Winter Park, Florida. THAT was a long drive.

Nancy's note: Danny stopped in Beckley to rest. High on a hill over the truck stop and convenience store was Tamarack, the largest craft center in Southwest West Virginia. I climbed the hill. I shopped. It is a craft fan's Heaven. Glass, pottery, furniture, books, clothes woodworked items, art, gourmet foods, etc. And all made in West Virginia. Food court is by the Homestead resort folks. Wonderful!

Things We Learned
  • Every place we went, I had no problems finding a spot to park. The Winnebago View fit in most parking spots. I tried to be courteous, and find spots that wouldn't hinder other cars parking.
  • I got very practiced at hooking up to shoreline. I can get it done in less than ten minutes. Luckily, I didn't have to do it in the rain. I'd probably only hook up electricity if that were the case.
  • We don't need to bring as many shoes as we though, and a shoe rack in the closet just didn't work.
  • Staying in campgrounds is fun. RV'r people are nice, friendly, and very helpful.
  • The upper bunk sleeps one person very well, but is too cramped for both of us.
  • The couch bed is a bit too soft. Eventually, we're going to retrofit the couch with firmer padding.
  • The dinnette bed was more comfortable than the couch bed.
  • I used Gas Cubby on my iPhone to determine MPG: Average was 16.2 for this trip.
  • The iPhone, or similar device, is an indispensible tool for RV travel. Google Maps made making a route very easy.
  • I need to get a bumper sticker that says, "I'm NOT in YOUR hurry!"
  • Nancy's note: Never never toss a bag of bagels to anyone when a full coffee mug and a laptop and two iPhones are on the RV table.
  • Winnebago is a little short of places to store clothes and shoes for longer trips.
  • Plenty of pantry and fridge space and cooking was easy on the propane cooktop and microwave.
  • We found we ate most breakfasts and suppers on board but bought most lunches.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Flagler Day Trip

Nancy, Chili, and I took a day trip to Flagler Beach. At first, we couldn't find a place to park. In Cocoa Beach, there's a public parking place behind Ron Jon's that has RV spots. That spot cost $10 for the day. Not to bad. But at Flagler, there are "No Truck or RV Parking" signs everywhere. We went to Beverly Beach Camptown to ask if there was any parking, and for $3 an hour we cold park there. With that price, we get:
  1. Full electrical hook up
  2. Water hook up
  3. Sewer hook up
Full shoreline, and especially the sewer dump, make it worthwhile.

Compared to Cocoa Beach, it's a real deal. The price of Cocoa Beach has to include the toll fees, which make it more pricy than the $16.50 we paid at Beverly Beach.

This was Chili's turn for a beach trip. The salt water seems to help with Chili's allergies and itching. Abby and Ginny love the beach, but Chili is a pool dog. She'll jump and play in the pool all day if you let her, but the beach is just a wee bit ruff for her. That, and she doesn't seem to like the taste of sea water.

We were parked right up to the beach.

Nancy made a dinner of Chicken and Dumplings, and 1/2 inch diagonal cut green beans (my favorite kind!):

We waited for the Shuttle to blast off, but it was cancelled. No biggie at all. We had an excellent time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


We've been enjoying the Parakeet on short week end day trips to Sea World, Cocoa Beach, and Lakeland. As RV folks already know and we're learning, its great to come out of a theme park or off the beach all sweaty and nasty and have instant access to cold drinks from the fridge, a sofa and a shower with a change of clothes as well as a clean private bathroom! Outside shower is handy too for hosing off young grandchildren who eat their entire birthday cakes in one sitting using face and hands.

Since we're planning a long trek to Pennsylvania soon, we took her (Parakeet) in for service about a week or so ago. Because of the service schedules and Danny's work hours and the distances between service place, work, home and storage facility, we got lazy and the Parakeet was parked in the drive for four days in one week. A neighbor who didn't reveal himself or herself to me complained to another neighbor on several city boards and threatened to call code enforcement if he didn't tell me to remove the offensive Winnebago from my property. The neighbor spoke to me politely and I promised to adhere to city code rules of one day per week. Never mind that other neighbors park boats in front of their houses all the time and one woman has a commercial trailer for transporting her plants for sale at the local farmers market every week end which she leaves overnight on the street. I don't care about that. I do care that Darth Neighbor picked on me and my cute Winnebago.

I am also discovering how expensive it is to repair and service Winnebagos as opposed to cars. Camping World was really nice but the truck/RV place was kinda weird and the people who worked there wern't fun to deal with. Overcharged us for something we never even got and were snippy about it too. They did relent the next day after Danny spoke to somebody else at the same place and at least gave us a fifty dollar credit on future service. Yes, RV ownership is a learning experience.

TTFN. I'll try to post more often.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Parakeet Will Fly to Pennsylvania This Summer

The Parakeet took us to The Wekiva National Forest and Wekiva Springs last Saturday. We walked several miles on the trails, sweated a whole heck of a lot in the 95 degree sunshine in the sparsely canopied forest, scared a whole passel of wild turkeys and heard a gator grumble too close for comfort as Ginny waded in a secluded lake. We also got ticks. Ah, the joys of nature.

On Sunday the Parakeet took us to Lakeland to see extended family. This time Chili accompanied us. She was a doggie angel, mostly napping on my lap during the drive to and from. However she waded into some tall grass and it took three people about 15 minutes to pluck crazillions of hitchhiker seeds out of her lush coat. Note to us: put a dog brush on board.

The timeline for our somewhat overdue Pennsylvania pilgrimage is set: August 1 to August 9. Danny has planned the route. Day one: to Georgia. Day two: to Virginia. Day three: to Bedford in South Central Pennsylvania. Boon docking until Pa, then a campground Monday night in the Shawnee National park. We will have my mother's ashes interred in her family plot at the Chestnut Ridge Union Cemetary in Schellsburg as she requested on Monday. After seeing the historic sights in Bedford (George Washington's headquarters, Old Bedford Village, Jean Bonet Tavern), we will drive through the spectacularly scenic Laurel Highlands to Ligonier and on to Pittsburgh to revisit those places special to my childhood. We hope to see Frank Lloyd Wright's house, Fallingwater, too if time permits. After that, who knows? Will it be back thru Pa. to Gettysburg or down through the Blue Ridge into western Virginia? We will not need to begin the homeward trek until Friday.

Got some technical things to take care of with the Parakeet to make sure she is travel worthy and must make arrangements for one of the dogs to be taken care of in Florida while we are away. I will hate leaving a precious pup behind in the confinement of a kennel, but it will be really good to go "Home" again one more time after so many decades.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Road to Gainesville

We took the Parakeet to Gainesville last Saturday to attend a party. Since we weren't staying over, we took Chili as an experiment and left the other two dogs at home. Here's what we learned:
1.The slightly more than two hours each way was a major piece of cake after the grueling Atlanta drive.
2. Chili travels just fine without the other two dogs. No barking, no RV soiling or damage. She self regulated her drinking.
3. We will always recognize the exact spot on the hwy where we broke down on the way to Atlanta. I think it may be a portal to another level of reality that leads to Hell.
4. Buying and installing a SunPass transponder made the trip faster and much more pleasant.
5. Traveling at 60-65 is smoother than at higher speeds.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Parakeet's wings clipped on flight to Atlanta

It's a long drive to Atlanta from Orlando on a Friday night after work. Especially when you only get as far as Ocala before disaster hits. I was reclining on the sofa bed reading a book when the Winnebago swayed. Thunk!! I thought maybe somebody had sideswiped us on the right side of the Winnebago. "What the hell was that?" Danny and I said at almost the same moment. "Did the awning blow off?" he asked. I looked outside and saw nothing amiss on the right. I dashed to the bathroom window and looked behind us."I dunno," I replied, "I don't see anything in the road back there." Then I smelled burning rubber, the RV leaned to the side, and we heard an ominous thump thump thump. "I know what happened," Danny said. "We had a blow out." He pulled off on the highway shoulder, stopped, and put on the emergency flashers before getting off and going out to check. A minute afterwards he reported that we had blown not one but two of the rear tires. We had one spare. It was eight o'clock and we had been on the road for two hours.

I fished the Camping World Roadside Assistance card out of my wallet and handed Danny my iPhone. He made the call for help and we sat down to wait. With the passing of every big rig on the highway, the Winnebago shook. I put the blinds down and worried that some driver would lose control and plow right into us. If I was going to, as my mother would have said, die dead, I didn't want to see it coming. Two hours later when I was nearing the freakout stage, the Roadside Assistance man called back and said he'd located two of the right sort of tires and a guy would be coming to put them on for us at a cost of $800.00. I sighed and pulled out my Discover card. "He'll be there by midnight the guy said." A short time later, there was a loud knocking on the hood and Ginny and Abby began barking. There was a man outside. Danny jumped up.

"They're here, "he said, opening the door and going outside. I looked out the window. There was no repair truck. Ginny climbed into the cab and began a weird rolling teeth bared snarl that plainly said "You are not coming in here," in any lingo.

"You okay?" the good Samaritan asked. Danny replied that we were waiting for Roadside Assistance and the man disappeared. Danny got back on board. "Where's his car?" I asked. Danny pointed across six lanes of traffic and a guard rail. Jesus!" I exclaimed. I'm still wondering if he was a recklessly brave and lucky good Samaritan or a potential robber who spotted a stranded Winnebago and hoped it was empty and full of loot. If so, it was probably a yellow-eyed snarling 'hoola that discouraged him. Ginny sat in the drivers seat, obviously on guard, for the next hour and a half.

The repairman arrived shortly after midnight and put on the new tires. We were roadworthy again by one am. All thoughts of going on to Georgia were abandoned. We went on about forty more minutes to Gainesville and safely boondocked next to Danny's ex-wife's house. We made the trip to Atlanta safely the next day.

What we learned:
1. having Roadside Assistance is essential.
2. never get off the vehicle to talk to strangers in the dark
3. having big dogs on board is a good thing, especially when they have strong bladders
4. watching Romancing the Stone while waiting four hours for help on the highway does not make the time go any faster
5. adventures that involve discomfort are better written about or viewed on film.

On the way home on Sunday night we encountered a lot of rain, a double rainbow, a microburst that knocked down trees and shut down I-75, and a creepy weird mist. I will post those pictures tomorrow. We made the trip home with only one stop for fuel and potty. This was too long to drive and arriving at three in the morning is the absolute pits. We do not plan to do that again.

We did have a great time visiting Danny's family in Atlanta though and it was worth the inconvenience.

Danny's Comments:
So glad Nancy opted for the Roadside Assistance plan. Otherwise, I'd have done lots of walking.

Driving up to Atlanta, I tried to keep the Parakeet at the 'flow of traffic' -around 70-75 MPH. While the Winnebago view has no trouble doing that, it's not a comfortable ride at those speeds, and the mileage is not great. Driving back to Orlando, I kept the view at 62-65 most of the time. Big difference! The ride is much smoother, and the Parakeet is much easier to control. Mileage is much better too.

Driving up during the day, we found that the cabin air conditioner could not keep the entire coach cool. The little 12 volt fan helped some, but not much. When we got back, I looked on the Yahoo View/Navion Group site, and found that you can turn the generator on while driving. That way, you can run the coach air conditioner. That will help a lot here in Florida.

Unless I have to do it, I'm going to try to avoid those 8-9 hour drives. 4-5 is much easier to handle.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Way Back

After watching "The Long, Long Trailer" with Lucy Ball and Desi Arnez, Nancy and I realize not a whole lot has changed since the first person came up with the idea of putting their home on wheels:

And for those who've never seen "The Long, Long Trailer":

That is part 1 of 11. Just go to the next one (2 of 11) and watch them all. Resolution is excellent on an iPhone/iPod Touch.


We've come to the obvious conclusion that we will not be traveling with all three dogs, ever again. If there is an emergency, and we need to use the Parakeet as our "Escape Pod", we'll crate Ginny and Chili for the trip.

Life at home will return to our normal routine that we grown accustom to. A routine that kept Ginny and Chili from going at each other. But, we will always be aware that they do, indeed, have some sort of weird canine tension between them.

For travel, we'll bring either Ginny and Abby, while we board Chili. We can alternate between the dogs, and bring Chili on some trips, especially to the beach. That seems to have the best effect on controlling her allergies. Ginny and Abby are pretty easy to take care of, and if necessary, we could get someone to come over to feed them and let them out for 'voiding'.

So, with a very difficult and painful lesson learned, we move forward. Get it? Forward? Motorhome? Oh...nevermind.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Road to disaster

I listened to the media over reacting to the possible Swine Flu pandemic. Which I shouldn't have probably, since I have a particularly good immunity to flu of all kinds. I mean, I haven't had it since I was twelve and that was a whole lotta decades ago. But, I listened.( Cue in the ominous music here.) We were going to stay in town but drive the RV to Sea World, ride all the water rides I generally refuse to go on and go back to the RV and change clothes. We also planned to see Wolverine this week end, but then I thought, "There could be a lot of people in close proximity at both those places and a lot of people could mean getting sick people. So, I said, "Let's go back to the beach this weekend. There's nothing to stop us. We'll be away from people, out in the fresh air. And this time we'll take Chili."Her allergies have been so severe that she is on steroids and I thought the sea air and salt water might help the intense itching. My thought was to see how she traveled, in hopes of not having to board her. THAT WAS A REALLY BAD IDEA. (More ominous music here.)

The drive up the coast was uneventful. We parked at the beach side campgrounds. Day was beautiful: a perfect beach day. I could hardly wait to get down on the sand with the three dogs. I took Chili out to pee first since she has bladder issues and since she and Ginny have some sort of weird leash issues and can't be walked together on leash. Then Danny walked Ginny and Abby while I made lunch, which I put on the RV table. I put the dogs food in their dishes and set them on the kitchen counter. The door opened, Chili lunged at Ginny before she even got all the way up the steps and they were at it. Fortunately, we got them separated right away and no damage was done to either dog. I don't know why Chili got food aggressive on the RV. While we don't feed them in the same room at home they often stand shoulder to shoulder when I am preparing the food and never get nuts about it.

We fed Ginny in the RV bathroom. Then we went down to the beach. All was well for about forty minutes walking down the beach, The dogs ran in the surf, chased birds, Chili chased a ball. Then, on the way back for no reason I can think of, Chili lunged at Ginny and they were at it. This time in a real nasty fight. Trying to separate them Danny got bit three or four times and I got three hand wounds and an arm scratch. I also fell completely in the ocean, which meant that the beach bag went too. My really good camera got submerged and was destroyed. At least, thank God, I had left my iPhone behind. Chili and I sat in the ocean for awhile letting the water wash the blood away and then it occurred to me that maybe since we were both bleeding we shouldn't be where sharks might be. We walked the forty minute walk back to the campground with me dripping blood from my hand all the way, smiling and pretending nuthin' was wrong as we passed folks on the sand.

Ginny, as far as we can tell, has no wounds but Chili has a nasty neck wound under all her long hair.

Well, needless to say, our overnight at the beach had to be cancelled. After cleaning everybody up as much as possible, we decided to go home. I began washing the lunch dishes and stowing stuff away. Then, things got worse. Abby threw up her lunch all over the sofa bed, my good shoes, and everything else in range of dog projectile vomiting. My guess is that she drank sea water. Forty five minutes later, I was still cleaning that up as best I could with my fingers still bleeding all over the place.

We are now home. It is five hours later. It hurts like Hell to type this, although I've been beaten up much worse in the past by one thing or another. I am probably going to lose a thumb nail and I haven't even looked at the worst wound under two band aids yet. It probably needs a stitch or two. Everybody says don't get in the middle of a dogfight. Let them work it out. Ha. Let them kill each other is what would happen. If Chili starts fights with Ginny, Chili won't submit. Chili doesn't give a rat's ass about being torn apart. She takes a lickin' and keeps on provoking more. Chili is an Australian Cattle Dog. ACDs have Dingo DNA.

I have the nasty blood and vomit soaked towels and sofa throws and rugs in the washer and the smelly clothes in the dryer...except for the nasty ones I am still wearing. I am going to take a shower as soon as I finish this post. Danny just finished the rest of the RV cleanups. Some friggin' week end this turned out to be. Should have taken our chances with the swine germs.

We probed through all the hair and cleaned out Chili's wound. It looks like a gaping mouth and may need stitches. She's on antibiotics. I am not going to spend the next six hours at the Emergency Vet as I have done in the past. Not tonight anyway.

Oh by the way, Chili's allergic skin is much much better. I was right about that anyway. Next week end when we go to Atlanta, I guess she will go back at the vet's boarding facility again. Now, I'm even leery of doggie day care. Can't take a chance of her getting possessive of a toy or anything else. Anybody have Ceasar Milan's number? Help me, O Obi-Wan Milan. You are my only hope.

PS: I took some great pictures of the dogs on the beach but can't post them since my camera drowned.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Flagler Beach Pictures

here's some shots of our week end at Flagler Beach.

Report from Beverly Beach 2

Here's some pictures Danny took of the campground and us in the RV yesterday on my iPhone. I have lots and lots of beach shots on my camera but as I mentioned yesterday I forgot the cord to load onto my laptop. Will add later.

Briefly: Last evening, Danny had a bit of trouble putting the awning down so we could drive somewhere for supper. It took about thirty minutes and many tries to get her put away. We drove down A1A and found a seafood joint and pigged out on Tuna and scallops. After watching a DVd, we slept well with the windows open to the sounds of the surf and crickets. Woke up a little too early 'cause Ginny needed to go out to pee and I completely messed up the coffee making the first time on the travel machine. Had yummy muffins for breakfast though and walked the dogs on the beach for an hour and a half. We let them run off leash as much as possible and they had a blast chasing seabirds and sandpipers. Now, they are snoozing again. After showers, we are getting ready to move out. I'm still worrying about Chili though: the kennel was supposed to call and they didn't and their switchboard is on message only. I hope my poor pup is okay. Next time, she comes too!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beverly Beach

Well, Bloggers, we are here at Beverly Beach Camptown, literally right on the ocean with AIA behind us. Beverly Beach is in Flagler County just up the highway from Daytona and Ormond By The Sea and about twenty five miles south of St Augustine. Another time, we will probably drive up to St Augustine and see the oldest something or others. But this week end, its all beach. Why did we pick Flagler Beach? Well, for one thing, its really beautiful. It's an easy drive from Orlando and it is not crowded like Cocoa or New Smyrna. But, the main reason is because it dog friendly country. Yes, unlike most beach areas in central Florida, your pooch pals can frolic in the surf with you.

We had to leave Chili behind this time since it was our maiden voyage so to speak and Australian Cattle Dogs can be a bit of a handful to travel around with until you are certified road warriors. But, next time she's comin' cause she would really love it here. Sun, sand, surf, sea breezes...and birds! Oh, the glory of chasing sand pipers and gulls down the beach and splashing through tidepools! The surf temp is about seventy five which is perfect for dogs and not bad for us humans if we keep to the shallows.

Ginny and Abby had never seen the ocean until today or set paws on a beach. We were not sure how well they would like it, but from the minute we hit the beach road their heads were out the window, ears flapping in the salt breeze, eyes bright with anticipation. After we checked into the camp and parked the Winnebago, Abby raced up the beach steps and down onto the sand then to the surf asap. Ginny also had no hesitation running into the ocean. We took about an hour and a half walk ...well run whenever birds were anywhere around...and then returned to the RV to nap. The ocean is a hit with the dogs. I am so glad. Many years ago, I used to have a house on Hilton Head in South Carolina and spend summers, frequent week ends, and holidays there with my kids and dogs ,Tara the Rottie and Nikki the Akita. Those dogs loved the beach. I am so happy that Abby and Ginny are having the same sort of fun now. I hope they get to chase crabs. That was Nikkis' favorite thing of all.

We will be off in search of supper soon. For now, the windows are all open, the awning is out, the screened skylight is open and the cross ventilation is fantastic. As I write this, the sounds of passing cars on A1A, the pounding surf and cries of sea birds are mingling with the smells of other campers beginning to grill their suppers. The dogs are snoozing on the sofa, tired and happy.

Its probably a good thing I left Chili in Orlando ( at vets boarding facility). Otherwise, I wouldn't be wanting to go home for a long long time.

More later. I'll report on supper and our first sleep over night. I forgot to bring the cord for my camera to upload all the pictures I've taken. I'll do the pictures for you tomorrow night.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ballad Of The Millennium Parakeet

The Ballad of The Millennium Parakeet

By Nancy Deutsch

Just cruising down the highway

at a speed of fifty-five

might be, we're going nowhere fast

I'll know when we arrive.

Riding in a Winnebago

breezes blowin' through my hair

ditching the well traveled roads

for others just as fair.

Bumping down a backwoods lane

doesn't matter where it leads

for its not the destination

but the journey that one needs.

Could be with age I've lost my cool

just ask me if I care!

We've got a bathroom on this rig

and automated stair.

It came with propane cooktop

a sofabed, TV

a microwave and freezer

a generator, and CB.

Now we're hauling through a city

singing oldies with the Stones

our gypsy wishes have come true

the world is ours to roam.

Oh, once I drove a Porsche

and hauled kiddies in a van

now I ride in Winnebago

driven by my lover man.

Cruising down the roadway

through the mountains, by the sea

while some might choose an airplane

for us, there's nothing like RV!


Hope you like this boys and girls. Laugh out loud.