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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Furnace Vibration, and other Frustrations

As Nancy said, we learned Chili won't be able to travel with us. Unless we were travelling specifically for Dog Agility trials, she'd be impossible to travel with. We also discovered the overhead bunk is suitable for one person, so we'll be sleeping on the pull out sofa bed.

During the night, it got a bit chilly, so I turned on the furnace. After convincing Nancy we wouldn't die from carbon monoxide, I turned it on. It worked fine for a minute or so, then rattled something fierce. After several cycles of that, I'd had enough, and turned it back off.

In a Winnebago View 23H model, the furnace is under the rear dinette seat. After pulling the dinette seat out, the inner vent off, and the outer vent cover, I turned the furnace on and watched. I quickly discovered the cage surrounding the furnace blower had someone been bent up just enough to contact the metal of the outer door frame (in the future, I'll take pictures of stuff like this). I bent it back into place with my hand, and tried it again. No noise. Screwed everything else back on, tried again. No noise. Fixed, as far as I can tell.

I also did my first sewer dump. No tragic event like in the movie, "RV". I practice dumping both tanks, even though the black-water tank was barely 1/5 full. The grey tank was full, though. In the future, I'll probably dump the grey water tank 5 times for every one time I need to dump the black. It was easy, an not messy at all. 

We're looking forward to our first real overnight, probably at the beach or Lakeland.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Parakeet and Cattledog

Here is the dog who proved that not all dogs are suited to camping and several shots of our Winnebago at home. Read the next Blog for the story.

Week end Update

We're still practicing our RV skills prior to road tripping. Over the week end we learned several things. We drove out to Turkey Lake Park near Universal Studios which is a pretty cool place with picnic areas, lake, jogging and biking and walking trails, and RV camping area. There, Danny did his first gray water dump. No disasters there, thank goodness. But, that's his area to comment on. I stocked the pantry with various canned goods, but haven't actually prepared any meals on board as yet. I did take my first shower in the bathroom aboard the Parakeet and I am happy to report that it was very easy, plenty of hot water, and my hair felt really soft and bouncy afterwards-- probably from the filtered water.

We watched the Peter Jackson version of King Kong on the built in DVD player/TV which works swell with the dogs on board and then on Saturday night decided to sleep there. We were parked in our driveway! That did not work out as well. Here's what we learned from that experience.

1. The overhead bunk is too claustrophobic for two people to actually sleep up there. I was on the inside next to the curved wall with the roof only a couple inches from my nose. I felt like I was in a cat scan machine. I couldn't get out without getting Danny up... and climbing down that bitty narrow metal ladder in the dark isn't fun. What was even worse was that a spider had somehow gotten in and I am seriously Arachnophobic. Even though I spotted it before we went to bed and Danny killed it, I kept lying there in the pitch black wondering if another one would come in and land on my face with me trapped up there. Needless to say, sleep eluded me. I lasted an hour and climbed down the ladder to park myself on the sofa. I didn't want to try to pull it out into a bed so I was pretty cramped, especially with a dog lying across my feet. So, I tried sleeping on the single bed that is created from the dining table and booth. Mattress was miserably uncomfortable. First I tried sleeping with my head towards the bathroom which didn't work because we were sloping down slightly in the driveway. I felt like I was on a slant board. So, I turned around. Nope sleeping on seat belts. Plus, I kept having to rearrange the dogs.

2. Then, there was Chili, my ADD Australian Cattle Dog. Abby and Ginny simply curled up tail to nose and went to sleep. Chili was up and down, up and down and up and down again. All night. Pacing, scratching, itching and rolling, yipping, banging the trash can lid up and down for her own entertainment. She even sat on my head and scratched. (She has spring allergies in addition to Hyperactivity and Epilepsy). Then, she wanted outside to pee and wouldn't come back in. Arrgh! I got, maybe four hours of sleep in total. Lesson here: Chili is not a good camper. At home, we don't notice what she does during the night. She roams the house. On the Parakeet, there was nowhere for her to go. So, I am looking into a good boarding facility for Chili. Day trips only for her or I will perish from lack of sleep.

3. It got cold late in the night with the windows open and we had to turn on the heater. The yard sprinklers came on around five and I had to get up and close the windows on one side. We need more blankets on board.

We've decided to sleep on the sofa bed from now on and get a memory foam thingy for the single bed just in case. Overhead bunk for storage and occasional one person naps only.

We took the Parakeet to her storage facility Sunday evening after dinner and reluctantly said good bye until next week end. Then, we hope to take our first overnight er, either to see the kids in Lakeland or to Atlantic Beach.

TTFN Over and out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some more photos of us enjoying the Parakeet

Here's some photos of me and Abby and Ginny on board the Parakeet.

We can't bear to take her to the storage facility, so she's still parked in the driveway. Today, we had horrible stormy weather...tornadoes nearby but but not near us in orange County. Just heavy rains. After the worst of the storms had passed I went out to the RV and climbed into my overhead bunk and read a book for forty minutes listening to the sound of dripping rain on the roof. I could easily have napped after that for the rest of the afternoon, but I had errands to do, so I didn't. But, I feel like the Parakeet is my secret when I was a kid significantly back in the last century!

Poor Danny is still sick after nearly two weeks and can't really enjoy her. I hope he's better soon. He is on the minus scale as regards energy.


Monday, April 13, 2009

A few more pictures from our learning session on RV operation. In the first, the technician had just demonstrated how to convert our dining table and booth seats into a third, single bed. Cute isn't it? Reminds me of a Heidi bed somehow. Dunno why. In the second picture, Danny was learning how the built in generator works. The third picture shows Danny enjoying his first RV lunch.

Danny told of our first week end adventures very well. We're still learning the ropes and stocking the Parakeet with everything we think we'll need for our first actual road trips and sleepovers. He neglected to mention though, that I bought pretty much every interesting thing that Camping World in Kissimmee had to offer. I really did. Then I hit WallMart, KMart, IKea, Sams Club and Lowes! $$$ I have to get some extra pairs of shorts and jeans to keep on board but aside from that and food, I think we are ready to roll.

Unfortunately, Chili thought she could fly out of the door and hurt her paws. Also unfortunately, I did not notice this until she had re-entered the RV and managed to get bloody prints all over the sofa/bed and passenger cab seat. I am having trouble removing the blood. I used a stain remover recommended for RVs and boats but it doesn't work very well. I also learned not to keep the spill proof water bowl available while driving since Chili drank all the water and had to pee before we were really ready to stop.

I am getting up the skinny ladder to the overhead bed pretty well and love to lie up there with the skylight open and read and check my email on the iPhone. The memory foam mattress pad really rocks. Sooo comfy. Also here's a tip: even though the bed is a double bunk, a standard single bed comforter is the perfect size to fit across it without a long drop over the sides.

My daughter (Laura) suggested buying a small crockpot and keeping it on board for meals. Great idea, thought I. Back to WallMart. I found a great crockpot cookbook for RVs and can't wait to try it out. It looks like our first long road trip may be to Atlanta on the week end of May 11 to celebrate Danny's grandmother's 90th birthday.

We couldn't bear to take the Parakeet to her storage berth last night as planned so she's still in the driveway. Have to keep her there now until Wednesday as we have Monday and Tuesday night mtgs. after work. Oh well, too bad. More time for me to play. Can't wait to actually travel. This is so much fun so far.


Trails and Tripulations

Yes, I meant 'trails'. Hopefully happy trails. The Parakeet had it's first test run over the last few days. We've learned a few things:
  1. Make sure items in overhead bins are secure. They become projectiles if not. Especially the hard plastic ones.
  2. If you hear more than one car horn honking nearby, pull over and do a check, just in case. Our TV antenna was still up.
  3. Make sure bathroom door is secure when underway.
  4. Chili's paws WILL find the 'window down' button for the passenger side window. As far as I can tell, there's no Window lock. If Chili's up front, keep hand near Window control.
Those are just a few lessons learned, so far. I've yet to do a sewer dump, so I'll probably have a few lessons from that.

The Millennium Parakeet (2006 Winnebago View) is AWESOME! It drives like a large SUV, accelerates about as fast, and has no trouble reaching and maintaining speed limits. A primary concern I had was hot water. I wanted to be sure it was hot enough, and lasted long enough. Wednesday night, I took a shower in it. I went through my normal shower routine I do at home, to compare. The water was more than hot enough. When I was done, the hot water was still going. I let it continue till I finally decided there were no issues of hot water amount, and turn the shower off after 20 minutes. 

The coach batteries last a long time. I thought I might need to upgrade to the 6 volt Deep Cycle golf cart batteries, but it's not really necessary at this point. The charge on the batteries never went down even 10%. 

The freezer and refrigerator chill down very quickly.

I still had flu this weekend, but played with our new toy as much as possible. When I got too tired, I crawled up in the bed and napped a bit. I can't wait till I feel better.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

First day

The Parakeet has landed. We spent all day Wednesday picking her up, getting tag and title, being given an operational tour by the mechanic, driving around, shopping for necessities and accessories, etc. We ate lunch at our table and like Goldilocks tried out all the beds to determine the most comfortable. Danny took a long shower to see if he would run out of hot water (he didn't) and I drove her slowly around the neighborhood to get the feel of something bigger than a small stick shift Volvo. We gave the dogs a ride. Abby adjusted immediately, Ginny after five minutes, Chili not at all. When we returned to the house, Chili vaulted over the banquette seat and flew through the open door like a flying squirrel straight out at least six feet into the air, fell to the pavement, rolled over, went on, like she meant to...friggin' Australian Cattle Dogs are a breed apart all right.

Danny wanted to go to the beach but I reminded him it is Easter week end. Roads in and out of town may be crazy. So, he wants to camp out in front of the house prior to leaving on a trip next weekend which is probably a good idea. Sort of a 'newbee' dry run. Hey, the neighbors probably already think we're crazy already anyway. So, bring on the s'mores.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Welcome to My Road Trip World


"I want to shake the dust of this one horse town. I want to explore the world. I want to watch TV in a different time zone. I want to visit the strange exotic malls...I want to live, Marge! Won't you let me live?"
-Homer Simpson

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the economy and the general state of things in the world and my expected remaining decades on this planet and I've come to several conclusions.
1. First, as everybody with half a brain already knows, the economy is in the crapper. My retirement savings and stocks have gone south like everybody else's and I see little reason to invest good money after bad.
2.Global warming is here whatever the cause and the ability to 'get outa Dodge' should a hurricane be blowin' in our neck of the woods ain't a bad idea. Like Homer, I too am bored with the same old same old around me even though my home town is a pretty good place to park.
The road as yet unexplored beckons. I've decided that I need some new adventures--before my knees and hips get too creaky to go.
3. Yes my little bloggers, now that my parents are gone and my children are grown and having babies of their own I'm starting to feel, emotionally at least, like no spring chicken. I am still healthy and strong but am a grandmother after all, twice over as of the birth of Bailey Lynne last week. Three tines over since Stephen and Casey let me be a sort of grandparent to the wonderful Gavin. That's totally fantastic and I am enjoying every moment of my Nan Nan state, even if it seems impossible that I can be as old as my drivers licence says. I look in the mirror and still see my ten year old face smiling back at me but in the truth is revealed in photos: I am, uh, mature. In the past year or so one friend not too much older than me died of cancer, another succumbed to Alzheimer's disease and is now unable to live independently, another was diagnosed with Leukemia...well the list could continue...but the point is that life is fragile and time is not a friend. So, my conclusion is that delaying fun new experiences is probably not a good idea. Life and death can get in the way.

So, all this is leading me into my real story. Bear with me.

Several week ends ago we drove to the beach. It felt so good to be out of town even for a few hours that it reminded me that I haven't travelled in a long long time. Since 9-11 I have not been able to force myself onto a commercial airplane. I don't like flying in those big uncomfortable tin buckets anyway. That leaves trains, boats, and automobiles. I prefer dry ground. That leaves trains and cars. Trains don't do it for me. I get over fatigued and squirmy sitting still in cars on long trips. I don't really enjoy sleeping in hotels and I hate the bother of packing suitcases. And most importantly, I don't like leaving my dogs behind. Danny hates commercial flying and he also doesn't like being away from the dogs. Still, we both agreed we'd like to do some traveling. Danny suggested a motor home. We could take the dogs. I could move around instead of sitting still. "Well, maybe some day," I said. Didn't think much more about it.

But, the wanderlust continued. We drove to Montverde for a friend's St Patrick's day party. On the way we passed several RV sales lots. "Maybe we should look at some one week end," said I.
"How much would one cost?" Danny replied that a used one would be as much as a luxury car...not a Ferrari or Bentley (unless you are shopping for the behemoth mega homes on wheels which do indeed cost as much as a house but you really could live in). Would cost as much as a good Lexus or BMW. "Hm," I said, thinking that I still had some money left over from the sale of my late mother's house that I hadn't decided whether to invest yet or not. "That might be possible."

So last week end, we we're looking for something to do. No movies we wanted to blow thirty bucks on, nothing we needed at the mall or IKEA, it was rainy which ruled out beach or theme park, so I said, "Lets go look at motor homes." There is a new dealer near home. I'd never been inside a motor home. I happily explored several dozens for several hours. Looked a prices, weighed benefits, thought of possibilities. Like I said, some of these really big babies have granite kitchens and bathtubs and are totally posh. The big babies were out of the question, of course since I am not a rich athlete or rock star but were really fun to see. If you wanted to fork over several hundred K on one you couldn't care about nonexistent gas mileage or that you'd have to tow a car for getting around town once you get where you are going. But I guess if I was a rock star I'd ride around in limos with security guys anyway.

The ones that are essentially trailers that have to be pulled by trucks are surprisingly posh and much less expensive. One actually had a working fireplace. The downside to these is that you have to have a big powerful truck (which we don't) and nobody can ride in the trailer part while it is on the road. Wouldn't work for us or the doggies.

But then, there she was, the Millennium Parakeet. That's not her real name of course. She is really a pre-owned Winnebago View, c class Motor Home, a twenty four foot little beauty with a Mercedes diesel engine built on a Dodge Sprinter chassis. She is only the size of a Fed Ex or UPS truck which means she can be parked in the average parking lot or on the street. No extra tolls. Fifteen to twenty miles to the gallon. One slide out. A complete galley kitchen with microwave, convection oven, gas cook top, fridge and freezer, folding dining table and booth that becomes a bed. Another sofa bed and a bunk over the drivers cab. A full bath with shower. A generator of course. Small TV built in over the dining table. Cherry wood cabinetry. Navy blue upholstery that will stand up to the Mutley Crew. She was not to big, not too small, just right for us since we are not large people.

As Mark Twain said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in you sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." My usual habit is extreme conservatism. Save the money for disaster. Invest the money. Not this time. I invested most of my inheritance and, well, you know how well that's gone. Sigh. I digress. I went home, calculated my cash holdings, decided what was a reasonable down payment and a reasonable monthly payment and what term would be acceptable.

It took me four days of emailing and phone calls and bargaining. I refused to budge on my deposit or payment or loan term. The salesman came down on the price enough that the monthly payment including warranty and taxes was exactly one dollar over my requirement. I decided that was reasonable. Parakeet became my little bird, on paper at least, Wednesday night just before the art festival wrap up meeting. She's being detailed and we pick her up next Wednesday after an operations class.

The insurance guy told me that I can go anywhere except Baja Mexico on my policy. Too dangeroso. I'm not going there anyway without Vin Diesel and Jason Bourne. The accountant told me the sales tax and loan interest are deduct able. Very nice, hombre. Danny said, like I'd be excited about this, "The diesel engine can be converted to burn bio fuel. It could prove useful in future." I said, "But doesn't that stink?" He said, "Yeah, like McDonald's french fries oil." I don't think so, folks. Frying oil smells make me nauseous. Not unless things get a whole lot worse on old Ma Earth does my little birdie smell like french fries.

Anyway, the maiden voyage will be soon and we are planning mini trips to the beach as well as interesting week ends all around Florida. We plan to go to Georgia before the year is up to see Danny's kin as well the longer road trip we need to make to the Pennsylvania mountains with Mother's ashes. I have pledged to myself that I will write a Blog, poem, essay, short story, cooking on the road recipe, or travel tips with dogs on each and every trip no matter how long or brief. There maybe a book there someday. There's a whole subculture of fun loving RV aficionados out there to read it. Once, long ago, when I really was young, in a galaxy far away, I drove zippy little sports cars. Now I shall drive slowly and carefully in a Winnebago wearing parakeet colors.

"There are many spokes on the wheel of life. We're here to explore new possibilities." --Ray Charles

So, here's the second Blog from little old me which will feature the ongoing voyages of the Millennium Parakeet (Star Wars fans will get the name), her continuing mission to explore strange new places, to seek out new fun, to boldly go where we have never gone before. I can't wait to get started and I hope you will share the missions with me.

To infinity and beyond!

Check out my other blog, for my origonal poems, short fiction, rants, reports from the homefont, bytes and bits of stuff about the dogs and dog agility, updates about my kids and extended family and grandkids. You never know what you will find there. If you like to read short fiction or poetry, my books Florida Shorts, Flights of Nancy, and Between The Lines (Nancy Wayman Deutsch) are available on