Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's a Jungle out there!

On Tuesday, we left the sanctuary of Lazy Days and ventured into the world of Central Florida in January for a couple of days. It was frightening! Traffic everywhere, crowded parking lots, lines at restaurants and people, people, people. Fort Wayne this isn't! We did find a very pleasant Walmart and overnighted there after a hard day at the mall but, shopping therapy can only go so far. Can't wait to head back to Seffner and slip into the comfort of Rally Park with it's well groomed grounds, pleasant walks and three squares a day courtesy of the Crown Club. Reality can really suck!

Breakfast with Bahnson

Our first destination in Florida was Rally Park, the huge RV park maintained by Lazy Days. Lazy Days is arguably the world's largest retailer of RVs of all classes, fifth wheels, caravans and related mobile accommodation and claims to sell about 1,000 units per month during the first quarter of each year.
Our plan in stopping here was to regroup, do our periodic chores in 70 degree weather rather than 7 degrees and then think about what we would do next. We met up with Rod Bahnson (shown here in his best suit) and his lovely bride Jean at breakfast, and have subsequently and unofficially assigned Rod as our mentor in the skills of long term and relaxed RVing. Rod and Jean have "full-timed" at this point for half-a-dozen years or so and appear to be succeeding mightily. Full timing means no regular house - just living and traveling permanently in their rig.
Rod is the "knower of all things". Whether it's where to go (or not go) when to go and why, he always comes up with sound advice. For long-term (not full time) tyros such as ourselves it has been a valuable association. We also met Bob and Maribel Clerc who long-time rather than full-time, and became convinced that we ought to give a major rally a shot. Thus, we are now destined to attend the South East FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) Rally in Brooksville, Florida next week. To date, there are more than 1,500 coaches booked to attend with more than 2,000 family units overall. We have low expectations and therefore are unlikely to be disappointed :-))
Another great (but slightly risky) activity at Lazy Days is to check out all of the new coaches to confirm that there are none that hold a candle to ours. This was working pretty well for the first two days but then an up and coming manufacturer, Tiffin, caught Marian's eye. This is the risky part. Another day was spent investigating this parvenu and there is even some desire to "stop by the factory" on the way home. Thus, a self image enhancing experience that "we did the right thing" when we bought Black Bess, could rapidly turn into a gut-wrenching case of deja-vu as we restart the entire process. Hopefully, a couple of glasses of Merlot and some flowers for Valentines day will vanquish such notions from her mind.

A narrow escape

Having finally dispelled the last of the contractors and enjoyed a brief family get together, we decided to get out Dodge while the going was good. The weather was pretty much in the twenties and we had had a little snow as the picture here, on our day of departure, shows. So we hitched up the toad and fled south as fast as the speed limits would carry us!
With frosts snapping at our heels for a day or two we bravely soldiered on. In the meantime, the weather in Fort Wayne steadily deteriorated, getting colder and colder with occasional snow. This morning it was 1 degree Fahrenheit and heading toward negative numbers for the weekend. Meanwhile, in central Florida, today is going to be a raw 65 degrees and we have to wait until tomorrow for some high seventies. Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Excellent Adventure #3

Over Christmas and the New Year we went on Excellent Adventure #3 - three weeks in the United Kingdom checking out friends and relations old and new. All told, we visited with almost fifty people, had a great time and accomplished just about everything we set out to do. With so many varied activities and such a large number of visits the trip is summarized in diary format here.
Para-gliding, seaside resorts, ancient ruins were part of the things to see while previously unknown relatives and new acquaintances were among people we met.
The weather was very English - a couple of days of sun, generous portions of rain and five days of airport-closing fog. Guess that's about right for England. Driving on the left, we covered around 1700 miles and paid a mere $6.70 to $7.00 per gallon for gas. Visit the diary to see how far 1700 miles takes a person in England.