Thursday, April 29, 2010

The trouble with Tribbles

Do all you trekkies remember that episode from the original Star Trek? I was reminded of that episode as Val and I talked to one of our pickleball friends yesterday (yes, it turns out that a few of them are still here!).  For those of you who aren't trekkies, the show was about cute little round furry animals that cause all kinds of trouble on-board the Enterprise after being brought aboard and fed..  It turns out that Sandhill Crane colts are apparently cute little animals that also cause lots of damage when fed.  We've noticed a few times around the campground that people feel compelled to feed the cranes including one time when we saw a neighbor hand feed one of the parents.  Our pickleball friend had a neighbor that fed the cranes until the ranger corrected that issue since it's illegal to feed them.  Unfortunately, the cranes now hang around her rig, and the cute little colt has started pecking at the side of her Newmar Essex 45' motor home.  It's a beautiful RV but the colt has damaged both the paint and the custom tire covers.  They've had to order an $800 cover for the rig for when they are not there and will probably have a fence built around their lot (it's a permanent site).
So this story doesn't end quite as well as the Star Trek episode, but it's another lesson on how we should let wild animals fend for themselves, no matter how cute they are.

On another note, my recovery is going well and I've started physical therapy.  I'm working hard each day to get my range of motion back and will start on strengthening exercises soon.  I was fitted for a custom carbon fiber ACL brace which should arrive next week.That should get me out and walking around a little sooner.  But for now I'm doing a little walking around the RV with no crutches.  Feels good. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cards, Windows, Memories

Val took this shot on her walk yesterday. There are hundreds blooming now in the lakes and ponds on the preserve. 

We noticed a couple of years ago that we are often given a "business" card when we talked to fellow travelers.  Sometimes it included some business information if the folks were still working, but more often than not it was just a card with personal info that would let us know how to contact them when we were on the road.  Since starting our full-time adventure, we have collected quite a few, and so we knew it was time to create our own.  Ours has a pic of Val and me in font of the Volvo.
It definitely makes exchanging information easy and quick.

On a completely different note, I just wanted to tell all you Windows (vs.Mac) users that after 2 years of a hate-hate (and disgust and loathing and, well, you get the picture)  relationship with Windows Vista on my desktop replacement Gateway laptop, I did a clean install of Windows 7 Pro.  It meant I had to back-up all my files and do some magic with nearly 60 GB of IPod music files, but I'm here to say that it was all worth it.  I had problems with Vista from the first week.  It was slow.  It crashed.  At one point (actually several) I threatened to throw the laptop out the door.  If it hadn't cost so much, I would have.  But Windows 7 has changed all that.  My computer is easily 5 to 10 times faster starting up and running programs.  It has changed my computer life, so much so that I emailed Microsoft and let them know.  That's how impressed I am.
So if you've got Vista, don't wait.  Change to 7 now.  You won't regret it.

And now, having some time to reminisce due to the down-time from my surgery, I came across some pics from some of my favorite places.  The first is a post-storm pic from the deck of our family house in Fenwick Island, DE.

Here's the family on a 30 degree Thanksgiving morning in Yosemite.  I still don't know how Emily was able to play the guitar in the cold.  As I remember, we had the best granola pancakes with syrup and peaches heated over the fire.  Possibly the best Thanksgiving we have ever had.

And finally, the first west coast sunset that Val, Emily and I had ever seen.  We stopped in Big Sur and this is what we were present for.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Balloons and a wonderful photo from Val.

About 7:30 this morning I was sitting in the back of the RV when we saw a couple of hot air balloons floating over the trees outside of our rear window.  What a  nice sight to start the day.  They were quickly gone and I was reading the news on the computer when I heard a loud noise that sounded like it was right above our rig.  I knew right away that it was the blast from a balloon, so Val ran (and I hobbled) outside where we saw another balloon close by. It was moving pretty fast, but we managed to get this picture before it was gone.

They really are beautiful to see.  We are hoping to get to the balloon festival near Albuquerque in October.  We may have to take a motorcycle ride to see it as it seems that all the places to stay in that area are already full (or are charging something like $200 a day for camping!).  There's just something peaceful and exhilarating at the same time when you see a hot air balloon.  Our friend Rene, who we spent time with both here in Orlando and down in Wauchula, is a balloon pilot and was busy most mornings taking folks for rides.  He lives with his wife Mira in Gloucester, VA, and we look forward to seeing them again when we finally get to Thousand Trails Chesapeake.

On another note, Val has been responsible since my surgery for getting some pictures for the blog, but hasn't had a chance to get many.  But on her walk yesterday, her inner artistic talent took over and she got this close-up of a plant in the water.  I will admit that I cropped and softened it just a bit, but it is a wonderful photo.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What we miss.

We are often asked how we can live in such a small space and what we miss most about a sticks and brick house.  Well, the size of our RV is perfect for the two of us.  It's close to 400 square feet.  We actually went around our old house and measured what spaces we really used daily. It was the kitchen, breakfast room, computer area and of course the bedroom and bath.  We only used the living room and dining room when company came.  And the 3 extra bedrooms were unused also.  So after taking the measurements we found that we used, you guessed it, about 400 square feet of our 2200 sq. ft. house.  So no, we don't miss the space.
But there is one thing that both of us miss.  That's a bathtub.  The shower we have is the largest I've seen in an RV, but the "garden tub" part of the shower (where they got that name, I'll never know) is too small to relax in, especially for someone who is 6'1".  And it sounds strange, but the only other thing I miss is the heavy duty disposal. I love to cook and it just made kitchen clean-up faster (but Val does most of that anyway, so it's not too important, I guess).  Speaking of the kitchen, I was asked this week if I can still cook like I used to.  Not only like I used to, but more.  I have more time now and I kept everything from the house including all my gadgets.  We have storage under the desk that holds the following: bread machine, grain grinder, standing mixer (with misc. attachments like a meat grinder), food processor, rice maker, waffle iron, ice cream maker, juicer and electric knife. I suspect we will lose the waffle iron and maybe the ice cream maker at some point, but that was one lesson we learned from all the reading we did before this journey.  Keep everything you think you might want, and after a year, re-evaluate.  If it hasn't been used in a year, sell it or give it away.
I know Val misses her van, but I suspect that will go away when she gets more comfortable driving the truck.  And a car is not out of the question in the future.  It would just mean that she would have to follow me while we traveled.  That's not quite what we want to do, but it's an option.
So that's it for what we miss from having a house.  Not much, really.
And we get to travel to new places!  And see our Sandhill Crane family walk by our RV and truck. 

 And, well, you know the rest.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Val said I had to post a WARNING.

I was talking to Val about what I remember after they told me that they were going to give me something to relax me before giving me shots in my knee and taking me to surgery.  I remember only three things: lovely Val giving me a kiss for good luck, a brief vision of being wheeled through a door, and opening my eyes to see my doctor huddled over some type of loud, whining grinder/saw before walking over to me and showing me the donor graft that he was going to put in my knee.  Val laughed at that and said that I was definitely dreaming (about the doctor, not the kiss).  She said that a doctor would never do that.  So I asked him yesterday during my appointment, and yes, he said he absolutely did do that.  Strange, but somehow kind of cool.  I'm now just hoping that the graft was not from some serial killer (or serial kicker?) and that I'm not going to start kicking kids and old folks spontaneously or something.

Warning:  Val was supposed to get some pics today, but she didn't.  So for those of you interested in what a knee looks like 4 days after surgery for an ACL allograft, I've posted a pic of my lovely legs.  If that sort of thing makes you squeemish, don't scroll down.
But if you do, try to guess which one was operated on...
Apparently I'm gaining my sense of humor back, however dry (or as my recruits used to say: "arid"), which is a good thing.  I actually also did a short workout, although obviously mostly upper body.  So I'm feeling better quickly.  The sad thing is that I've been unable to locate anyone on the pickleball court to visit with.  We've passed by at all times and no one's around.  What a difference from 10 days ago when there were a good twenty people playing.
I guess that's possible since things are really clearing out in the campground.  It appears that the snowbirds have flown north.  Even our friends Harry and Tay who have been floating around Florida for a while have headed back to VA.   I sure would like to also.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Update and apology

First, I have to apologize for the scarcity of posts and pictures lately (although Val wanted to post a pic of me hobbling along on crutches. Nope.) I'm just now getting back on the computer after almost 3 days away, something that is very unusual for me.  But I must say that today has been  a much better day than the last two.  I've been up and around the RV and have weened myself onto just Tylenol and Advil instead of the prescription pain meds that make the pain go away but keep me dizzy and disoriented.  Tomorrow I see the doctor and will hopefully start physical therapy soon.  We love it here in Florida but are anxious to get back on the road, however delayed.
Tomorrow I'm sending Val out for pics.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Update on knee surgery

Hello all.  Val here.  Thank goodness Bill's knee surgery was a success yesterday, but oh what a day...  Despite informing doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists about his sensitivity to medication, and his past experience with post-op nausea, that's what caused the most discomfort yesterday.  They told Bill they administered 4 different anti-nausea meds, but he still felt so bad it took 1 1/2 hours just to get out of the car when I got him home.  Then around midnight the nerve block in his knee must have totally worn off.  It took a while to get that pain under control!  Aside from those two things, he's got a great attitude, and looking forward to starting physical therapy to regain strength and resume physical activity (including pickleball!)  I would attach a photo, but I don't think he'd appreciate that right now!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not what we planned.

As those of you who follow our blog know, we were supposed to start heading north next week and then slowly make our way west to Oregon by July 15th.  But, alas, all things must change, and I am having reconstructive surgery on my left knee tomorrow morning here in Clermont.  I am impressed with my doctor who is part of the National Training Center's sports medicine program and he has expedited the surgery to try to get me back on the road.
We'll keep you posted after surgery.
Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Neighbors: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good...
One of the joys of full-timing is meeting myriad people who also have a home on wheels.  Since my knee injury, several couples have asked if they could help out by taking us to the grocery store or doctor's appointments.  This included a very nice couple whom we have never met that stopped by yesterday.  They occupy a site across the road from us and saw me on crutches. They offered rides to where-ever we need to go to keep us from having to drive the Volvo.  Like virtually (a word that I rarely use because it has a built-in escape clause) everyone we've met on the road, they were thoughtful and helpful. 

The bad...
Of course not everyone is perfect on the road (see "virtually" above).  We have had a neighbor for the past two or three days that keeps a radio on all day and evening outside of his RV.  It's not blaring, but just loud enough to be heard during lapses in conversation or during lulls in the din of the TV. The odd thing is that he's never outside.  I guess it's one of the drawbacks to living fairly close to one another.  But he may be leaving today as Val just told me that "Mr. Radio" appears to be packing up.

And the ugly...
Sorry.  Here's my chance to give a link to those awful "people who shop at Walmart" slideshows, but I won't.  We're all beautiful people out here.. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pics and pain.

This was a pic from an early morning walk by the lake in Clermont.   We also walked the nature trail which was enshrouded in fog which made it seem like a fantasy scene from a movie.
Later we saw two Sandhill Cranes with their colt, and we were able to get a few pics.. 
I've been playing pickleball at 3:00 with three excellent players, and the competition has been intense.  Unfortunately, I went up for a shot yesterday and came down awkwardly on my left leg and felt something pop in my knee.  Val ended up driving me to the closest hospital where they said that nothing was broken in my knee but they referred me to an orthopedic guy for a likely MRI.  I see him Tuesday, and until then they gave me a knee immobilizer and crutches.   Man, just when I was getting good.  The good news is that it made Val drive the truck which she has resisted slightly.  She did great. (I knew she would.)
I'll keep you posted on the knee.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh yeah, the helicopter.

I forgot one part of our foray to Old Town.  We were walking back toward the reverse bungee jump when I spotted a man outside of a toy store flying one of those neat remote controlled helicopters.  It had lights flashing and he was having a great time flying it.  It occurred to me that I could have fun flying one of those. Hmm, I wonder how much they cost.  Then, just as I was pondering that very question and imagining the fun things I could do with a remote controlled helicopter, it quickly dipped toward the sidewalk and then swooped back up. Now imagine, if you will, one large rotor blade and one small one rotating ultra fast and hitting long hair.  In this case, the long hair of a nice teenage girl.  What a mess. My first thought was that I really didn't need a remote controlled helicopter.
It took a good twenty minutes for this guy to pull and tear her hair out of the blades.  Luckily for him the girl was nice about it and seemed more embarrassed than anything.
I think I'll be satisfied with an RV and a motorcycle as my toys. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Moving on,

This was the scene just before we left on Thursday for Thousand Trails in Clermont.  It was a beautiful morning with an almost full moon. 
It's nice to be settled in for three weeks before we head north to VA to visit friends and family.  Everyone's happy that the weather has finally warmed into the 80's where it should be.  Of course this has pushed the 3:00 pickleball games back to around 5:00 which meant two days ago that folks brought grills and their favorite food (we slow-cooked a huge pot of baked beans which everyone loved), and we played and ate for a good three hours.  Oh yeah.  And drank a little too as there was plenty of beer to go around.
Then last night we went out with 3 couples to have some pizza and take a walk through Old Town.  It was darn crowded since it's spring break, but we enjoyed the parade of antique cars. It was hard to get a good picture with Val's compact camera but we managed to get a couple of fairly clear ones
and a lot of this ghost-like style.
 And there was no lack of odd characters like this guy with his pet skunk.  That's our friend Bob probably saying something nice to the guy.  Like "who the @#!$ brings a skunk to Old Town...."

There was also a reverse bungee jump (You Tube Link) that catapulted two people at a time to what looked like over 150 feet in the air and then dropped them back down as the chair spun around so that sometimes they faced up and other times they faced right toward the ground.  They would bounce up and down about 5 times before finally coming back to earth. At $25.00 a pop (and I'm sure several things on our bodies would have popped), we skipped that one. 
We got back to our RV at almost 11:00 pm which is a tad late for us, but we had a great time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

So, an RV guy comes over and asks me to help with his organ....

So, an RV guy comes over and asks me to help with his organ....
Sounds like a perfect beginning to a dirty RV joke, doesn't it.
Nope.  Happened to me on our last day in Moore Haven.  Right after we got to the campground, another Teton, just like ours but 4 years newer, pulled in and set up a few sites away.  Val and I went over and spent some time talking to a nice gentleman who has been full-timing for 34 years.  That's a record for people we've met.  Many of those years he was working, but he still lived and traveled in his RV.
Anyway, he showed us his rig and we noticed that he had a nice electronic organ (I can just hear Jeff and Mark laughing right now...) with three rows of keys and lots of foot pedals.  So today there's a knock on our door and he asks me if I'll come over and help him with his organ.  He wants to move it into his truck so that he can try to find someone to repair it.  The main power rocker-switch is broken.  He had the switch with him, so I was studying it as we went back to his RV.  Being the McGyver type as Val likes to say (Wikipedia it if you're confused), I told him that with a little luck I might be able to get his organ up and working again (sorry, couldn't resist).  I was able to get the switch apart and realized that the rocker itself was not seating correctly which had allowed the metal contacts to slip.  I suggested a fix which included disassembling the switch, drilling into the rocker and then filing and shaping a small nail to hold it in place.  About two hours later, we had the switch back together, tested with a multimeter and installed back in the organ. And lo and behold, it fired right up and he started playing with his organ again.  Sorry, I mean playing his organ again.  And he's a good player.  Turns out that he used to work on generators and power stations and was hit with 21 thousand volts a few years back.  It burned him badly and left him with no feeling in his arms and hands.  Despite his doctor telling him that he would never get real use back in his hands, he found a therapist who said that trying to play the organ again would be good for him.  And he credits his work trying to regain his playing abilities with proving that his first doctor was wrong.  Pretty cool.
Now Val has suggested that I hang a sign on the RV saying something like "Something wrong with your organ?  Stop here.  We can help!".
Nope, she didn't really say that.
Enough of that.  Here are a few more Everglades pics.

Here is the bark of the Jumbo Limbo tree.  We'd never seen anything like it.  It looked more like rock.

Anhinga sunning itself.  I also have a picture of an Anhinga sunning itself while standing on a turtle, but it's slightly fuzzy unfortunately.

A White Ibis juvenile and a Tri-colored Heron.                               

                           Green Heron

And of course...