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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh My…It’s (almost) Over!

It baffles me every year again. When December 31 rolls around I get the feel that the past year went by way too fast. I also know that almost 6 months later I’ll be approaching yet another birthday with a higher number. I’m sure you feel the same.

Was it a good year or was it a bad one? Could we have done something different for ourselves and others? What went wrong or was there a particular thing we did that we are proud of?

Everyone will have a different answer to that. Public media will run reviews of what happened in the past year. There is usually very little else to write about on the last day of the year.

So why don’t I cut it short right here and limit myself to wishing you all a

2014


Monday, December 30, 2013

More About Dogs On The Beach

There is sure more to be said about yesterday’s posting. F.ex. we found out that there are more Florida beaches allowing dogs on the beach, than what I mentioned yesterday. Yet Florida reaches only a low score when it comes to dogs on the beach. There are states like f.ex. North Carolina which are way more friendly to dog owners. The Florida public seems to think of dogs on the beach as a source for attracting major diseases. Sure, there could be the risk of finding a “dug down” DD (dog poop). But there is also the risk of finding drug needles and other paraphernalia after the yearly Spring-Break outing. Yet nobody seems to bother with prohibiting spring-break outings on public beaches. Oh – I know of many more dangers on the beach. Like f.ex. gulls doing their salmonella infected business on powdery sugar-white Florida beaches…. :-)
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Instead of prohibiting, what if communities would make it very clear for dog owners that if they don’t pick up after their dogs they’d be fined. They could hang up dispensers with doggie bags at all beach entrances. We have seen that in other places. And it’s working. Or they could designate certain areas of beaches as dog beaches like it is done out on the Pacific in San Diego. For all folks who want to find out where dogs are welcome there are a few web sites where we can find appropriate spots to stay.
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http://www.scoop.it/t/where-can-i-take-my-dog-to-the-beach/curate
http://www.bringfido.com/attraction/99/
http://www.petfriendlytravel.com/dog_beaches

Before we enter a beach area or any other public recreational site it is a good idea to take a walk with FIDO under controlled circumstances and let Fido do what he otherwise might do on a public beach. It helps to avoid angry looks and more serious trouble. We always try to do that with Molly, and mostly it works out. Also, don’t rely on finding Poop bags on the beach but carry your own. Most public beaches have trash bins too!

Stay away from places where you and your dogs are not welcome, it is the best you can do.

This is not only about letting dogs have their fun, it is also about us having fun with our dogs. And it is part of our vacation.

Think about that!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It Seems Florida Doesn’t Like Dogs

When we go to Florida we want to see and experience the many beautiful beaches of the state, and we want to take our dog along as we neither can nor will leave our dog alone in the trailer. When we researched the various beaches in this area, we learned that dogs are not allowed anywhere. In fact one website told us that there is only 2 places in Florida, St.George Island in Franklin County and Gulf County where dogs are not only allowed but welcome. However, Florida State Parks, located in both counties do NOT allow dogs on the beach. Very sad, indeed.
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DSC_0087 DSC_0088We found out that St. George Island was about 2 1/2hrs away from us. So we decided to check it out. We followed Hwy 20 east to Freeport from where we went onto Hwy 331, which intersects with Hwy 98. Hwy98 runs along the outer barrier islands. We crossed several long bridges and causeways before we actually arrived on St. George Island. It’s a beautiful laid-back kind of place, not too fancy but nice enough to enjoy.  What we did notice out there was that people looked at our van as if it was the most natural thing in the world to see ISLAND TOURS written along the side. Even our lighthouse logo was a nice fit for this trip.
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As we parked near the beach we saw several couples leading their dogs to and fro the beach. A friendly sign reminded dog owners to keep pets on the leash and pick up after their dogs. Franklin County must have some smart councilors. As dogs were prohibited on beaches in all other counties, they calculated quite rightly that they could attract visitors to their own community by profiling themselves as dog friendly. That this thought has shown to have merit there is not doubt about. And boy did we meet friendly and happy dog people along the beach. Even folks without dogs stopped and talked to us. This turned out to be one of the most fun beach walks I’ve ever had. And I will make sure to write a letter to the Franklin Co. Council to let them know.
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It is just a pity that we are camped so far from Franklin County. After all, this is the way we have imagined Florida to be. The beach along St. George Island is just gorgeous and we were sure blessed with beautiful warm weather, something that a lot of other folks also had found out.
DSC_0175 Here was a father busy building a sand castle for his son, and right farther down another one played with a kite. Happy people on a great beach!

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Thanks for visiting again!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our First Day in Florida

 It was Christmas Day when we woke up to our first full day in Florida. Birds were already singing in the old mature yard trees. It was cold – around freezing – but the sky was blue and the sun had just begun its wandering across the southern sky.
Molly and I took a walk down to the water’s edge. It’s called the Choctawachee Bay.
Pelicans are plentiful down here and I decided that the dock here would be one of my favorite places to spend time reading a book.

It was an overall very peaceful morning and I headed back in for some hot coffee,

The day progressed with us being very lazy, we felt simply worn out after our odyssey down south. The last day of traveling had gone very smooth though, we had been crossing Alabama and discovered that every Alabama rest area had a dump station, That would be a real blessing for RVers.
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It was now obvious that we had gotten ourselves into the Deep South into Dixie. The forests had showed mighty trees where “Spanish Moss” was hanging off the branches.  The latin name for this moss is Tillandsia usneoides, an herb in the pineapple family. It has slender, gray moss-like stems covered with tiny leaves and inconspicuous flowers. Its long strands that hang gracefully from the branches of large trees, especially oaks like the Southern live oak, are a characteristic feature of the landscape. Most rural homes were low-slung buildings on rather large properties. There was a lot of water standing everywhere, so we figured that major rains had graced this area.
 
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Freeport is a small town we will have to write about at another time. On this last day of travel we just cam off Hwy331 and turned west onto State Hwy 20, so we didn’t see much of the town.
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We were invited for a wonderful Christmas dinner with our hosts family so we all piled into their Honda Fit and drove off. It was turkey and ham and I guess most of us ate way too much.

We didn’t really manage to stay up late that day. No, we were too tired and went to bed early. We need a couple of days for pure relaxation before we can even think of starting to explore the area.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Greeting To Our Family, Friends And Readers All Over The World

From FREEPORT, FLORIDA we send our Merry Christmas out into cyber world. We made it safe and sound and without any more problems.
We will write about our last day of travels tomorrow. So stay tuned and meanwhile celebrate a wonderful, Merry Christmas where ever you are.
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Thanks for stopping by!
 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Unspeakable Happened…

After spending a night in that Pilot Truck Stop with rain drumming on our roof all night, we were more than ready to leave at 6:30am.

However, that was not going to happen.

A last walk-around the rig revealed that we had another flat tire. It was the one sitting behind the tire we lost the previous day.
Difference today was, it was raining and we had no spare to put on.
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First thing was to take yesterday’s shredded one and load it into the van. We left the trailer in the truck stop and followed our GPS to a tire place a few miles away. It was Turners tire and trailer service in Duncan, SC. Only a few miles from Spartanburg. However, it was only 7:30am when we got there and the workers hadn’t arrived yet. So we had to wait. However, at 8:00am the workers got busy. They located a place from where to obtain 2 tires and went out to pick them up. An hour later we had 2 new tires and we went back to the Pilot Truck Stop where I replaced the damaged wheel. We then had to go back to the tire guys to get also the 2. tire put on a rim. This time we had arrived with the trailer and after the 2.wheel had been hung on the back of the trailer for spare we
finally could hit the road. We had lost 4 hours but after all worse damage had been averted.

A few commenters have pointed out that tires must be replaced after a certain age. We are aware of that but since the trailer is just about a year old that shouldn’t be the case. Also we have had similar experience in 2005-2006 when 4 tires of our 5th wheel blew. At that time we found out that RV-manufacturers are using the cheapest tire products on their vehicles. Back then we filed a claim as much of the trailer was damaged in the blow-out and fortunately they paid us every dime of damage done.
As soon as we arrive at our destination the next 2 tires will be replaced as we are not lusting after more tire adventures.

Finally the rain stopped and the rest of the day went uneventful. That is if you don’t count that we saw a terrible accident where a car had flipped off the highway and down into a deep ditch and landed upside down flat as a pancake.

We are looking up the weather forecast and are soooo glad that we got out of winter’s grip up north. The ice storm must have been horrible.
While they had snow and ice up north it has been raining 24 hours down here. We saw some serious flooding along the highway.
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We are parked north of Montgomery, AL about 4hrs from Freeport,FL.

DSC_0366 When we arrived at the almost empty rest area we parked as we always do at the outskirts of the parking lot. WITHIN THE HOUR a semi arrived and parked right next to us – his engine running. Can someone please just explain what makes truck drivers seek the near neighbourhood of a camper where people try to relax and possibly find some sleep. This must be the top of a rude and stupid behaviour. Strange enough we have seen that happening several times of the years.


Flap flap flap flap….Oh…What A Day!

We figured we’d get up early so we’d get some miles done. It was very dark and only 5:00am when we left the Wally Mart at Lynchburg,VA.  We were still within town limits when my my ears were picking up a strange sound from behind. Something wasn’t right. It reminded about the all too familiar sound of a deflated tire trying to get off the rim. I stopped at an exit pull-out to check. Rounding the rear of the trailer I noticed the likewise familiar smell of burnt rubber. The next second I saw it. The front trailer tire on the passenger side was in shreds. God gracious…have mercy, I thought.
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Luckily we carry a spare tire AND a jack plus a tool box. We were also parked under a street light and heck…it wasn’t snowing or cold. In fact the temperature was 67F (19C)
It was time to get the hands dirtied. I placed the scissor jack under the axle and started turning it up. Got the damaged wheel off the rim and hung the new one. It all took about an hour, but we got it done. Not even the cops stopped by to see what was up. I bet the officer was on his way home to mama.
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Later we stopped at a gas station and I checked air pressure in all tires. Sometimes it was raining and then again it was dry. We started out on Hwy29 but changed to I-85 south of Greensboro, SC heading towards Atlanta,GA
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Gas prices were getting lower as we traveled farther south

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South Carolina is greeting us with this peachy symbol.

We never made it to the big southern city!

Rain started so badly that we and many others drove with the hazard flashers turned on. At Spartanburg we turned into a Pilot Truck Stop and found a spot on the end of a long line of trucks. Water was running every where.

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But contrary to some 300,000 households between Michigan and New-England we had power from our truly-yours HONDA Generator. So we hunkered down watching an old movie from 1952. Movies made in my year of birth are always good, simply because it was a good year. :-)

Hopefully, tomorrow we will reach our destination, Freeport, Fl.

 

Thanks for following with us here. 

 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

If NYC Is Hell What Is Washington DC?

Our 3rd day of traveling started with a mighty good breakfast prepared by Scott and Ginger. The day continued with being stuck on the Harwerth-lawn. The frost had gone out of the ground and made the surface quite slippery. So we were stuck for a while. That is until Scott brought out a few sheets of wood which we could lure under the rear wheels. Then they had to stop traffic on their busy road and I had to back the rig out of their drive way. No easy task, but we finally got out and left a hefty mark in the black top. It was one of our rear scissor jacks which scraped into the surface and got bend in the process.

Anyway, we were heading out onto I-95 South. Only a few miles and we would be in Virginia.

The excitement vanished pretty fast as we got into the first gridlock. And it wasn’t even 11:00am!
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To make a real long story short: We needed 3 hours for approx. 50 miles. We got stuck in gridlock for 3hrs.!!! First we left the I-95 and tried the parallel Hwy 1, but there was no going forward there either. Three hours after our start I got enough of it all and we turned west on route 238 which finally connected us to Hwy 29 South. Light traffic from there on south brought us to Lynchburg, VA. Thanks to the 3hr. delay we got nowhere near where we wanted to be tonight. We are just now trying to figure out how many hours we have left to Freeport Fl.

On the positive side we have reached extremely warm weather in the high sixties. No heating the trailer was necessary!



Saturday, December 21, 2013

13 Hours On The Road But NYC Was Hell

We started the 2. day at 5:30am. Of course it was pitch dark, but we had a distance to cover. Weather was beautiful and calm – no wind at all. Boston was straight ahead of us and we chose to drive the I-495 which half-circles the city on the west side. Switched over to the I-395 later which re-connects to the I-95 south of Providence. Day light had come by then and traffic had increased. We saw a few glimpses of the ocean but other than that we drove through industrial areas for miles  and miles.
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And finally we got into the suction of NYC. It all went well, until we made the turn leading to the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson. Full stop in traffic. From there on things came to a crawl. Besides the highway we could look down into the infamous Bronx, a place I wouldn’t even drive through at daylight. The horrors of living here must be mind-boggling. There’s only one comparable place which I have seen and that is East St.Louis, IL.
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But let’s not get side-tracked.

We finally made it across the great Hudson river and were now in New Jersey.
New Jersey is all about oil refineries. We could smell them before we saw them. It’s the same type of pollution we have in Edmonton,Alberta. It’s the price of our convenient transportation the people who live in this area have to pay. But then many of them work here as well. And gas prices went from horrendous $3.89/gal in NYC to $3.28/gal in New Jersey.  The New Jersey Turnpike leads south until we crossed into Delaware. It’s when we stopped at one of today’s many, many toll booths, that it was time to pay for OUR convenience. The bill came to $42.00! In total we have spent in excess of $100 in tolls. The funny part is that many of those toll roads are in bad conditions (it makes your innards jump up and down) and on top of that totally congested. We lost count of all the congestions we got into yesterday. It seemed like the entire population had decided to be on the move. However, I strongly suspect that this is the case most days.
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The sun was setting somewhat later than up in Maine, but finally we were driving in the dark again. By then we had reached Maryland and Bea had plotted the address of our HARWERTH family into the GPS, so now we got directions spoken in that soft sexy voice from “Hanne”. I was keeping the rig in the far right lane, expecting the exit to come up soon. After leaving the Interstate it was less than a mile to the residential area where Scott and Ginger Harwerth have been living since the late nineties. A last sharp turn brought us up into their driveway and from then on I could relax. With wobbly knees I made it to their door, rang the bell and was welcomed into their house. We had never before seen each other, so this was the time to get to know them and our conversation could have gone on for ever, if we hadn’t been so tired. So finally  we all went outside where Scott and Ginger got a Grand Tour of our trailer.
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Outside the temps had reached the balmy upper 40ies  - we had made it our of the cold and out of the snow.
Happy and exhausted we dropped dead into our bed.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

We Had A Great First Traveling Day

We still had things to organize and to pack, but around 9am I turned the key locking our entry door. We told the border officer that after 2 snow storms in a row we were off to Florida and he gave us a good chuckle. Besides running our passports that was all he did. Well, it was the third load and it would be the last one.
Since yesterday’s snow was pretty heavy we were anxious to pull our trailer out of the parking spot.
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We shoveled a little snow and that was all which was needed.
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The trailer came out like a charm. We even made the slight hill up to the road without spinning the wheels, and then it was just us and the road.
We were on coastal Hwy 1 which at Bangor connects with the Interstate 95. If Route 66 is the Mother Road of the western USA, then the I-95 gotta be the mother road of the east coast, as it runs all the way to the south end of Florida.
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Northern Maine had received a whole lot of snow and today’s sunshine made the snow glisten in the most phantastic fairy-tale-style way. Yet the roads were all cleared and as we slipped farther and farther south the road was even dry. Yet, as you can see on the pictures our rig got very, very dirty. There was a lot of spray from the road before we had reached the I-95.  We had short lunch stop at Wally World in Ellsworth. Since the trailer was an cold as an ice box Bea got some food from it and we were sitting in our cozy warm van for a while.
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Traffic was light as always in Maine this time of the year and our Chevy was making excellent speed. It is amazing what this 6l V8 engine is putting out on power. And with the activated Tow/Haul Function the tranny is shifting smoothly without “hunting” for gears all the time. It also makes driving long down grades much less hazardous. Equipped with automatic antispin and our super heavy duty sway bars we hardly noticed the trailer behind.
DSC_0193-001 DSC_0188 Oops..got a house across the road                     and here’s how dirty the trailer got
Molly slept most of the day. She had a very comfortable bed right behind our front seats. For better room we had taken out the first bench behind our seats and Molly sure appreciated that.
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Portland, ME east side of I-295

When dusk came we had just passed Portland,ME and I knew that it would be dark soon. We tried a Wally World parking lot at Biddeford,ME but the place was PACKED with Christmas shoppers and there was absolutely no way to get our rig around the parking lot. This Wally World is not recommendable for overnighting as the parking lot is rather limited in size. So we left and pulled into the Kennebunk Service Plaza.
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Portland, Maine

It ain’t quiet here, but Bea has ear props and I am sure tired enough to sleep standing in a closet.

There’s nothing on TV other BS and I rather wrote my blog posting.

Tomorrow we hope to reach Baltimore and if you come by again you will know whether we made it or not.

Thanks for visiting!