Friend Time in New Bern…

The name of this town may sound familiar to my long time readers, as we’ve stayed here at Flanners Beach, NC before.  It was 2 years ago, almost to the day, that we began our month long stay here camped beside the Neuse River with Jo & Craig.  We will only be here about 9 or 10 days, and with Jo & Ben this time!

Before I jump too far ahead, I want to tell you about our trip getting here from Greenville, SC.  Our drive from the Elks Lodge to our overnight stop-over at the Walmart Supercenter was uneventful.  We got parked next to the far edge of the lot and after getting Callie settled, went inside to stretch our legs.

We slept well during the night; it was quiet and no one bothered us.  I’ll admit I was a bit nervous considering the last time we stayed in a public place was when we were woke at 2am by some guy wanting money.  (see full story here: Knock on the Door at 2am)

We filled up on fuel and were on our way fairly early.  I originally thought we would want to hang out a little bit to wait for rush hour to finish, but then it hit me that it was Saturday – no rush hour!  YAY!  ETA in New Bern was about 11:45am!

So, we are driving along – no issues and were coming up on a traffic light when all of a sudden Bill gets cut off really bad by someone wanting to make a right at the light – Bill uploaded the footage to YouTube – you can watch it here:  5er cut off by car

I gotta tell you – I am so glad we have this dash cam now!  I mean – let’s say this guy had slowed down, just a little bit more, and Bill had hit him – usually when you hit someone in the back it’s your fault right?  The authorities would say you were following too close and that’s why you hit the guy when he slowed down to turn – BUT – our dash cam clearly shows this (insert colorful descriptor) person cut him off badly!  Therefore, not Bills fault if he hit him!  

You can clearly see the front of the truck take a nose dive when Bill all but slams the brake!  You can also hear the king pin slam the hitch!  I am in the CVR in front of him and see it happen in my rear view mirror (you can hear me say “WOW!” over the walkie talkie – a few seconds later I ask if he’s ok) and I could hear him lay on the horn!  A few friends have suggested we upgrade to an air horn – may be a good idea!  

The lesson in this is that, especially when towing, be very aware of your surroundings – because regardless of being able to prove it wasn’t Bill’s fault – had he hit the car – someone could have been hurt and/or it would have been a HUGE inconvenience to take care of any repairs.  

Now on to New Bern!  We arrived around noon and set up in the exact spot we parked in last time, which is a double site.  As before, we pulled into it, vs backing in, since we have my car we don’t need the truck.  

We took a walk around the CG and remembered fondly our previous visit.  If you’d like to read about it, here’s the link:  New Bern 1 and New Bern 2

I am now typing at the very end of our stay in New Bern.  We are leaving today!  I’m sad b/c our time with Jo & Ben is ending but happy b/c my son is waiting to see us in PA! Weather here will be amazing – in the 60’s and sunny and we are headed to 40’s/50’s and only some sun!  Oh well – just gotta roll with it!

We’ve had a great time here in New Bern!  Weather has been fairly mild – haven’t needed the furnace, as the electric heaters have been keeping up just fine!  We have had some rain – even a short thunderstorm – but also a bunch of sun!  We’ve done some exploring and also a bunch of hanging around.  Life is all about balance, right?  Ha!

It had been 7 months since we spent time with Jo & Ben (and their Malamute, Peyton) in Homer AK.  They are traveling nurses and are still searching for a balance between their work schedules and time off. They had been working back to back contracts, with only a week or so in between for moving, but now are taking more time, like a month or so, which is how we were able to see them now.  

What have we been doing?  We’ve driven to the ocean, had lunch in the cute little town of Beaufort, toured nearby Fort Macon, taken walks, watched movies, drank lots of wine and cooked/eaten lots of yummy foods!  

Bill reorganized his work supplies in the truck – between that and the basement it’s a never ending chore…

Snow flurries! Didn’t last long or stick at all thankfully!

Bill decided it was a good day for bean soup!

After Jo & Ben arrived – we got familiar with our new temporary home!

Inside the Birthplace of Pepsi

We will be needing a lot more walking after this stop!

Inside Beer Army – very cool!

The town of Beaufort (pronounced Boo-fort in NC vs Bew-fort in SC) is so cute!

Our view for lunch – was just a bit too chilly for sitting outside

All that walking made us hungry!

Local art gallery

Ben has been a BAD boy!

Since we had a big lunch in Beaufort on St Patty’s Day – I made the corned beef the following day – delish!  

Another drive took us to Atlantic Beach and Fort Macon

There is a very nice Visitor Center

Walking into the Fort itself

Enlisted men’s quarters

The pic above and below are of the officers quarters – all that space for one man

It said wives of enlisted men worked doing the laundry

Prisoners had a huge “P” on their backs

Inside the fort

Big guns!

We were originally undecided if we wanted to leave Monday or Tuesday, but when Monday’s weather looked like it was one of the best days so far – we had to stay!  It’s easy to see why!  

I think I need some practice taking group selfies

First Install – status: Complete!

As I begin this post, it is a very chilly Friday morning.  I just kissed my hubby as he left for “work”.  Today is his second day at his first install for RV Armor.   Thankfully the sun is shining and temps are on their way up!
We are parked at an Elks Lodge in Greenville, SC.  From the street, it looks like we are in someone’s driveway, as there is a house in front of the actual Elks Lodge, which the Elks must also own.  We have 30amp electric and water.  It was a bit tricky getting into the spot, as there is little “swing” space for the truck, but Bill, as always, did a great job!

Our first night here, we had been invited inside for our free first time visitor drink at the bar, which we gratefully took advantage of.  Bill enjoyed a Yuengling draft and I ordered a Myers and Coke.  That night was a special one, as dinner was being served and 6 local high school seniors would be receiving a scholarship, which they earned by writing an essay.  While having our drinks at the bar, we were introduced to the attending Elk members by the bartender, Dan.

When dinner was announced, we followed others into the dining room, where they had chili dogs and chips and pudding cake for dessert.   We were joined at our table by Bob & his wife (sorry, forgot her name) and learned about the history of the lodge and about a lot of the programs they offer.

Feeling tired after our drive, we opted to not attend the actual ceremony where the scholarships would be handed out.  We thanked everyone for their hospitality and walked home for some relaxing TV time before getting some sleep – tomorrow was a BIG day!

I have to take a minute and thank Linda & Steven (of The Chouters), initially for suggesting, and later sponsoring us to become Elks members.   I was skeptical at first, but I must say now, I am sold!  This is our 5th Elks stay, and while all spots have not been ideal – in the sense that we are parking in a parking lot/driveway instead of a nicely appointed CG site – everywhere we’ve been, we’ve been welcomed and made to feel at home.   The locations have been awesome, nearby exactly where we wanted to be!  And, so far, only the Wasilla, AK location has actually had a “fee” (which you may recall – they only charged us the member fee of $15 per night vs $25 per night non-member fee); all others ask only for a donation.

We have been trying to come up with a method to figure out how much of a donation to give.  We want to cover our expenses (water and electric), plus extra.  So, we’ve loosely decided that for 30amp and water, we will donate $12 per night.  If we use a lot of electric (a/c and/or electric heaters) we will bump that up to $15.  During our stay in Atlanta, the electric outlet went out at the pole, and we needed to rely on solar and used our gennie when cloudy, so we took that into consideration.  We will also consider kicking-up our donation for other factors, such as if any efforts were made for privacy, if there is sewer on site, or a dump station, etc.

Overall, we are very happy we decided to follow Steven & Linda’s advice and become Elks members!

So – Bill is doing his first install.  He was fine, but I was a bit nervous for him on his first day.  He had called, as required but just plain smart to do, and confirmed the address, that there was water and electric there, and that the owner would be there (at least for the first part of the day) in case of any changes.

When I brought him his lunch, he was doing just fine.  My concern was for nothing.  He had completed the cleaning and most of the inspection.  He also has to measure the roof, to confirm the number the customer provides when they schedule the install.  On this job, this step was extra important because it seemed there could be a discrepancy.  The customer had said the roof was 30′, but when Bill looked up the model – the specs said the coach was 37′ in length.  Well, I guess the caps, which aren’t included in roof size, amount to 7′, as the customer had given the correct size.

I have been keeping busy, home on my own.  I’ve done some cleaning and shopping (finally got a new pocketbook!) and had dinner cooking in the Instant Pot when Bill returned home.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to say “Have a good day Honey” and send him off.

The first two days of the install have gone fairly smoothly, the only thing that has slowed him down a bit is removing some silicone caulk.  Dicor (what is usually used on RV roofs) can be cleaned and gone over, but the product won’t stick to silicone so it has to come off.  The weather, while sunny and gorgeous, has also slowed him down a bit – temps have been high in the low 60’s – so he cannot start as early as he’d like and needs to quit as soon as the sun gets low.  He’d prefer to work full days – say 8am – 5:30pm or so, but has only been able to do 10 – 4:30, which will probably have the project taking an extra day.

I want to tell you about something else I’ve been working on!  I’m really excited about it!  I’ve been updating my blog!  It is my intent to be finished before this post goes live – so be sure to check out the new stuff.

I’ve added a page called “The Man Cave” which has links to all the mods, maintenance, repairs and upgrades Bill has done to our rig and truck.  It’s basically just links to the original posts in one neat little place so they can be more easily found.

Another page I’ve added – and I MAY change the name of it – is Summary of Summaries.   I thought since a lot of people like that kind of info – I would separate it out to make it easier to find, like the Man Cave page.

I am also committed to catching up on CG reviews.  Sadly, at this point, I’ve forgotten some details since it’s been so long, but I’ve decided to just say what I do remember and include a link to the post when we stayed there.  I actually think it’s better to include the link – as you can then read what we did in the area when we stayed there – might give you an idea or two.  Going forward I will do my best to keep up better.  Hold me too it, ok?

It’s been a few days and I’ve been busy -working on some blog stuff, getting laundry and grocery shopping done, finding us a place to go when our time here (yes – we are still in Taylors, SC) is done, and also working on a few wedding things.  Bill has been spending his days (at least part of them) installing the RV Armor roof.  He has also set up a few spread sheets for the business – one for our personal info and one for tax purposes, as well as one that keeps track of how much time he it is taking to get the job completed.   It is fair to say at this point we’ve been here longer than we initially thought and hoped we’d be, I’ll get into the reasons for that later.

We did take a break and went out to dinner one night.  There is a Thai place about half a mile up the street and it has very good reviews on TripAdvisor, so we decided to give it a try.  What a great find!  Yummy food and reasonable prices.  Awesome combo!

In other news my friend, Tracy, of Camper Chronicles, has self published her first book!  It’s an awesome cookbook made especially for RVers.  Bill and I contributed a few of the recipes, as did other friends.  She really did a great job – you can check it out and purchase it if you want here:  RV Living Cookbook

 Ok – we’ve FINALLY moved on from Taylors NC – the install is complete!  I know you’ve all been anxiously waiting so here goes – the summary of Bill’s first install!  In his words. 

So here are some pictures of the roof before. Pretty dirty. The roof needed a good cleaning so our system would properly adhere 

This is the same skylight with our Armor Clean cleaner applied. It eats the grim and dirt away so you can rinse it off. 

After the cleaning all of the sealant need to be inspected and repaired or removed if necessary. 

Two minor repairs were necessary. One of the Maxx fan vent covers was missing a nut and bolt. Another was installed improperly as it was screwed directly to the roof instead of the side. We include 1 hr of basic repair time with our system. As it didn’t take that long to repair the customer was not charged.  He was thrilled by this!


After the A/C and vent covers are removed I prepared the roof penetrations for the first step. Roof penetration and termination bars are where most roof systems fail. Most people simply don’t maintain them or don’t recognize an issue when they see it. The RV Armor system pays close attention to these critical areas so the customer will never have to worry about them again. 

Next the base coat is applied.

The A/C covers were temporary reinstalled due to the rain forecasted overnight. I always make sure the roof is watertight before I leave. Weather forecasts are known to be wrong!

Next more attention is paid to the roof penetrations to make them even more robust.

The last and final coat can be applied. I reinstall the covers along the way working my way to the back of the rig. The radius also gets several coats. 

The finished product. The customer also had a hole in his rear A/C cover. I repaired  it with tape and some gray coating. No charge. 

All in all the job went fine. Rain and low temperatures delayed the job by a few days. This roof also had an unusually large number of penetrations (2 A/Cs, 3 maxx vents, 2 plumbing vents, fridge vent, sat and regular TV antennas, 2 whip antennas, 2 skylights, and 2 air horns. All this on a 30ft roof. Made it difficult to work around sometimes. Start to finish it took just shy of 40 hrs. Given the circumstances and this being my first roof I would say that should be reduced to about 24 hrs with some experience. 

If you are interested in a lifetime roof please reach out to me for additional information. If you want to get a new roof don’t forget my referral number 17051. You will get $100.00 off your roof!

Myrtle Beach!

After the bit of excitement at the Cracker Barrel in Florence, we were up and on our way to our next stop, Myrtle Beach, fairly early.   We headed to Sams Club for fuel and gas, where, according to Gas Buddy, we would find good prices for both.  I got out to watch, and the awning was just high enough for us to get under with the 5er.  It is amazing to me that the attendants at gas/fuel stations rarely have any idea how high their awnings are.  Sadly, most of the time they aren’t marked.  

We arrived and were set up at Myrtle Beach State Park by 1pm and had the rest of the day to look around.  What a great campground and park!  We could hear the ocean from our site and what an awesome sound it is!  

Great site!

Not too crowded

Path to the beach – on the left is where the horses walk

We were invited to dinner at fellow Heartland owners, Elizabeth-Anne & Morris’s.  They are spending the winter at Pirateland, a CG just to the south of us, also right on the beach.  We had passed it on our way in.  We met them at our first ever rally back in April 2014, a week before our first RV Dreams rally.  They were parked right next to us in their 2014 Landmark, their floor plan is the Savannah.  

We enjoyed a delish dinner of pot roast, potatoes, carrots and green beans, which E-Anne cooked with a ham hock.  For dessert, we had cherry pie with vanilla ice cream!  What a wonderful evening catching up on news and travels!  

I would have loved to ride on the beach but $85 for an hour was too much!

Seagulls like the rice crackers

After that evening, we kept busy, checking out Myrtle Beach, hosting E-Anne & Morris for dinner at our place, enjoying the hot tub at Pirateland, campfires, andgot in some girl time shopping too!  It was a great week!

In the hot tub – so relaxing!

Bill showing Morris some pics on his phone

Elizabeth-Anne and I

Omega – Morris & Elizabeth-Anne’s kitty

We got some great news on our way to Myrtle Beach!  Bill will be having his first install in Taylors, SC starting 3/2!  This news meant he needed to shop for some items he would need to complete the job – the largest item on the list being a Werner 22″ ladder!  It’s a “Little Giant” style, and the exact one we used while in AK.  It takes up a lot of space in the bed of the truck, so Bill spent the better part of an afternoon arranging and rearranging until everything fit in a way he liked.  

There is nothing like a sunrise over the mighty Atlantic!

We also received some very sad news this week.  Ofer, husband of our  dear cousin, Lisa, passed away suddenly.  We are keeping Lisa and the whole family close in our hearts during this difficult time.  You may remember, Bill and I got to know Ofer while staying with them last year on our way to AK.  He was a kind and gentle man, and very generously, along with Lisa, allowed us to park on their driveway.  He will be missed!  

Lisa and Ofer

Ofer and Callie – Callie may let you pet her but she doesn’t let most hold her like that

A Knock on the Door – at 2am…

We pulled out of Atlanta-Northlake Elks before noon – our next planned destination Myrtle Beach!  We had never been to Myrtle Beach before so we were quite excited to have more time near the ocean, plus fellow Heartland owners, Elizabeth-Anne and Morris were in the area.  

Considering that destination was over 350 miles away, we decided to break up the trip and include a stop-over in Florence, SC.  I found a Cracker Barrel on Allstays app that was right on the way and called to ask if it was ok for us to park overnight.   Gary, the manager on duty, said he was happy to have us come and asked that we check in with Will when we arrived.   

Our drive to Florence was an easy one and we arrived at Cracker Barrel before 5pm, and went in to meet Will, the current manager on duty.  He greeted us with a smile and said where we parked – which was along the grassy edge of the lot – was perfect.  

After enjoying a delish dinner, we watched some TV before bedtime.  We heard/saw 2 other rigs pull in and park, one in front of us and the other around the back of the store.  By 10pm, except for the train nearby, all was quiet.  

We were both fast asleep when we woke to a knock on the door.  I was out of bed first, and said “hello” through the closed door – wondering if it was police telling us we needed to move.  I found myself trying to remember the managers name – Will!  We had Will’s permission to be here!  A mans voice started talking, and I realized quickly it wasn’t the police or anyone else “official”.   Bill was pulling pants on and I yelled “just a minute”, again through the door.  Bill came down the stairs and said – again though the door – “can I help you?”.  The man outside started talking again, going on about how he ran out of gas and had his kids and 80 year old father with him and he was a Vietnam Vet and on and on.  While he’s talking, Bill is digging in his pocket for money, and I had my phone in hand.  Bad thing is we have no view of the front door with our slide in, so we really have no idea how many people are actually out there.  Bill had one hand on the money and opening the door and the other on our can of bear spray as he handed the man $10.  I had mixed feelings about opening the door,  but Bill was prepared with the bear spray.  He believed, and I agreed, that it was better to give the guy a few dollars and hope he went away, than send him away, which could have made him (and possibly buddies) angry and wake to something outside damaged.  We agreed if we heard or saw anything else we were going to call the police.  We could see him walking away after thanking us profusely.  

Some may think it may have been a good idea at that point to pack up and move on, but we had no idea if there was anyone else out there, so we stayed put inside.  This is one situation where having a motorhome (Class A or C) is better, as we wouldn’t have to go outside to leave.  It was VERY difficult to fall back asleep, but eventually we did.  

We could debate all day long how we handled this situation.  Some may argue that’s a risk you take parking at Cracker Barrel or Walmart or similar place vs a campground.  That is a valid point.  This is the first time in 2 1/2 years of full-time life, and many many years of being weekend warriors that we’ve had a problem.  

Some may say we should have not opened the door and just told him to leave and call the police.  Another valid option, but the man sounded – I don’t know – broken?  Real?  Bill said when he opened the door, the man had tears in his eyes and seemed genuine.  How does one know?  He seemed very grateful – saying thank you thank you bless you bless you over and over, even after Bill pretty much slammed the door in his face.  I peaked out the window and could see him walking back toward the Shell Station, where he said he ran out of gas.  

Some of you may be thinking “guess you’ll never stay outside a CG again!”   Bill and I want you to know – yes we will and here’s why:  this could have happened anywhere.  Things happen everywhere.  At the end of the day, the most dangerous thing we do is drive on the road.  How many of you stay home and never drive?  And – to those of you that may consider staying home – things happen there too.  Our last house was broken into – IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!  Thankfully no one was home when they entered the house, but my Mom and cousin came home (they were staying with our kids while Bill & I were on a cruise) and they ran out the back door.  It took months for me to start feeling safe in my own home again.  Fear is a horrible feeling, but I cannot and will not let it rule my life and dictate how we live.   When that happens – then we’ve lost a little and they have won.  

That doesn’t mean I am not alert and paying attention to things – we will still be careful and when a place doesn’t “feel” right – we will keep moving.  We’ve done that a few times.  Sometimes a place just gives you the creeps and when either one of us feel that way – we don’t stay.  That won’t change.  We didn’t feel that way here.  

I guess we will never know if he was telling the truth or not, if he put that $10 in his gas tank or if he bought drugs or food or vodka.  For me (us), I’d like to think we have $10 in positive karma out there, should we ever need it some day.  What that man does with that money is on him, the fact we gave it to him was the right decision for us in that moment.  

Cousin Time

We arrived at the Atlanta/Northgate Elks Lodge #78 about 1:30pm.  I had spoken to Web the day before to verify there was a spot available and he said “Come on in!”  To be clear – we VERY much appreciate any Elks Lodge that allows RV parking – but this one is truly just a parking lot with a plug (which isn’t working right – more later) and water spigot to fill our fresh tank.  Don’t get me wrong – everyone has been very welcoming – its just not what I was expecting.  

We got parked with the help of long-term visitor, Rick.  He and his wife have been here a couple months while attending to some medical issues.  

Since we wouldn’t be seeing family til the next day, we headed inside the lodge for dinner.  Web introduced us to a bunch of people, and made us feel at home.  Dinner was very good, as was the company.  

We were up and out VERY early the following morning – cousin Noam (15 years old) was performing in a dance competition and we didn’t want to miss the chance to see him!  His solo was about 3 minutes long, so we weren’t there very long, but this is one of my fav parts of our lifestyle – we knew we would be coming to Atlanta – so we just planned it to coincide with his competition!  How cool is that?   He was one of 115 competing and he earned a high-gold award, which is only one down from the top award!  We are so proud of him!  

Out to dinner at Outback – thanks again Teddy!

We spent the following day mostly at home, I did some cleaning and reading, and a new thing I’m trying out – coloring.  Last time we were in a Walmart, I picked up a coloring book, pencils and a sharpener.   I’ve done two so far with mixed results.  The box of pencils I got has 36 colors, I may need more if I keep this up.  

Bill had to drag out a gennie and set it up, as the GFCI in the outlet we were plugged into at the lodge keeps tripping, and it was rainy so not enough solar.  He was told they were planning to fix it, but when that will happen – we have no idea.  Thankfully – the weatherman says the sun is supposed to come back out! 

We headed out one day to DeKalb Farmers Market.  What an enormous place!  They have signs that they don’t want you taking pics inside, I have no idea why, but I snapped a few just to show you how HUGE it is!  We spent quite awhile there checking out all the items and filling out cart!  

Fairly large beer and wine area


It was hard to not get one of each!

Bill had a hard time choosing which bread to get!

The produce area was amazing!

The only negative thing was there were armed guards walking around near the check-out area.  Bill says it is probably because they except only cash or debit cards at the final check-out and the smaller inside check-outs for the “pay by the pound” buffet style eating area, tea/coffee by the cup, and eat now bakery area only accept cash.  It was just a bit unnerving.  

I went back to watch Noam again on the final award day of the Radix convention.   He received the top male award for his range!  How exciting is that?  I might mention now that he has only been taking dance for just a year and most of the others have been taking it since they were much younger.  So proud of you Noam!

 Teddy came over one afternoon to take the tour of our home.   She was definitely surprised, as a lot of non-RVers are, at the amount of room we have inside, as well as all the features (residential frig, stove/oven, shower, TV, etc) and how self-contained it is.  She now better understands why we don’t need to stay at the house.   We talked about the freedom we have and how brave she believes us to be, living our lives like this.  It’s always interesting to me to watch someone’s initial skepticism turn to full understanding and (in Teddys case) a bit of awe of the whole thing.  While we do not seek or need anyone’s (except initially our kids) acceptance or approval, we never turn it away when it comes our way.  

The time we spent with Teddy, Bruce and Noam was short but wonderful!  Bill and I love being able to pop-in for a few days to see family!  We will be seeing them again for the wedding!  

Last Week in FL

I’m starting a new post before posting the previous one.  That has only happened a few times, and usually when working on summary type posts.  This time it’s b/c I’m waiting for a few pics from Bill so I can describe the A/C issue.  

We are currently at Lithia Springs Park, a county park, where friends and fellow RV Dreamers, Sharon & David of Two Lanes of Freedom, are volunteering.  They very generously “saved” us a site at the first come/first serve CG.  Pays to have friends in high places, huh?  

We’ve been very much enjoying our stay. Sharon & David cooked us dinner our first night – very yummy chicken/shrimp/pasta dish that everyone went back for seconds of!  We also enjoyed the last of our chocolate ice cream and Ready Whip with the fruit salad Sharon made.  A campfire topped off the wonderful evening!  Thanks guys! 

We drove down to see Gene & Eileen one day.  You may remember they drove up to Clearwater to see us while we were there. They are staying in Nokomis and we’ve been wanting to see Royal Coachman RV Resort.   What a nice place!  We took a walk around the park and checked out all the fancy amenities!  Tennis, Bocce Ball, Pickle Ball, huge pool, etc.  

We all hopped in the car and drove into nearby Venice to Crows Nest for dinner.  Afterward, we enjoyed the beautiful colors of the sun setting on the Gulf of Mexico.  

Thanks guys for a great day!  See you in Jersey!

Since we aren’t fair from Clearwater, we invited my parents and sister to come see us before we move north.  The weather was thankfully very cooperative and we were able to enjoy the nice setting.  We will see them again in October for the wedding, if not before!

Lithia is not far from Plant City, which, you may or may not know, is where the annual Strawberry Festival is held each year in March.  Since we will be long gone before that, we decided to head there to get our fill of strawberries before we leave.  Friends, Diana & Pat, whom we met at Amazon, joined us for the afternoon.  Bill & I introduced them to one of our fav sub shops – Jersey Mikes!  There’s one in Brandon!  Yummy!  Little taste of the Jersey Shore right here in Brandon FL!  Next stop was strawberry milkshakes at Parkesdale Farm Market – best I’ve ever had!  Was wonderful to see you guys – keep in touch!

Our final day in Lithia Springs Park, Bill & I, led by David & Sharon, went on a bicycle ride around the town of Fishhawk.  We rode along a trail that follows along behind homes and beside ponds and through parks.  The weather was perfect! We stopped for the beer drinkers to enjoy a Yuengling.  

Later that evening, we were invited to a pot luck and campfire being hosted by Terry & John, David & Sharons co-workers.  The gathering was prompted to celebrate another friend, Pauline’s (who came with her husband, Jim, and their 2 dogs) birthday.  I brought along a green salad and some left-over dessert that my sister, Shannon, had made – which everyone loved!  Was a wonderful evening of exchanging stories! Thanks all for including us!  

Sharon & David

Our hosts – Terry & John

We have now moved on and are further north in Atlanta, GA.  Will have to wait to hear about that next time!  

Changing Coasts – FL Coasts That Is

Our month in Clearwater went very quickly, as quality time with family always does.  We’ve moved on to the east coast of FL for about a week.  

For the first time in over a year – we drove separate to a new location.  I can’t explain why – but I had a bunch of anxiety that day!  We pulled out of Clearwater Travel Resort about 10:20am – and headed east over the Courtney Campbell Causeway.  I guess one of the things that started me off badly was I mistakenly thought I made a wrong turn – before we were 2 miles from the CG.   We’ve done this route plenty of times before but things look different when you are pulling a 40′ long , 13’6″ high 5th Wheel!  Well – I wasn’t pulling it but Bill was following me – and he was!

After we got past Tampa, I was able to relax a bit.  We made good time and “checked in” at the Melbourne Elks Lodge about 2:30.  Joyce welcomed us and showed us where to park.  We got set up and around 5 we set the GPS to find our way to meet Jim & Diana of exploRVistas.   We met very briefly for the first time in person at the Tampa Show, after following each other’s blogs and chatting via FaceBook for quite awhile.   

They had generously offered to make dinner on our travel day – a RV Dreamers tradition.  We enjoyed a delish meal and just talked for hours!   We also brought them their new tires and rims that had been bouncing around in the back of my car!  

Since that evening, we’ve been to the beach twice – both times amazing!  We’ve gone on a 2 hour bike ride around Melbourne Beach – what a nice community!  Bill and I had them over to dinner – I made a new baby back rib recipe – cooking them in the InstantPot before finishing on the grill!  The meat was falling off the bone delicious!  Everyone agreed and there wasn’t any leftovers at all!  

We had planned to do some exploring of the area on our own one day when Jim & Diana had plans with their family, but sadly, Bill had to work on one of our A/C units.  After spending several hours trying to diagnose the problem, he know believes we probably need to replace the unit.  The fan works but the compressor will not kick on – doesn’t even try.  One good thing is, since we have 2 exact units, he was able to switch the board and also capacitor to see if they worked – which they both did.  Needless to say, neither of us are very happy about it!  Thankfully it isn’t so hot that we NEED both A/C’s to keep the inside cool.  

First Bill confirmed the thermostat was working properly and that adequate voltage was reaching the unit. He pulled the cover off. The control board and capacitors are in metal box on right.

3 Wire grommets need to be removed from side of box to allow access to board and capacitors.

Homemade wiring test harness to test compressor. Bill pulled three wires from the control board ( power feed, high fan lead, and hermetic compressor lead) together and turned the breaker on. Compressor and fan should start, nothing happened!

Control board removed for testing

Lots of wires!

Control board was swapped with other unit confirming the board is good. It also had no cooked components.

Run/start capacitor swapped with other unit confirms suspicion that capacitor is good. Only two items would prevent compressor from starting. The unit has lost enough refrigerant that the low pressure switch inside the compressor keeps the unit from starting or one of the internal windings has failed but is not shorting to ground. Neither item is economically serviceable so it looks like we need a new A/C.

When he was done for the day and I didn’t need to keep turning things on/off (we communicated via walkie talkies so he didn’t need to keep getting down and then back up on the roof), I decided to check out Downtown Produce, a place Jim & Diana had told us about.  It was fairly close to where we were.  Bill just wanted to stay home and relax, and I didn’t blame him – it was hot and frustrating being up on that roof!   What a neat little place!  Local produce, great deli, beer and wine, and lots of fresh made ready to heat and eat foods.  I checked out and hurried home to show Bill my yummy purchases!  

Found Bill having a beer and piece of pizza at the bar in the Lodge

We had also made plans to visit with friends, Ellen & Mario.  We met them through RV Dreams, as they attended the Spring 2014 TN Rally with us.  We’ve also spent time with them last year in Quartzsite, going to Mexico for the day together also.  After spending some time (I think about 18 months) as full-timers, they have decided to settle back down for a while.  They have a beautiful new home in a great location and we wish them all the best in their new home and Ellen’s new position!  Thanks guys for a wonderful lunch and visit! 

Bill and Mario solving the worlds problems

We said our “see ya later’s!” with Jim & Diana, following dinner at Bizzarros Pizza.  Hugs and “safe travels” were exchanged with the hope that our paths will cross again in the not so distant future.  Thanks guys for a great time on the FL east coast!