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Friday, January 31, 2014

Fixing An Electrical Problem

Just after getting up this am I decided to wash my camper bedding before I head out for my next major strip segment to CA that will take another 2 weeks.  I am already 2 weeks into my 3.5 months trip. Only 3 months to go.

My aunt was in the dark as the power was off to her site.  I don't desire to get into her business but offered to report the problem to the park.  They radio maintenance and the power was on before I made it back to the site walking.

The power stayed on for awhile for me to wash and rinse my clothing but not spin it and went out again.  My aunt called the office and in a short while the power was back on.  A maintenance man came by and explained the electrical system to me.  Circuit breaker panel in the park model.  Circuit breaker master at front of site.  Both I had checked and there was no problem.  The problem was in a distribution breaker panel 4 units down.  

He left and you got it, the power went off again.  Off I went armed with the new information about the power distribution breaker panel.  Opened the panel door and breaker was not tripped.  Ok that's weird.  So I decided to cycle the breaker and the breaker rocked back and forth.  When this happened the breaker (double breaker) was lifting off the center buss bars and not making contact.  

Breakers are hooked to the panel Sheetmetal on the side the wires connect  and you push the breaker in the posited direction to seat the breaker to the two bus bars.  The panel cover provides some stability but not in this case.

What was happening was the breaker was not fully seating causing a poor electrical connection.  Poor connections are not good under high current. My aunt had the oven on baking.  The poor connection with high current draw creates heat at the connection.  This heat translates to the breaker and breakers are designed for over current protection.  They don't measure current they measure heat.  The heat was previously tripping the breaker.

I went to the park maintenance folks and gave them the problem as my aunt and mother are not going to deal with it and maintenance would fix the symtom but most likely would not figure that the breaker needed to be replaced.  I had them schedule the replacement for a permanate solution and will not run two major appliances at once until fixed. 

My aunt was glad I could address before I levels.

The Obscured - Ice Cream Cone Building

While driving to and from Disney Wednesday we drove by this Ice Cream Cone Building on US 27 in Claremont, FL.

The damp & raw 45 deg temps didn't make ths on the list of things to do,  it was worth the mention for those looking for me to share the odd and curious.

Day 15 - Friday 1/31/14 - Paquette's Historical Farmall Museum - A Love Story

If up I build it they will come, and they do at the rate of 50 to 60 per day to the Paquette Farmall Tractors Museum.

What do you do on yet another 53 degree rainy day in Florida?  Go to a museum.  I use the Roadside America app on my Idevices and I looked up what was near by and Paquette's Farmall Museum came up.  

For some reason I had in my head this place was probably rinky dinky but my mind started to be converted with the well placed and quality signs announcing the turn off Highway 44 in Leesburg, only a few miles from where I have been staying.  

The drive down the dead end road would take me by a number of delaputated houses some not livable,  that caused me concern about what I might see.  My hopes went up again as I made the turn at the end on to another road that opened up to large fields with nice houses and large farm buildings set in open fields.  The museum entrance is in the building in the building in the picture above.

I pulled into the parking lot and could pick any spot I liked.  Across the street you can see where there is extra parking when they get crouded.

As I entered the price of $10.00 for adults was posted on the door.  Entering the building I thought I was in a Crackerbarrel Restaurant with memorabilia all around and much for sale from tractor toys to young girl dresses with tractors on them. 

Straight away a middle aged woman greeted me with the same greeting style that I would get at any museum, asking me what brought me to the museum with a bright pronounced smile.  I think she was expecting me to say I love farm tractors and or I grew up on a farm from the reaction on her face.   My response was that I was looking for an oddity to occupy my time.  Catching her strange look at me, I did further explain that I do like tractors and have been to tractor shows and find the interesting as well.  Apparently this is a Mecca for farmers and those that love farm tractors, specifically Farmall and Internationsl Harvester (IH).

Oh,  your wondering about the love story.  You have to wait a bit more.

She directed me to exit this building and go to the main museum building next door where I would meet Ken my tour guide.

I did and met Ken waiting for me, as she had radioed him with my impending arrival.  A warm smile geeted me with a strong handshake welcoming me to the museum.  He then have me an overview of this large building and another large building across the street and then a smaller building behind the first one.

Ken retired a few years ago and winters in FL with his home north of Lancing, MI where he had a 3000 acre farm, and now volunteers at the museum with tractors having spent years with them.

This one building has about 500 tractors from the Cub Cadet to large IH.  There is a lot of models and data for farm tractor enthusiast,  but this is not my story.

As I walked down the isles of tractors I saw the love.  J. Stewart Paquette's Stuff was marked on nearly all perfictly restored tractors in this collection.  I have a huge respect for Clay Swenor whom I previously wrote about visiting on this trip, for his eye to detail, patience, and love for the quality of restoration.  I saw the same here, no felt the same love here in this display.

Who is Stewart Paquette that created this magnificent collection, building and grounds?  Mr. Paquette is from Meridith, NH, where he owned an asphalt paving business.  The woman in the ticket office says that what ever he does he does it "right".  

There is no question in my mind his commitment to doing it right.  For me I saw love.  If you ever tried to restore anything you know the labor of love the whole process is to get it right  Now multiply this times hundreds of restorations, multiple building, and the creation and management of a museum. Getting it right also means that if you plan on showing off your work in a museum in a Mecca for people that like tractors,  you better get it right as your audience will have a critical eye.

The picture below is of thesecond large museum building with larger tractors, some pickup trucks, and some equipment waiting for restoration.

There were other consumer products like refrigerators that Farmall also made.  There were special products made for tractors.  They include cotton pickets, combinders, and early loaders that used vacuumed assistance for lifting, a precursor to hydraulics.

The final building has a rolling video about tractors, but it is filled of Ameticana along the walls, with the center left open for the public to rent for meeting space.

When I was leaving I went back to see the woman who originally geeted me and check out the store.  She asked me to attend their IH Chapter 27 State Show "the running of the red" (Farmall tractors are mostly red, with white and gold ones rare as these were demo units made by the factory to be sold as used.)

It is held March 6, 7, & 8 2014 at their Buffalo Nickel Ranch, 615 South Whitney Road, Leesburg, FL.

This Museum was well worth the $10.00 entrance fee.  It wasn't the tractors that I was amazed at, but the commitment, desire, and yes love.

I want to show one of the non-tractors.  This is an IH Scout from Kingman, AZ that is in great condition and has a number of modifications listed on the cardboard mounted on the bumper.  One modification is the fold-down windshield.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day 14 - Thursday 1/30/14 - "The Villages"

Today's adventure was to visit my mother and aunt's bingo buddies Bib and Aleese Hardwick at the villages.

I have been hearing about "The Villages" for a few years from many people that claim that it is the place to own and live in Florida.

My job was to put the chauffeur hat on for a second day in a row and drive the ladies in the baby blue Grand Marque the 45 minutes north from Leesburg to this wonder of the world called The Villages.  

There are many housing developments in FL, but as we entered The Villages you could see the change of the development norm to what I would refer to a look of southern Connecticut with lanes past white picket fences of open polo fields and then rotaries with entrances to the individual villages.  We were looking for the village of Springdale.  Within each village there are different types of housing.  The Hardwick's live in the Fairlawn Villa section.  On the map below it would be to the right of the lower of the two rotaries in the light green section on the map right below.

I have to say it was very nice and I wasn't there for a tour or even explored the area to any extent.

Bob and Eleene in their early 80's live in a 2 bed 2 bath villa on an outside corner lot with their bulldog Brutus.  They maintain a condo in Indianapolis, IN where they go to live in the summer.

There was one chalange in getting there. Each Village is a gated community so I drove up to the gatehouse and no one was there to open the gate.

Looking to the rear drivers side before the gatehouse I saw a pole with buttons and a speaker.  I now had a car behind me and I would guess they were not pleased with me holding up everyone.  I figured I had to push a button and get buzzed in.  Since I couldn't back up I had to get out of the car.  There are two buttons with a speaker.  One button has no label the other says help.  

I push the unlabeled red button and I get no speaker response so I push the black button.  The woman waiting I'm the car behind yells to me that the gate is up.  I run forward to the car as the gate started to go down.

I go back to the pole with speaker and buttons and the woman in the car yells the red button.  I push it and as the gate goes up I run for the car and get in while the gate is up.

Really they couldn't label the red button as push to open gate and have a sign to know to use the pole and not look for someone.  What is wired is that the woman behind used an RFID card to activate the gate.  I questioned what kind of security this was if all you do is push a button to get in.  See answer below.

We arrived on time for our visit before our lunch date.  Bob likes to kid around and Aleene is more serious, but pleasant as a host.

With an hour behind us of my mother and aunt catching up from last year we had lunch.  After lunch there was more conversation and then me providing some computer wireless network advice to Aleene.  The next thing we know our arrival at 11:30 am arrival turned into a 6:00 pm departure.

Ok, so Bob told me that the gate security used to have a guard, but when the county took over the responsibility for the roads in the villages the roads became public and the guards were removed but the gates were not.  The gusts like us open the gates by pushing a button and the residents use their RFID card to get in.  Logic?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Day 13 - Wednesday 1/29/14 - The Gathering Of The Relatives

When I returned to Leesburg my social secretaries (mom & aunt) told me that the meeting they had planned with one of their friends for me to meet on Wednesday at "The Villages" was changed to Thursday and Wednesday would be lunch on Disney's Boardwalk ESPN.

So this am we were off to Disney.  Me coffering mom & aunt in the baby blue Grand Marque.  I have been to the Boardwark before so I kind of knew how to get there and the layout.

Cousin Robbie (aunt's grandson) works at Disney's ESPN restaurant.  Every couple years he moves to a new job.

His brother John and his wife were also in town.  John has just retired too but younger than me. Also in town was cousin Michael (mom & aunt's sister's son) and his wife. Michael is also retired and a bit older than me.  

The eight of us had one of the nicest lunches and after Cousin Robbie had to stay at work, the rest of us went to the Boardwalk Hotel Lobby and sat and talked.  

What a bonus day this was for me.  It rained all day so I wasn't going to do anything and it was replaced by a lunch and meeting of people that hardly ever see each other, never mind all together.

It was back to Leesburg late pm as it is an hour drive to Disney.  This evening I worked on my course I am teaching at MWCC & wrote a belated email to my friend Michel in Frace.  He had written me a few weeks ago but had been to busy to reply before now.  Michel is also retired.  We worked together at Digital in Annecy, France in the Alps.  

Tomorrow The Villages visit.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sick On The Road

I came down with what I thought was a cold just after leaving Maryland on Monday.  Sore throat, runny nose, and hard to swallow were my simptoms.  It got real bad on last Thursday that I didn't feel like doing anything during the morning and by afternoon I had a feavor.  It broke overnight and Friday I felt better.  I kept the runny nose and was coughing up flem (I know yuck)

Later Friday the sore throat was no going away and seemed worse.  I was functional but didn't feel good and Saturday and Sunday I didn't wake till 7:30.  Can you imagine this 5:30 guy getting up at 7:30, but my body was telling me something.  Sunday I figured I wasn't getting better as I should although a very slight improvement was noticeable.  My glands under my jawbones were tender to the touch and when I lifted my head they hurt.

I figured I was going to call my Dr. Tuesday and my wife updated me on my son Brent in MD had almost identical simptoms and went to urgent care and they determined he had strep throat.  

I called my Dr. Office in MA Tuesday and gave the self diagnosis.  There was nothing in the chest/lungs which was good. So, off I went to Leesburg to return to see mom and my aunt and to stop by CVS to pick up some antibiotics.

I started taking them Tursday afternoon and today (Wednesday) the glands were not as tender and no pain in swallowing.  I thin I am on the mend.

I have traveled around the world and have gotten very sick in Europe and Korea.  I'm not apprehensive about getting sick as I have always figured out how to deal with it.  What is funny about this trip was I was telling my Dr of my plans and he wanted me to take some drugs with me, but I didn't bother.  I have a genitic predisposition to contract such things that he was thinking about when he made the offer.  I would take him up on his suggestion on a trip outside North America based on experience.  

I will never forget having the worse diarrhea of my life in Korea.  I went to the Hilton lobby store and bought Imodium ID with a tag on it from the US Army base tag sill on it.  Who says there isn't a black market over there.

In any case I think I am well on the mend and ready for the rest of my trip.

Day 12 - Tuesday 1/28/14 - Finally Disc Golf

Boy am I rusty throwing discs. 

Brent II asked me to get in a round of disc golf near his house in MD a week ago Monday and I was torn between wanting to play and get ahead if the incoming weather without having to drive way into the night.  I chose to get moving  and not start to get my arm I shape.

Heading back to Leesburg and it being 80 degrees (sorry about the temp reference to those at home but you know I like it warm) I picked a disc golf course along the way called the Quarry Disc Golf Course in Brooksville, FL.

This was a first to play among the ball golf players.  I thought the ball golfers would not be very accepting of my presence.  I gave priority to them if they tee'd before me.  If I tee'd first I would scoot right along to get out of there way. Most had no clue of disc golf and thought the fixed baskets were part of the sprinkler system.  Got my mouth to turn up on both ends.

I like to play my game fast when playing by myself,  so waiting a few minutes was odd but gave me time to check email.  I also like listening to music as I play and I didn't do this as I didn't want to be a distraction.

This is a 9 hole course that you can play twice for $5.  As the name indicates the course is on an old quarry (limestone).

There are some bigger carved out spaces that my disc found home in that needed retrieving and climbing like a mountain goat.

I played poorly as I had no practice throws before the first tee but I was outside, it was warm, people were friendly to me and I was having fun.

I played 9 holes then skipped around to a few holes with no ball golfers on them.  I knew my arm was done for the day when my last throw went way left over a 10 ft high chain link fence into a residential street side.  I went to the fence to see if anyone was outside that my give me a hand to toss it back, but there was none, so I gps'd the location and when back to the camper plugged it in and drove over to get it.

More disc golf is in my future!

Monday, January 27, 2014

What's For Dinner

My wife has always had to plan dinners and she does a great job if it.  She is also a excellent cook.  I knew this trip would be somewhat of a challenge for me with regard to food planning a preparation.  I just don't feel that my time is well spent putting much time into cooking.

I have found that once I get to the campground around 4 or 5 pm I don't have much motivation to go back out again to scavenge food.  I also don't have plans to go out to eat more than a couple days a week as this increases my overall trip costs and I feel I am missing the experience that I was looking for in this trip.

I have been doing well to think about this issue so far.  It is normally not that far to find food, but in the case of the Everglades you don't bring it you go without.

I remembered that I needed to stop for food for the night last night.  I had some food to get buy with, but I am interested in a well balanced diet so chicken was on my food plan.  I ran into what all single people run into and that is packaged portions. They are too big.  I really don't have pans to cook 2 at a time due to size constraints of cabinets.  If I buy 2 packaged chicken breasts it is about 4 meals and the food would spoil before I would use it.  The cost was also about $8.00.  Steaks.are the same issue.  Well I decided on the preroasted chicken for $6.99 and this is 3-4 meals but after deboneing it will bag nicely and will make for a sandwich.  The bag of salad I bought the other day at Walmart had one more meal in it totaling 4 meals.  

The small can of Bush beans I had Saturday was too large and the trip to Winn Dixie tonight found smaller replacements.

t will take time for me to plan around portion size, waste, and variety.  I just don't want to eat the same food every night except green salad.  Fish products seem to be the way to go to purchase portions to size, unless I find a butcher shop in every town.

Getting To Meet People

arrived at my third and last campground for awhile as I am back in Leesburg Tuesday.

Again there were no "OK to ask Walmart's" in the area that I wanted to stay the night.  I have gotten to figure out the less costly campgrounds using AllStays App on my phone.  The key is to look for who accept tents.  That means that they are not just an RV Resort. 

I called such a place in New Port Richie from the camper application and was told it was $34 provided I had cash, which I did.

I was given a site all by myself with just water and electricity.  I appreciated the electricity as I run off a separate battery that doesn't yet charge off the vehicle yet.  (Project for the road.). I did bring the 900 watt generator that the guy I bought the camper from and could use this, but plugging in saved me the time and effort.

I was directed to the site on a map and parked to walk the site before backing in and I was promptly greeted by a man on an electric cart.  Most people I have met are my age or older.  Ok mostly older.  All are friendly and offer assistance and advice.  Although probably not true, I often get the feel that they may also just like talking to someone new.  Theman on the cart seemed to be the rule enforcer.  Ensuring exactly where I park.  He said line up the drivers side of the van to align just to the left of the electrical box and just to the right of the water spigot.  There was possibly 12 to 18 inches between the two.  How this was important I have no idea as the spot given had no one to the left and the guy wo checked me in said I could take either since there was no one else on the right. In fact I don't think he works for the campground he just wants order.

At this campground I met a man from Kitchner, ON.  I not only knew where Kitchner is but I had been there back in the 90's when I spoke at the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI).  I went and spoke in front of 500 people.  It was invigorating and nerve racking at the same time but something I had planned and wanted to do. It was my pinnicle I put in front of myself to get over my apprehension of speaking in front of groups.  For years before this I dad worked up from small to large groups with 200 being the largest group before.

Sorry for the digression but when I meet people I try hard to connect with them and this friendly late 60's man had a warm personality and was easy to talk to.  He updated my dated frame of reference of Kertchner by telling me how much it has grown as a distance subburb to Toronto.

If I was staying for awhile I think I could get to like him.  He was easy going and was no nonsense.  

Most people I meet at campgrounds are morning or evening greetings for the brief time I spend each place.  Although I have been at my aunt's park a few days I have not met the same people twice.  The first campground had people on both sides of me allowing me to be social.  The last two I didn't have anyone around me that was visible to meet.  The Canadian I met I stopped him to ask about getting rid of my rubbish and recycling.

Day 11 - Monday 1/27/14 - "The Ringling" Visit

"The Ringling" is the site of John and Mable Ringling family home in Sarasota, FL.  The site comprises of a circus museum,  the historical Ringling home/gardens and an exquisite art museum.  The any one is worth the $25 entrance fee.  

My wife reminded me that we had visited the site some years ago although she had to jog my memory I can't understand why such a beautiful place would not have taken precidence or should I say prominence in my mind.  I was perfictly thrilled to spend the time to roam as I saw fit with my time.  I took the free tours listening intently and I was best moved by the circus museum, having seen opulence before such as the house offered and I have seen many fine art museums.  

There are those things in life that tug at years gone by that were, at least in ones mind, better times.  The circus museum I'd this for me.  

Growing up in the center of town meant as a kid you knew as soon as the circus would arrive every summer.  Why was this important? None of us had money to spend on tickets, but we knew that if we were chosen to help set up we would get a free ticket to the show.  How could a kid ask for more.  

When old and large enough I would be allow to stand with the others that wre the same and wait for a man with a mistique you stood in amazement.  Nothing they asked us to do was a problem.  The older boys got to work on putting up the big top where younger kids would carry water for the animals.  What kid in the neighborhood didn't have thoughts of grandjure of being in the circus one day.

The memories of these summer days of freedom as kids to roam the neighborhood to eat crackers from the barrel at the cracker factory and just be home for dinner at 5 pm or feel the rath.

There was one year that I was older and working on putting up the tent buy getting on the large center tent poles and being directed to lift them into place.  Dam they were heavy!  The men that drove the metal tent stakes had arms the size of some legs.  

Well, I was approached by two older circus kids and they told me I looked just like one of the other kids with them on the circus. Eventually they brought him back and it was like both of us looking into a mirror.  I think we could swap and get away with it.  We agreed how fun it would be to try. Of course we didn't or did we?

We never met again but this and other memories are embossed into my mind.  The visit to the circus museum tripped these euphoric feelings I have inside.  They are feelings that I am sure you have about something you experienced growing up. 

What is yours?

My sister Pat 3 years my senior also has vivid memories of the circus coming to town.  A number of years ago she went to an auction in town and bought some local paintings of the circus. I'm glad she got them as they are beautiful to look at and remember the good old days.  

The circus would set up behind the Elementary School including the Babe Ruth Field.  This was directly across from our house as kids at 6 Academy.

Day 10 - Sunday 1/26/14 - Visit With A Friend - denied playing disc golf

I left the Everglades Sunday am after leaving my first official camping night in a campground. My plan was to go to Port Charlotte on the golf coast and play a round of disc golf before visiting my friend Clay and his wife up the street.

I started getting a bit concerned when I saw the line of clouds that was ahead of me.  After stopping for an iced tea at McDonalds I arrived at the park and parked, got my discs out of storage under the bench seat and as I was exiting the camper I hear an air horn blast.  I walked over the man with the horn kind of knowing the response, and my thoughts were confirmed they were just starting a tournament on the course with 5 people per tee and a shotgun (air horn start).

I called Clay and luckily he was available 1.5 hours early so I went to meet him.  Clayt and his wife have a wonderful looking double-wide in a well managed park.  Clay's in laws have had a place there before they bought one about 10 years ago.

Jan was busy working at the computer and although I had seen Clay at the station only a few weeks before, we talked for awhile catching up on things.  Clay then took me on a tour of their park and common areas.  Unlike other parks that I have seen, this one has a woodworking shop in its own building.  Clay and his father in-law are good woodworkers and the shop is right up their ally.

I failed in not getting a photo of their nice place with water in the back that also has alligators in it and failing to get a pictur of the wood shop and the fine addition the have just put on. 

Clay was a very good Lieutenant in the fire department and I missed him when he was not able to work anymore due a work related injury that keeps in check from doing certain things.  He is an overall talented guy with great skills.  I am hoping to give him a hand as heat need it this summer back in Westminster working on his antique fire truck he has had for so many years.

After my nice visit with Clay I was ok with missing the disc golf.

Here is the picture Clay posted on Facebook a few days ago of the alligator in his back yard.


I met Norman in the Everglades campground as he was in the spot next to me.  He was camping out of his Christler van having removed the rear seats and modified the rear hatch area to accommodate some storage and TV.

Norman was having a hell of a time with his Coleman camp stove on the picnic table as the wind was blowing and it would shake the cover connected to the sides and it would disassemble and fall apart and his flame would go out.  This happened a number of times so I asked him if he wanted some duct tape to temporal hold the corners.  He said no and that he had some but thought that some small chains would work well.  Necessity does drive solutions.

Norm was doing what I originally planned to do with my pickup truck.  Modify something you already have save money and well live out of your car.  My camper was a plaice compared to anything I had planned and considering the time of year driving and camping it would have been a challenge to say the least.

I was first asked by Normsn where I was from and I later learned he was from upper NH near Conway.  He has apparently bern doing ths kind of camping for sometime and enjoyed the socialization with whomever passes.  In his 60's like me he seemed to be enjoying life speaking fondly of his son.

I was able to get two Miami TV stations while I was there and Norman couldn't get any.  I showed him my setup and suggested my antenna but was high tech and a bit expensive at $60+.  Another option if he has space is an amplified parabolic style for about $20 from Hartland America.

Norman's van is to the right of mine.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Everything Is Negotiable - well nearly everything

My second night of camp grounding.

I decided I would find a place to stay for the night and checked my app that tells me of all places from free to pay. 

I called a couple nice looming state parks and they were both full, so I decided I would look for a Walmart that my entertain overnights.  My software said none in the area did. 

My next choice wes to call private campground and they had a place after qualifying what I had for a vehicle.  I asked the price and the the woman said $66.00 with full hookups.  I asked what about no hookups or just electricity and she replied that she is required by FL law to first fill lots with hookups before using overflow space without.  Those that know me my interest is sparked as soon as someone says it's the law.  Well,  I said I would stop by as it was right down the road.  I went to the office and there was the young woman I had spoken with.  She looks at my camper van and said you are right our motorhomes pay the $66 and I can't charge you that,  so I can put you in the overflow with the tent trailer and there is water and electricity near buy if your coward is long enough for $33.00.

This has been a problem I have been having.  I'm in what is classified as a motorhome but can fit anywhere and don't need services other than the restrooms.  This is a problem looking at future bookings too.  All I need is a parking space and I am good.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Obscured - The Caddyshack Golf Course

Brent II this is for you.

Another stop on the way to the Everglades was to where the 1980 Caddyshack movie was filmed.

There isn't much to see beyond the exclusive gated course gates.

My photo of course.

This is from the Grand Oaks Golf Club website.

Welcome to the Grande Oaks Golf Club

Grande Oaks Golf Club is a private club located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Home of the movie "Caddyshack," Grande Oaks offers members an exclusive atmosphere with some of south Florida's foremost socialites. The Raymond Floyd re-designed 18-hole championship course, 40-acre practice facility and southern plantation style clubhouse provides sanctuary, serenity and the utmost in service.

Grande Oaks fulfills a lineage of exclusive experiences unmatched in South Florida and represents a new marquis - standard in membership opportunities. It is truly a world where personal service is unobtrusive, yet always convenient, consistent, and distinctive. A place where genuine quality is an assumed value...and the sport is an ultimate challenge for even the most ardent of competitors.

They are proud of their fame too. this is also on their home page.

Visit Our Golf Shop

The all-time comedy classic movie was filmed at Grande Oaks Golf Club in 1980. We carry a variety of Caddyshack items and apparel. Visit our Golf Shop

The Obscured - The Barefoot Mailman

John this is for you.

On my way to The Everglades today I made a stop to an obscured travel site called The Barefoot Mailman

From Wikipedia 

The term barefoot mailman refers to the carriers on the first U.S. Mail route (1885-1892) between Palm Beach and the settlements around the body of water known as Lake Worth on the north, and Miami,Coconut Grove, and Lemon City to the south. The mailmen had to walk and travel by boat because there was no road connecting the 68-mile route from Palm Beach to Miami. Approximately 28 miles of the one way trip was by rowing different boats, and the rest by walking along the firmer sand along the beach. The route was a Star route, with the carriers contracting with the Post Office. The route was originally called the "barefoot route" and the carriers were called "beach walkists" or "beach walkers". It was not until around 1940 that the term "barefoot mailman" came into use.

Day 9 - 1/25/14 The Everglades

I have been on an airboat ride in the Everglades before so I figured I would try this 15 mile tram ride through the park at Shark Valley Visitor Center just short of halfway between Maimi and Naples.  Little did I know that this is an overly popular attraction.  When I arrived I needed to wait 20 min in line for a parking spot to open.  Some people chose to leave and many parked on US 41 and walked in.  The tram was not crowded as parking limits the people that can get in.

There was no problem seeing all sorts if birds and plenty of alligators, so I could understand why it was so popular.  On the airboat ride I went on a number of years ago we hardly saw any.

In fact if you didn't watch what you were doing you could step on one and be in real trouble.

I did leave a bit depressed that the release of the Burmise Python to the southern Everglades has disrupted the food chain as they reproduced.  This has resulted in small animals from mice to larger ones like deer are all but gone.

Add this to the sawgrass now being replaced buy non-native plants means more changes in the future.  This all comes on top of poor fresh water and runoff management problems from the early times, I can see why there are signs save the Everglades.

My First Campground Experience

I decided to make this evening's stop a campground.  Up to now I have plugged in 3 nights at Brent II's in MD, one night in a hotel in NC with mom, 3 nights plugged in at my aunt's in FL, and last night in a parking lot with no plug-in at my cousin's place.  (I'm the one to the right)

I went today and got a senior pass to the National Parks while visiting the Everglades.  While there I met a couple that are camping in the national park.  I asked about cost and they said it was half price with the senior card.  Their campground was booked but said the next one towards Naples had openings.

I left the park attraction and headed west and pulled in at Monument Campground.  I met the host volunteer and he said it was $28 per night but with the senior card it would be $14.  That's a deal so I made my home for the night.

Across from my site is Monument Lake and sitting out there all afternoon is an alligator.  

My day ended earlier than usual so it gave me some time to organize the camper a bit.  More is needed but it gave me a good jump on it.  The rest will wait for my return to Leesburg on Tuesday.

The camper van is beginning to feel a bit more like home.  While in Miami I stopped at Walmart for some groceries for my cooler.  Eventually I will show you my high tec cooler that was not cheep.  

I am still pondering filling the water tank for running water considering going to Atlanta and Texas where the temps have been below freezing only to have to drain the water system again.  For now I am using a 5 gallon plastic jug and using the gray water system only as this is easy to address if it goes below freezing.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cousin Joan

Cousin Joan and I met on the internet a few years ago through another cousin Fran who lives in Houston, another future stop on Brent's Travels.

Joan is in her late 60's and recently diagnosed with nonhodgkins lymphoma. She has had other physical challenges in her life and I would expect her positive attitude will help see her through this hurdle too.  Joan and Fran have the same grandfather and my grandfather was a brother to theirs.  We also share the fact that their grandmother was a sister to my grandmother.  Yes two brothers married two sisters.  It's like being double related.  To toss some more confusion into this picture.  Our great grandfather MacAloney lost his wife and our great grandmother Parmenter (our combined grandmother's mother) lost her husband and our great grandfather MacAloney married our great grandmother Parmenter.  

Confused?  In summary two brothers marry two sisters and the parents married each other.  I don't know what you call these cousins but it is more than just cousin.

Joan lost her husband 2 years ago and moved her to be near family.  I would move for the weather.

Because of her current medical sitiation she can't do everything she likes so she has taken up sketching people.  Here is an example of her sketching.  This is her family.

Joan was the president of her condo block until recently.  She has a lot of nice friends that live in her unit.  I got to meet a couple of them earlier.  One had a Scandanavian accent so we briefly talked and she is from Sweden.  I worked in Copenhagen Denmark for 3 months back on the early 1980 and had taken a tour of Malmo while I was there.

Joan starts her chemo in the near future and I wish her the best as she fights the cancer battle.

Day 8 - 1/24 travel & visit

Here is my postcard to all from West Palm Beach.

Today I left Leesburg, mom and aunt to head south to visit cousin Joan.  It was cloudy in Leesburg as another cold front was passing south.  I drove the Florida Turnpike all the way from Leesburg to West Palm Beach. With the exit less than one mile from Joan.  On the way down I drove back through the warm side of the front and got into clear sky.  When I arrived after my 3 hour ride it was just about the high temperature for the day of 70.

Joan and I visited all afternoon talking about the MacAloney Family.  Then some dinner and more visiting.  

On the way down the SunPass did not work and I got the red light and a photo of my license plate.  I will have to call them as I bought the tag & registered it and put $25 on it.  Sometimes I think it is only me but the SunPass system has a number of flaws to it.  The instructions said to wait to use it until the day after the day you register.  I registered it on Wednesday and used it on Friday.  

I will see if I can have the photographed billing added to my pass so a bill isn't sent home when I am not there.

Day 7 - 1/23 Sick Day

Ever since leaving MD I have been fighting a cold and Thursday (yesterday) I was not wanting to do anything.  Frustrated in not doing any work on the camper I just figured since I am retired there is always tomorrow.

I did accomplish getting a SunPass for the Florida Turnpikes, since Friday I head south to visit cousin Joan.  

Now I will have to see how this works.

I also went for a 4.5 mile walk, but felt so lousy that when I got back I took a nap.

Last night I started to feel better and went outside from 9p to 9:20 to watch a rocket launch but didn't see it.  I found out this am that it was delayed 40 minutes, and by then I was looking at the back of my eyelids.

I haven't even thought of interviewing anyone feeling so lousy and most of my voice was missing.  I would have scared people off.

I have been thinking about the weather as I was going to go to the FL panhandle in about a week and it is currently too cold there right now for me to want to head there.  Here's to sending the artic air mass to Canada.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day 6 - it's cold so I am told

My Uncle Frank died in 2005 and I flew down to see him a month before he passed but never got to see where he was buried, having not returned for the funeraI.  I drove my mother and my aunt the 1/2 hour to the Florida National Millitary Cemetary.  To see all the graves row on row, acre after acre my heart sank thinking of all the brave men and woman who served our country. THANK YOU!

There were three funerals going on the short time we were there.  Each had Millitary Honor Guards and one with a Legion Band.  

After driving through the Cemetary we arrived at the columbariums and row D1 we found Uncle Frank's vault.  He was a good man and a fine uncle.  I was lucky to have spent some wonderful times with him growing up.  When I was just 16 I had just received my drivers license and we went to visit him & my aunt on Long Island he gave me his car keys and said to me to go for a ride.  I drove out to Jones Beach and back, being so careful not to have anything bad happen.

Frank was a Fire Chief like my dad and yea, me too.  

The rest of the day included taking mom & aunt to Walmart and then dong some small things on the camper.

Day 5

Tuesday was a 12 hour travel day from Wilson, NC to Leesburg, FL to drop off mom with her sister for the rest of the winter.  We got going at 8 AM and morning travel was great.  I think this was the first time I didn't stop to see Pedro  at South of the Boarder for even a bathroom break.  I snapped this lousy picture driving by.

The weather changed when we stopped outside of Beaufort, SC for lunch.  The cold front had caught up with us.  The clouds and wind rolled in.  The wind was gusty making my little high-profile vehicle more tedious to drive having to keep a tight grip on the steering wheel for much of the rest if the trip.  As we entered FL there was some heavy showers through Jacksinville that luckily didn't cause any accidents.

In fact we only saw one accident and that was in NC where a tractor trailer drove off the road on the northbound side and road the center guardrail for at least 500 ft crushing it, coming to stop on the northbound side.

There is no straight way to get to Leesburg from I95 so from Jacksonville we went I10 to US301 to I75 to Florida's Turnpike.  This isn't a bad way but there are many towns where the speeds are reduced.

I didn't see any sign that the Florida's Turnpike was a toll road but I soon learned that I was on one of Florida's poorly planned toll roads.  Those that have driven in Florida know of the system they use.  I come to the exit and they want $1.25 in quarters only.  These are unstaffed tolls.  So now I am riffling through my pockets for quarters.  I find 5 and I'm good to go.  NO.  I put the coins in and the toll is not happy.  I am looking around and there is no notice on the machine.  I just have a red light.  Finally I see on the front passenger side of the car a post with "you paid $.75.  There is no one to argue with so I riffle my pockets again for two more quarters and put them in and finally get the green light.  It took 2 minutes and the whole time no one ever came behind me.  I guess they know to avoid the toll.

My aunt told me there are envelopes to take and mail in your toll.  There were no words to this effect on the machine but there were envelopes.  I don't know how you track your money to that toll.  She also said that if you don't pay they will send me a bill.  A bill that goes home would not be paid for about 4 months if it waited for me.  I guess in the meantime if a FL police stopped me I would have an unpaid bill.  This is not a cost issue but one of process that is flawed.  I will be looking for a Sunpass at CVS or Public stores to eliminate the FL aggravation since I will be traveling through the state for over a week. FL gets a poor on customer service for their Sunpass system.  We arrived at 8PM.

For the night I plugged into my aunt's and although cold for them since the front came through it is mild from where I came.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Camper Gas Milage

A number of folks have asked what I get for gas milage.  

The trip from Westminster to MD the camper averaged 12.7 mpg.  This was 4 adults and their luggage.  The average high speed was 65 mph

Today's travels I only have one fill up in lower VA and paid $3.149 per gallon and got 13.6 mpg.  I then noticed when I stopped today that I had the heat on bi-level and this includes running the A/C so with that off it may help.  Of course this leg of the trip there are only two of us so I am sure that this helped the milage too.  On the negative side the speed limit was mostly 70 mph today and this didn't help the milage.

If anyone has questions let me know.

Day 4 - Get Out of MD Before the Snow & Cold

I planned to leave MD for FL on Tuesday AM, but the impending 3 to 6 inches of snow here in DC was enough to get me to leave earlier than planned.  Denise & Jayne were flying back this evening so mom & I packed up and headed south.  

Mom & I did make it to Wilson, NC about 8  and will spend the night in a motel.  We will drive to Leesburg, FL on Tuesday. 

We need to get up early Tuesday and get on the road before the precipitation and cold makes it here during the day.  It will also be a long day of driving.

The good news is that it was a good travel day.

Days 2 & 3

woke up Day 2 sleeping in my camper. This was my first night sleeping in it.  It was in the 20's overnight and I was plugged in to Brent's house getting heat & electricity.  The heat came from the the roof HVAC heat pump.  It kept up with the cold ok, but as the temps go down less heat can be extracted from the air.

Days 2 & 3 were filled with family time.  Day 2, Saturday was granddaughter Avery's & my mom's birthday.  Our day started with errands to get ready for the afternoon/evening party.  Avery's first haircut at Cartoon Cuts was a real joy.

Day 2 night was my second night staying in the camper and it was the coldest at about 19 degrees and the heat pump couldn't get the camper above 50 degrees.  I plugged a small ceramic heater I brought in place of the heat pump but it was not working well,  so I just bundled up and made it through ok.

To digress a bit, I never had time to try out/set up the built in propane heater before I left, but it wouldn't had been usable as Brent's driveway is on a significant incline  that the heater would not work correctly.

So, Sunday I went to Walmart for a new ceramic heater for Sunday night,  although not quite as cold the small ceramic heater did it's job and kept the camper about 70 deg.  

Sunday we went back to the mall to Picture People to have Avery's 2 year old pictures taken.  Then watching the Patriots loose and on the way to dinner at Red Robin a stop for the parents to Urgent Care with Avery for possible ear infection. We got dinner & parents took Avery home & had party leftovers.

Mayor of Meadowridge Landing

Mike is the proclaimed Mayor for Meadowridge Landing housing development.  He got this title as he is retired and is around most of the time and helps others to keep busy.  As the Mayor he also takes on the dubious role of overseeing cleaning the dog poo dropbox in the common area for the the development's organization.  

Mike lives diagonally from our son Brent's house and Brent was out talking to him on the street on this (today) warm 50 degree day.  Although the warm temps Mike was bundled up with hooded sweatshirt over his head sporting a baseball hat under the hood.  On top of the sweatshirt he had a medium weight jacket on.  He was wearing bifocals with a plastic sun shield hung on the inside of his frames.  What he was wearing was more fitting to yesterday morning's 20 degree temps.

You can tell by the way Mike talks he loves to help his neighbors when not helping his wife who is also retired and has mobility issues.  Today the Mayor was looking to visit a neighbor who doesn't get out much to enjoy today's warmth before tomorrow's snow and well below freezing temps.  A testimony of his helpfulness, the "Maror" recently shoveled snow from Brent II's
drive and walk while they were visiting us in MA.  

All communities could use a Mayor!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sam at Party City

Brent II and I wnt to Party City to buy some balloons for Avery's birthday party this afternoon and I met Sam, one of the sales staff, and saw this as an opportunity to have her my first interview of the trip.

With long dark brown hair, bright dark eyes, and slender face Sam is an attractive young woman in her late teens who has been working at Party City for about a year.  Working in the balloon department today she waited on us for our order of one Disney Aeriel, 3 pink and 3 aqua balloons.

She upsold us for $.15 for each of the six latex balloons to put a solution in them so they will last 12 to 24 hours vs. the expected 4 hours without the solution.  It sounded like the right decision as Avery's birthday party was about 4 hours away.

While processing our order it was easy to strike up a conversation with her.  I opened the conversation by asking her what the most popular balloons were.  She eagerly pointed out the favorates that included ones with fur-like fringe and then the large 50th birthday by saying that the series was popular including 40. I turned to Brent II and commented that he was getting close to that number.  He then reminded me if my 40th birthday party, not mentioning the belly dancer that Denise had gotten for me that I know we were both thinking of.

Sam likes her job as it is mostly layer back for being a minimum waged job.  I mentioned that there must be seasons to the business, getting a reply from her that Halloween was the busiest time with all registers open including the extra one in the balloon area.  

In addition to providing great service, and accepting Brent II's offer to jump for a balloon for another customer that had gotten away, she was articulate and engaging giving hope for my future interview attempts.  

The reason that Brent II had to jump for the balloon was that they tie all balloons off to the ribbon and let it go to the ceiling and cut the ribbon.  In this case the other sales attendant let the balloon rise to the ceiling only to run out of ribbon and then being out of reach to both young woman.

Day 1

My pre-trip reservations about driving a 20 year old camper van across country subsided slowly over the first days 430 mile trip to MD.  The weather was great and the vehicle ran so well that I soon didn't think about it.  I couldn't ask for more.  Our evening arrival brought us dinner with son Brent & family followed by going out for frozen yogurt.  

Then it was time for my first night in the camper.  I plugged in and ran the heater in the HVAC on the roof.  It started off at 67 deg and by morning it was 60 inside and mid 20's outside.  Completely acceptable for the trip.  The propane heater wasn't an option as I was parked on an incline and I haven't looked at using it yet.  I will save addressing this and other items for FL where it's warm.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hitting The Road

Hi all,

Well we got off this AM on time.  The last few days have been very busy addressing home things including getting the tax information & software for the road, moving appointments, and fixing things.  For the camper lots to bring for a 3+ month trip.  I am sure I have extra stuff & have missed some things.

More later

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Travel Writer Keyboard

Going to Oakmont Regional High School had some advantaged over other high schools.  At Oakmont I got to choose what classes I wanted to take vs. either taking a business or college course structure like other high schools.  This meant that I got to take classes from both groupings.  

Oh yea, things like Advanced Science in the college line and yes Typing from Business.  Who would have thought that one of the most useful class for life long learning was Typing.  

As a communicator typing has helped me in so many ways and will help me in the future as a writer on my trip.

I had purchased a small Bluetooth keyboard a few months ago for traveling, but this week I ran into a problem with it. As a full finger typist I was not able to type without hitting unwanted keys.  I was typing the minutes for the Mid-State General Meeting and it took me at least twice as long as normal.  A trip to Staples  last night bought me a full-size keyboard.  

Today I was happy with the new size allowing plenty of finger room.  There was one minor drawback and that was the space bar.  It wasn't as reactive as I would like.  This from a guy that hits the space bar when I type so hard that I had worn a mark in the space bar on my desktop computer keyboard at my office at the Fire Station.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Problems With My Blog

HI all,

Sorry for the following problems:

1. It is hard to sign up for blog notices - I sent a support request a few days ago but have not heard back yet.  I think it is browser related as there are differences between the mobile and full version.

2. Unable to post comments - I reviewed this issue today and I also think it is browser related.

If you have other problems please send me an email @

You can also send comments to me direct if you wish



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Camper Specifications

You have seen the camper from the outside photo and Television photo in the rear dining/sleeping area but you may be wondering about what the camper has for features / specification.

1994 Chevrolet G30 (1 Ton chassis)
Engine Gas 350 V8
Odometer 42,234 miles at purchase (Nov 2013)
Cruise Control
Power Windows & Locks
Replacement AM /FM Radio with cassette
Heater & A/C
Tilt Steering Wheel
Power Windows
Trailer Hitch
Tire Size 16"
Length 19’0”
Width 6’6”

Height 9’6”
Interior Height 7’0”
Gross Weight 8,600 lbs
Fresh Water Capacity 36 gals
Grey Water Capacity 20 gals
Black Water Capacity 16 gals
Propane Furnace BTU 24
Sleeps 5
Generator None
TV (Installed 12 Volt)
TV Antenna w/Booster (replacement - old one was analog)
Outside Shower 
120 Volt AC 13,500 BTU Non Central/Ducted 
120 Volt Heating Furnace 21-28K BTU 
Kitchen Sink
Water Heater 6 Gal. Gas/Elec DSI 
Propane Tank
Propane Range Top Stove
Refrigerator (3-way, 120 Volt, 12Volt, Propane)
12 Volt power Roof Vent
12Volt Water Pump 
Coach Auxiliary 12 Volt Battery (one - not connected to vehicle battery)
LPG Gas/Smoke Detector 
Auxiliary Battery Charger (Shoreline 120Volt to 12Volt)