11.15.2010- Our trip commences, not without trouble…

November 17th, 2010 1 comment

Gracie and I have planned a trip aboard Scooter through southern Florida that was, yes-was, supposed to last for about five-six weeks. The plan was for a week at Disney, two weeks at Cypress Cove (yes, a nudist resort) in Kissimmee and further meanderings south to include Key West for a week before we make our way back to Hudson and the excitement of house hunting.

Remember my problems with Scooter earlier in the month? An over-charging alternator threatened to overheat the batteries and even cause computer failure (engine and transmission) aboard the bus. Well, after ten days and almost $400 of mine (protection plan paid almost $700), we boarded a bus that successfully delivered us to Gracie’s home in Hudson, FL.

Well, an hour into the trip to Disney we had an exact repeat of the prior conditions… mileage indicator reads “VOLT”, various warning lights appear and all of the gauges freeze in place. My bus is now doing 55 at 1700 rpm while standing still… amazing!!! Called the folks at Tidewater Express in Hampton, VA, who last worked on Scooter and who are many miles north, to ask their opinion. Basically, not a clue but did recommend Camping World, a nationwide chain of RV service and supply outlets that have a great reputation. Called the closest… no help but recommended Alliance Coach, the rebirth of a Monaco service outlet that closed when the company went under a while ago. Made an appointment for work next Monday- have to arrive there Sunday so as to be first in line- will be at the door at 7am. The folks at Camping World also  provided a second possible remedy- a company in Orlando that specializes in electrical problems. Between the two, we will hopefully be back on the road sooner than later.

The net result is that we must delay our arrival at Cypress Cove Resort. I called them today and they were very understanding… just stay in touch is all they asked.

So Gracie, as part of my birthday present, had booked dinner at the Whoop-Dee-Doo Review at Pioneer Hall in Fort Wilderness, a short walk from our RV site. On arriving, we signed up and were somewhat surprised to hear the fellow say “Oh, table 13. you guys lucked out!” Of course, now knowing that this is a special table, I felt compelled to do all possible to not be seated with our backs to the stage. One of the two entry ways appeared to be the exit so we planted ourselves at the other one… WRONG. All the action to get in was at what I thought was the exit. As it turned out, no big deal… we finally got in and were led to our table… two seats, dead center, front row. Felt like royalty and it didn’t require $20 to the maitre de’.

IMG_6909

What ensued was a wonderful (and well practiced- three shows a day) musical comedy. Six young and attractive folks sang, danced and joked with us through our dinner, low key soloists (guitar or piano) played while we were eating and the action happened between courses.

The food was served in great quantity- all you could eat and brought to the table in hot or cold pewter buckets (see above) to keep the grub at the proper temperature. Tossed salad, fried chicken, ribs, baked beans, mashed potatoes and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Wine was included… we had an excellent Merlot served in Ball jar glasses.

And then the fun started… toward the end of the show, management decided that audience participation was in order. Six people were picked, including yours truly! We were taken backstage during a short intermission and told what to do. As it turned out, we were at the point in the script where Davey Crockett is killed at the Alamo (don’t know how we got there… the show seemed to have no real plot or theme) and I was to play Davey’s angel, come to take him to heaven. A rather cute performer came to select me and ushered me to the stage. Another actor took me in hand a instructed me as follows… “I will get you into your outfit. All you have to do is “dance” to the star painted on the stage floor, blow two kisses at the audience (several hundreds will witness this) and, finally, proceed to the front of the stage, turn and moon the audience!” Thank goodness I didn’t have any lines to memorize… that would be embarrassing enough!!

Davey's Angel

I pirouetted most beautifully to the star, threw two wet and slobberys and, upon turning, raised the tutu up with much vigor. The result… great laughter and cheering. I was a star!!! Regretfully, the agents have yet to call. ;-(

Be warned… all relevant federal, state and local authorities are aware that the above photograph is protected property. Any reproduction or other use, malicious or otherwise, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

So long, after a great evening…

And thank you, Gracie, for a fantastic birthday present!!!

IMG_6912

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

9.27-11.4.2010- A lot going on!

November 4th, 2010 No comments

After returning from our adventure at Kerr’s Dam and Reservoir, Gracie and I decided to head to Avalon to pack it up and make a move to my place in Chesterbrook. We got all the boxes marked for the room they were to go to and called a mover- John Kane, Hercules Moving in Berwyn, fantastic for local moves. Sometime between deciding to go to Chesterbrook and actually arriving there we made another decision… to simplify our lives (i.e., minimize our homes) we would also sell Chesterbrook and make a move to Florida, preferably going to the Tampa area on the Gulf side. So now all of my worldly posessions (excluding some pictures still in Avalon and Chesterbrook, for “home staging”) are either boxed up in my Chesterbrook home or are aboard Scooter. Gracie has been instrumental in helping do all the packing (and giving away of unwanted/unnecessary stuff)- it never would have happened if left up to me!

A minor part of our charitable contribution…

IMG_6730 IMG_6832

Part of the stuff to be moved…

IMG_6890 IMG_6888

During the time up north, I decided to leave Scooter with Coastal RV in Smithfield, VA to have some minor work done (digital-analog converter for TV and fix a 110-volt circuit that was dead). She stayed there for about a month- I picked her up on Tuesday, the 26th of October.

So, I get about a half-mile down the road and notice that the dashboard is going berserk. The word VOLT appears where the mileage should be, the ABS light and trans warning light are lit and, most scary, a light that simply says WARNING is brightly lit. A u-turn gets me back to Coastal and the confession that 1) they had not caused it and 2) they had no idea how to fix it. They contacted Cummins, the engine manufacturer, and received a “not our problem” answer. Finally, they contacted Tidewater Express (a truck and bus repair facility) in Hampton, VA, about 40 miles away. I got the bus there later on the 26th, hoping for reasonably quick service (Delores, a service rep, asked if I would like to wait). Well, it is now November 4th and we are not going to be in sunny Florida by the 1st, as planned! The latest diagnosis is that the alternator was putting out about 18 volts to the system, way more than appropriate. They are thinking that this may have caused to engine’s computer to go haywire. As I write this on 11/4, we are awaiting news of the receipt of a new (rebuilt) alternator and praying that the computer was not adversely affected. If not we should be leaving tomorrow; if there was damage, who knows when we will get to Florida!

So our last month has been exciting and somewhat stressful. After all the packing of Avalon and Chesterbrook, we have spent a lot of time (while waiting for Scooter) on the computer checking out homes for sale in the Palm Harbor/Tarpon Springs area near Tampa. The best news is that I got a bid on the Chesterbrook property that allows me to “get out from under” the mortgage payments and walk away with a little (and I mean a little) cash. We are planning that Ben Kane (John’s nephew) of Great Valley Moving and Storage, who does long distance moves, will put everything in Chesterbrook in storage before the settlement in mid-November and, when we have a place in Florida, pick up any items remaining in Avalon (a lot of pictures), do the same at Gracie’s place in Virginia, which is for sale) and bring it all to our new place in Florida.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

9.18-9.27.2010- Off to Kerr Dam & Reservoir a/k/a Buggs Island Lake

September 25th, 2010 No comments

Ever since meeting Gracie, I have heard about Kerr, Rudds, North Bend and, occasionally, Buggs Island. Well, Kerr and Buggs are the same thing… a huge lake/reservoir and dam system on the Virginia/North Carolina border. Rudds and North Bend are campgrounds on the lake. All is owned and administered by the Army Corp of Engineers.Gracie and her deceased husband, Reed, came to the lake, either tent camping or RVing, for about thirty years and Gracie decided she wanted me to experience the beauty and serenity of the place.

IMG_6682

The Kerr Dam, on the Roanoke River, is at the upper right in the picture- it was originally constructed for flood control and the production of electricity. The lake is 50,000 acres and has an additional 50,000 acres of park land surrounding it. It has 900 miles of shoreline, including 30 areas used for public recreation (indicated in red). Rudds Creek and North Bend Park are two of the many areas dedicated to camping, from tenting to RVing. We have electric and water on site and a waste dump is available at each park. Being constructed and administered by our government, the facilities are excellent- your tax dollars are being well spent!

Mary, Lin and Gracie                                      Bud and Rick

IMG_6506 IMG_6501

Ashley and Ginny                        Chris

IMG_6505 IMG_6508

Above is the crew that met at Rudds Creek. Rick and Lin are probably Gracie’s best friends. Bud, Mary, Chris, Ginny and Ashley are so close they seem as a family. All are close to Gracie so it is natural that we spend the time together.

Day one, the 18th, included about 100 miles from White Tail Resort (where Gracie has a place) to the lake. Of course, yours truly doesn’t go the way advised but, rather, goes as the GPS advises… a two lane country road is not quite the same as a four lane expressway! So, two and a half hours later we arrived, able to get into the site (#35) early as it was not occupied. The site was in the same “loop” as our friends so it was very convenient and had a decent view of the water.

IMG_6515

Each family decided to be responsible for dinner for all for one night. Our first night was Mary and Bud’s turn… a new and wonderful experience. I had never heard of a “flat iron steak” but, next to filet mignon, it is the best. Tender, no fat, moist, delicious and cooked perfectly. Now if I can only find it at the market!

IMG_6513

After dinner it was a night trip for catfish… all I know is that we caught one and I didn’t do it (Rick did… that’s why he’s smiling).

IMG_6519 IMG_6520

IMG_6521

Sunday, the 19th… seemingly a very lazy day but got a lot done. Hung a hand vac in the bedroom and a plug strip by the dining  table, where the computers hang out. Lunch was over at Lin and Rick’s… my first catfish. They don’t seem to serve it up north. For a bottom feeder, it was amongst the best- beats talapia by a bunch! Being it was Lin’s birthday, Gracie decided she had to do the group dinner. Beef Stroganoff, peas with carrots combo and ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Delicious!

IMG_6528

Monday, the 20th was spent exploring and going to town, specifically Boydton and Clarksville. Boydton is a little bit of nothing- seemed like about four intersecting streets, none very long. Did find a replica Esso sign in front of a cute store.

IMG_6532

Clarksville is much larger… even has a nest with bald eagles in front of the Best Western motel.

IMG_6535

Gracie and I had heard about these and made a point of going to see them. Drove up and parked fairly far away so as not to disturb them. Sat and watched them… awfully still… pulled closer… still no movement… got out of the car and walked up to the nest… yelled at them… still no action. Feeling somewhat stupid, we realized that we had been “had”…they are fake. Up close it is obvious- they need to fix the hoax up a little bit. A wasted but fun ten minutes!

Gracie wanted to shop so off we went. First to an amazing store that seemed to go on and on. Can’t remember the name but it had a huge collection of gifts, knick-knacks, etc. Gracie ended up buying a small artificial flower arrangement for the guest bedroom in Chesterbrook.

Then it was off to the Virginia Avenue Mall… nothing like any mall you have experienced. A storefront with almost 60 consignment stores inside. Ended up buying a few collapsable utensils for Scooter’s kitchen. Quite an amazing store… we had to wonder how it stays in business- the town isn’t that big.

IMG_6538

Shopping over, it was time to meet Lin, Rick, Mary and Bud for a pizza lunch. Gino’s (owned by an Egyptian) is where Gracie brought the family after spreading Reed’s (her late husband) and Fantasy’s (Red Dog’s sister) ashes back in June. A pizza place with memories.

IMG_6540 IMG_6539

IMG_6541

On Tuesday, the 21st, I went out fishing with Rick fishing for catfish until around 2pm. We tried drifting so as to cover more territory. Also found that the prey can be at different levels and areas. Came home with five, two caught by yours truly.

IMG_6552 IMG_6557

Even got a lesson on how to filet the fish. Seems to waste some meat but is very efficient and avoids having to deal with the bones.

IMG_6562

For dinner, Lin did a “Low Country Boil”- shrimp, corn, potatoes and three kinds of sausage. Apparently, it is OK to “throw it on the table” (drain the moisture and dump the pot onto newspaper, or whatever). We didn’t due to the possibility of bugs. In any case… delicious!!! I never would have thought that the six of us would have finished the two pots worth… Bud could not quite finish the last of his many potatoes! Following was cheesecake in celebration of Mary’s 29th birthday.

After dinner, we went out on Bud’s fishing boat for a trip to Reed’s Cove, named in memory of Gracie’s husband. Very remote with lots of animal tracks, including bear. A beautiful evening with a campfire to enjoy before bed.

IMG_6563 IMG_6565

IMG_6572

IMG_6612 IMG_6613

IMG_6601 IMG_6631

Until, we got back to Scooter… Webster had gotten to my CPAP (for sleep apnea) and destroyed the pieces at the end of the hose, the holder and nasal pillows.

IMG_6647

On Wednesday, the 22nd, we came over to North Bend Park… spent the rest of the day making things right, fixing and cleaning. Called the CPAP people- $100 including shipping to have the replacement parts in hand the next day. The site is not what Gracie had envisioned… she wanted one with pull-through parking so as to have a view of the water. We actually have a back-in site that is fairly well shaded. It ain’t all bad… very peaceful, quiet and pleasant.

IMG_6643

Thursday, the 23rd, was a special day for us- after doing the laundry and some shopping (lunch at Cracker Barrel, always fun) and some other shopping, we had a campfire (thank you, Bud, for the firewood) and filets for dinner. We are having a wonderful time!!

IMG_6670IMG_6663

IMG_6674

On Friday, the 24th. we woke up late and I worked on the blog. Lin and Rick stopped by mid- PM and we decided to drive around the various camping sites. Rick will be retiring soon and, since there is a two week maximum for using these sites, they need to find another so that they can switch between the two for an extended stay. At the end of the day Gracie and I decided to watch a DVD, the movie “Seabisciut.” Went to turn the TV on and found it has no   power. Spent some time working on it… no answer… all plugs in the circuit are dead and the breaker is on and OK. Ah well, another service visit to your friendly repair man!

The 25th was a sleep-in day (the others weren’t?!). Always have to walk the pooches around 6:30 or so but then is back to the rack. Spent the morning thinking about the TV and taking a short trip to visit Kerr Dam. Due to 911, you may no longer take tours of the dam but can explore the exterior. Not quite (by a bunch) Hoover Dam but impressive in it’s own right.

IMG_6685 IMG_6693 IMG_6696 IMG_6691

The rest of the day was spent working on the blog… as soon as I get Gracie’s permission it will be on the web. We have two more days to go… will be added ASAP!

IMG_6499

The last two days at Kerr were spent relaxing (Rick and Lin surprised us with a short visit) and making our way back to Gracie’s home at White Tail Resort. The trip back was via Rt. 58, a four-lane highway much superior to the two-lane back country road we experienced on the way to Kerr.

Gracie and I had a a wonderful time. The camping is superior… the Army Corps of Engineers maintains the facility in top condition. It is a real bargain, especially for those who have a Senior National Park Pass- $10 per night… can’t be beat!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

8.10-16.2010- To Pittsburgh

August 25th, 2010 1 comment

Gracie and I took Scooter to Pittsburgh to visit her family. We stayed in the back yard of her step-son and family- Billie, Jeannie and Maggie – and their two dogs- Chrissie and Princess. The accommodations were perfect… water and electric on site. We had plenty of onboard storage for our waste water. We were in the town of South Park, not too far from downtown Pittsburgh. (Billie is a respiratory therapist at Mercy Hospital and Jeannie is a home-care nurse.) Baked chicken with gravy, whipped potatoes, corn, fruit salad made a great dinner our first night.

                                      IMG_6191

We also had dinner with Gracie’s step-daughter Denise and her husband, Mike, and two daughters, Megan (a very talented artist) and Rachel (whose tennis talents will make her the next Chrissie Evert.) Had a great chicken with salad dinner, ice cream and peach cobbler for dessert.

                                 IMG_6197

We took two trips to downtown Pittsburgh. The first was to what they call the “Strip District.” No, it has nothing to do with strippers… Gracie thinks the name comes from it’s location near a “strip” of railroad that comes through the area. Many interesting stores and restaurants although it seems that a lot of the shops had closed in recent times. We had lunch at Primante Brothers, a mainstay in the area. They advertise a Philly cheese steak… while delicious, it no way came close to duplicating the original. It was chunks of beef covered with cole slaw and french fries- very good but definitely not the same… not even close!

One interesting thing that became very apparent… the stores that sell sports merchandise have a wide variety of stuff promoting the Steelers and the Penguins but almost nothing for the Pirates. The team just does not seem to have the fan base of the other two. Gracie suggested that it may be because the Pirates ownership does not do much in the way of giving back to the city… no charitable or other civic-minded events.

Our second trip downtown was to take a ride on the Good Ship Lollypop, a boat that cruises the three-rivers area. Gracie and I, along with Billie, Jeannie and Maggie, were surprised to find that Susan’s daughter Lisa was bringing her nephew Damien on the same cruise. Darn near the whole family was there!

                        IMG_6216

On the sports note, I was razzed unmercifully for being an Eagles fan. It got so bad that Gracie had to get me a balloon hat in black and gold, the Steelers’ colors.

                                       IMG_6273

Some shots of the city from the water…

IMG_6224 IMG_6225

The point where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to become the Ohio River.

IMG_6277

The Steelers’ Heinz Field                                            The Pirate’s PNC Park

 IMG_6245 IMG_6259

After the boat ride, we decided to go up the “Incline,” a lift that goes up the side of Mount Washington, on the south side of the city.

IMG_6229 IMG_6282

IMG_6289

Needless to say, the view is spectacular.

  IMG_6299 IMG_6320

IMG_6294 IMG_6301 

  IMG_6308 IMG_6302

Our final day in Pittsburgh was on Sunday, the 15th, and Gracie and I went to church! Gracie’s family has been a member of Little Hill United Methodist Church and Gracie had donated money to help replace the front doors. We went for the dedication service and it was wonderful. The church is in the country and has a very small membership… there were only about twenty, mostly older people there for the service (thirteen the previous week) and the minister actually handles the services at two churches.

We returned to South Park and got explicit directions from Billie on how go get Scooter back to the PA Turnpike. Of course, we listened to the GPS and got into trouble… went through one bridge and had to get too far to the right- a barricade managed to leave some damage on the right side of the bus. Then, believe it or not, we went down a country road and, being 12’8” tall, could not make it under a 11’4” bridge. Had to unhitch the car, back up about 200 yards, turn around, reattach the car, get directions from a local and head on our way. The moral of the story… always listen to your step-son when leaving town.

We had a great week in Pittsburgh, even with the constant ribbing about the Steelers having six Super Bowl rings. I think I finally figured how to understand “Pittsburgese",” a very unusual local accent (you “warsh” your laundry, for example). I can’t thank Billie and Jeannie enough for their hospitality in letting us keep Scooter on their property. Much appreciated!

A final picture, in thanks.

         IMG_6200

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

3.23-3.25.2010- Heading home…

March 27th, 2010 No comments

3.23-Up early to get ready to leave. Walked Webster extra long- don’t want problems in Scooter. Gracie came over and helped by watching over the pooch while I got everything ready to go. Had a somewhat emotional good-bye with Gracie…  we had a lot of fun together and she is very special to me. Here she is saying good-bye, holding Webster.

IMG_5798

Of course, I pull out with my coffee cup still in the microwave and a little further down the road the leveling system, which has not worked from day one, alarm goes off. Jump out, open the electrical box and pull the fuse- problem (noise) solved. Proceed for a ways when I hear a yipping from the cage. Pull over to give the pup a walk and discover that he has tossed his cookies, some in the cage and some out. Stanley Steamer, where are you? Get it all cleaned up, as best as I can, and proceed down the road. Stop for fuel at the entrance to Rt. 95… whoops, there’s some more. Well, I figure that he is on empty so I put some food in the cage for him. After seven plus hours and 300 plus miles, I decided to stop at a Wal-Mart outside of Savannah. That’s where he lost it for the third time, just as I was coming to a stop. I have since put his cage up on the passenger seat (seat belted and well tied in) so he can have a view.

IMG_5800

I know that when I was boating, the only times I ever got seasick was when I could not see out, preferably having a view of the horizon. Hopefully the plan will work. He has shown no bad after effects… ate another dinner and drinking a lot of water. Hopefully, a better day tomorrow.

3.24- Did slightly under 500 miles in about 8 hours and am now in residence at the Wal-Mart on Brook Road in the northern suburbs of Richmond, VA. Today was MUCH better than yesterday- no signs of Webster getting sick. Did have a number of “no performance” stops for his highness… at least I got to relax a little while he frolicked, trying to sniff or eat everything in sight.

Talked with Gracie this afternoon. She and her step-daughter entered a petanque tournament held at Gulf Coast today. Gracie’s team came in first out of 23 teams. AMAZING!!!  :-)  And, I missed it…  🙁

3.25- Left Richmond around 8:15 and , other than a two mile backup on the outer loop in Washington, made good time, arriving in Avalon around two in the afternoon. I plan on leaving Scooter parked in front of the condo until all is unloaded, toting a load every time Webster is walked.

The trip lasted for five months and five days. It was an incredible experience… saw many sights and met many wonderful people. I am rethinking my original thoughts about how I use Scooter… I can easily envision using her as my home in Florida every winter and taking shorter trips on occasion during the summer. A major “around the USA” venture is looking less likely… time will tell.

Post Script- Fuel Usage

Scooter travelled 3,395 miles, using 329.8 gallons of diesel fuel which cost $938.05. The miles per gallon was 10.32, costing $2.844 per gallon.

Toad travelled 3,705 miles (plus being towed), using 164.04 gallons of gas which cost $434.72. The miles per gallon was 22.59, costing $2.650 per gallon.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

3.17-3.22.2010- Too busy!

March 27th, 2010 No comments

3.17- Usual early walk, no #2 performance by Webster. Constipation? Will keep a watch on it. Played petanque, not great at it today. Jackie, the regular cook, prepared Ruebens for lunch at $4 each. Had a huge run on them… two extra trips to the grocery for meat and one for bread and cheese, from what I hear.

Ended the day with Gracie… she put on another fantastic spread- smoked pork, beets and baked potato. A very imaginative chef- everything she prepares is different and delicious. No way have I lost any weight recently!

3.18-Back to Gracie’s for breakfast before Petanque. Eggs Benedict, no less. I am spoiled rotten!!

Around 10:30 we took off to do some shopping and visit a local winery. Webster was well fed, watered and walked- he lasted the duration of the trip with hopefully minimal separation anxiety.

At 4 we went to the weekly jam session. Reid (guitar) and Margaret (vocal) entertain the crowd every week. Today they were joined by Howard (guitar ) and Diane (bass guitar). It is a free, BYOB function and a lot of fun. Afterwards, Gracie and I watched TV for a while.

3.19- Amazing… I was able to sleep from 10:30 until a little after 7 this morning. Things are definitely looking up with the pup. Played petanque- won one and lost one. A fun game… I am surprised that it has not caught on in the north (or maybe it has but I haven’t found it).

I had heard that Tarpon Springs has a Greek section that offers fantastic food and wine along with tourist style shopping. Gracie and I decided that today was the day to explore. I asked Jerry and Barb if they would walk Webster once or twice… well, I think they tried to have adoption papers drawn up! Took Webster over to their site and planted him near Sadie. All was so blissful that Barb and Jerry were able to go to the pool and enjoy the day. It took about an hour to get to Tarpon Springs- Gracie knew the way so I did not have to GPS it. The street where the Greek businesses thrive is Dodecanese Boulevard- we parked at one end and walked to the other end and back. Gracie must have had a plan… she introduced me to a man who sells Greek and related (Cyprian and Cretan) wines. Well, numerous bottles later we hit the road for home. Being in her car (convertible top down, you know) she dropped me off to walk Webster. The wine went back to her place where she is now holding it as ransom. I have to return to Gulf Coast Resort (or her summer home, White Tail Resort in Ivor, VA) to enjoy it. And I paid for it! Ah, the devious and wily ways of the fair sex!   😉

On returning to Gulf Coast, we had a wonderful “stoup” for dinner, neither soup nor stew, yet it must be served in a bowl. A wonderful seafood concoction that she brought back from her trip to Venice the previous week. Jerry surprised us with a wonderful dessert… I don’t know the name but Barb made it and it was ridiculously sweet (i.e., fattening) and therefore delicious!

3.20- Today is the date that I had originally planned to be back in Avalon. It is the end of the fifth month on the road. I left on October 20th and set my goal to be home by the 20th of March. Back on February 19th, I arrived at Gulf Coast Resort (yes, it is nudist) with the intention of a one week stay. Well, it ended up being over four weeks. I have NEVER met a more likeable bunch of people… three were outside my RV door to welcome me before I turned the key off (I am not kidding).

Now, here is the kicker. Gracie, Barb and Jerry, and Bobbi and Dave gave me a farewell dinner at Gracie’s home. Cocktails with all sorts of marvelous hor’s doerves (sp?) followed by two casseroles (fantastic pasta with chicken and a broccoli creation that was wonderful), another wonderful salad and Brandy Alexanders (a lot of ice cream in these beauties!) for dessert. (Susan, if you are reading this, I need the recipe!) I can’t tell you how much the friendship of these people (and many more at the Resort) has meant to me. This has been the most outstanding and memorable part of my trip and, to anyone who wants to leave the “textile” world and become a nudist (highly recommended), this is the place to be.

3.21- Fortunately had a chance to relax today, petanque, etc. The big responsibility for the day was to pick up Gracie’s step-daughter Susan at the airport.

Susan and…                                           …Gracie and I at dinner.

IMG_5794 IMG_5792

She was due in at 6:02 but was delayed by about 20 minutes. No problem- we were there in plenty of time. Hoards of people were sporadically coming out of the exit ramps and no Susan… had she missed the plane? A cell phone call resolved the concern- she was at the back of the pack, delayed by the transit system. It was very nice to meet her. She is the daughter (by a prior marriage) of Gracie’s husband Reed, who passed away last year. We offered her options for a meal on the way back to the Resort- picked Beef O’Grady’s, a place I had heard about from Tom (famed for his sinicism concerning the purchase of a dog). Well, the only “beef” of any stature on the menu was a sirloin… no prime rib, filet, etc. What, there’s no beef here! Had some kind of shrimp wrap, not bad actually, and brought the girls back home.

3.22- Last full day here- feeling kind of sad, has been most enjoyable, especially getting to know Gracie. A wonderful woman who lost her husband too soon. From all I hear he was a wonderful guy and a friend to all. Gracie has told me that they never argued and that it was a 50-50 marriage in every way. As I understand it, he was the only love of her life. Oh, to be so fortunate! Finished the day having a burger and salad with Gracie and then watched some TV.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

3.16.2010- Laundry, lunch, pool, dominoes and a party = BUSY

March 17th, 2010 No comments

Woke to take Webster out, came back and dozed with him on the bed. Reawakened to the feeling of a soft, warm tongue licking my bald head. Cannot get over how much I adore this little animal. He is very intelligent, reacting to me in a most positive manner. The only problems- he only likes to be held in a certain way (I am sure that will change) and he hates to be combed (he will have to endure that once I can figure out how to hold him still).

Normal day after being washed. Did my laundry (three loads, [15 shirts and this is a nudist resort] meant no petanque), lunch at the restaurant with Gracie, then to the pool.

At 1PM we went to the community room with Barb, Jerry, Bobbi and Dave for some dominoes. We played a new game… Chicken Foot, named because each double has to be satisfied with three “toes” before any other play can be made (see picture below). Fun game with rules much simpler than Mexican Train. Mid-way through the game we were joined by a wonderful woman named Joan who asked to watch the game. She is physically disabled but mentally at the top of her game. We enjoyed her immensely and she will be called to join our next game.

Joan                                                           Gracie and Bobbi

 IMG_0690  IMG_0689

Bobbi and Jerry                                           Barb and Dave

IMG_0692  IMG_0691

At 5:30 we went to Bob and Richard’s place for a party. Most enjoyable… met some new folks and enjoyed Richard’s lasagna. Bob is a Lutheran minister (retired) and he has offered to hold the service at the local church this Sunday. Gracie and I plan on being there. After dinner, it was back to Gracie’s for NCIS .

Picture of the day- see any thing under the bus?

IMG_0686

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

3.9-3.15.2010- Lots going on but VERY tired!

March 16th, 2010 No comments

Please be advised that there is a very good reason that I have not blogged in the last week… when I am not tending to Webster, I am sitting in a daze, eyes generally closed, wondering where I will find the energy to do anything productive. I am still able to feed myself and perform other basic types of personal hygiene, but that is about it!

All kidding aside, it has been a wonderful week. Webster is showing huge improvement is his deportment and learning skills. In fact, we are now down to getting up once during the night; last Wednesday night it was four times (and I was happy to do it, I think!). I am getting a good picture of the times necessary for a walk… there have only been two accidents in Scooter (she said she didn’t mind), two pees on the vinyl tile floor, nothing on the carpet (yet). I actually think I am losing some weight or maybe I just am feeling better. The little guy is adding both a measure of responsibility and a much larger sense of enjoyment. And I know things will only get better as Webster matures!

To summarize the week, I will note significant happenings and then post some pictures and videos of my new friend.

3.9- Played petanque while Webster slept. Bobbi and Dave Baker, friends I had met at SunSport, arrived for a stay. They are good friends of Barb and Jerry Parsons (they toured Naples via Segway earlier this season). Later Barb served up a wonderful dinner for all. Webster, who the Parsons adore, was invited to give their Bichon Frise, Sadie, company.

3.10- Petanque again. Had dinner at Gracie’s… hamburgers on the grill a la Chef Skip and a wonderful salad. Webster was very playful and “barky”… I don’t mind unless it is at 2AM! Tried only a little water during the late daytime to see if it made a difference at night. Well, of course, he drank like a fish before bed time. Water goes through in a flash… the result was multiple calls during the night. Now I am going to limit the H2O at the very end of the day. Hopefully soon won’t have to worry at all.

3.11- Jerry was kind enough to loan me a 9’x12’ polystyrene carpet to put outside the door to Scooter. It has greatly reduced the amount of sand, leaves, branches, etc. brought into the bus by myself and Webster. Also, Dave loaned me an electronic device to hopefully reduce the amount of barking while I am gone (my next door neighbor had complained, in a nice way). I can’t really tell if it works- when I leave I hear one or two barks, then it is quite. Others have told me that they hear barking after I leave. The jury is still out. Maybe a bark collar will be necessary at home.

3.12- Played Mexican Train Dominoes with Gracie this evening… we had played previously and she was modestly in the lead after a few rounds. Well, it is amazing how being ahead can boost both your confidence and your skills of expressing how truly horrendous my ultimate defeat would be. I have promised that I would not reveal how badly she lost this evening… truly a humbling experience I am sure. I have heard very little about dominoes since. 😉

An experiment- would Webster like to sleep with me? Started out the night with him next to me. Unfortunately the CPAP machine I use for sleep apnea has an air exhaust that blew on Webster… he felt compelled to move down near my feet. Of course I worried about kicking him off the bed during the night so I spread all of my dirty laundry around so as to soften any possible fall. There was one tumble though I am sure he tried to jump. We took a walk and then tried again. He was still on the bed in the morning.

3.13-3.15- Things are getting better every day with Webster… getting regular with the elimination issues, lately have been up only one time at night.

Saturday was a horseshoes tournament- I did not go, tried to nap when Webster was quiet. Sunday was a beanbag tournament (teams of two, four bags each, throw through hole 25+/- feet away, on board = 1 point, through hole = 3 points, first to 21 wins. Able to spend some time watching the competition. Monday morning I played petanque and our team beat Larry’s (he is notoriously good) 13-12 and 13-6 (started at 6 for short game… zapped them!). Felt good and had fun!

Late afternoon was a birthday party for Dale Schad (we have an excess of Dales here, must define the correct one). His wife Diana threw an excellent bash, lots of presents and a beautiful cake. Much fun.

IMG_2119 

                                                IMG_2114

Now, a video of Webster and Sadie, Barb and Jerry Parson’s Bichon Frise.

 

And some pictures, two with Sadie…

IMG_5725 IMG_5737 

IMG_5752 IMG_5754

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

3.8.2010- Webster arrives!!!!

March 12th, 2010 3 comments

There is a huge (someone said 40 acres) flea-market held every Monday in the town of Webster, almost an hour north-east of Gulf Coast Resort. Gracie, Jerry and Barb, Tom and I decided it would be a fun day trip to go.

Well, I fell in love, big time! Gracie and I walked by a stall where puppies were being sold, took one look at the cutest pup I can remember,,, a 4+ month old (born on November 30, Gracie’s birthday) 7 1/2 pound Brussels Griffon, bred by the seller’s daughter. Love at first sight but, being very aware of my penchant for impulsive spending, we walked away. Did some more looking around/shopping and finally rejoined the others. Had lunch and could not stop thing about the pros and cons of having a pet. We all decided to go back and let me check out the fur-ball another time. Well, we all ooh-ed and aah-ed (Tom kept muttering common sense arguments in my ear- lack of sleep, expense, carpet stains, etc.). Very impressed with the seller, very caring about the animals and willing to spend time with me. Cost was very, very reasonable- so low I wondered what may be wrong with the dog. Physically, he has an under-bight, no concern to me in that showing him is of no interest. Paper work and payment completed, we headed to the car, Tom still muttering. 😉

A video taken by Jerry on the way. That is Gracie pushing the cart and Webster leading me. I had thought about a name during lunch, landing on Pepper, the name of a Cairn Terrier I had many years ago. Realizing that my son Rob may have a problem with that, I decided on Webster, a name that I consider dignified and yet cute. And I will always remember where I bought him.

Some better pictures of my pooch…

IMG_2056

IMG_5697

IMG_5718

IMG_5715IMG_5704 IMG_5698

IMG_5721

My blogs have been delayed by the time it is taking to take care of and get used to my new friend. For this I apologize. I am definitely sleep deprived, TV deprived, food deprived (excepting Gracie’s wonderful meals) and, most assuredly, credit-line deprived (the pet store loves me)! There have been a few short moments of second-guessing but one look at the face and all doubts fly away. I have a friend and companion for which I am responsible, something I have been missing for quite some time.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

3.7.2010- Pot luck dinner

March 12th, 2010 No comments

Played petanque again and won both games.

Later in the day, at 4pm, I went to a pot luck dinner. Fortunately, I had made and frozen a batch of Train Wreck, that world renowned concoction formulated by Cookie during my college days at the ADP fraternity. Basically a goulash of hamburger, tomatoes (diced, sauce, V-8 juice), elbow macaroni, onions, peppers, mushrooms), all spiced up with garlic, pepper and Tabasco. I had two 4-cup containers that I defrosted for the cause. Fortunately I had not over spiced it- it was palatable and appreciated by all. Sure glad I went to college!

Afterward, Marygrace Ellis, aka Gracie, invited all at our table back to her place for socializing. After taking my dishes back to Scooter, I headed over. As I approached, I realized that I was the first on the scene. Being the newbie on the block and having an almost immeasurable amount of shyness, I watched bean-bag and horseshoes competitions until others had arrived at Gracie’s. Had a very nice time talking with all… Gracie, Jerry and Barb, Bob and Jean, Dave and Mary Louise.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: