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Archive for January, 2010

1.31.2010- Tired, cloudy, good day to finish blogs…

January 31st, 2010 No comments

The above says it all. Thought about doing wash… didn’t get to it!

Did contact Rich Zuckett, half of the Rich and Rita Zuckett RVing team that I met in the Poconos on my trial RV run in September, 2008. They have a park home (and a RV) about 30 miles away. It is located on Cockroach Road and, I think, Cockroach Bay. With a name like that it better be nice! Have agreed to drive up and see them tomorrow, arriving about 11. Plan on checking out their park and having lunch. It will be good to see them again. If enough time, may drive up to Lazy Days RV dealership and park… supposed to be HUGE and interesting.

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1.30.2010- Sarasota and the Ringling Museum

January 31st, 2010 1 comment

Headed into Sarasota to check out the town and see the Ringling Museum. I must confess that downtown Sarasota is disappointing… while there are a few newer, modern buildings, most everything seems just plain old and in need of freshening up. The motels are out of the 50’s and there are a number of sites that need either a major rehab or to be demolished. I made this comment to John Faunce and his response was:

“Here is the story on the Sarasota area. You know when you are driving somewhere….and you are behind a old person driving that car in front of you….all you see is the top of their head…they are kind of slumped over and may well give a left turn signal before turning right….well Skip, THEIR PARENTS LIVE IN SARASOTA!”

It just all seems too old… you won’t find me moving  here!

On to the Ringling Museum… and now is the time for a positive comment. I was absolutely blown away by The Howard Bros. Circus Model, in one of the Ringling Museum buildings. (The museum is under the care of Florida State University.) To quote the brochure:

“Located in the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center, The Howard Bros. Circus Model is a replica of The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919-1938. Complete with eight main tents, 152 wagons, 1,300 circus performers and workers, more than 800 animals and a 59-car train, the model is built in 3/4-inch-to-the-foot scale and occupies 3,800 square feet. “The world’s largest miniature circus” was created over a period of more than 50 years by master model builder and philanthropist Howard Tibbals.”

Ringling would not permit Tibbals to use the Ringling name when he started the project… I am sure that has been regretted. The workmanship is incredible. When Tibbals was asked if he was sane when he started this project, his answer was in the negative. He also won’t even guess how much time or money he expended over the 50+ years. I did ask if he had any help and was told, “Absolutely not.”

Some Pictures. Just remember that a six-foot man would be 4-1/2 inches tall in the model.

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An amazing display, viewable from floor level or from above. The people and animals all appear to be different; the only things that seemed to be made identically are the tent stakes and the folding chairs (7,000 and they all collapse). Tibbals even created a purser, desk, chair, money box and dollar bills which he put in a building at the gate… and the viewer cannot see them. He did it for “completion” and the fact that he would know it was there.

Another building has some of the equipment used in the circus and the railroad car John Ringling used when travelling with the circus. (Side note: Most circus stops were for one night. Longer stays occurred fewer than twenty times a year. A full scale circus required 1,000+ people between workers and performers. And the animals were more important than the people… they could not be easily replaced.)

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John Ringling’s railroad car, being restored…

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After the museum, I went to St. Armand’s Circle, on a barrier island (Lido Key, I think). Apparently, there are many shows/festivals/functions/etc. held here almost on a weekly basis. This weekend was an art show. Met a very interesting man… Archie Smith, manufacturer and player of an instrument I had never heard of… Bowed Psaltery. While the music Archie played was more than beautiful, I was fascinated by the construction of the instruments. (He also makes Plucked Psaltery and Mountain Dulcimers.) Check out www.archiesmithinstruments.com.

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Notice below that it is much like a piano- in this case, the white keys are on the right and the black to the left. He also makes the practical and beautiful display/storage piece.

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Then the rain came… time to go home to Scooter (with an ice cream cone on the way.)

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1.29.2010- Leaving friends :-( and off to Sarasota

January 31st, 2010 No comments

Had a chance in the morning to take some shots of the property. It is very small as RV parks go (maybe room for 10 or so units) but also very nice… it is easy to get to know your neighbors. There are a fair number of folks who reside locally and come to Edun Lake for the naturist life style.

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Fellow RVers included Ellen and Bill Lambrigger, from New York, and their pet ducks Graham and Ritz (they are “quackers” you know).

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Bobbi and Dave Baker, from the Atlanta area. Two wonderful people who have, among other things, bought land and built their own home and barn and had an emu farm with as many as 230 emus. Bobbi let me read a collection of family stories that she wrote to give to her two sons. An inspiring, loving and humorous accomplishment.

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Cliff Moberg, his significant other, Andrea, and their pal Bobalou

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                           And Virg Gray, from Nekoosa, Wisconsin.

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All truly wonderful people… maybe I’ll get back to Edun Lake next year and they will be there!

So, it is off to Sarasota. Pulled into the Sun ‘n’ Fun RV park and am blown away by the size and professional way it is run. I did not have to get out of Scooter to register, a first for me. Woman in booth handed me things to sign and another led me to my site in a golf cart. I read that the property is about 177 acres and has 1,500 sites, 400 being for RVs (the rest are park homes which can be rented or purchased). The facilities are immaculate and as complete as any I have seen, including a wood working shop! The one thing I don’t understand… those who own their property must vacate for the months of June, July and August. I was told that this was necessary to maintain the property’s status as an RV park… may have something to do with property taxes. Have to check this out.

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1.28.2010- Last day at Edun Lake… and Bonita Shores

January 31st, 2010 No comments

Took a drive… had heard over the years that Bonita Springs was an attractive place to be in the winter and wanted to check it out. Not far from the RV park so off I went. Drove into town on Bonita Beach road, took a right at the end and went to the end of the island. Over the bridge would have gotten me to Ft. Myers Beach. Came back and checked out the beach… very nice. Not sure who makes available the neatly arranged umbrellas but I liked the nearby scenery!

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Part of my mission was to check out a restaurant for Bobbi and Dave (more about them later)- they wanted to come in for dinner and watch the sunset. Well, I pulled into the condo complex pictured below and was told that the only local restaurant was the one in the #1 building of the complex. Used to be Pat & Deb’s, now Deb’s (or Pat’s, can’t remember) because they split. Well, I had a decent lunch there but was prepared to tell Bobbi and Dave to forget it… you can’t see the beach, much less the sunset, from here!

Leaving the restaurant and decided to ask a man at the counter if there was a reliable realtor locally… just wanted to see what prices are like in the area. (Had heard during the times I had come to Boca Grande that the Bonita Springs area was attractive.) He was just paying his bill and very kindly walked me to the real estate office that, being on premises, seems to sell most of the condos in the complex (The Beach and Tennis Club).

 

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Betty Battaglia,  the realtor, showed me a unit on the 9th floor that has a spectacular view of the ocean and to the south. Only problem is the western sun in the afternoon (thanks, John)- the heat can be awful. The asking price for this unit is $250,000 and it is an efficiency- very small, basically one room with bath. Betty told me that the max ever paid in the complex was around $435,000 and that the top price paid in 2009 was $200,000. Florida has really been hurt in the real estate mess. This was way too much money for too little space.

Tried another realtor at Coldwell-Banker… no broker in but asked about the restaurant that I had apparently missed. Yes, there is a place called Doc’s that is right on the beach… perfect for dinner and the sunset. Went back to check it out. Good place for Bobbi and Dave. Turns out they went and it was so crowded that they turned around and came home! A shame…

Got back to the park and had a chance to take a few pictures of the property and the sunset.

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1.27.2010- Computer and sun…

January 30th, 2010 No comments

Spent the morning messing with the computer… some programs were missing and fortunately I have the necessary original disks, upgrades to MS Streets and Trips and MS Office. Also had to replace Picasa, my favorite photo program. Will also have to go get Google Earth at some point.

Afternoon at the pool…

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1.26.2010- A visit to Naples

January 30th, 2010 No comments

Took a bike ride out to the end of the street… a half-mile of very rough road. Put mail in box and returned.

Late AM left for exploratory drive around Naples. Lunch was pizza and ice cream- there is no fixing my eating habits! Drove 5th Avenue, the impressive main shopping street. Checked out Tin City… classic tourist trap… 32 stores (no chains) and a few nice restaurants- all designed to take your money!

Took a long drive through Port Royal, the very upscale residential area south of downtown. 

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Called Kerry and offered to pick up the computer… waited until 4:30 for it. (Had an hour to waste so I drove to Marco Island… found Snook Inn which friends had raved about.) Got back at 4:30 and Kerry was not finished- said he would bring it back to me in later in the evening. He arrived around 7 and I got my fixed computer back as promised. Amazing service, very reasonably priced and a nice guy to boot!

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1.25.2010- Rain and computer repair

January 30th, 2010 No comments

Not a nice day… rain in the AM.

Kerry Dera, a/k/a computer whiz, came out and took the computer… ordered new drive for overnight delivery and I should have it back by tomorrow.

Spent the afternoon playing with my old Sony computer (VERY SLOW and cannot stay logged onto the web). Also read and went to the pool after the weather cleared.

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1.24.2010- Chili Cook-off

January 28th, 2010 No comments

Around 10 I went to the activity center… a chili cook-off was in progress. Nine entries and, in my humble opinion, Cliff’s #4 was the best. The judges did not agree… #4 was not in the top four (3rd placed was a tie).

Rest of the day at the pool… a nice place, very quiet and remote. Would like to come back, maybe next year.

Mary hooked me up with Kerry Dera for the computer. Finally able to reach him… he would come out the next day to check out the problem.

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1.23.2010- Into town with Bill

January 28th, 2010 No comments

Met a wonderful couple, Bill and Beverly. Bill will be 82 in May and spent his entire life as a trucker. He and Beverly are a second marriage, their previous mates having passed on. They had been friends and decided to “carry on.” Bill needed to go to the local Publix to hit the ATM. I offered to take him so that he did not have to un-attach his truck from their trailer. The only condition was that he would have to be patient while I 1) went to Radio Shack for a cable for the TV, 2) went to Best Buy to get warranty service on the computer and 3) shopped at Publix.

Success at Radio Shack. Got the cable and, as a gift for loaning me the DirecTV box, cable fittings and a crimper for the new owners of the park. No luck at Best Buy. The warranty on my computer is still in force but only if I sent the unit to them. Being on the move, it would be very difficult getting the computer back so that was not really an option. So brought the “about to fail” computer back to Scooter.

While at Publix Bill and I agreed that he would sit outside, after hitting the ATM, while I shopped. No way… during my aisle cruising who do I spy but Bill with a case of Busch Lite. There was an ulterior motive to his trip.

Spent the rest of the day goofing off, reading emails and getting some sun. Also asked Mary, the past owner of the park, if she knew of a local good computer techie. She said she has some names and would let me know.

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1.22.2010- To Edun Lake

January 28th, 2010 No comments

Up and at ’em! Of to Edun Lake, my third stop at a “naturist” park. Left Miami around 10 and arrived around 12:15. Located on an unfinished road (Scooter has some squeaks she never had before) northeast of Naples. Fortunately, it is not far from civilization… Publix, CVS, etc. are within 2 to 3 miles, on Collier Blvd.

It is very casual here. It is dinner time, I have been here for six hours and no one has asked me for money. I was given a form to fill out but have not found or seen the person to return it. Recent ownership change (first of the month) seems to be leading to some confusion. Very nice people… they better be because I don’t think there are more than a dozen RV sites here- everyone seems to know each other well. Have already had a civilized political discussion with one guest and met another couple who travel with a pair of ducks as pets. They are named Ritz and Graham because they are “quackers!” Pictures and video, if I can get it to load, will be forthcoming.

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One of the three Bills that I have met so far (owner of the quackers) came by and said that the deer were coming to feed. Mary, the ex-owner of the park, puts corn out for the deer… often several show up, in this case it was only one.

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