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(September 28 to December 31, 2007)
September 28 to October 13: Douglasville, Georgia
I-75; local roads
Flying J in Resaca, Georgia for $2.929
After a nice week in a time share in Fairfield Glade we headed to
Douglasville to visit with the kids and grandkids and take care of some
chores. There were two highlights of our stay this time.
One was to take our oldest grandson, Richard, to see the Global Drum Project concert at
the Georgia Tech campus. The project was lead by Mickey Hart who was
a drummer in the Grateful Dead band. In his words:
"This is a deep drumming groove. We're
taking the archaic rhythm worlds into outer space. The Global Drum
Project explores rhythm and noise; it's a sound yoga of processed
acoustic percussion headed straight for the trance zone that becomes a
dance of ancient and modern worlds. Deep drumming is a skeleton key
into these realms." -Mickey Hart
had a good time at the concert and the drumming was fantastic.
The other highlight was being in the area to help celebrate
granddaughter Ashley's seventh birthday. We usually aren't in the area
for birthdays so this was a treat.
With visits and chores completed it was time to continue south to
Florida to get closer to where my mom was now living so we could spend
some time with her in her new surroundings.
14: Lake City, Florida (307 miles)
conditions: I-75; I-10
n Pines RV Campground I'm
happy to say that Jim and Cherri have been doing a nice job with this
campground and the WiFi worked perfectly this time, at least in the
sites towards the back of the campground where we were parked.
Flying J in Lake Park, Georgia for $2.889
This was just an overnight stop. Diane's
brother, Jerry came over for a visit.
Ocala, Florida (83 miles)
Coach Care parking lot
an appointment to take care of some annual maintenance on the motorhome
and we have found the Coach Care facilities to be reasonable and do
good work. It's pretty exciting to see your 30,000 pound motorhome up
in the air supported only by a lift on each corner.
October 16 to October
21: Orlando, Florida (82 miles)
conditions: I-75; SR 44; US
27; US 192
Lake Magic RV Resort Although
we favor this RV park when we are in the area for the space and the
people we know here, the new management is making it harder and harder
to go there. Their short term prices are getting way too high. When I
called to check on the price of a week in October I found out they had
a special for $150 for the week, which is a good price. However, not
knowing exactly when we would be there I couldn't make a reservation.
By the time I called back with firm dates the price had gone to $386
for the week, which is outrageous. I started to look around for other
choices, but there aren't many in that area. My research had me learn
Magic had gone back into the Coast to Coast network and had sites
available for the dates we would be there. We ended up staying at Lake
Magic for six nights for $13 per night. We knew that meant a standard
gravel site rather than the large pullthrus, but the manager was there
when we arrived and she gave us a concrete pullthru site. What was
amazing was that the park was virtually empty and yet had a price point
of over $350 for a week. That made absolutely no business sense to me.
Seems that it would scare people away to other parks more reasonably
Our purpose in stopping in the Orlando area was to use our Disney World
passes which were still valid. Actually, they'll be valid until January
9, 2008. We spent a couple of days in Epcot where they were having the
annual Food and Wine Festival. One of the days was spent walking around
Epcot with Chuck and Linda Dombrow who had already arrived from
Wisconsin for the winter months. Little Richard performed the evening
we were there. That was a treat. He's now in his 70s but
still gives a good performance.
I got to play a round of golf with Chuck. We had a coupon to play the
Legends course at a good price and I've always wanted to play that
course. Ron Cells lives in Kings Ridge, which is near the Legends
course and he
joined us for an enjoyable round of golf.
We met Keith and Marie McQuinn-Roberts a few years ago when they
from England to the USA to pursue RVing across America. Our paths
hadn't crossed since then, but they were going to be in Orlando while
we were there so we made plans to visit. They drove over to see the
paint job on our Dutch Star and then we went out to eat and to catch up
on each other's travels. It was so nice to see them again.
October 22 to October
28: Cocoa Beach, Florida (74 miles)
conditions: US 192;
I-4; SR 528 (toll)
on a friend's property a block from the ocean
We first visited Cocoa Beach in 2004 where our friend, David Spain,
owns a hotel where he allowed us to park our motorhome for a few days.
He told us we could come visit whenever we wished to do so. One of the
things on our list of things to do was to see a launch of the space
shuttle. There was a launch scheduled for October 23rd so we decided to
head over to the coast to visit with Dave and see the launch. He was
kind enough to get us complimentary tickets tickets for the Kennedy
Space Center. The tickets were not valid on the day of a launch so we
watched it from the rooftop of his hotel. The weather was great the day
of the launch. It was a spectacular sight seeing the shuttle hurtling
skyward into space.
We spent the entire next day at the Kennedy Space Center. They have
added a new attraction, a simulation of a shuttle launch. The two 3-D
movies were fantastic. Dave's brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Bonnie
Spain, were also there
in there motorhome and we all got to go out to eat one evening along
with Dave's wife, Linda, who we didn't get to meet back in 2004. We
ended up spending a week in Cocoa Beach and enjoyed a very relaxing
Former RV fulltiming friends, Bill and Martha Verity, had purchased a
house in The Great Outdoors (TGO) in Titusville, so we drove up there
one day to visit with them. We had a nice afternoon catching up over
lunch at one of the restaurants in TGO.
October 29 to November
25: Port St. Lucie, Florida (107 miles)
conditions: I-95; Saint
Lucie West Blvd; US 1
Port St. Lucie RV Resort
We stayed in this park back in 2003 when we were in the area to visit
with my brother Charlie. It's managed by Rick and Ruth Ann Cross who
live above the office. This
time we were parked up front near the office which afforded us a better
chance of using the free WiFi. However, the WiFi network wasn't
perfected and was down quite a bit. When it was up, it was very fast,
but it was not a reliable network. They were in the process of trying
to get it fixed. The park has concrete backin sights with good
electric. However, the sights are a bit tight and they do have some
drainage problems after a heavy rainfall.
Flying J in Fort Pierce, Florida for $3.139
Over the summer we had to help my mom move from Ocala to Port St. Lucie
and get settled into an assisted living facility (ALF). My brother,
Charlie, lives in the area and she opted to live there rather than in
Ocala where there was no family. She seemed to be doing well with
living in the ALF, although there were some minor complaints about
missing her house. However, she had gotten to the point where she could
no longer live alone and this was the best alternative for her. Diane
and I did get to visit with her a few days each week while we were
there and take her out to see some movies and to shop. It also gave my
brother a break from taking her places.
One of my high school friends, Frank Pesile, still lived in Palm City
and we got to visit with him for the first time since 2003. Frank has
always had a great singing voice and was singing twice a week at an ALF
in Stuart. When I told him that my mom was in an ALF in Port St. Lucie
he asked me to find out if they would like him to go there and sing for
the residents. The activities director jumped at the chance. Frank went
there to give them a sample of his singing and planned to sing for an
hour. He loves to sing and sang for two hours. The residents loved him
and wouldn't let him stop. So they invited him back again and, once
again, he sang for two hours. That time I had my video camera with me
and recorded the session and then copied it to DVD.
Frank was always one of my favorite people and we lost touch for many
years after high school. We were both on the baseball team and I
remember the times we would be traveling to, or from, a game where he
would be singing some popular songs of the time. One of the favorites
was "In the Still of the Night" where he sang the melody and the rest
of us would sing the background. What fun we had. I found out that
Frank was now retired and it was great to see him doing well. My
brother worked part time at two private golf courses and he was able to
get us out for a round of golf on each of the courses.
Back in January when we were at the Tampa RV Show we met Peter and
Christiane Ermke who live in Germany and desire to come to the USA to
RV around this beautiful country of ours. I received a note from Peter
telling me that a friend of his was coming to the US to buy an RV and
travel. This is how we met Gustav Bruenn. Peter gave him my email
address and suggested that he contact us to talk about RVing. One day I
received a note from Gustav asking if we could meet to talk about RVs
and RVing as he was totally new to it. He was staying at his niece's
house in Satellite Beach, which was up near Cocoa Beach. Too bad we
didn't make contact earlier as it was closer than Port St. Lucie. We
invited him to come down and spend a day with us and we would try to
answer all of his questions.
We first met Gustav Bruenn on November 15. He had told us that his
wasn't so good, but I always respond to foreigners who say that to us
that their English is much better than my German, or whatever language
it is. It was true that it took some concentration to follow along with
Gustav, but he spoke English well enough for us to understand and his
English will improve greatly as he travels the USA over the next year.
Yes, one year. I could tell that Gustav was a real character and a
charmer. He arrived in Miami with a six month visa and tried to get it
extended to one year. When the customs person said he couldn't do that,
Gustav asked to speak to the supervisor. It turned out to be a woman
I'm sure he sweet talked her into giving him the extra six months. He
had all of the necessary paperwork to demonstrate that he could afford
to live in the USA for one year. He also told her that he wanted to buy
an RV and six months just wasn't enough time to see the USA. So she
stamped his visa for one year. What a coup for him to have
gotten a one year visa. That is not easy to do these days.
Gustav spent an entire afternoon with us as we talked over lunch and
then somemore back at our motorhome. We showed him our Dutch Star and
all of his questions. He came with the intent of buying a truck and a
fifth wheel, but decided a motorhome and car would be the better
option. He was so excited to purchase an RV and get on the road. His
excitement was infectious and he had such a fantastic upbeat attitude.
It was a pleasure to spend time with him. We promised to stay in touch
via email and phone and try to help him through the buying process as
much as we could. Naturally, we played up the fact that we have loved
our Newmar Dutch Star for the almost eight years we have lived in it
and suggested he check out Independence RV in Winter Garden.
Subsequent notes from Gustav indicated he was looking at several
motorhomes and then I received a note from him three days later saying
he had purchased a Newmar Ventana from Independence RV. His note was so
upbeat and it was obvious he was happy with his choice. He had also
purchased a used Honda CR-V that was already almost ready to tow as it
had been owned by an RVer. Gustav named his motorhome "Lucky" because
he felt very lucky to be in the USA with a one year visa, and he named
his Honda "Happy" because he was very happy to be here. It was obvious
he was thrilled to be moving toward his goal of touring the USA.
November 26 to
November 28: Winter Garden, Florida (131 miles)
RV parking lot
Our plan was to go to the Escapees (SKP) RV Resort in Wachula to visit
with several friends who were there and to play some golf. Those plans
changed when we
noticed three problems that needed to be tended to with the motorhome.
We noticed some water occasionally spraying out from the back of the
toilet, there was water dripping from the shower faucet when it was
turned off, and the water pump was leaking.
We thought it best to move our December 3rd appointment up a week and
have these things looked at as we tend to get a bit paranoid when we
see water where there isn't supposed to be water.
We knew that Gustav was probably still there after taking delivery of
his new Newmar Ventana motorhome the previous Friday. He was very
surprised and elated to see us again. Lots of hugs and chatting about
his new motorhome and car.
Independence RV has always been good to us when we have come in for
service, mostly routine maintenance. Todd Simpson is the service
manager and runs a well organized and quality shop. I had called him
and he said it would be okay to come in early and he would squeeze us
in to fix the problems. It was Monday when we arrived and on Tuesday
all the problems were fixed. I watched the service tech, Jeff, do the
work and he was very adept and fast. He diagnosed the spraying water
from the back of the toilet as a defective vacuum tube assembly and he
put a new faucet on the shower. He had both of those done in about half
an hour. The water pump was a bit trickier given it's location but he
installed a new one in about half an hour.
While we were waiting, we spent more time with Gustav who, by now, was
in heaven with his new purchases. He needed some help with getting the
right equipment to put on the Honda so it could be towed and with
getting set up with DirecTV. Both of those efforts took a lot of time,
including a trip to the Camping World in Kissimmee. He had to special
order some adapter brackets from Roadmaster to merge with the Blue Ox
tow bar he purchased.
DirecTV was another problem. Gustav tried to set up an account online
and got all the way to the end where it asked him for a social security
number. That was a dead stop as he had no social security number. He
told me about the problem the next day
and I offered to call DirecTV to help him get set up. It turned out
that they would set up an account for him without a social security
number, but he had to put down a deposit, which was not a problem for
him. So we got that done.
Diane and I stayed an extra day at Independence to hang with Gustav and
see if there were any other things where we could help. On Tuesday,
another couple was looking around at motorhomes. They were Peter and
Elisabeth Blaser from Horgen, Switzerland. Gustav met them first and
introduced us. I told them that we knew Horgen because we have friends
who lived in Wollerau where we vacationed this past summer, and our
friend's brother lived in Horgen. What a
small world. That evening, Gustav invited Diane and I, the Blasers, and
a couple of sales people who helped him with the purchase of his
motorhome to have some snacks and a drink of champagne. It was Gustav's
first party. Afterwards, Diane and I along with the Blasers and Gustav
went out to eat and had a lovely evening. Peter and Elisabeth also had
a desire to spend more time traveling around the USA. However, they
were a bit younger and still working where Peter is an oral surgeon and
owns his practice.
We had a very pleasant surprise while we were at Independence when we
saw Jim and Mary Harpold come in for maintenance on their Dutch Star.
We saw Jim at the Escapade in Indiana in September, but we hadn't seen
Mary for quite some time. It was great to see them again, albeit for
just a short time.
With everything done that needed to be taken care of, we decided that
we would backtrack and go to Wachula for a week. We usually don't
backtrack, but there were four couples in the area with whom we wanted
November 29 to
December 5: Wachula, Florida (91 miles)
conditions: SR 50; US 27; SR
The Resort Florida
SKP Co-Op This is one of our favorite SKP Co-Ops to visit.
Nice concrete pads and full hookups. However, they were having trouble
with the WiFi as they did when we were there in the spring. By the time
we left, though, they had a tech support person come look at their
network and I was able to get on reliably for the last two days we were
As I said, we usually don't backtrack, but we really wanted to visit
with everyone. There were the Andruses (Paul and Diane), the Eberlys
(Bob and Donna), the Ackermans (Dick and Kay), and the Hendersons
(Dennis and Cindy).
What brought us first to this area were our friends, Paul and Diane
Andrus, who we met before we purchased our motorhome. They were
fulltimers for about two and a half years before settling in Sebring.
Both are avid golfers and where they live is perfect for them. Plus,
they are also world travelers and we have a great time talking about
their trips. This year they went to China and then to France on a barge
of the big draws for me to come visit is to get to play the two golf
courses with Paul at Sun n Lakes where they live. However, I managed to
hurt my back while in Port St. Lucie and it wasn't healing as fast as
it had in the past. So there was no golf to be played and I was very
disappointed about that, for sure.
We met Dennis and Cindy Henderson one winter when we stayed at the
Encore park in Crystal River. If you've been following our travelogs
you may remember that we visited with them in June up in Pennsylvania
where they were workamping. Our paths weren't going to cross for a
while until I got a note from Cindy saying they would be staying at a
new campground (Torrey Oaks) where the owners were selling RV lots and
the Hendersons were going to help with some public relations tasks.
That meant I had a chance to get a round of golf in with Dennis. Sadly,
no golf for me this week.
We have known the Eberlys and Ackermans since back in 2000 when we met
at the RVAMERICA forum's Y2K party in Harlingen, Texas, although we
"knew" each other from the forum for some time before that. They have
been coming to the state park in Bowling Green, which is just north of
Wachula, for the past several years to workamp over the winter. We
usually get together for a meal, and Diane and I get out to play a
round of golf with Bob and Donna at the Torrey Oaks course next to the
Dick had some great news to share. He was in Vietnam during the early
years of the war and fought at the battle of Ia Drang Valley. The movie
"We Were Soldiers" with Mel Gibson tells that story. Dick's unit fought
in a battle after the time portrayed in the movie and they lost more
a few hours than the unit depicted in the movie lost over several days.
The latter battle was kind of pushed under the rug because of the
severe loss of life, which meant that there was no recognition for
service during that battle. Dick was proud to show us the Bronze Star
he was awarded with a "V" device for valor during combat. It was
unfortunate that it took 42 years for the government to recognize
actions taken during the Vietnam War. Dick talks about it on his website.
night at the Elks Lodge was always fun when we went there with
the Eberlys and Ackermans. We were able to get everyone, ten of us,
together for an evening of eating, drinking, laughing, and camaraderie.
common link was Diane and me as we knew everyone else. Now everyone
knows everyone else. It was a fun evening.
Diane and I were able to go over to Paul and Diane's house one more
time and then out for dinner. We chatted about our plans for 2008. We
plan to go west and tour British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies over
the summer. Paul and Diane had a trip planned to go to Turkey that
sounded exciting. We all want to do an African safari and maybe one day
we'll be able to pull that off and do it together.
Towards the end of our stay at The Resort I got a call from Dirk
Harrington who was going to pass through on his way to Fort Myers. He
stopped at The Resort and we had a nice visit. We hadn't seen Dirk
since we hooked up in Indiana.
We also heard from Gustav that Peter and Elisabeth purchased the last
Newmar Ventana that Independence RV had on their lot. They will get to
travel in their new rig until early January when they will put it in
storage to go back to Switzerland. Then they plan to return to more
extensive traveling around the USA in the spring.
Lake City, Florida (244 miles)
conditions: SR 64; SR 62; CR
39; SR 674; I-75; I-10
n Pines RV Campground
was just an overnight stop on the way to Douglasville for the holidays
and to spend a short visit with Diane's brother, Jerry.
December 7 to December
Douglasville, Georgia (307 miles)
conditions: I-10; I-75;
I-285; Camp Creek Parkway; SR 92
Flying J in Lake Park, Georgia for $3.189
The three weeks we spent in Douglasville seemed to fly by. Highlights,
or course, were to visit with kids and grandkids and hook up with our
former neighbor (Ron Tarlton) and my former colleague (Carolyn Green).
This visit to Georgia was even more special this time because we were
finally able to cross paths with a high school friend and neighbor of
mine, JoAnne Morreale, which is how I knew her as we were growing up in
Levittown, Long Island. The last time we saw her was at my 40th
high school reunion in 2001. Her husband, Rich, wasn't there so we
didn't get to meet him. Now
she is JoAnne Hintze and they were in the process of having a
house built and moving to the Atlanta area where their
two kids and two grandkids live.
We got to visit with them twice over the three weeks. JoAnne and I had
a great time talking about our times at Island Trees High School, and
we all enjoyed getting to know each other. JoAnne was also friends with
Frank Pesile and remembered his singing when we were in school. We all
were in some of the same classes and we all went to the same church. I
surprised JoAnne by showing her the DVD of Frank singing at the
assisted living facility and she loved it. She was even more surprised
when I told her that the copy I was playing was hers to keep. Sadly,
she told me that the DVD wouldn't play properly on another computer or
DVD player, and that was disappointing. Unfortunately, there are
incompatibilities between these machines that prevent them from being
portable from machine to machine. I made a second copy for her and
suggested she keep them both and try them on different machines.
The two visits seemed to go very quickly and there always seemed like
more to talk about after the visits ended. We wished them luck and good
fortune with their new home. Our plans for 2008 have us being out west
most of the year after the winter so we wouldn't be back to Georgia
until September or October. By then, Rich and JoAnne will be settled
into their home and neighborhood and we will definitely go visit with
them. Unfortunately, I can be a dunce at times and I never got a photo
of Rich and JoAnne, so I've asked her to send me one when she gets a
chance and then I'll update this travelog and photo page.
The rest of our time in Douglasville was spent shopping for Christmas,
walking around the Arbor Place Mall in the mornings, and relaxing with
tea and cappuccino in the Borders store. Before we knew it, the time
had come to leave and head south for the winter. We planned to leave on
Sunday, but we awoke to heavy rain and decided to stay another day.
Monday was foggy, but it broke by mid morning and the drive was great.
We settled in at the Oaks n Pines Campground and went out for an early
New Years Eve dinner with Diane's brother, Jerry and his wife Janet.
Diane and I have never been big New Year's Eve folks so we did what we
usually do and brought in the new year by watching TV and seeing the
ball drop in
Oaks n Pines has a great cable system with HD stations, so we decided
to stay there for New Year's Day to enjoy some bowl games in HD. We
left on January 2 and made a stop at Independence RV to have a small
water leak in the shower taken care of before going to the Encore Lake
Magic RV Resort where we will stay until April 1.
Diane and I hope everyone had a great 2007 and will have a better 2008.
For those of you who are still working, but dreaming and/or planning to
hit the road as fulltimers, we hope the time passes quickly for you so
you can enjoy this lifestyle. We can't begin to tell you how much
better we have loved this lifestyle for the past almost eight years
over living in a house. We have more contact and social situations now
than we ever did when living in a house, and that seems to be the case
with just about all other fulltimers we have met along the way. That's
not to say that we won't ever own a house again. We probably will. But,
for the past eight years, and foreseeable future, this is the lifestyle
Take care and HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Until next time, safe
Copyright © 2008,
Roaming America with Rich &
Diane Emond -
All Rights Reserved