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(January 1 to June 6, 2009)
This travelog wraps up our winter and takes us up to Douglasville,
Georgia for the graduation of our grandson, Richard.
January 1: Chandler,
This was our last day of the first time we got to spend the Christmas
holidays with Diane's sister, Carol, and family. We had a great
time. It is always so easy to be around Carol, Kevin and family
(Jenny, Justine, Jeff). We watched some bowl games and snacked
on lots of leftover stuff, including more of the baked goods Carol and
the girls made the week before Christmas. Diane and I look forward to
having another opportunity to spend Christmas in Arizona.
January 2 to February
5: Port St Lucie, Florida
via Delta Airlines
Our trip back to Florida was uneventful and stress free. Actually, I
flew more than a million miles with Delta and found that, for the most
part, I am a very relaxed traveler. It helps that I like airports and
people watching, so long waits usually don't bother me. Diane and I
that only once was our luggage lost and that was on a trip to Buenos
Aires when we didn't have our luggage for three days. Even then it
wasn't stressful. We claimed our $50 each from Delta and bought some
necessities and waited for the luggage to arrive.
Back in Florida we got back into a routine of staying in Charlie's
house. That was working out fine as we all have similar tastes in TV
shows and food. Of course, Diane and I continued to take in at least
one movie per week and had no trouble keeping up with the ones we
wanted to see.
Unfortunately, my mom had an incident in January when Charlie took her
to see a movie and she slipped and fell in the lady's room. It turned
out to be a stress fracture in her lower back that put her in a brace
and a wheelchair. She wasn't very happy about that.
We went over to the storage facility where our Dutch Star was parked to
check it out and immediately saw that the refrigerator door
had broken on the upper swivel point and was hanging. It turned out
that the door was not repairable with any replacement parts from
Dometic. So due to a piece of plastic breaking it would be necessary to
buy a new door or to figure out a way to rig it so the door would open
and close and not fall off the hinge. Some research on RV sites yielded
a potential solution that looked like it would work. However, Bob Ward
in North Carolina saw one of my posts on the Newmar Owners Yahoo Group
and contacted me.
After trading a few notes I found out that his fridge had conked out
and he had to buy a new one. He said we were welcome to the door on his
old fridge, which was the same model we have.
As luck would have it, Bob and his wife were going to Florida to
Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach. That gave us a great opportunity
to go up there to visit our friends, David and Bonnie Spain, and Bill
and Martha Verity (Titusville). We got the motorhome out of storage and
went to Cocoa Beach for a long weekend. Bob said he would be glad to
bring the door down with him and give it to us. The RV community stays
in touch via forums and rallies and lots of friendships, and everyone
is always willing to help out.
A huge highlight for us this month was being able to see one of our
favorite groups, Kodo, perform in West Palm Beach. They are a group of
taiko drummers from Japan and this was the fifth time I've seen them,
and the fourth time for Diane. I asked my friend, Frank, if he wanted
to go and he came with us. As usual, it was a great, high energy
concert, and it was a lot of fun watching Frank see them for the first
time and be awed at some of the drumming.
February 6 to February
8: Cocoa Beach, Florida (101 miles)
I-95; local roads; A1A
a friend's property
It was nice to be back in Cocoa Beach within view of the ocean. Dave
and Linda were in Brooksville at an FMCA rally but got home in time on
Sunday for us to go out for a meal and have a nice visit.
We also got to visit with our friends Bill and Martha Verity over a
nice lunch in Cocoa.
On the way out on Monday we stopped in a big parking lot near Patrick
AFB and met Bob Ward. He brought the door with him and was very kind to
help me get it installed on our fridge. We were very grateful for the
door and the help.
February 9 to February
28: Port St. Lucie, Florida (101 miles)
A1A; I-95; local roads
Back in Port St Lucie it was more time to relax; play golf with Charlie
and my high school friend, Frank Pesile; do some repairs on the
motorhome; go to the movies; visit my mom; and sometimes just do
March 1 to April 14:
Port St. Lucie, Florida
PSL RV Resort and Outdoor Resorts St
Lucie West Motorcoach Resort
Flying J in Fort Pierce, Florida for $2.389
Charlie was having company come to town to visit him during the month
of March so we had to get our rig out of storage and find a campground.
The remainder of our time in Port St Lucie was spent at the Outdoor
Resorts and the PSL RV Resort. Outdoor Resorts is a luxury RV resort
that we have been to, but only with a coupon for discounted or free
nights. The rates at luxury RV resorts are way out of our price range.
However, we wanted to stay until mid April so we had to bite the bullet
and pay the price. It turned out that the Outdoor Resorts was having a
special over the winter for half price, which made it about the same as
the PSL RV resort. So we stayed at the Outdoor Resorts park for a month
and then moved over to the PSL RV Resort when we could get 14 days at
the discounted Passport America price.
During this time frame, our niece (Charlie's daughter), Michelle, came
down from New York for a long weekend. We got to go see a Mets game,
and parked right across the street from the stadium in the lot where
our motorhome was stored. Very convenient. It was nice to see Michelle
again and we had a nice time visiting with her.
My mother's 86th birthday was towards the end of our stay and, as luck
would have it, Frank was scheduled to sing at the assisted living
facility where my mom lives. She enjoyed the attention and Frank lead
everyone in a happy birthday song for her.
While at Outdoor Resorts we met Harold Parry who was parked next to us.
He was from South Wales and was traveling with his daughter, Hannah,
who had recently graduated from the university. We had several nice
chats about Wales and their travels in the USA. They were heading to
Denver where Hannah was to catch a return flight to Great Britain.
April 15 to April 21:
Orlando, Florida (138 miles)
I-95; US 192
Lake Magic RV Resort
It was finally time to hit the road again. We were having, as they say
in the RV community, "itchy tires". We had to get up to Douglasville to
take care of medical visits and get ready for the graduation of
grandkid #2, Richard.
The first stop was at one of our favorite parks, Lake Magic in
Clermont. After we got set up we went out to Chili's for a bite to eat
and then decided to drive up to the Citrus Valley RV Resort where we
knew some friends of ours that we met at Lake Magic had purchased an RV
lot. They also traded in their Dutch Star for an Essex, which is a high
end luxury RV.
We met Guy and Carmen during one of our first winters at Lake Magic.
from the Montreal area and had their 1998 Dutch Star painted by
Precision Painting. We liked their paint job and opted for the same
design with different colors. It was lucky we decided to drive up there
because they were leaving the next day and we would have missed them.
We found their lot and rig. They invited us in and gave us a tour of
their new Essex and we had a nice visit.
At Lake Magic we stopped to say hi to Chuck and Linda Dombrow whom we
have known for several years. Chuck had worked at Disney World again,
so we made plans for a round of golf the next day at one of the DW
courses while Diane and Linda went shopping.
It's rare that I tout a
but if you are ever in the Orlando area (around the Encore park), a
drive to Manny's Original Chop House in Haines City is a must.
We've heard about the restaurant, including the wait times that could
2+ hours. We don't wait
more than about 30 minutes to eat. Chuck said that they will
allow same day call ins to get on the list. Our wait was about 15
minutes after we
They had two specials going: a one pound T-Bone and a one pound NY
Strip. Diane and I split a strip steak and got an extra baked
potato. The salad with garlic ranch dressing was very good.
The rolls with cinnamon butter were delicious. The steak was
cooked to perfection. The cost for the one pounder was
$15.99. Now that we know you can call ahead, we would go back to
Manny's. It's on US 27 in Haines City.
My cousin, Dawn, lived in the area, so we made plans to hook up with
her for a meal and visit while catching up on what family members were
April 22 to April 23:
Ocala, Florida (78 miles)
US 27; SR 44; I-75
Prairie State Forest
My mom's house has been on the market for almost two years and is
nearly impossible to sell these days due to the bubble bursting on the
housing market and the deep recession. Too many houses, not enough
buyers. We decided to stop in Ocala for a couple of days to check out
the house and have Terminix come in and do a pest control and termite
inspection and treatment.
It was also a good time to have our generator serviced at the Ocala
Onan Coach Care facility.
Then it was back on the road.
to April 26:
Lake City, Florida (98 miles)
I-75; I-10; US 441
Oaks n Pines RV Park
It is common for us to stop in Lake City on the way in, and the way
out, of Florida to visit with Diane's brother, Jerry. They get to catch
up on things and we always get out for at least one meal, this time to
We pulled into the campground and started noticing a lot of Newmar RVs.
It turned out to be a Newmar Sandpipers Chapter Rally. We met a few of
the folks during our stay. They invited us to their pot luck, but we
were always busy visiting with Jerry and Janet.
to May 8:
Summerdale, Alabama (333 miles)
I-75; I-10; US 441
and Linda Payne's buddy pad
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, but the time finally came
for the penultimate couple of our little RV group to come off the road
as fulltimers. There
were several couples who knew each other and started fulltiming within
months of each other in the 1999/2000 time frame. One by one they
switched from fulltimers to fulltime house owners or part time RVers.
The Paynes and we continued fulltiming. Now Diane and I find ourselves
as the last ones left out of that group who are still fulltiming now
that the Paynes have built a house and switched to being reverse
snowbirds. Their house is located at Rainbow Plantation, which is one
of the Escapees RV Club Rainbow Parks located in Summerdale, Alabama.
Diane and I decided to go to Atlanta via Summerdale. Not exactly the
straightest and shortest route, but we wanted to visit with Norm and
Linda and see their new house. As it turned out, Peter and Christiane
E. were going to be there for a few of the days we would be there.
They arrived a few hours before we did and were already parked in
Norm's RV spot. He put in two full hookup sites, one for his Dutch
Star, and a buddy pad. Since Norm and Linda were living in the house,
he decided to move his rig to the front of the house and just run a
120V cord out to it to keep the batteries charged. That allowed the E.
and us to have full hookups. It looked like a Newmar Dutch Star
rally with three of them parked in the yard.
With no water restrictions it was great to be able to wash the
motorhome and car. It's a good thing I got it done before we headed up
to Douglasville where there were still severe water restrictions.
We had never been to Gulf Shores, so we all went down there one day for
lunch at Lulu's, which happens to be owned by Jimmy Buffet's sister. It
was located along a river with a good view of the yachts and barges
passing by. Lunch was okay, but nothing special. On the way home we all
agreed we would stop at Cold Stone Creamery for dessert and then
Starbuck's for a coffee/tea. It was one of those great days visiting
with friends whom we hadn't seen for a while over lunch and snacks and
good weather, at least the day we went out for lunch. One other day had
torrential rain which flooded roads and the Payne's yard. Of course, it
was the day Diane and I were going off to see the movie "Wolverine". We
had to run through almost shin high water to get to the car. By the
time we came
out of the movie the rain had stopped and the water had receded. I
hadn't seen so much rain in years.
Peter and Christiane left after five days, so we all saw them off that
day. A week later we headed out for the drive to Douglasville. We said
our good-byes not knowing when we would see each other again and a bit
sad that we lost our fulltiming buddies.
May 9 to
June 6: Douglasville, Georgia (332 miles)
SR 59; I-65; I-85; local roads
Flying J in Hope Hull, Alabama for $2.109
As is usual for our visits to Douglasville, we took care of medical
visits with doctors and dentists, went to see several movies, did our
morning walks at the Arbor Place Mall followed by tea/cappucino in
Borders, and relaxed. This visit was important because it was time for
graduation of our grandson, Richard, from high school.
It rained just about every day on the few days prior to the graduation
but graduation night was clear and pleasant. It was a very nice
ceremony. The graduating class had ELEVEN 4.0 students. Wow. They also
noted students who had never missed a day of school. They started with
those who had perfect attendance records for seven years and went all
the way up to one student who had perfect attendance for TWELVE years.
That's an incredible achievement. Like don't they ever get sick?
That wraps up the first part of 2009. It feels good to be on the road
again. Last year we put a lot of miles on the motorhome at a time of
high fuel costs. The goal this year is to be very frugal and put 5,000
miles or less on the rig. So we will travel to the Hudson Valley in New
York to see family and friends and then tour the states in our path as
we head back to the south. We haven't really toured Virginia, so that
is high on our list.
There were times when I didn't have my camera and had to use old photos
for the Family and Friends section. Sorry about that.
Until next time, safe
Copyright © 2008,
Roaming America with Rich &
Diane Emond -
All Rights Reserved