A Very Cold Winter
(January 1 to June 1, 2010)

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January 1 to April 21: Port St. Lucie, Florida

Route:  N/A -
Winter location

Campground:  Port St. Lucie RV Resort   The sites are tight, and the prices are high in winter, but this is really the only RV park in town other than the Outdoor Resorts. As gorgeous as the Outdoor Resorts park is, it is targeted at folks with very deep pockets. Monthly rates there top out around $1,500.

We now spend our winters in Port St. Lucie to be close to where my mom lives in an assisted living facility. It's about 10 miles away from the RV park. My brother lives about a mile and a half from the park. Between us we try to make sure our mom is visited at least four times during the week.

The first thing to mention is that this was the coldest winter we have experienced. It was, of course, cold all over the country, but unusually cold for Florida. That kept folks indoors more than in past winters.

This winter at the RV park we met several folks who also return to the park every winter. Most were snowbirds and a couple were fulltimers. Diane, especially, made some good friends in the park and the ladies were pretty active with visiting each other and getting out to lunch.

My saga with the pain caused by a back problem continued after the trip to Phoenix for the holidays. I decided to see an orthopedic doctor who concurred with the spinal stenosis diagnosis I got while in Atlanta. The problem was caused by a synovial cyst on the spine. This doctor suggested another epidural, but said that if it didn't work his recommendation would be surgery. Fusion surgery. Screws and whatever else he could put in the spine. That didn't set well with me because a neurosurgeon I saw in Atlanta told me that the L4/L5 area didn't show any instability so fusion probably wasn't necessary. A surgery with fusion is much harder to recover from. I decided to go ahead with the epidural and also to find a neurosurgeon.

The first step was the neurosurgeon and I found a guy in Jupiter that I felt comfortable with. He looked at all the MRI and Xray data and said he wouldn't suggest fusion. Rather he would do microsurgery to try and remove, or lessen, the cyst. Sounded like a good idea to me so I won't be going back to the orthopedic guy.

The next step was the epidural. It turned out the doctor I went to graduated from the same college I did in New York (SUNY Brockport) before going to medical school. He did the epidural and I could tell he was much more aggressive with the needle than the doctor in Atlanta. The pain level dropped from 4-5 to 0-1 within a week and to zero by the second week. The neurosurgeon had told me that if I remained pain free for six weeks I could try golfing. Well, I gave it five weeks and played golf with my brother. No pain. It was getting late in the season so I only got to play five times, but no pain. As I write this travelogue in August it has been seven months since the epidural and it seems to be holding so far as I don't have the pain I had before. So far, so good.

My niece, Michelle, came down to visit her father for St. Patrick's Day. Diane and I joined her and my brother for a St. Patty's Day meal and outing at a local Irish pub. What a hoot. They had a ring set up for some wrestlers to do their thing. Too funny. In one tag team match there was a woman and a man who were in pretty good shape. Their opponents were a short guy and a woman who had to be almost seven feet tall. What an Amazon. I've never seen a man or woman that tall before. Obviously, she and her partner won the wrestling match. It was a fun evening.

The other thing of note was that we looked at some houses while we were down there. We have been feeling a bit of a pull to having a more permanent and larger place, probably me more than Diane. I noticed a housing area close to the RV park and it was made up of 56 duplex units. Very nice two bedroom units with either a one car or two car garage. Nice landscaping. They were very expensive at one time, but the housing market had dropped the prices substantially. We looked at three units that were on the market and seriously thought about buying one. However, the same weekend we looked at the units our friends Mike and Jeannie at the RV park hosted a pig roast with some 60-70 people from the park in attendance.

At one point I said to Diane that if we were to buy a place to live in for the winter she would lose her friends at the RV park. It's also very clear to us that the social life and camaraderie amongst RVers is much better than with neighbors in a housing development. It's very interesting that even the snowbirds who come down to the park have said they don't socialize with their neighbors in the same way they do with their neighbors at the RV park. It's just the way it goes. So as Diane and I were sitting together at one point during the pig roast I asked her if she'd prefer a house that offers more space, but less social life, or "this" as I pointed to all the people around us. She said "this" and that told me that we weren't ready to come off the road. Yes, we did pass up the $8,000 that we would have gotten for qualifying as first time home owners, but it wouldn't have been a good move for us.

All in all it was an enjoyable winter season and we look forward to getting down there again in November.

April 22 to April 25: Cocoa Beach, Florida (107 miles)

Route:  US 1; local roads

Campground:  on a friend's property

When we get the chance to go up the coast we know we can contact our RV friend who owns a hotel along A1A. He allows us to park behind the hotel where he has a couple of 50-amp power outlets for when he and his brother park their motorhomes there. We made contact and he said it would be great to stop there and visit with he and his wife. We spent four days there and the weather was great each day. We got to sit out on the beach and walk along the water's edge. What a life.

We also got to visit with our friends who live at The Great Outdoors in Titusville, Bill and Martha Verity. It's always nice to seen them when we get to that area.

April 26 to April 27: Ocala, Florida (219 miles)

Route:  I-95; FL 40

Campground:  Onan CoachCare parking lot

This was a two day stop to get our generator serviced and to check on my mom's house that is still on the market. It has been extremely hard to sell houses in this horrible housing market, especially in Florida.

April 28 to April 30: Lake City, Florida (83 miles)

Route:  I-75; I-10

Campground:  Oaks n Pines RV Park

We almost always get to spend a couple of days in Lake City to visit with Diane's brother and his wife as we move north.

May 1: Macon, Georgia (288 miles)

Route:  I-75; I-475

Campground:  WalMart parking lot

Fuel:  Flying J in Valdosta, GA for $2.979

Just an overnight stop.

May 2 to June 1: Cumming, Georgia (112 miles)

Route: I-75; I-675; I-285; GA 400; local roads

Campground:  Twin Lakes   This campground was built in 1976 by Lamar Pendley and is still owned and operated by the family. There is a catch and release pond on the property with RV sites in the trees as well as in the open. We got a site for the month near the office that allowed us to use our dish.

Fuel:  Flying J in Jackson, GA for $3.029

Ever since we went on the road fulltime in 2000 we have parked in our daughter Jill's driveway in Douglasville when we were back in the Atlanta area. However, we have lost that parking spot recently due to Jill and Chris having moved to Corinth, Mississippi. There aren't any good campground choices around the Atlanta area, but we found one in Cumming that may work for us when we are in the area.

As usual, we scheduled appointments with our doctor and dentist and spent time visiting with the kids and grandkids. Jill and Chris drove in from Mississippi to celebrate her two kids' birthdays. April turned 21 and Richard turned 19. One night we went to Buca di Beppo for a family dinner.

After a month in Cumming we hit the road for our summer travels. As we departed we had no plans for the summer. All we knew was that we would head up to the Newmar factory and Spartan factory and see what developed. Our initial thought was that we might tour more of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Until next time, safe travels.....

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