Dreamstreamr's Journal,
January - March, 2008

This is the illustrated journal of our third quarter-year of Dreamstreaming around North America, Jan - Mar 2008

We describe our current month's travels in our
Journal page, and everything older we store in quarterly pages. This keeps the archive files easier for you to load. Thanks for your interest -- let us know your comments anytime at as4822@gmail.com.

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March 31, 2008
A tremendous rain hammered Melbourne for hours last night, yet except the drain gulley along the park's fenceline there is no water standing this morning. Our chairs, stashed under the camper, were partly wet so we set them out and they dried very quickly. Jim played nine holes with a friend of a friend at a very small local course. The course seemed to have six or seven par threes, the rest were par fours. Nice, inexpensive, made for walking, crowded, and seemingly common here. They had a good time. Deb registered us in this park for two weeks. It's nice to stay a little while and not feel we have to hurry off anywhere.

An email today advised us Tom and Mary Deeney, the inspirators for our adventure are shareholders in this park. We located their names on the locator board and walked to their house. We had a nice long chat and told them they are responsible for our having adopted this lifestyle.

We watched Good Will Hunting this evening with a dinner of popcorn followed by brownies and ice cream. We're in training for tomorrow, our Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center adventure.

March 30, 2008
Many snowbirds from this RV park have already turned north. They cleaned and vacuumed the RV, inserted reflective foil in their RV's windows, and secured the windows and doors. Hurricane tie-down bolts are snugged, hoses and cords are stowed, and the cars are filled with the migratory needs to hold the snowbirds until they return next October or November. A very few RVers, apparently, stay in the park year-round. Their expenses are lower than if they maintained two (or more) households. They have lower property taxes and maintenance costs and might not spend as much gas trekking north to south and back annually. The park benefits from the full-time residents, too. The full-time residents provide the local neighborhood watch while their friends are absent.

We started planning for next Winter's rental sites for our rolling home. We learned these last two months, with dismay but without surprise, we must plan ahead to obtain quality camping sites during Florida's peak Winter season. Therefore we now have State Park beach campground reservations for a few weeks next Winter in St Augustine and near Flagler. We'll arrange a few more places if we want to stay in high demand areas.

Today we sought the flea market a neighbor suggested for fresh produce. We didn't follow directions well and found ourselves heading north on a route we had entered town two days ago. Jim had accidentally broken our table-top gas grill (knocking the gas regulator/valve onto the ground and breaking the internal works) so we needed either a new grill or a replacement part. We saw the Home Depot and started looking for grills. We already searched the internet for models and prices. When we found a Weber at half-price at Home Depot we thought the search was over. Wrong!

This one was half-price because it lacked a box, owners manual, and a regulator/valve (the same part we are missing). Search again. We found a $25 (cheapest one Home Depot had) tabletop gas grill and took it home. Our old grill has a porcelain-finish grill rack, is more compact than the new one, and only needed a new regulator. Jim took the burner assembly as well as the new handles from the new grill and installed these on the old grill. We tried it out tonight on two marinated chicken breasts and the grill works as well as new.

March 28, 2008
Today we arrived in Melbourne, FL after a slow 90 mile drive from Ormond Beach, travelling down US1. We saw a lot of "old Florida" and enjoyed it. US1 just seems to typify Florida with its pastel stucco buildings and flatness, palm trees, and old mobile home/rv parks dotted along the side of the highway. Land Yacht Harbor RV Park PictureWe are in Land Yacht Harbor RV Park, a park built in the 1970's by Airstreamers who all volunteered their time and labor to create a refuge away from town and yet close enough to the amenities and beaches.

The park has 304 rv sites of which one sixth are allowed, per the by-laws, to be non-Airstream. The clubhouse has an assembly hall for almost three hundred occupants with a stage, a kitchen, a library, a meeting/bridge/classroom, and office spaces. The obligatory shuffleboard and clothes drying yards are centrally located. Lawn service is provided and is nicely done. Palm trees dot the park at almost every rv.

Land Yacht Harbor Fountain PictureLand Yacht Harbor lacks some of the extra buildings on each rv site we have seen in some RV parks. We've visited some RV parks containing cabanas or lanais, each owner's is a little grander than the neighbor's. We expect the cabanas will reach two-story proportions before long. Here instead each site has a shed and each shed appears to be almost identical in size, configuration, and exterior color. The RVer can do what they want inside the 8' X 8' shed, but the outsides are uniform. No other structure is built upon the sites. The result at Land Yacht Harbor is eye-pleasing in simplicity -- a little pavement, an array of small neat sheds, a lot of grass and palm trees, and an interesting collection of Airstreams with a few other brands mixed in.

March 27, 2008
We stopped and viewed the more than 300 year old Fairchild Oak PictureFairchild Live Oak on our way to Bulow Plantation. The tree is magnificent, spreading out perhaps one hundred feet with limbs as large as the Dilworth neighborhood old oak trees' trunks. Bulow Plantation was the largest sugar cane mill in Florida in the 1820s and until 1836 when the Seminoles destroyed the plantation by burning during the second Seminole war. John Bulow had 1,000 acres of sugar cane plus cotton, rice, and indigo in a very successful plantation.Bulow Plantation Picture

The coquina ruins still clearly show the largess of the mill. Exhibits display what the complete mill would have looked like, based upon extant mills in southern Louisiana. We travelled down A1A to return to our campground and stopped by Gamble Rogers State Park, perched along the old highway and right above the beach with gorgeous views out to the ocean. The best sites reserve eleven months ahead of time but we'll find a way to get in sometime later this year.

Debbie worked at Carolinas HealthCare System with Lois Seay and knew Lois and her husband, Al, moved to Ormond Beach. Debbie and Lois were good friends before Lois retired and we were eager to catch up with them again. We gave them a call and arranged to meet them and go out to dinner. They live in a gorgeous house in a large gated community not far from our campground. When Al and Lois decided to leave Charlotte for Ormond they searched really hard for this house. The house was worth the effort. It has soaring ceilings, tall windows, and a wonderful open feeling. We spent the entire evening sitting on the lanai near their pool.

The temperature was perfect and a steady soft breeze kept the air moving. We talked for hours, broken briefly for super hamburgers Lois cooked up. The visit was very enjoyable. We loved talking with them and look forward to seeing Al and Lois again.

March 24,2008
Our drive pulling the trailer today was all of 54 beautiful miles down A1A, at the recommendation of an Airstreamer we met in St Augustine. He was right -- it was a neat drive looking at lots of water and many beach houses which somehow have weathered countless hurricanes through the houses' more than seventy years on these dunes. Do you suppose this is due to the large number of the houses built of masonry construction? We arrived in Tomoka State Park before lunch, and are so lucky we found this. Tomoka State Park PictureThe campsite is neat, surrounded with palms and live oaks, sheltered from wind, but gets nice sunlight most of the day. We had a long walk this evening, then a cup of tea, before dinner. Deb cooked some potatoes, asparagus and I grilled a chicken breast for us.

We'll stay here this week and explore the area. There are some ruins very nearby from early plantation settlements. The weather isn't really warm enough to stay long on the beach so we'll probably save the beaches until another month or so. Tonight the low is 47F, our high today was around 71F. Super pleasant and not really calling us to cool off in the ocean at all. Maybe we should extend to two weeks?

March 23, 2008
Easter in St Augustine was very nice. We awoke at 0500 hrs to the alarm clock, brushed up and dresssed, ate a quick snack breakfast Easter Sunrise at Castillo San Marco Pictureand left the camper at 0530 hrs to get in line with the other caravanners enroute to the sunrise service at Castillo de San Marcos. The Airstreamers were an hour early. Well hey! We had great parking and being early is such an Airstream Club kind of thing to do anyway. We celebrated a cloudy sunrise with a bright Ascension service on the lawn of the 350 year old fort, overlooking Matanzas Bay. We joined friends from Eugene, Oregon for breakfast before returning to St Johns County Fairgrounds for our easter egg hunt. Have you ever seen a bunch of senior retirees (not necessarily a redundancy) scrambling for coin-filled plastic eggs? These 420 eggs were not too well hidden on two acres of field in the fair grounds, and it took no time at all for us to recover the eggs. Jim scored $2, Deb found $1.40. Everyone had fun. The rally organizers provided a nice ham dinner early in the afternoon and everyone relaxed the rest of the day.

This has been one of the nicest rallies we have ever attended. The rally organizers provided food, entertainment, and recreation. Best of all this rally fomented fellowship amongst so many caravanners. We are scratching our heads, trying to identify the elements responsible for this strong asset, creating and cultivating solid opportunities for fellowship. The rally was not large at 58 units, or approximately 100 people. We always enjoy mixing with other attendees at rallies, but this time we seemed to find more connections than usual. Whatever it was, we really liked it and formed some wonderful friendships.

March 22, 2008
The day we had all been waiting for finally arrived -- the Saturday of the Olympic Games. We had each been assigned to a team when we registered and the teams had organization meetings at our first Social hour. We had worked on team uniforms and cheers all through the week with competition getting fiercer as the week progressed. We assembled in the main exhibition hall and each team paraded around the circle showing off their uniforms and cheers. White Team PromenadesWe competed in golf, discus throw, javelin, aqua relay, extinguishing the flame, basketball and bowling, although not as you traditionally think of these games. For example, bowling consisted of walking with a bowl balanced on your head and golf involved putting a potato around a 3-hole course. Needless to say, lots of fun and laughs was had by all. Winners were announced at dinner this evening and Deb's White team won first place -- must have been the hat or their rendition of "Play That Funky Music, White Boy" or the "Give me a "W" cheer where their cheerleader spelled white as W-H-I-E.

March 21, 2008
Back into St Augustine today for a tour of the Lightner Museum sometimes referred to as the "Smithsonian of the South". The museum is in the former Hotel Alcazar, built in 1887 by railroad magnate Henry M. Flagler. Music Box RoomChicago publisher, Otto C. Lightner, purchased the building to house his extensive collection of Victoriana in 1946 and opened the museum two years later. Three floors of costumes, furnishings, mechanical musical instruments and other artifacts give you a glimpse into 19th century daily life. The Lightner collection includes beautiful examples of cut glass, Victorian art glass and the stained glass work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. We enjoyed the architecture of the old hotel as much as the collection. There was a huge indoor pool with retractable roof, ballroom, spa and weight room. After we finished touring, we had a delightful lunch at Cafe Alcazar.

March 20, 2008
Today's big event was a boat tour of Matanzas Bay. We had rained all night long and we were wondering if the tour would be cancelled. The forecast was for clearing skies and warming temperatures so we rolled out of bed and got ready anyway. We were pleasantly surprised to see a large number of people showing up at the Mission of Nombre de Dios where we were parking again. The Red Train ferried us to the dock.

We decided to sit on the upper deck despite the chilly, wet weather. Castillo San MarcosAs predicted, the clouds cleared and we were rewarded with a beautiful sunny day. During the trip around the Matanzas Bay we saw the the Castillo de San Marcos, Mission of Nombre de Dios Cross, The Lighthouse and the Bridge of Lions restoration project in full swing.

Arriving back at the dock around 11:00 am, we decided to stay in town for lunch. Doug and Darlene Knecht recommended a local place called O'Steens. They had tried to go there previously but the lines were so long, they opted out. The four of us hurried over and at 11:15 and were the second party in line. After a 10 minute wait, we were seated. Fried shrimp is their speciality so we decided to try it. It was the best we have ever tasted, lightly battered, crisp and hot. Also, the list of vegetables was incredible. Having never had or even heard of creamed cabbage, we had to try it and it was wonderful as were the hushpuppies, tomatoes and their made-in-house pies. Yum! Note: They don't take credit cards so bring cash. Fortunately, you don't need much as our lunch was about $16 with tip.

The highlight of the evening's entertainment was Ellen from the Florida unit telling us the story of Flat Stanley. She had received Flat Stanley from her grandson and FS was to travel with her for a while. She would journal his travels on him before returning him. Unfortunately, FS fell overboard duing the Matanzas Bay cruise and Ellen thought he was lost forever. Not knowing how she would break the news of FS's demise to her grandson, Ellen prayed for a miracle. The tour boat returned to the dock and Ellen deboarded and began walking back to the Red Train. Then who do you think she saw? Flat Stanley had washed up on the shore by the dock. She was able to rescue him, dry him out and allow him to continue his sightseeing before being mailed back to her grandson.

March 19, 2008
The Old SenatorWe were up early today to line up for our trip into St Augustine to board the Red Train sightseeing trolleys. We were given an exclusive tour of historical St Augustine so that we could get oriented to the city. We cruised past the "Old Senator", a name affectionately given to a 600 year old live oak tree because it is very shady and crooked. Next on our tour was the Fountain of Youth and then on to downtown St Augustine. We hit all the famous spots and then were let off at the Mission of Nombre de Dios where we began the tour.

We jumped on the next regular Red Train and headed back to the heart of St Augustine, getting off at the Visitors Center near the old city gates. From here we toured the oldest wooden school, Waiter John at Columbia Restaurantoldest drug store, and other historic sites before stumbing onto the Columbia Restaurant. Fellow Airstreamers had mentioned this restaurant as a "must visit" for St Augustine and since it was lunch time we decided to stop in. We had a wonderful meal and enjoyed talking to John, our waiter. We asked him where the name Columbia came from and he went to find out. Shortly, the manager came to our table who was a member of the founding family and explained that the Columbia was the ship that the founders had sailed on from Cuba. This explained the Cuban menu items.

Our next stop was the Oldest House, also known as the Gonzalez-Alvarez House. Original room of the Oldest HouseWe had a guided tour of the house and then explored the complex which included a museum, the Tovar House and gardens. Next we sought out the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church. This was built by Henry Flagler in 1889 in memory of Jenny Louise Benedict, his daughter who died during childbirth. It was an amazing work of art, especially considering that it was completed in one year so that it could be dedicated on the anniversary of her death. We walked back along St George Street, famous for its restaurants, galleries, bakeries and shops. We resisted everything except the ice cream which allowed up to walk the 2 miles back to the Mission of Nombre de Dios where our truck was parked. After touring the grounds of the Mission, we headed back to St Johns fairgrounds to rest up before the evening's entertainment.

March 18, 2008
We arrived at St John County Fairgrounds in Elkton, 8 miles west of St Augustine, yesterday after a 75 mile drive. We'll stay here with fifty other Airstream trailers and motor homes for a week for the WBCCI Florida Unit's Easter Rally. Florida Unit has been putting this Rally on for over fifty years, I think, and we are glad to get to sample it. St Augustine is the first area in United States settled by Europeans, way back in the sixteenth century, I think. Last year we spent a few days here and visited Ripleys and Castillo de San Marcos. We plan to enjoy exploring some of the great museums and old buildings while we're here this week. The weather here is fantastic. Breezy 75 degree days with part-sun, and nights in the fifties with a bright moon and some clouds, no wind. Bugs aren't much of a factor so far and we hope it stays so this week. No wonder so many people find FL their home for the winter -- February and March have been super!

We had a free day until the 4 p.m. social. We hung around this morning not really doing much. Jim sprinkled fire ant-proofing around the tires and stabilizer jacks and enjoyed chatting with neighbors all around. Deb had some Carolinas Unit paperwork to process and file.  None of this feels very much like work -- we can pace ourselves so easily and do what we want and need to without rushing.Today was laundry day for us because we had two weeks dirty clothes were neatly stuffed in a bag on the floor under my dinette bench. We gathered up all the bath and kitchen towels, stripped the bed of sheets and pillowcases, and we filled a huge tote bag.

No one in the rally crowd could provide a solid recommendation for a laundry so we looked them up on our gps. The one we found was on Anastasia Island and couldn't have been nicer. We filled two large front-load commercial washers and put four dollars in each one to wash. A sweet surprise, the attendant treated us each to a cold bottle of water. In short order we pulled the well-spun clothes into a large dryer and fed it only $1.75 (just 35 minutes) to almost completely dry everything. Arrange the shirts and slacks on hangers; fold everything else and pack the lot into the large tote bag. We were back to the rally grounds in under two hours! We had just enough time to put the clothes away, make hot cheese dip to take to the social, grab our chairs, and walk over to the assembly area.

We will be on the move a lot this year to fulfill the service commitment we made to our local unit. We'll miss one rally, August, while on National Landmarks West caravan straight from International Rally in Bozeman. Last Fall we sensed we were feeling our oats and going too fast, vacation style. Now we feel ourselves slowing into a nicer rhythm. People ask us often, do you have all your stops planned out? We delight a little in telling them, "No, just the next week or so." And it is true, except for the big things like the Alaska Fly-Drive and National Landmarks, and our Unit Rallies, and a Florida State Park for one week next Winter (because so far ahead is the only way, there, to assure getting in).

If you have any questions or suggestions please feel very free to offer. We'll give credit where due (with permission, only) and will greatly appreciate any help. The website has gaps we haven't begun to address, especially the pages with really old and static content. We're still learning on html, are truly struggling with our website host company support. You can see brand new stuff we are figuring out how to present better, like the new content on Technical page ("Home Improvements").

I want to blow away the pictures pages because they are difficult to organize properly, they just don't seem to work. Our pictures are all in public view (and terribly disorganized at present) on picasaweb. We post relevant ones in our journal, as you've seen. We're thinking of a "Living" page where we can describe choices we are learning to make in our lifestyle, how we manage clean and dirty clothes, foodstuff, cooking, beverages, grilling out, the 2,000- something pounds of stuff in the back of the truck. And somehow, somewhere, I'd like to think how to present the "full-timing" issue separately from our journal. I mean, I know the journal is our full-timing adventure. But should I develop full-timing as a separate web page in our web site to address aspects of life particular to full-timing? Tell us how we can help satisfy your curiousity about what we are finding out about this lifestyle.

It's late and we have an early pancake breakfast before touring St Augustine tomorrow so I need to crash. We had a really beautiful email from a reader today, telling us we thoroughly answered questions they prepared to pose to us about what and how we're doing. Thanks for getting me thinking about this, hope I didn't bore you. And thanks again for your kind comments, it's nice to hear. We're having a blast doing and telling!

March 15, 2008

Today we arrived in Kingsland, GA after a short 184 mile drive from Hollywood SC. The morning was a little cool at 60, the day reached 76 until we made south GA then we found 80 degrees and very windy. The Carolina/Va Tech ACC semi-final game was ten minutes from finishing when we arrived so we pulled into our campsite space and stayed in the truck with clenched hands and little frowns. Until the last Carolina possession, that is! Way to pull it out from such a lackluster performance, Tarheels! Lake Aire RV Park in Hollywood was nice but we would not have stayed until today except to await our package of mail forwarded.

We were prepared to stay in Lake Aire until Monday morning if necessary to get our first mail in a week. We haven't adequately adjusted to the mail forwarding trick. We've been waiting until we arrive to notify the wonderful people at Escapees Mail Service to please send us a package. We need to tell them at least a week ahead, before we arrive. I guess everybody else had this figured out already, we figured it out finally.

Yesterday was a maintenance day for Jim and a tax day for Deb. She had the much more difficult job. Deb wrapped up more than three days work yesterday on our 2007 taxes and electronically transmitted the tax forms. It always takes a lot of work because of the number and variety of charitable donations we make through our employers, our Church, and local organizations. Deb is great at this demanding and extremely high-detail work, as anyone who knows her can attest. We're both glad this is done and will hold our breath until the state and fed agencies accept them and send our check.

Jim took our hitch-head apart to tighten the hitch ball hitch head service Pictureand shank bolts. The nut under the ball is huge and ours requires a 1 7/8" socket for which we also had to buy a breaker bar to turn it. Instead of paying almost $180 for the pair, we found the two tools we needed for a total of $60 by shopping around and getting the pieces from two different stores. We generally invest in good tools but an extra $120 was too much to bear for something we plan to use for monthly maintenance on a few bolts. Anyway, at least monthly Jim flips the hitch head onto its side and reinserts it into the hitch receiver on the truck. He is careful to fully insert it -- experience is sometimes a painful teacher -- to ensure the hitch head doesn't slide out and land on some body part.

Some hitch balls have a pair of flat sides on the bottom flange of the ball for a wrench -- ours did not so Jim uses a large pipe wrench to grab and hold the base of the hitch ball, well away from any of the parts touched by the trailer's hitch coupling. Then he slides the thin wall socket onto the hitch ball's large nut in the nut well under the hitch head. Using one hand on the pipe wrench to pull up and a foot on the breaker bar to push down, Jim is able to check the nut is very tight still. Our torque wrench doesn't read above 150 foot pounds of torque, and manufacturer's recommendation for 1 1/4" shank hitch balls is 450 foot pounds. Equalizer calls for the two shank bolts to be 320 foot pounds. Wow! So, we may not be within specification but the ball and shank have stayed very tight. Torque wrenches in this size (3/4" drive) cost from $140 to $600. We cannot own or carry every tool, including ladders and torque wrenches.

Jim ran into some problems taking the mud flap mount apart because the hardened steel bolts had apparently seized in the bronze threads of the mount. It took a while to remove the frozen bolts but he finally did and reinserted them with a coating of anti-sieze to prevent this undue tightness. He mounted some metal strips at the bottom of our mud flaps to decorate them. They look a lot flashier now, and we'll see if we like it after we get used to the change. Finally, Jim installed the DOT reflective white/red strips on the camper's rear bumper. DOT reflective white/red strips Picture We see these safety reflective strips on the big commercial trailers on the interstate and realized how well these strips improve visibility of the trailers. Why would this not be a good idea for our trailer, too?

Thursday we spent at Folly Beach. Well, as much as we could stand -- the winds were a steady 10-12 knots and air temp was between 65-70 degrees. We had taken our chairs, books, and a snack picnic. We turned our chairs so our backs were to the wind and tried to read a little while. We ate the jarlsberg cheese, crackers, and apple and took a walk. The beach was too cold with what we'd worn, so we walked a while on the road instead. Finally we decided we would find a better day to enjoy the beach and not ruin this day. On the way home we were reminded to remain flexible and appreciate even the delays. We were the second car at the drawbridge, of hundreds on either side, delayed almost ten minutes for the small sailboat to motor through. We didn't mind and wonder if perhaps the local folk accept this the way we learned to expect traffic delays in metro areas?

It was extremely windy after we set up the camper today in Kingsland at St George RV Resort, a Passport America park. We read inside a while, caught up on our mail, took a walk exploring the campground and an adjacent housing development, and made supper. We grilled marinated wild salmon, combined it with fresh broccoli, and finished it with a wonderful cherry/chocolate ice cream. Jim set the grill on the truck's tailgate away from the wind, and stacked two totes on each side of the grill to shelter it from the wind. It must have worked, the salmon was almost perfect. We'll stay here two days then head to Elkton, FL, just west of St Augustine, for an Airstreamers Easter Rally. See you there!

March 11, 2008
We're celebrating a gorgeous SC coastal March morning. It is partly sunny, approaching sixty degrees already with a high today of mid- to high-sixties. We've already imbibed two cups of hot green tea, listened to NPR morning news briefly, and are sitting in our living room reading and writing. roof air conditioner Picture An hour before we aroused and dressed we turned on the electric heat in the roof-top unit. This roof air conditioner (you can't really tell from the picture but it is at the ceiling and only hangs down three inches, still allowing over six feet height walking under it) also has electric resistance heat strips in it with a fan to blow the heat fore and aft in the camper. This allows us heat without using any propane from our tanks, using instead the park's power supply.

The temperature in the Airstream dipped to around fifty last night, and after an hour of running the electric heat the camper's inside temperature was seventy. The sun is out just enough to further warm the camper's interior above the outside temperatures without overheating us. And, of course, we can always open roof vents and windows to cool down if needed. Late morning today I noticed our neighbor, Mervyn Greenaway, pulling one of his propane cylinders out of his camper. I could tell it was empty by the way he lifted it easily over the side of his truck and I figured he was taking it for a refill at the campground store. I scampered out and asked him if I could put my empty cylinder on his truck too? We drove Merv's truck to the propane center, let Ernie fill our propane cylinders, and returned to our campsites. I set about remounting the propane cylinder onto our camper.

As long as I was outside, and the weather had turned perfect, I decided to do some work on our camper's hitch. Although we have had no issues with our weight distributing hitch, I had read a few months back in Airstream forums a potential problem with the bracket not tightening squarely onto the a-frame because the bottom bolt was routed below the gas line. (You may not be able to see the bottom bolt in this picture) This is apparently a common installer fault (I installed this Equalizer hitch so it is my fault) and may cause the bracket to not tighten securely and the torsion bar's table to angle slightly up. These are reportedly causes of poor stabilizing for this type hitch.

Today the weather was so perfect hitch bracket Picture and we had nothing planned until 4 p.m., so I started in on this. I drilled the two aluminum rivets for the brackets holding the copper propane pipe to the frame. I put a round screwdriver handle between the frame and the soft copper and created a smooth bend in the copper pipe to allow room for the 3/8" bolt to pass between the copper pipe and the trailer frame. I reinstalled the hitch bracket and placed a piece of red plastic conduit around the 3/8" bolt to reduce friction against the copper pipe. Now the bracket's bottom bolt is snug against the bottom of the frame and I can fully tighten both the top and bottom bolts without curving the brackets. I finally reattached the two pipe clamps to hold the copper pipe snugly to the frame. Everything looks shipshape, the bracket arms are now tight and square to the trailer frame, and we'll see if we can tell any difference towing.

Our neighbors, Mary and Mervyn Greenaway, invited us to socialize at 4 p.m. We joined them after cleaning up from work on the camper and met Mary's sister, Joan and Joan's husband John. They volunteer at National Parks for months then return North to Acadia and volunteer at parks there. They've been doing this for over fifteen years already and really enjoy it. We had a wonderful time sitting outside relishing this 71 degree day in coastal South Carolina. We've been trying to talk Mary and Mervyn into full-timing. They have a beautiful Keystone Laredo thirty-one foot fifth wheel. They are taking it for a maiden voyage of three weeks as they visit family in various parts of SC. We found we share with these fun New Yorkers a common trait, we are upbeat and easily enjoy what we are doing. It helps to have such nice people to live and travel with, and to encounter people like Mary and Mervyn and Joan and John.

This has been a neat afternoon. We're inside now, it's rainly softly on our roof and skylights and the outside temperature is 57 and dropping slowly. Deb just sat up very straight and exclaimed, "This is so cool, this is just amazing! We're so cozy, don't have to drive to get home, we're listening to the rain pattering down, and we're together." We're dry and warm in our living room with only the small ceramic heater running occasionally. We're grateful.

March 10, 2008
We spent today in Charleston SC. Jim prepared in the campground by removing three radio antennas so we could access low-clearance parking decks or whatever low-hanging obstacles in this old American city. We had a twenty minute drive, easily found parking in a parking deck (we just cleared the 6'5" parking deck overhead limit) and starting walking down King Street for shopping. We sauntered through the old markets and surprised ourselves finding a couple of needed items. Jim's been concerned about the amount of sun he gets on his face and neck due to spending so much time outside. Deb has considered how to manage the many customer discount cards we carry for gasoline and groceries. We found a very suitable large brim hat for Jim in one shop and a card wallet in another.

We tried on some clothes and shoes, bought each of us a pair of replacement khaki pants. We had walked about Charleston a few hours and despite the bright sunshine and light wind, the cool temperatures drove us back to the parking deck to retrieve my sweatshirt from the truck before heading to Hymans for dinner. We walked from the parking deck on Hutson St at Meeting St for thirteen blocks to the Battery, stopping occasionally to admire the eighteenth century houses with very snug driveways leading to beautiful gardens almost hidden from the street. Some of these houses date to the 1740s and one, The Pringle House, has been in the same family almost 250 years! and found our way to Hymans Seafood Market on Meeting Street.

This was no accident, finding Hymans Seafood outside PictureHymans. Debbie has eaten here in years previous and Hymans ranks high among the excellent choices for seafood in a casual dining atmosphere in Charleston. Many other people knew this is the place to go, also. Our walk to The Battery and amongst the beautiful Rainbow Row houses, considered the oldest extant row houses in The United States, delayed our arrival to Hymans Seafood until almost 5:40 p.m. The hostess advised us of a short wait. Before we knew it dozens of people sauntered up, also seeking to dine at Hymans. 

We were seated quickly, service was friendly and fast, the Palmetto Brewing Company's Porter Ale was almost like having dessert before dinner, and the food was amazing. Deb had fried oysters, crab cakes, and shrimp and grits, and I had two grits cakes topped with a rich cream sauce and sea scallops. Everything was perfectly prepared and served. I know, I know, I keep saying this about everywhere I eat! You should hear me tell Debbie about how much I love her cooking. I'll have to write about it soon. (Have you seen the cookies and muffins she bakes in our Airstream's oven? Just wait!)

The surprise, though, happened during dinner. Hymans Seafood Inside PictureWe observed a friendly fellow moving table to table, sometimes putting his hand on a patron's shoulder as they amiably chatted. We heard him telling some people about Elliot Spitzer's likely resignation three hours hence, but we didn't know what he was talking about and really didn't care. He came to our table and introduced himself -- Maier Hyman. He was thanking us for dining, asking if everything was suitable, could he get anything for us. We told him how much we were enjoying ourselves, how glad we were his family had kept this restaurant going so well, and told him we live in an Airstream trailer.

He surprised us by asking, "Did you know what Airstreamers call owners of some other brands?" Okay, he knows something about Airstreamers, anyway. Now this was the coolest thing. He said several times, "You made my day telling me about your website and giving me your card. You made my day." We suspect he tells many people they made his day. And he probably knows, he made our day. A half hour later, Eli Hyman walks up to our table, we started talking about his dad. Eli said, years ago, he bought a GMC Sierra motorhome and his dad always talked about going traveling. We're glad he took such good care of the business.

March 8, 2008
We are in Hollywood, SC in a pretty RV park named Lake Aire. Today we have winds of 10-20 mph and gusts up to 40 mph and the out of doors temperature has ranged up and down between 58 and 62 for the past eight hours. Lake Aire enjoyed a huge rain, over an inch, yesterday shortly before we arrived at 7 p.m. When we arrived the park had left us a map on the office door and we needed several tries to arrange the camper to fit in the site. We stepped out of the truck and into deep puddles of rain water. We were able to set up adequately in the dark and left the camper hitched to the truck until we could take the camper to the dump station and empty the holding tanks. This morning first thing we unplugged the electrical and water connections and rolled two blocks to the RV park dump station, emptied the tanks and returned to our site. Then we attended to the details of setting up.

It took Jim less than 1/2 hour blocking the wheels, unhitching the camper from the truck, levelling the camper (so our baking rises straight), setting the stabilizing jacks so the wind doesn't rock us so much, and connecting to the water and electric utilities. We walked to the Park office to register and pay for the next week. Our site rental is approximately $17 per night including utilities and taxes. We found this RV Park through our Passport America (http://www.passportamerica.com/) membership and therefore are paying 1/2 the normal rate. This is a great deal for us since the Passport America membership annual fee was $50 and we have already saved over $100 in five weeks. We had a nice cozy breakfast in our camper and have spent the remainder of the morning checking emails, working on taxes, watching the skies blue up and the pine trees wave, and enjoying each other's company.

Friday was a special day for us. We spent over seven hours navigating two hundred miles and each set a new personal record for our longest delay ever on an Interstate highway, four hours ten minutes. We left Wagram just after 10 a.m. heading for DonMar Airstream in Lynchburg, SC. We spent an enjoyable hour chatting with Chuck Brancato and picking up two small supply items for our adventure. The rains came almost as quickly as we left DonMars and just absolutely poured down in torrents. Visibility varied a lot and we would slow or speed up a little accordingly and felt very secure driving our solid truck/trailer combination.

The truck forged through effortlessly and we felt no sway or other effects from the winds and rain. A tanker truck driver ahead of us a few miles was apparently not so fortunate. Just twenty miles after leaving DonMar we were surprised to see several state police cars zooming onto the interstate up ahead. The last one placed himself in front of the traffic and weaved left and right to slow and finally stop all southbound traffic. We turned up our cb radio and heard the reason -- a tanker truck was overturned across both southbound lanes of the interstate three miles ahead of us. Shortly thereafter we heard the northbound truckers commenting it would take at least four hours to clear that mess up.

As it turned out they I-95 Block Party Picturewere really close with their estimate. The tanker truck apparently had veered slightly onto the center grass median, tried to correct, and flipped his truck and trailer onto their side. We don't know but heard the response teams a wrecker which also overturned trying to bring the truck upright, and a hazmat team to clean the highway before reopening it. We met some nice people in this ten mile long street party, swapped stories, and shared our bathroom with a couple of Virginia students parked behind us. A little after 5 p.m. traffic started up, slowly at first, and we resumed our southbound travels without further incident.

Most people on an Interstate highway I-95 Block Party Picture 2 probably have plans to arrive somewhere at a given time and don't have very much flexibility in their expectations. One couple was on their way to Elon College's basketball tournament game in Charleston. Another couple planned to make Tampa FL and would now settle for just above Jacksonville FL and another 1/2 day of driving the next day. Many truckers we heard on the cb radio lamented they would miss their load schedule and some would now lay over until Monday morning due to this tremendous delay. We are fortunate we had our camper with us and we weren't late for anything.

March 4, 2008
Monday we dined with Jim's mom, stepdad Dow, stepsister Nancy, and brother Chuck. Jim and Chuck played tennis an hour while Debbie went to the bank and to CVS to restock on vitamins. We stopped by our former house and discussed refurbishing an Airstream Argosy trailer with James, the buyer of our house and our partner for the Africa Caravan in 2009. Three of us sat in the Argosy and enjoyed the closeness and comfort in this 1979 camper. The Argosy seems to have had a good life despite five or six changes of ownership.

One good sign: the previous owners have faithfully preserved and passed along the full set of original owners manuals, sales catalog, appliance instructions, and every repair ticket since 1979 through present. The camper merits several investigations and improvements including window treatments, flooring, plumbing, and possibly electrical. We'll look forward to working together on these. After lunch with Deb's parents, John and Betty Shaver, we drove through torrential downpours three hours to Wagram, NC. We found a Passport America park (where we receive a fifty-percent discount on site rental).

Pine Lake RV Resort is between Maxton, Wagram, and Aberdeen, is inexpensive with the discount, and otherwise has little to recommend it. The campground has a few full-timers who wintered there, a few RVs apparently kept there for seasonal use and has sand and pine trees everywhere. We stayed at Pine Lake RV Resort because it was the closest we could find to a golf outing Jim participated in just north of Pinehurst. Deb's parents surprised us with their visit from Kannapolis to the RV park -- we had left jackets, boots, a tennis racquet and shoes in the trunk of their car. They wanted to deliver these to us and wanted to see what an RV park looks like. We were sorry they couldn't stay for dinner but they wanted to return home before dark. We wish they had seen us in a prettier park more typical of most we visit, and they have seen pictures of beautiful ones like Burnaby Cariboo RV Park in British Columbia where we stayed two weeks September 2007.

Five years ago Debbie and I enjoyed a very cozy and wonderful evening dining at Ironwood Cafe PictureIronwood Cafe in Southern Pines. I had dined several times at Ironwood while attending work conferences in Pinehurst or Southern Pines and was excited to get to take Debbie with me when she joined me for one of the conferences. We sometimes are leery of stretching our luck but wanted to try Ironwood again. Ironwood Cafe did not disappoint -- charming ambiance and excellent food and service were still there. The food was even better this time and service still excellent. Deb ordered crab cakes and I had steak kebabs. These, we think, are the best crab cakes we've ever tasted, and the steak was tasty, tender, and just wonderful. We'll go back!

Any of you who've visited Pinehurst have heard of, and probably visited, Pine Crest Inn. If you're lucky you've dined in their fabulous restaurant as well. We stopped in to ask about a Pine Crest Inn Picturegood friend of Debbie's from college days, Bob Barrett. We met his wife, Andie Kaufman, at the desk and she encouraged us to walk back to Bob's office near the Inn. We had a nice visit with Bob, walked around the Inn, and took a couple pictures before heading to dinner. A cool thing about Pine Crest Inn is its history -- the Inn was owned for 27 years (until his death in 1948) by legendary international golf course architect, Donald Ross. The Barretts have owned it since, and Bob's brother, Peter, manages it. The Inn was full while we visited and the restaurant promised to fill completely as well. What a great history for this storied village's magnificent Inn.

Wagram is home to several historic sites including the Temperance Hall, and the John Charles McNeill House. The Temperance Hall is a hexagonal structure constructed from handmade local bricks for The Richmond Temperance and Literary Society founded in 1853. The Hall was a meeting place where the group promoted abstinence from the use of alcohol through the sharing of literature, debating, and other intellectual pursuits. Also nearby is the John Charles McNeill House, the birthplace of well-known North Carolina poet John Charles McNeill (1874-1907). Wagram NC is home to the largest collection of long guns Jim has ever visited -- hundreds of rifles and shotguns are displayed and sold at Mid South Guns in Wagram. We were amazed at the prices on many of the shotguns, up to $25,000 for one of them and many were well over $4,000.

Of historical interest as well is Wagram, Austria was the site of Napoleon's grand battery of 112 guns to turn the tide of the battle against Archduke Charles' Austrian forces in July 1809. Wagram NC is a small Sandhills community formerly supported by textile mills employing approximately 1,800 area people. Hundreds of jobs disappeared in the late 1980's with the relocation of textile jobs to other countries. Wagram, unfortunately, looks like it won't recover. One gas station, a police station with the identification peeling badly from the storefront glass, a combination hardware store/seed supply/sewing service share the old hardware store, no restaurant, no cafe, and no apparent economic prospects. How typical is this of NC and SC towns formerly supported by now-departed textile mills?

March 2, 2008
We showed we still are as flexible in our plans as we might intend, and the result was a camping night in nineteen degree weather. Debbie's dad's birthday was yesterday, Jim's daughter Hannah has a birthday March 6, we committed to be in Pinehurst March 4-7, and we needed to register to vote and attend to some other residency requirements while in NC. Despite a forecast for very cool weather throughout the southeast region, we had decided to leave the warmer sanctuary of Dade City and strike out for Dorchester, SC enroute to NC.

We found a Passports America campsite in Dorchester, fifteen miles from the junction of I-95 and I-26. Tanager Woods campground is twelve campsites arranged on a corner of a cleared field of several acres surrounded by a coastal plains woodland. Infrastructure is very meager, cost is very low, and access from the highway is easy. We appeared to be the only overnight camper, as the other four seemed to be contract workers living a litle longer-term at the campground. The campground manager is very affable. He drove over to the campsite from his nearby house, extended the Passport America discount readily (it cost us $11.50 instead of $23.00 for the night) and he and his four Labrador Retrievers otherwise stayed out of the way. In fact, we didn't see another person the entire time we were there.

This campground is presently a very minimalist site but the best benefit escaped me until the wee hours of the morning. We awoke at 0500 hours and realized the outside temperature, at 24 degrees, would drop colder before dawn. I walked outside to disconnect the water hose (almost too late, I struggled a little to disconnect it from the faucet and the trailer), moved the ags of grapefruits and oranges from the truck to the trailer, and tried unsuccessfully to dump the holding tanks. Both holding tank valves were frozen and I decided to wait rather than risk breaking them. We went back to sleep for an hour before a quick breakfast, unhooking everything, and heading back to the Interstate for Kannapolis.

We stopped two hours later for South Carolina gas prices at a Flying J and were happy to have a dump station available at the RV gas pump. While Deb pumped gasoline into the truck's fuel tank, I emptied the black water and wash water tanks into the service station's dump station. We arrived in Kannapolis with empty holding tanks and can live in the trailer up to a week without needing to dump again. We learned several things. Dump the tanks before the temperatures drop below freezing. Disconnect the fresh water supply hose if outside temperatures may be sub-freezing (we knew this but failed to consider it). Tire pressures didn't drop overnight. Nineteen degrees farenheit is no big deal in a heated Airstream trailer.

Our relative inflexibility to schedule change allowed us to relax Thursday afternoon, run errands on Friday, attend the Club luncheon then a birthday party on Saturday, drive to Asheville Sunday to celebrate Hannah's (my daughter) birthday, dine with my mom and play tennis with my brother Chuck in Charlotte on Monday. We're glad we arrived here when we did and the one cold outside temperature was a small price to pay. Sunday we drove to Asheville to celebrate Hannah's twenty-fifth birthday. It was a beautiful Carolinas day with temperatures in the sixties. Hannah and Charles and we went to The Green Tea restaurant for sushi and tempura and a special surprise dessert for Hannah for her birthday. After lunch we all enjoyed a one hour walk in a wooded area near their house before we drove back to Kannapolis.

February 24, 2008
Our website was stuck on February 10 until February 26. We hope we haven't lost you with this long lull in the action, we're back and think we'll have no more such issues. We finally reached our website host company by telephone (after over an hour on hold) to resolve our inability to access our website for update and revision. The problem seems to have stemmed from our departing Charlotte and demising our bellsouth email just before Startlogic finally migrated us to the new platform. We failed to receive the emailed notification of changes and were operating as if nothing changed. Unfortunately we weren't getting our changes saved in the correct server. We had exchanged one phone call and four emails and had not gained ability to work our website. By two a.m. Tuesday we had, with a little help from support, updated our website on the new server and we are back in business. Hooray!

Sunday through Wednesday morning this week we have stayed at Travelers Rest Resort at Dade City, FL. This park has 1,200 people in three or four sections, Villas, Cabanas, RVs, and overnighters, like us. The park has a lush nine hole golf course, two very nice tennis courts, large performance hall, hobby and craft shop, ham radio shack with classy equipment and antennae, swimming pool and whirlpool, and of course shuffleboard and lawn bowling. Weekly Sunday evening live entertainment, weekly Tuesday evening movies with free popcorn, tennis round-robin Mondays and Wednesdays at 0900 hrs, fresh vegetables and fruits vended Mondays and Thursdays, and that's just what we've detected in 24 hours of presence here. 
I played golf four hrs Sunday evening, tennis three hrs Monday morning, and golf again Monday afternoon for two hours. I slept so well Monday night, when I finally went to bed after getting the website updated. Deb walked a section of the park Monday morning, cruised by the tennis courts briefly to see me make a couple lucky net plays, then she visited the vegetable market.  We enjoyed an ice cream social Sunday evening followed by a wonderful performance by Florida Lyric Opera of an abridged concert version of George Gershwin's American classic, Porgy and Bess. A soprano, a tenor, two baritones, a pianist, and narrator wowed us for a little over an hour with fantastic singing, mostly solos. Tuesday night we watched Noah's Ark with Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, James Coburn.

We are glad we found Travelers Rest Resort and will file this away in our memories -- first class stuff, maybe hard to beat. But we aren't interested in settling down, rather we are looking forward to moving on. We have a few days plans in Pinehurst for next week. From Pinehurst we'll probably go to Melbourne, FL or Pensacola and even as far as East TX until April 18-ish when we go to State Fairgrounds in Raleigh for a region rally of Airstreamers.

February 18, 2008
Today we drove from Paradise Park to Sarasota's Fairgrounds to attend our first Florida State Rally. We woke up at 0645 and by 0745 had hitched up, and secured everything in the trailer and truck. We drove to Paradise's bulletin boards area to jot down the phone numbers of rental lot owners, so we can arrange rental for any future stays in the Park. We enjoyed our stay here, and Jim enjoyed the golf more and more every day. Our drive to Sarasota was smooth (we had confirmation of this after arriving) and uneventful (or so we thought). We arrived at the fairgrounds and the parking crew led us to our parking spot for the week. Upon unhitching and setting up the trailer we placed our indoor-outdoor thermometer on the window shelf and a thought struck Jim -- where is the outdoor transmitter for this?

We had twice previously dropped an outside sensor for failing to secure it before towing the trailer. One time we recovered it when we had moved the trailer from one camping space to another in the same campground. The next time we lost it somewhere between Myrtle Beach and Charlotte. The sensor had fallen from an unsecure perch, out of direct sunlight, under the trailer. The outdoor temperature was registering properly so we either had not lost the outdoor sensor or we were picking up the outdoor temp from a neighbor in this camping site. Jim couldn't remember at first where he had stowed the outdoor sensor two weeks ago when we arrived at Paradise Park and was dearly hoping, wherever it is, we still had the sensor with us. After a little while he recalled having placed it under the trailer near one of the stablizer jacks and indeed found it there, just tucked in a little space where it had safely ridden the fifty miles of rural and interstate highways today. What a relief!

Not such good news was to look at the truck a little while a ago and realize one of the antennas has disappeared completely. Last week, after the HamCation Ham Fest in Orlando Jim installed through-glass antennas on both sides of the truck. Somehow this morning between Paradise Park and Sarasota the exterior part of one of the antennas has completely disappeared. Jim had followed all the instructions for installation of this antenna and we cannot guess what happened to it but will try to find a replacement for just the missing outside part. The smooth trip was marred by the small event of losing the antenna. And Jim is grateful to have kept the outdoor temperature sensor -- tomorrow he will strap it to the underside of the trailer with ty-wraps.

The day was warm and humid earlier with strong breezes and by 5pm has cooled to 74F. Florida State Rally has over 100 Airstreams parked so far, with another four hundred due for arrival in the next two days. We are excited to see so many Airstreams in one place, are glad to renew acquaintances with many Airstream friends, and also look forward to seeing some of the vendors who display and teach at this annual rally. 

February 15, 2008
Today we spent the day at Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach and loved it! The day was beautiful everywhere in FL, and especially in Ft Myers Beach. We suffered a pretty long line of traffic to gain entrance over the bridge into Ft Myers Beach and patiently hunted for an available parking space. We lucked into a vacant metered space less than a block from the beach. Luckily, we could only get two hours on the meter or we would have been crisply burned. We enjoyed seeing the colorful variety of umbrellas, and we weren't tempted to brave the cool water temperatures but some few did. The beach was nicely crowded, the air temperature perfect, sand was incredibly soft and silky smooth, and the sun felt soooo good.

Warmed and tanned from our afternoon at the beach we found fresh seafood and cold beer in Ft Myers at Pinchers Crab Shack. This was a good find for us. We sat outside, drank Red Stripe Ale and enjoyed fresh crabcakes. The food and service were excellent and we would gladly do this day over the same way anytime. Or, we might try some of the other appetizing choices on Pinchers Crab Shack's menu. It all looked so good and we couldn't eat any more or we'd have tried it. We left Pinchers for the drive back to Paradise Park and hopefully a grocery store enroute. This turned into a real adventure for us.

It seemed every road we tried to exit Ft Myers was detoured and we would never get out. Darn -- stuck in Ft Myers in the winter? We could think of worse things but we knew our cozy camper was almost an hour distant and we were determined to outsmart this puzzle. Unfortunately the gps was only a little helpful and our real hope was vested in seat of the pants navigation. We thought back to trying to tow the camper through Chicago on our way back from Vancouver BC last September. This Ft Myers adventure was fun in comparison. We eventually found our way to a wonderful SweetBay grocery store, some relation to Hannafords Market. SweetBay has wonderful bread and deli meats and cheeses and produce so we stocked up and returned happily to Paradise Park after a great day out. Too bad the beach isn't a lot closer. . . 

February 13, 2008
Yesterday after a cereal breakfast together Jim played golf early on the park's nine-hole course. The ladies have the golf course reserved every Tuesday morning at 10 o'clock for their golf outings so many of the men rush to the course early to finish by 10. It was a beautiful and breezy day and Jim enjoyed the time outside. While he was golfing, Deb took a long walk on all the many blocks of the rv park, notified the gas company of our forwarding address for the final settlement on our house, did housekeeping and read. After golf Jim removed the truck's two rooftop antennas and replaced them with through-glass antennas. These serve the 2 meter amateur radio band and the citizens band radio.

The vegetable truck was at the park (twice a week) so Deb took the shopping bag and loaded up on fresh fruit and corn, avocado, red pepper, and romaine lettuce. We made phone calls about next week's Florida State Rally in Sarasota and we studied golf tournament scoring systems since Jim is organizing the golf tournament (last year's organizer recommended Callaway System, so called after the originator who has no relation whatsoever to Callaway Golf Equipment). A friend, John Plaxco, had gone to town and we asked him to pick up something for us from the grocery store. When John returned he advised us we were under a tornado watch.

The skies were darkening, winds were picking up, and it was beginning to rain. Jim rolled up our trailer's awnings and secured them, and we closed the windows and roof vents. By the time we got around to tuning our weather-band radio the National Weather Service was announcing tornado warnings for this area and were very specific about the landfall times for the tornado to hit the line of towns in the projected path. We had almost thirty minutes before the projected arrival for our nearest town, twenty miles west of us. A weather watch means the conditions are right for an event. A weather warning means the weather event has been sited and is a very real threat. A tornado in our rv park would be dangerous and devastating because there is not much secure shelter.

We would probably shelter in the locker rooms of the health club because it is built of concrete block walls and the walls are close together, providing good support against falling roofs and other materials. None of the motor homes or trailers would, of course, withstand the angry force of a tornado. At six o'clock we drove in a heavy rain up to the clubhouse and found a few other people had the same idea. For the most part, though, the park's residents seemed very unconcerned. There are six hundred people in the park. In the clubhouse were two people working a jigsaw puzzle, eighteen Iowans having a supper together, and four guys shooting pool. None were huddled close to their weather radio, listening for updates on the path and impacts of the tornados. Oh, none except Jim and Deb.

We found something to read in the library and pretended to read, while listening to the weather radio. Fortunately the tornado's northbound path was projected for twenty miles west of us (one of two reasons the park's residents acted unconcerned) and the National Weather Service at 6:35 pm declared the tornado dissipated and no threat. We don't know the other reason only four of six hundred people showed up for shelter at the clubhouse. Perhaps they have learned not to worry about what they cannot change? We'll learn more about this as we get to know some of them better.

We returned, relieved the storm had passed, to our Airstream. Deb starting broiling in our oven a beautiful piece of salmon, boiled two ears of fresh white corn, and made a wonderful crispy green salad. Jim found his abandoned and now a little less cold beer and resumed enjoying it. After supper by candlelight (a mode we enjoy many evenings) we cleaned up the trailer, showered, and went to bed. The rains cranked up very very hard while we were in bed, making us grateful we are in a weather-tight hard-shell camper. We forgot to close the bathroom exhaust fan vent and this morning found the bathroom rug had a wet circle from rain bouncing in from the roof into the vent cover. No big deal -- we'll air dry it later today.

This morning Deb made crescent roll coffee cake in our oven, we had a cup of green tea and after breakfast Jim was going up to the golf course with Russ next door for a ten o'clock round of golf. Well, really good and needed rains changed this plan. Instead Jim visited with Russ and Judy next door an hour, talking about the Capetown to Cairo Caravan, health care insurance coverage, lot prices in Paradise Park, upkeep on thirty-year old Airstreams, and other things. Russ and Judy gave Jim a pair of beautiful grapefruits we'll look forward to enjoying in the next mornings. The day turned out simply gorgeous with a nice sunset promising pretty weather tomorrow. 

February 10, 2008
We awoke today by 0600 hours and enjoyed watching the morning unfold. Orlando this morning was windy and cool and temperatures last night were down to 56 degrees F. The skies are mostly clear and sunrise was beautiful. We turned the furnace on briefly to warm the Airstream interior to 68 degrees F and savored a cup of green tea together. We skipped breakfast because we ate more than we needed last night with the WBCCI Amateur Radio Club at Golden Corral. Today is a travel day. We hitched up the truck to the trailer early and left the Fairgrounds at 1000 hrs for Sarasota.

Jerry and Ann were awaiting us at Sun'n'Fun RV Park in Sarasota to gain us entry into this gated tremendous rv resort. This park seems dominated by small park model manufactured homes (kinda like a single-wide with siding on it) but the spectacular thing for me is the lawn bowling. Over one hundred adults uniformly garbed in red shirts or blue shirts were on the sides of the bowling green. I don't recall ever seeing this before and found a brief description of the game rules on the internet a http://wardw123.tripod.com/Physics/Rules.html.

Sun'n'Fun has swimming pools, numerous tennis courts, horseshoes, volleyball, and a golf driving range across the street. Pretty complete! Ann prepared a special lunch and dessert we enjoyed in their Airstream at Sun'n'Fun then we drove to Sarasota to see the location for next week's WBCCI Florida State Rally and to see the shopping area. After a brief visit and exchanging movies to watch we left to tow our Airstream back to Paradise Park in Punta Gorda. Paradise Park  is a condominium rv park with numerous amenities and very nice people. Outside the park gates is nothing but mega ranches for dozens of miles. The closest grocery, gas, and banking centers are twenty miles each way from here.

We arrived in Paradise Park after an easy 100 mile drive from Sarasota and backed the camper into our site with unusual ease. It helps we backed into the very same space only four days ago when we first arrived here. While Jim backed the truck, Deb stood guard over the power and water utility poles to help Jim see them and guide him close enough for hookups. Jim unhitched the trailer and connected electrical power while Deb arranged the water hose connection. Deb started supper while Jim levelled and blocked the trailer into place, prepared the U.S. and N.C. flags for flying tomorrow morning. In 1/2 hour, just as darkness began to fall on us, we were connected and stable and already cooking a great dinner of grilled chicken breast, cut corn, green salad with fresh toasted pine nuts, and a glass of red wine. We ate by candlelight then answered a few phone messages before starting the dishwashing.

We had a good time at the HamCation hamfest and Ham-a-Rally in Orlando. This rally was coordinated by the WBCCI Amateur Radio Club for members to be able to congregate and attend the central Florida hamfest. Jim prepared his shopping list weeks ago for this big hamfest and we did pretty well. We found the thru -glass antennas for the 2 meter amateur radio and the cb radio on the truck. These will allow us to remove the magnetic-base antennas from the truck roof, where they tend to scratch and chafe the paint, and they get caught on low tree limbs and porticos. Thru-glass will ease the coax cable routing to the radios and the antennas will be easier to remove or re-angle for low overhangs. We found the small noise suppression speaker called HearIt we wanted for the truck high frequency amateur radio and he has already installed this. It works great!

Finally, we found a small used cb radio for 1/4 the new price to install in our trailer. This is useful at rallies to hear announcements and for other camping with friends to talk trailer-trailer. Probably the coolest find was, upon Joe Kolb's invitation, Jim rode to Skycraft Surplus and spent an hour marvelling at the greatest collection anywhere of every kind of electronic goodies. Jim spent $8.50 for some wire and connectors he wanted for projects on the trailer and truck. We didn't find two things on our list but neither is a pressing need. Jim needs a different microphone for the high frequency radio, and is interested in a miniature automatic position reporting (aprs) transmitter for the truck. The aprs is pretty cool but not a necessity at all. Really it would be more fun for you -- you could point your mouse at the key on our website and you would view a map with our current location identified, no matter where we go. Another day, perhaps.

Yesterday was a eureka day for Jim. We had already installed two 125 watt solar panels on the roof of our trailer to charge and maintain the trailer's 12 volt batteries. Many Airstream trailers (particularly Excellas and Classics) have an onboard battery charger powered by 110vac and easily disconnected from the 110vac shore power. This allows the owner to stop the onboard charger from overcharging the batteries, and is especially useful if solar charging system performance can keep the batteries charged without the onboard charger. Our trailer, an Airstream International CCD 25, does not have a plug to disconnect the onboard charger. Jim, with help from Amateur Radio Club friends, identified the breaker to turn off the power to the battery charger.

We can now keep 110vac power to the microwave, air conditioner, and most receptacles while allowing the solar charging system sole control of charging the trailer's batteries. This breaker switch is inside the trailer and convenient if we need to reconnect power to the charger. Jim's friends assured us we might never or rarely reconnect the onboard charger. Our solar panels are large enough and our solar charge controller should be sufficient to keep both batteries well charged. The $64 question is how many days we can run without recharging, and how many times we lack sunlight for longer than the batteries can supply our lighting needs. We're in experimental mode on this, unscientifically using and watching the batteries.

It's 2130 hrs and 64 degrees outside at Paradise Park. We've turned the covers down and after finishing the dinner dishes will take a short walk before bedtime. We'll crack a window and a roof vent for fresh air and hit the sack and listen to night noises before we crash. No big plans for tomorrow. Jim will try to play a round or two of golf on the park since Tuesday and Wednesday may have thundershowers. We have reading and bookkeeping and club business to catch up on. No burden, all opportunities. We are loving it.

February 7, 2008
The launch today was uneventful for us -- we anticipated seeing it from the Central Florida fairgrounds in Orlando FL. We arrived and set up our camper in time and saw the others assembling in the common area nearby. The skies were so cloudy there was no chance of seeing the space shuttle Atlantis launch. We heard it went off well even without our seeing it. We're in Orlando for the HamCation ham radio show, a large regional exhibit and vending of amateur radio equipment and many related items. The Central Fl fairgrounds are beautiful, especially the spot we have.

We are just ten feet from water's edge of Lake Lawne, the temperatures have been very comfortable, the bugs mostly absent, and the WBCCI Amateur Radio Club fellow members very nice to be around. This has been a very pleasant site with water and limited electric. I have to pay attention to something I see repeating -- I wasn't looking forward to leaving Paradise Park in Punta Gorda to drive to a fairgrounds and camp with limited utilities. Once we arrived I learned, as I often do, I had wrongly anticipated what it would be like. Upon arriving we found this is a beautiful and comfortable spot. Don't dread what I don't know? I think this is the lesson.

February 4, 2008
We ESCAPED! Last night is our first night of the new chapter of our life, on the road in our Airstream. We enjoyed caravanning from NC to here with Ann and Jerry Hall and they led us to the renowned Country Oaks Campground in Kingsland FL. This provided us a halfway point for overnighting on our way to Punta Gorda. I grilled chicken (three months is a little long to remember the special requirements of our gas grill, I think) and will use a lower heat next time. We ate by candlelight and revelled in our cozy and gorgeous new home on wheels. After dinner we watched the superbowl with Jerry and Ann in their trailer. Our Dreamstreamr Odyssey this past Fall to Vancouver BC and other points west and north ended October 15. Two weeks later we camped a week at Myrtle Beach with our Carolinas Unit of NC Club. Since then we have been busy with friends, family, and emptying the big house. The house closing went on schedule. We were late getting everything out of the house, had to return after the closing and finish removing a few last possessions. Some of these we elected to leave with the new owners -- we are out of room, the trailer is full, the truck bed is full, the truck cab is full, and we are out of time.

There's so much I want to share about our house exiting processes I hardly know where to start. Three days before we must empty and leave the house I received an e-mail from Suzanne Cronin, a friend in the WBCCI Amateur Radio Club. She wrote she has been full-timing in her Airstream two years and is reevaluating her "stuff". Suzanne said she determined she doesn't need many things cluttering her home (Airstream) and will eliminate those things she hasn't used in awhile. Suzanne's email was the encouragement I needed to more readily give away, donate, or toss so many things I was trying to save. We had perfectly good materials like threaded rod or continuous hinge or building hardware (okay, I know I won't need as much building hardware).

The projects for which I have the threaded rod and continuous hinge are going to happen. Our Airstream will be a better home for us with the improvements from these projects. But, I don't have any idea how much time will pass before we want to start working on the Airstream again -- neither of the projects is a must-have. I left the rod and hinge. Thing is, Deb and I experienced this evaluation of hundreds of perfectly good items in the house. Too late to sell it, so we decide whether to save and store for our children, for ourselves, or give to a neighbor or the new owners, or toss these things. More experienced full-timers may read this and say, "Jim and Deb are such beginners -- you have to be ruthless and get an open-top dumpster and throw it all". Yes we are beginners and we are both as careful as we can be with money and our things. This was much more difficult than we expected.

We finally made it to Deb's parents' house, exhausted and grateful for a nearby place to light. They graciously took us in and helped us unload our excess freight into their basement. They took care of our last two boxes of confidential documents (you know, with social security numbers) and allowed us to store a dozen boxes so the back seat of the truck and the aisle of the Airstream are again useable. We will re-weigh soon, but think we are again within the weight ratings for our truck and trailer. Most importantly we have items we can reevaluate in a month when we return to NC for our Club's next luncheon. We can decide if we to find a place to carry some of these items or continue storing them. We can take the storage items to our 5' X 6' storage unit, and get any items for our children to them.

We escaped the sinewy bonds of home ownership, urban living, and tremendous amounts of personal property. There is more work to do on the possessions, and thanks to Suzanne Cronin I am encouraged we will have the spirit to return to the task later. Southern Florida beckons, with 75 degree days and temperate nights. We'll stay down here awhile and move into this new lifestyle gladly.

January 31, 2008
The yard sale last Saturday was sort of a bust. We had almost one hundred people attend, they purchased lots of our things, but we had sooo much left over. Today we took a trailer and pickup full of the leftovers to the Goodwill donation center. We also took what may have to be the last boxes to our 5' X 6' storage unit -- just cannot hold anymore. We're storing nothing there except books, documents, photos, artwork, and a few clothes. If we follow suit with the other full-timers of whom we've read then we'll be culling out even these saved items within two or three years. We'll see. The house is almost empty. We're packing the Airstream and tomorrow we pack the truck. We close on the house sale tomorrow and head outta town to Deb's parents' house for two days then to Florida for a month. We CAN'T wait!

January 19, 2008 siftingstuff.jpg
We continue winnowing down our household possessions, carefully evaluating just about everything we've ever cared about or kept. What purpose does it serve? Is this available on-line? Is it worth our scanning before discarding? Do we need to shred this document or can we simply tear off and masticate the personal identifiers before discarding? Is this an irreplaceable item we just have to save and store for some future re-evaluation? Now, do this for every shelf and drawer and box in every room and attic and garage. Do this for weeks, a little bit every day. I spent the better part of one rainy cold afternoon poring over my journals from thirty-five years ago. I scarcely remember writing so much, much less thinking those things. If you knew me then, you are still there. It has been as interesting to open these boxes and files and sift the histories many of them represent. Then, if we can, say goodbye to the physical evidence. (But I'm keeping my journals!)

snowday.jpg Our bed is the Airstream's mattress thrown upon our upstairs bedroom floor. One bedside table is the Aerobics Step Platform (until someone buys it). The other table is an upside down milk crate. The tv stand (necessary only because the 'Heels are playing ACC ball now) is a cardboard box with a piece of wood on it, with a pair of coat-hanger wires soldered onto the 75ohm splitter. The breakfast room table and chairs are very campy -- an aluminum roll-up table and two plastic resin lawn chairs. The house is less and less a home and NC is trying to catch up the year-long drought with frozen precipitation. We're not complaining! This is what we hoped for by now -- we have eleven days until closing on the house and aren't supposed to leave anything but the stove, fridge, and light fixtures. Come and get it. If you can't, call us and we'll try to deliver. It's nineteen degrees tonight. Get this stuff outta here, We Want To Go To Florida!

January 10,2008
Belated Happy New Year! We just returned from a quick trip to Ocean Isle Beach, NC. A borrowed capt nances seafoodtrailer allowed us to haul seven boxes and mixed furniture to a family storage unit near the beach. The last time we hauled furniture and things to family it rained. Today it rained and we are so grateful this trailer is fully enclosed to keep our family's things dry while we deliver them. As soon as we finished unloading today's delivery Deb and I very briefly dipped our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. The air and water were surprisingly chilly, much more than the air temperature on the land side of the dunes. You can tell I'm not from around here?

The beach is so peaceful, uncrowded, and inviting to us. Only one other beach worshipper was nearby, in a beach chair reading a book and watching the surf and people and the birds and the sky. We enjoyed talking with her a little while. She is here with her grown children who are immensely enjoying the spring-like daytime temperatures of 60's and 70's. We drove a few miles south for a seafood lunch at Captain Nance's in Calabash. Calabash seafood is always special to us and today is the first time we have been to Captain Nance's without a line of people all the way out the door into the parking lot. Winter season and a late lunch guaranteed we would have it mostly to ourselves. We enjoyed shrimp, flounder, hushpuppies, baked potato, and just a little sweet tea so we could make the four hour drive back to Charlotte.

The week of Dec 17 I related to you the story of "Reverend George Matthews" and his generous offer to let us keep an extra $100 if we would wire him the difference on the certified check for more than $3,000 over the amount we asked for some furniture we were selling. Would you believe the check did NOT arrive yet? We are very disappointed we won't have the check for $3,500 for a $350 piece of furniture. Great news, though! We may yet have another opportunity to score big in the used furniture business. We've repaired, cleaned, photographed, listed, sold, packed, and moved furniture in the past two months. Some of this is tough work and it doesn't pay real big. I mean, we are reduced to asking as little as 1/8 to 1/4 the new cost of many items to attract serious buyers. Some potential buyers want to show up and really inspect the prospective purchase so we try to have everything in top condition and ready to go. We're detecting, though, a potential gold mine. While we didn't score with Reverend George Matthews back in December, we seem destined to have additional opportunities. Who knows? We may get lucky yet.

Last week Chris Maciel asked us if some furniture we listed in Craigslist was still available. We answered to him, "it is". Pay attention to this: the second customer in two months exhibits great trust in our values and products. Chris is prepared to offer full price to a pair of perfect strangers based only upon the pictures and descriptions of the products. He generously identifies and allays our concerns about the potential risks of internet purchase scams and has offered a clean and foolproof means for his payment to us. Here's the reply he promptly sent us:

"Sounds good, i would like to purchase it from you as soon as possible. (I am intrested and ready to buy it now) The easiest way for me to pay is probably E-Check from my Bank(Bank Of America).I know there are a lot of scams so I have no problem with you waiting for the E-Check to go through at your bank or anything.here is a thing from the E-Check: You will probably need to buy Business Check Paper, at any store below in your area,

(1) Shopping Mall
(2) Stationery Store
(3) Office Depot
(4)Office max
For $20.Once you purchase the business check paper.I will email you the check and you will have it printed.then proceed to your bank and cash the check.I will wait for your bank to verify and clear the Echeck before we proceed with shipment.As my Bank Operator informed me that it will clear immidiately at your bank as it was from my global account with Bank Of America.Which is Conforms to All American Banking Association rules and standards this is to stop C.O.D.

Please Email me back and let me know if this helps

Best Regards

Chris Maciel 40 Raymond Drive Narragansett, RI 02882"

The sale on our house closes in exactly three weeks. Are we going to make it through all this stuff? We are still writing ads, listing items on Craigslist, scheduling showings, and arranging pick-ups of sold items to empty the house. This process has been slower through the holidays because people graciously allowed us use of the sold items through the holidays and because sales activity slowed. We've been trying to coordinate the listing and selling so we can empty the rooms and attics and start making space to segregate our items for storage, for full-timing, and for respective members of our families.

We don't have a lot of time for amusement or games when we're working on this house-closing process. We let Mr. Maciel know we are glad he likes the furniture and we can accept Paypal or cash. Doggone if he hasn't gone invisible on us too! If any of you have the opportunity to talk to him or sell him something, please be tell him we didn't mean to chase him off or scare him away. We sure didn't want to scare off a good buyer. Maybe we won't hit the big time, after all. I guess we aren't too well suited for this business side of things. We have a much smaller number of items for sale now but maybe one of these will attract just the right buyer who wants to give us a wonderfully big and undeserved amount for it. Isn't this just how the lottery works, where you keep going back and going back and trying again and again until you get the payout?

We weren't trying to be brusque or difficult, we only wanted to let him know all buyers and sellers are protected best if they follow some of the principles set out by Craigslist: 1) deal person to person, 2) use cash or paypal only. We've sold lamps, plants, beds, dressers, desks, rugs, chairs, shelving, appliances, tools, and collectors items. Three sales were via eBay and many have been via Craigslist. The Craigslist sales have been cash or personal check transactions, and the personal checks have almost entirely been from people we know. We have had wonderful experiences, although we would rather now skip forward to the camping and traveling again. I have to keep reminding myself this, too, is the journey to enjoy.We've met a lot of new people. Everyone has been kind, considerate, prompt, and interesting. This may not be the very best part of the journey but it is one we can, hopefully, reflect on with good memories.

E-mail Us at as4822@gmail.com

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