Thursday, February 23, 2017

February flies by

Well these “Villages” have canned music and constant good weather too! I kept looking over my shoulder for the balloons!

February has been BUSY!! Fred and Judy are such gracious hosts that we were launched into “Happy Hours” every afternoon around 4, followed by dominoes in their rig usually until 9 or so. 

Dinners out with them, Harold and Wanda and RV shopping for Micheal ate up what little time was left and we were seriously challenged to put time aside for the normal chores and my art groups and painting. We even managed to work as volunteers on the refreshment booth at the Park's Craft Fair, which we imagined to be a small event but was actually HUGE with several large marquees being put up to hold all the vendors. A large team of volunteers supplied hot dogs, hamburgers, Italian sausages and drinks to to crowd, raising more money for the residents fund.

Fred and Judy found more of our old Goldwing friends from Maryland living close by here and we all went for lunch in Inverness at “Stumpknockers”, a fish and seafood restaurant. It was just like the old days with Pete and Dee, Diane and Bob, Fred and Judy and Barbara and I all living the good times over again. 

Then in true Goldwinger's style we stopped for Ice Cream at the Russell Stovers outlet store. We wandered the candy isles for a while before settling on ice cream. That is a very tempting place!
Judy struggling against temptation!
A dinner at Perkins with Fred, Judy and Michael was our farewell to Fred and Judy for a while. They'll be back again before we leave.

Michael meanwhile found a motorhome he liked and moved into the park with us, just down from Harold and Wanda. 

Much time and many trips saw him gathering all the things he'll need for their big trip to Canada once his wife Lynne gets here from Australia.

We forgot how lucky we were with our rig, which came almost fully equipped when we bought it. There are so many things, and if like Michael you are from overseas you can't bring stuff from home.

Shari from the Leesburg Art League brought me onto a Facebook challenge to post 1 piece of my art a day for 7 days. Picking the pieces made me have to think which I liked most.

Then Maxine from the park's fine art show, where I planned to show 10 of my pieces asked if I would like more space so I had to find frames for 4 more! I didn't sell any paintings unfortunately.

To fill in any blank spots our calendar might have, I started figure drawing class in Winter Garden about 40 minutes away once a week and we decided to join the local “Eagles” lodge, for the fellowship and the facilities (They have 3 dartboards!). Eagles is a lot like the Elks, they have lodges nationwide and some let you camp there also.
Sunset on Lake Dora
We just don't seem to have stopped lately, taking Michael shopping for RV stuff, running from one art event to another. We need to get on the road so we can relax!!! But first I have to get back to the maintenance tasks I abandoned last year. I replaced the water heater anode and flushed the water heater tank but then when I went to replace the cover the latch broke off. It's always one step forward and 2 back! A trip to the local RV store Camper Inn got the part we needed. I put it in now I have move on to the next one, though I will probably leave the bathroom floor until last.

There was some sad news amongst all the fun. Harold's brother Hank passed away suddenly. He and Wanda had to rush home and had the task of breaking the news to Harold's elderly Mom. Not a task I would want to have to do. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the whole French family.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

2nd Month in Florida.

I think all us artists have an anxiety thing going.

More art and the preparations for the park's Fine Art Show has had us visiting every thrift store within 30 miles in search of frames for all the paintings. I don't usually frame them as the frames take up more precious space in the rig, but for shows they want them framed. Buying new frames is EXPENSIVE! Especially at the custom frame stores, so we measure the canvases or take a blank one with us and buy framed pictures for a couple of dollars and throw away the old pictures.

Some friends posted on Face Book that they'd be in Orlando so we met up with Marty and Peggy for the first time since the SKP Rally in Vermont last July.

They were passing thru on the way back to San Diego after taking a cruise to Cuba. An hour just vanished as we talked about people, places and things we all knew. We compared plans for the rest of this year and it appears we may meet up again late in the year.

L-R Marty, Peggy, Barbara, Me, and friends at the SKP Chapter 57 breakfast.
Our special test came on January 22nd. A band of thunderstorms approaching got much more serious when our cell phones suddenly started screaming “Tornado Warning” “Imminent Danger Take Shelter”. We had flashbacks to our previous tornado experience.

It's not good when the big red bit is over your campground!
This tornado thing really gets your heart racing when it's close by, you start to think “Where will we go to shelter?” buildings in the park run thru my mind. Most of them are metal building which won't withstand strong winds. So where? The bathroom blocks would seem to be the best bet but are they brick built?
The mind goes blank. The anxiety level peaks and panic is at the edge of my mind. Calm down, think. Switch on the local weather channel. Look at the weather app on the phone for the latest radar picture. Phew the cell has already passed here without forming a funnel but localized winds up to 100 mph were reported. More storms raced thru for the next couple of hours and although we had rain and even large hail, the major cells stayed just north of us.
Thinking back this is our THIRD tornado event while camping.

Back in 2007 when we rode the motorcycle from Maryland to California, towing the camper, we stayed in Elk City Oklahoma one evening. While we were in the camp store getting supper the TV suddenly started flashing red and emitting a screaming noise. There were tornadoes touching down 30 miles away from us. We looked at each other blankly. We had no idea what to do. Eventually we finished our supper and went back to the camper and slept the night away!

We sipped a little wine this time to sooth our nerves, the storms passed by and we went to bed.

February has suddenly arrived and we are half way thru our winter stopover. The Fiesta has been in for it's annual transmission repair but Ford have dug their heels in and say that it's “Normal” for this transmission and no more repairs. I couldn't figure out what triggered the change from helpful to aggressive until I mentioned them buying it back. They were willing to talk about it but when the regional manager called she was adamant “No buy back”. I asked why she was so adamant and she let slip it was because we were in Florida. NO LEMON LAW HERE!

Fred and Judy, good friends of ours from Maryland and our previous Honda Goldwing motorcycle life arrived and camped 2 spaces away from us. A huge amount of catching up was started and we all went out to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Judy and Fred, a really fun couple.
I have been helping an Australian guy who's looking to buy an RV here and launch on his own full timing adventure. Michael arrived the same time Fred and Judy did, so we have lots of visitors and we'll be rushing around like crazy for a while.
Micheal wondering what the crazy Yanks will do next
After spending a couple of days running around RV shopping we organized an outing to the Bavarian Brewhaus in “The Villages” with Harold, Wanda, Fred and Judy. Micheal was moving hotels so he couldn't make it. 

The Brewhaus as it's name suggests is a microbrewery that brews their versions of German beers and has a good selection of German food on the menu. Most of us went for Fish and Chips which I personally was disappointed with. Everyone else enjoyed it though.
Wanda, Harold and Judy having fun.

Senile delinquents leaving the bar
 “The Villages” is a retirement community where everything is close by. There are stores, medical facilities, restaurants, bars, concert parks, movie theaters, housing RV parks. All in one area and all managed by the same company. It's been a huge success and is expanding all over the place. Each “Village” has a theme, there is Spanish Village which is colonial style Spanish architecture with red tile roofs etc, and the one we were at was “Western” style where the movie theater looks like a barn from outside and the shops like old western town ones.

I found it kind of creepy! Our British friends might remember the TV series “The Prisoner” where Patrick McGoohan was imprisoned in the perfect village, with canned music and constant sunshine.

If he tried to escape a huge balloon came bouncing up and grabbed him, dragging him back to “The Village”. Well these “Villages” have canned music and constant good weather too! I kept looking over my shoulder for the balloons!