Tuesday, December 20, 2016

December in Leesburg

That should keep us busy for a while!

Getting into the “Stationary” mode is easier having done it last winter in Arizona, and having our friends Harold and Wanda right here makes it twice as easy. We've been out twice in their boat exploring the lakes and canals along with their friends Charlie and Dot who are from Cumberland Maryland. Charlie was a motorcycle enthusiast in the days of Triumphs and BSA's so we get along immediately. Dot and Barbara fit in well too so our circle of friends has grown already.

We signed up for line dancing classes and after an early struggle we got back into it. The class here is a bit more challenging than the one in Sundance but we should make progress if we stick to it.

Line Dance Class
Barbara has joined a “Stitch Craft” group. She has decided to knit sweaters for our Grand kids Kaitlynd and Niail and likes the idea of knitting in company with like minded people.

There doesn't appear to be an art group here. There are “Zentanglers”, which is kind of a geometric pattern kind of drawing that so far hasn't drawn me in. In February a Canadian artist runs classes in the park but there's nothing else, so I jumped in with both feet and started to sound out interest in forming an informal Art group with the intent of meeting once a week and drawing or painting, visiting galleries etc. We'll see. If that doesn't work maybe I'll try and start a photography group?

Calling all artists
Meantime I've got the easel out and I've begun another series of flower paintings. Everyone seems to like what I've done so far. They don't take up much room and I like to give them away as little “thank you” gifts. I ran out of them a couple of months ago so I need to replenish my supply. I find it much easier to work on six or so small paintings at once. I draw them all out at once then paint the backgounds and let them all dry. All the leaves and stems are next and finally the complete flower, getting into a flow. Very satisfying.

We're also talking about trying Pickleball again. It's a little like tennis but with a solid wood raquet and a wiffle ball it is slower for us seniors! We tried briefly last year and we bought the raquets and balls but Barbara did something to her knee and we stopped playing. More on that after we try it.

Locally there are several “Flea Markets” “Farmers Markets” “Swap Meets” etc which might not tempt us to buy anything but at least provide an excuse for a lot of walking! Harold, Wanda, Charlie and Dot like to do the weekly Monday one that provides 3 hours of walking and lunch. I've started tagging along with them just for the exercise. What with line dancing and riding our bicycles everywhere we should at least be fitter soon!

Christmas at the Flea Market
Anything you need is here.
We did the park's “Christmas Concert” a couple off nights ago. I've been told that if you can't say anything good about something then don't say anything! Everyone in it was a volunteer so bravo for trying.

Like Sundance last year there seems to be a dance most Friday's and there are events scheduled for Christmas and New Years that we'll be joining in. All in all a busy time and we keep meeting more and more people and forgetting more and more names! When January comes around there will be flood of people coming in so this is a good time to get our feet wet before the rush.

If we don't talk to you before the Holidays have a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The infamous Xmas Letter!

Xmas Letter 2016

Wow! Where do we start with this letter?

Our big adventure started last year in July so this is the first complete year we have spent on the road in our RV.
We started the year in Arizona, went to San Diego then slowly wandered east across Texas and north until we crossed into Canada to visit Barbara's cousins in Ontario, who had a family reunion going just west of Niagara Falls. 

Stopping in Maryland along the way we caught up with our son Fred and his wife Cori plus lots of friends and neighbors. Happily our daughter flew in for a week too but left the kids behind so we didn't get to hug and spoil them.

After we celebrated Canada Day (July 1st) in Ontario followed by July 4th. we headed over to Ottawa to meet up with another cousin Alan and his wife Mary. I could listen to Mary talk all year. She was raised in Jamaica and that lilting island accent she has fascinates me.

We had a disappointing visit to Montreal which started us south to Vermont earlier than we had planned, but got us to Burlington and the big RV Rally we had signed up for. All our RV friends from San Diego were there and we had a great time.

We made a last minute decision and moved on to Maine. We made another Rally there based on lobsters and also the Lobster Fest in Rockland before moving across the border again into New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to explore Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton.

That was as North and as East as our adventure has taken us, so we headed South again meeting Barbara's Brother Stuart and his wife Linda in New Hampshire for the autumn “Leaf Peeping” trip in the mountains.

Our intentions were to slowly drive south keeping the turning leaves around us, except it got cold and we made a hasty trip south to Florida and the most southerly point of our trip -Key West.
Which leaves us in Leesburg Florida for the winter. We intend to be here until April so we can get some Baseball Spring Training games in, then we plan on a couple of months in Europe catching up with friends and relatives there and visiting some countries we haven't seen before (Spain and Portugal for just two).

It's been a fun and exciting year that has just flown by. We've traveled 11,000 miles in the RV, 9,000 miles in the Fiesta, been in 3 different countries, and too many states to recall.

If you want the full story our blog is http://banbrv.blogspot.com/ and if you look on the right side of that screen there is a column that shows months and years, you can click on any of those to go “Back in Time” on the blog.

We wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a healthy, prosperous New Year.
Best Wishes
Brian and Barbara


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Snuggling down for the winter

The sunset was spectacular with sailboats passing by and a Caribbean singer adding to the atmosphere. We met a couple from Finland Ria and ?? who were really enjoying the trip. Several well spent hours then a cab home.

We decided we liked the upper Keys but not Key West. That's OK, you have to experience things for yourself we find. We've been told to avoid places by friends only to find that we quite liked those same places.

Next major step for us is getting to our “Winter Quarters” in Leesburg FL, which is North West of Orlando. We chose the Holiday Travel Resort because a good friend of mine has stayed at this park for many winters and we decided that was a good starting point for us.

It's not easy deciding where you are going to spend 3 or 4 months, and winter is the busiest period for these resorts. Good ones can fill up fast and you need to make reservations early sometimes.

Of course you only have a website and maybe a glossy brochure to guide you so things may not be as good as expected when you get there. We got lucky last year in Casa Grande. We'd originally thought of staying at the Escapees park but as they don't take reservations we decided to go to another resort that did. Some research brought up Sundance 1 Resort. 2 years ago we tried it for Christmas and New Years while we were both still working. We loved it went back to stay our first full Winter there (http://banbrv.blogspot.com/2015/12/settling-down.html).

Once we were on the road seriously we had to decide where our next winter would be spent. Florida was the destination for the East Coast fulltimer/snowbird set. We did some research and then selected Holiday Travel based on their website, brochure, activities, price and the fact that my friends Harold and Wanda have been very happy here for several years.

Part of this trip to Florida and one of the reasons we got here early was to look at other areas of the state for possible future winter stays. Hence the Keys, Naples and our stop in Wauchula.

Wauchula is about smack in the middle of the state, not close to any major cities. It's a farming community that has several RV Parks around town. What drew us to this area was that there are 2 parks we wanted to look at. The Escapees Florida Resort and the Thousand Trails (TT) park.

We wanted to experience the Escapees (SKP for short) park because we've stayed at a few before and we're members of the Escapees RV Club. Unfortunately they too don't take reservations so we decided that if there were no vacancies we'd try the TT park where we could make reservations online.
Our space in Wauchula

We loved the library in the park, so cosy and well stocked.
Fortunately we got into the SKP park. Fortunate because we immediately bumped into friends who we met at the Rally last month and met some new friends - Judy who's a painter and her husband Ken, and a couple from UK Rosie and Mike who are musically talented and kept everyone entertained.

This was one of those comfortable SKP places with excellent facilities, wide spaces and friendly people everywhere. We immediately submerged ourselves in the atmosphere and swapped books and DVD's in the library, got into the Happy Hours each evening and attended their weekly Movie Night. We won a discount coupon in the nightly door prize drawing and as a result went into town to Giuseppe's Italian Restaurant.

I even broke out my art stuff and began a few more flower paintings. This is a place I could spend a couple of months I believe, Maybe if Leesburg doesn't work out we could consider moving here. They certainly seemed disappointed when we said we were leaving.

You can actually buy in to this park. If you are an SKP member you can buy a site. It's a Cooperative, so you buy from the Coop and when you sell you sell back t the Coop. Talking to people who are owners they are happy, and there's an 8 year waiting list to buy, so that says something!

I was kind of sad to leave Wauchula but we had reservations starting Dec 1st at Holiday Travel RV Park. A good friend of mine from motorcycle trips in Virginia Harold and his wife Wanda have spent the last 10+ winters at this park. As soon as we were settled in they came over and we started getting caught up on their news. They even have a ring binder full of places to go within an hours drive!
Christmas Parade at Holiday Travel RV Park
Next thing they had us walking the local flea market which is HUGE! Bigger even than the ones in Arizona. Next day Harold, Charlie and I were walking a Car Show/Swap Meet full of more stuff. Then we all got a ride on Harold and Wanda's boat the following day and explored the canal and one of the big lakes nearby. Although we didn't see any alligators there were plenty of birds around.
The fruit and vegetable area at the Flea Market
Lots of stuff on sale at the Car Show/Swap Meet
The Car Coral
We started Line Dance classes again too and we're seriously thinking about Pickle Ball and Shuffleboard. There is no darts league here so we're looking for alternatives.
Barbara and Wanda

Charlie and Dot

Captain Harold and the boat
And then there is the matter of maintenance on the rig. We have a few items that although not critical need to be sorted out before we head out again and having 4 months here gives us the chance to get them done.

First is the rear view camera. It's great for backing into spaces and to keep an eye on the Fiesta and bicycles when we're on the road. It's essential when overtaking something to make sure we're clear before we pull back in. For the last 6 months it's been acting up. If I wiggled the wires in the back of the monitor it would behave for a couple of days and them just when we'd get into traffic the picture would go all zig zaggy! So we ordered a new color camera and monitor but it requires pulling a new coax cable the length of the rig and so we've been tearing the inside of the rig apart to feed the wire thru. Quite a mess as the route goes thru all the overhead bins, the valances along the side at the roof and all the closets. Hopefully this will last 17 years like the last one!
Wires hanging down everywhere for the camera installation
We still have to tear the bathroom apart again to replace seals in the toilet and replace the floor again which it turns out wasn't meant for wet spaces. Live and learn there! We also plan on putting in a new internet streaming device for the TV, changing the oil in the engine of the rig and the generator and getting the Fiesta into a Ford dealer for it's seemingly annual transmission replacement.

That should keep us busy for a while!