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March 2006

Thursday, March 2:

Where are Mac & Chris?  We're on the way to Key West, by way of Sarasota. 

Currently, we're parked outside of Campbell RV Service waiting for some parts to come in.  We arrived on Tuesday afternoon for a Wednesday appointment.  I expected the repairs to take at least two days.  It looks like three days at this point, and that's fine.  Three things getting fixed.

1.  Dash heat/air controls, the wiring harness melted and smoked.  Not sure why, but I hope it doesn't smoke the replacement part!  Anyway, a new wiring harness is on order and should arrive tomorrow.  The part itself is under $70 (amazing isn't it?).

2.  Auto Park brake is being repaired.  The switch that senses the gear shift lever position is defective.  When the engine gets hot the switch components expand and will not release the brake in Reverse, so you can't back up.  I installed a temporary work-around, a switch to jumper the wires so we can back up in an emergency.  But this is a safety concern and needs to be fixed the right way. 

I had called around, and posted on several internet forums trying to find a shop who really knows the Auto Park.  So many places are clueless!  Campbell is a Workhorse authorized service center, and since the old P30 chassis is the predecessor to the workhorse they should be able to handle the repairs.  They also have one positive review at and nothing negative.  To be honest, I was concerned at first, because they were looking at all kinds of mechanical and other areas when the problem was obviously electrical.  Then, I described the problem to one of their senior mechanics and he said "oh, then you've got an electrical problem, it's that switch".  Yep

3.  Our shift lever has started hanging up.  I thought it was in the steering column (and so did the mechanic at first) but after inspection he discovered something binding under the coach.  To fix this he needed access to the same area where the Auto Park switch is, so both can be repaired at the same time.

So far my overall impression of Campbell RV is positive.  They've been very accommodating, letting us stay here while repairs are being done.  I do hope they're good at working with Extended Warranty companies.  We have Good Sam CSP and they should pay for most of this.  Most components that "fail" are covered (with some exceptions).  If it wears out or rusts out it's not covered.  So at minimum the wiring harness and Auto Park should be covered.  Not sure what they found related to the shifter.

The mechanic working on our coach is new (about 8 months in RVs) but has a lot of experience with diesel trucks and equipment in the Marine Corps.  Everyone actually seems to listen to me (which can't be said for some places).  I look at vehicle repair the same as medicine.  The doctor needs the patient to participate in their own care and treatment.  He doesn't know where it hurts unless you tell him, and you know your body better than anyone.  It's the same way with an RV, especially as a fulltimer.  You really get to know your coach when it's your home as well!

So wish us luck.  Naturally I'll report back and tell you the results (maybe in the Tech section). 

Chris will likely post a big update in the next few days.  While hanging around here we've done quite a lot of work on the business side of life; however, there's a concrete plant right across the street and it makes it difficult to use the phone much.  We've also done a little sightseeing and shopping.  We also went to an interesting restaurant, Sugar & Spice Family Restaurant, which is owned by an Amish family.  They advertise good Amish home cooking.  They have reasonable prices (most meals under $11) good quality, friendly staff, and lots of food.  We recommend it.

Friday, March 3:

Quick update, more later.  The switch for the Auto Park, and the associated lever came in, so the Auto Park is fixed, and the gear shifter works smoothly again.  Of course, the real test will be after driving for a couple hours, get the engine good and hot, and then see if she'll back up.  I'm pretty confident she will.  Here's a link to the complete Auto Park story.


Now we're just waiting for the wiring harness to arrive. 

Wednesday, March 1 - Friday, March 3:

Since we are ďstuckĒ here getting the RV fixed I decided to go look around for thrift stores.  I found several that were quite good and a few that werenít.  While I was getting lost in Sarasota I stumbled across a house that I had seen on HGTV.  Isnít this one of the most interesting house youíve seen?  Itís hard to tell from the pictures but that house looks just like a boat and then there is the lighthouse too.  Click on the photo to see more pics.

Sarasota Home looks like a Lighthouse and a Boat.  Click for more photos

I went shopping every day and wore myself out; getting very tired.  So I would come back to the RV and lie down, usually falling asleep and taking a small nap every afternoon.  My leg still gets very sore from all the standing on it while shopping.  It aches a lot in the evening.

The last of the parts came in late Friday afternoon, yea!  So that will be installed Monday morning, tested, etc. and we should be out of here.

Friday after all the businesses around us had closed for the evening I was walking around outside the RV when I heard a dog barking.  I walked over to the next door business and saw through the fence gate the ďguard dogĒ.  Weíve all heard how many illegal aliens from Mexico are in the US.  When I saw this dog I chuckled to myself.  I guess the business couldnít afford to get a ďrealĒ guard dog, like an American Pit Bull.  There was a Mexican Chihuahua dog guarding the business.  What is this country coming to?

Saturday, March 4:

We had planned on going back to the Skyway Bridge today and ďday-campingĒ there, maybe even spending the night on the fishing bridge.  I read that you could park your RV there for 24 hours for $10.00, not a bad price to overnight right over the water.  Weíd also planned on filling up the propane tank while out today.  We really need some propane.  We used a lot more than we thought we did while parked at MacDill.  I guess from using the heater so much.  We didnít notice that it was so low until we got here and parked.  We havenít been running the hot water heater to conserve on propane.  It will be great to have hot water again.

We enjoyed our morning ritual of coffee, bagels, goofing off on the internet and then we got ready to leave.  We had everything stowed away for driving and when Mac went to move the car he discovered a flat tire on the car.  So now thereís a slight change in our plans.  Then when he started the RV to leave here and go get the tire fixed the gear shifter isnít working right.  It wonít go into any gear, it just slides up and down the column.  The repairman was supposed to have ďfixedĒ everything up so that we could drive away and come back for Monday.  I guess he missed something. 

Mac finally gets the tire repaired on the car and went ahead and got some other needed tire work done while there.  While he was gone the owners of this repair shop had come in for something and I told them what had happened.  They were very nice and asked if we wanted to have an electrical cord to hook up to their power.  I said sure why not; seems like weíre stuck here for the weekend.  So the RV is stuck sitting here until the repairs are finished; that means no propane fill up either.

I must pause in this boring narrative and tell you about our attitude.  Mac and I suffered a moment this morning with poor attitudes but then we quickly adjusted.  Everything now, even the unexpected bad stuff that happens, is now part of our adventure.  We just shake ourselves off and say ďWow, what an adventure weíre having!Ē  It really does make the bad easier to take and it usually winds up being kind of fun or at least interesting.  We have both ďsufferedĒ being around people with bad attitudes, the kind that ruin it for everyone else around them.  When the going gets rough, Mac and I really try hard to make it easier to bear, sometimes the worse it gets the funnier we are.

Now itís later in the afternoon and Iím already tired from everything that has happened, including waking up this morning at 4:30 by the cement trucks right across from us.  We donít enjoy driving around in the afternoon so we decide to just have a goof off day right here at the RV.  We relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  In the evening after dinner we drove over to Home Depot and looked at flooring.  Iím telling you people the excitement never ends around here!  

Sunday, March 05:

K.C. decided that I didnít need to sleep in this morning so he got me up at around 5:00.  No cement trucks waking me up today just this demanding cat!  But that was o.k.  It was quiet and peaceful sitting at my laptop doing some work on the business side of life.

We had decided to visit the Mote Aquarium today.  So around 10 we got ready and left to go visit it.  Mote Aquarium is located across Ringling Causeway, I think itís on Longboat Key.  The water is just awesome, such a beautiful color and so clear.  The aqua of the water today was so incredible!  I wanted to jump right in.

We saw many interesting fish and turtles today but out of all the exhibits at Mote, I really enjoyed seeing the manatees up close like we did today.  When seeing them in their natural setting I didn't realize how big they were.  In the tank a manatee would swim right by the glass in front of my face I could see everything so clearly, even the hairs on their backs.  It was truly amazing.  There were only 2 at Mote but that was enough; many more and you probably wouldn't focus on each animal, noticing the details. 

After visiting the aquarium we walked down the road just a little bit and had lunch right at the waters edge at New Pass Grill.  It was so cool!  It reminds me a lot of Key West.  We had a great time.  We sat outside right above the water at a dockside rail that had tables on top with stools pulled to eat at.  The water was incredible to look at, the seabirds flying around, the boats puttering by (no wake zone), it was just so awesome!  This is the way lunch should be, totally relaxing.

It's amazing how only a few miles can be such a big change in climate.  We are now less than 75 miles from Tampa.  Tampa doesnít have water this pretty.  I donít think Clearwater has water this pretty either.  Key West has water this pretty though.  I can hardly wait to get to Key West, seeing all this water is making me want to go snorkeling and swimming.

There are a lot of people here in Sarasota right now; it's still the tourist season.  There are many condos going up, shopping, etc.  I think they are trying hard to maintain the atmosphere or to create one here.  There are many walking shopping areas that we have seen here.  No cars or if cars the speed limit is around 15-25.  They seem to be doing a good job of creating a nice place for people to come and visit.  Of course, there are the usual strip malls around, surrounded by fast food joints; but overall Sarasota seems to be doing a good job of keeping/creating its charm and beauty.  Since Iíve never been to Sarasota before some will probably argue that I canít judge whether they are keeping the charm or destroying it.  I can only say that the parts that we have seen we have found to be very enjoyable with a lot of character and charm. 

We went back to the RV later this afternoon and we both wound up taking a little nap.  The rest of the evening has been spent goofing off.

We took a lot of pictures today, and Chris quickly snapped the one below out her window.  Look familiar?

Here's a link to more information about this statue.  And here are some other photos from today.










Monday, March 6:

We were really looking forward to the RV repairs being finished today and we could get on the road again.  The mechanic came in and started working and found more burned wiring.  Heís kind of new fixing RVís, so I guess we should cut him some slack.  But sheesh, wouldnít you logically follow all the wires when you first started looking to ensure that you got it all, and then order all the parts that you need?  Iím disappointed.  Now of course, there are new parts needed and they wonít be in until probably Thursday I think.  We canít wait around here that long!  This took most of the day to work out with ordering the parts, etc.  Weíve decided that we will go to Key West and come back in about 3 weeks and have it finished. 

Since we now know that the RV wonít be going anywhere today, I decided to go to the Salvation Army Thrift Store on 17th street.  I was very impressed with the items that they have there when I was there the other day.  They have a sign up that says clothing with yellow tags 50% off.  Yippee!  I found lots of great stuff for me and others for great prices!  When I was checking out the cashier and another customer told me that on Wednesday everything in the store is 50% off!  I will have to go to this store again when we come back through here.  If youíre in Sarasota, check out this thrift store, I think youíll be pleased too.

I went home and had lunch with Mac, he cooked us lunch!  He made chicken and some spicy corn with tomatoes and peppers.  It was good!  After lunch I went through my purchases, removing price tags and O0Ohing and AAAhing all over again.  Iím really pleased with what I got.

Weíre stuck here the rest of the day, so it was work on the business side, goof off on the internet, etc. the rest of the day.  It turned out to be a pretty good day even with the disappointing news about the RV.

Yes, it's hard to know how we'll rate Campbell RV Service. 

I want to be sure that everyone reading this understands they treated us well, and were honest, and fair.  The service manager Barry Bowles is good to work with.  He understands fulltimers, and let us stay in the RV instead of going to a hotel.  They even ran electricity out to us.  They did finally fix our Auto Park brake, which is a great accomplishment all by itself.  Barry was also fair with us on labor charges, since the person assigned to our job is still learning we weren't billed for actual hours.  All this being said, we are disappointed with their shortcomings in troubleshooting, and with how long things are taking, .

I would really like to find a shop in Florida that can take expert care of all our RV repair needs.  Campbell may turn out to be that place, but the jury is still out.

Tuesday, March 7:

The mechanic came in and put everything together to get us down the road safely.  Weíll be leaving here and coming back in about 3 weeks to have everything finished.  It took all morning to get everything done, the bill settled, etc.  But we are finally free.  We have to dump tanks, fill with water, get propane, hook car to RV but weíll get on the road today!  Mac dumped the tanks and got fresh water at Sun N Fun RV Park for $10.00.  The staff member told him of a better place to get propane than the BP station that we were going to get propane at.  So we met up there and got propane, a tad expensive, for 14.8 gallons it was $50.00!  But when you gottaí have it, you gottaí have it!  It was the Texaco station at the corner of Fruitville Rd and Tuttle.  Either of the stations youíll need to be unhooked to get to the propane tank though.  After we filled up we hooked the car to the RV and now we are together and on the road!!!!!

We drove down I-75 all the way to the Everglades City exit 80.  The toll was $10.00 for RV and car!  Weíre in a hurry so thatís why we went the toll road instead of getting on 41 at Naples.  We drove to Monument Lake Park which weíve stayed at twice before.  Burns Lake was closed, bummer, so we have to pay for the night! The sites are still $16.00 per night.

We got a great site though; we are right by the lake, great view out the side windows.  We went for a walk around the lake; we didnít see any of the alligators that weíd seen when we were here before.  Mac asked one of the volunteers here and he said that they havenít been around in a few weeks.  We noticed that the water is much higher this time also.  I guess they got a lot of rain here with the different hurricanes last year.  Afterwards, we walked up to Hwy 41 to see whatís in the water there beside the road.  We saw 3 alligators in different places; we could see plenty of fish while looking down into the water.  We saw a lot of birds, including a night heron.

While we were out for our walk we had the hot water heater turned on.  So when we got back there was HOT WATER!  I got to take a shower and to wash my hair.  It felt so good!  I can go many days on just a sponge bath, but I need hot water to wash my hair.  It was easier to put my hair up each day though in various styles, French braid, bun, etc.  Tonight itís clean and it feels so good to finally be clean again.

We had dinner, then goofed off on the internet.  I enjoyed going outdoors every so often and looking up at the stars.  There was a nice breeze coming over the lake which made it a tad chilly outdoors.  Thereís a half-moon tonight so it isnít a perfect star gazing evening but it was still great!

No trip report from the everglades is complete without the obligatory alligator photos


Wednesday, March 8:

We both woke up early this morning. Mac was already in the bathroom while I was half-asleep attempting to get out of bed. My foot got tangled in the blanket and I twisted my knee in ways and directions that God and my surgeon never intended for my knee to bend.  I hollered out in pain and Mac came running.  It was o.k. though; I donít think I did any ďdamageĒ to my knee.  Iíll keep my eye on it for swelling, etc. to see if I damaged it.  I bet it will be sore though today and maybe for a few days.  We had coffee, bagels, etc. talked with one of the other campers here in the park.  Then we hit the road.  We are both a tad bit excited to be back on the road, having an adventure.

We drove on through the Everglades on Hwy 41 heading to Key West.  There are many birds to be seen out this early in the morning.  We stopped at the Tom Thumb that weíve stopped at before and filled up with gas.  Driving down the road we see a few more stations that we could easily get the RV and car into.  We may try them on our way back through heading out.

We finally get on Hwy 1!  Drive south for quite a while and finally see WATER!!!  Pretty blue/green water.  I think the water looks greener than when we were here before.  Of course, Mac gives me some technical mumbo gumbo about it but I was too busy looking to pay attention to what he was saying.  So donít ask me why the water seems greener than bluer.

We pulled into a little roadside park in Islamorada and had lunch; canít see the water from here but at least we arenít right next to the road traffic.  It was a nice spot to stop.  Right after we get back on the road, less than a mile there was a perfect spot with a view of the water at Tea Table!  Oh well, thatís how it goes sometimes.

So I started a list of mile markers (MM) references of places that look good for us to pull off.  You can also use this list if you need a place for your rig to pull off while driving the Keys.  We only list pull-offs that we could use, with a 37' RV and toad, unable to back up.

Islamorada and Tea Table Key have good pull off areas, MM 80 has great pull off area, picnic area.

MM 72-74 good pull off, MM 70-71 good pull off. This is around Long Key.  We noticed that the Long Key State Park RV Park is open.  Looks like good RV sites, right on the beach, only negative that we see from the road is that it is right next to the road.  I donít think it would be very quiet and peaceful there!

MM 63 pull off on north side. Around MM 62 there great pull off north side both sides of the bridge
MM 60.5, Grassy Key north side pull off.
MM 42 Little Duck Missouri Channel both north and south have pull off.
MM 35 north side pull off.
MM 29 north side pull off, looks great!
MM 28, MM 26.5, 25.5, 23.5, north side pull offs
MM 20.5 north side pull off, right past Sugar Loaf Key Resort
MM 19, MM 18.5, MM 15, MM 15.5, MM 13, MM 11.5, north side pull offs

On our way north out of the Keys I will update this list, make improvements and additions.  Iím sure there will be some.

We finally made it to Key West!  We knew we were in Key West because as soon as we stopped at the first red light we heard a rooster crow.  We both cracked up laughing.  We got registered at the RV office.  The one great thing this year is that we do not have to go on rotation for a full hook up site.  We prefer to dry camp when possible so this is great.  Dry camping is $9, full hook-up is $16, a savings of $7 a day!  Donít laugh, it will add up over time in our monthly and yearly expenses.  There are a lot of open spots available which was surprising to us.  We were told that it had been extremely crowded but from about the last week in February through now people have been heading north.  Havenít they heard, itís still cold up there?

We visited with our friends, Bud and Ruth, who were our neighbors when we were here last year.  We had a nice visit and then I needed to stretch out my leg.  Itís sore from the tussle this morning.  But first I NEED to walk down and see the water.  It is so beautiful! I just stand there and draw all that beauty deep into my soul.  I see 2 pelicans flying by, low over the water.  There are a couple of sailboats in the distance; I can hear an osprey cry.  God, I love it here!

I took some of my pain medication and wound up falling asleep for a short time.  My leg isnít swollen or hot so I think it will be o.k.

We just enjoyed the rest of the day, relaxed in the beautiful weather, goofed off on the internet, WORKED some too!  We have to pay for this living somehow.

Thursday, March 9:

We worked this morning until about 10, then we went to the Fitness Center here at Sigsbee. Itís located at the ITT Office. Itís small but has a lot of equipment, only one recumbent bike though.  It will do nicely for us to get that needed work out time in.

We drove around to the marina area where last year we had the great grouper fish sandwiches.  The bar is open but the restaurant isnít open.  Bummer!  I was looking forward to grouper again.  We can see that a lot of items didnít make it through Hurricane Wilma.  Itís sad, but all part of life, things can be rebuilt.

Mac and I went for a short walk down on the beach here at the park this afternoon.  We stuck our foot in the water, seems a tad chilly but we think weíll enjoy snorkeling here.  There is already someone else snorkeling out in the water.  I donít want to go snorkeling today, my leg is sore still and Iím a little sore from finally getting to ride the bike.  Weíre content to sit and watch the water roll in and out.

Another great evening we spent goofing off and working too.  This is also the start of our busy work season, a lot of graduates are starting to look for jobs for when they graduate.  So we are busy, busy, busy but so very happy.

My leg hasnít swollen or turned funny colors, hasnít felt too hot or any of the warning signs that something might be wrong.  This evening it started feeling much better too.  I think Iím in the clear, Yea!

Friday, March 10:

So much happens that sometimes I forget to write about it and then later have to add it in somewhere so here is another one of those additions.  Weíve seen 2 or 3 birds that we both had never seen before since weíve been here this year.  Mac wasnít around and I saw a Swallow-Tailed Kite, really pretty bird in flight.  We both got to see and enjoy seeing a female American Kestrel; and the same day Mac pointed out to me a female or immature Magnificent Frigate, another awesome bird in flight.

Wow, this week has flown by!  I canít believe that itís Friday already.  We worked on the business side this morning and then went over to Truman Annex to check out the fitness center over there.  Mac had heard that they had recently put in brand new equipment.  It has only one recumbent bike, the rest of the equipment is great!  Mac enjoyed the treadmill; theyíre set up right in front of the window so he had a great view of the ocean while he was working out on it.  I alas had a view of the rest of the room while I pedaled away.  It was a great workout though. 

When we finished our workout we changed into our bathing suits and walked down to the beach.  Iíve wanted to do this for a long time.  There is a nice breeze today so the water is churned up a little.  Here at this section of the beach we can tell that there was some damage from the hurricane, but if weíd never been here before I donít think weíd notice it.

Speaking of hurricane damage, I am impressed with how quickly Key West and surrounding keys have recovered from the damage sustained from Hurricane Wilma and other hurricanes too.  The parts of Key West and surrounding keys have cleaned up a lot of damage from the hurricanes.  It looks very nice here in Key West.  Itís back to business as usual.  There are of course signs that there was a hurricane, boats in places where a boat shouldnít be, trees without leaves, blue roofs, etc.  But Key West recovered quickly and looks great from the parts that weíve seen so far.

We walked up and down the beach today, played tag with the waves, looked for shells, etc.  We found a Portuguese Man-of-War washed up on shore; I donít think I want to go swimming today.  There are a lot of big waves coming in and Iím scared that Iíll get knocked down by one and hurt myself.  Plus, what if one of those Man-of-Wars is out there lurking around just waiting to sting me.  That would not make my day!

After we played around on the beach we went back to the fitness center and took a shower.  This is a very nice fitness center; it even has a small locker room and 2 showers in the womenís section.  The only thing I didnít like about it is the shower area; there is only the 1 privacy curtain, no inner shower curtain, so the water was splashing out into the changing section.  They need to have an actual shower curtain too.  Maybe Iíll find a comment card and suggest it.

We stopped at Winn Dixie to pick up some wraps; the commissary didnít have any when Mac went shopping yesterday.  I was hungry and picked up some salsa and chips too.  This is the first time Iíve been to a grocery store and the price of the chips is the actual price stamped on it by the maker!  Some things are very expensive in Key West.  We also picked up some other items too.  I always get tickled while shopping in Florida at a grocery store and the oranges might be from California or even South or Central America.  Wouldnít you think theyíd stock Florida oranges in Florida! 

So after shopping we went back to the RV and had some great wraps.  Um, um, good!  Later we went to pick up our mail that Mac had called and requested be sent to us.  While driving to the UPS Customer Center we realized that we had about 30 minutes to kill before it opened so we drove around sightseeing to some of the sections that weíve never been to here in Key West.  We also drove to the site for snorkeling that was recommended to us last year.  I always forget to write the mile marker down so that I can tell you how to get there.  The place came through the hurricane great; there wasnít any damage to the beach area that we could tell.  Mac doesnít want to go snorkeling here though; he says the water always looks churned up from the ocean and it will be harder to see anything. 

Finally itís time to pick up our mail.  We picked it up and returned to the RV.  It was quick drive back even during rush hour on a Friday afternoon.  God, this is great!  Mac grilled steaks for us this evening.  We then goofed off on the internet, visiting our virtual friends, playing poker, etc. 

This evening I checked my email and received an email that to me was very complimentary.  A writer with a newspaper had found our blog and wanted our permission to provide a link to our blog when she wrote her next article which is going to be about blogs.  Quote from email: ĒThanks to your blog, I now think that blogs have some purpose!Ē  Of course, we gave her permission to link to our blog, etc.  Wasnít that the greatest compliment!  Iím so excited!  When the article is finished weíll provide a link to it.   

Saturday, March 11:

I woke up late this morning for me, around 7:30.  Iím disappointed, I forgot that itís Saturday and that I wanted to go to the Flea Market this morning.  We needed to have set the alarm clock last night so that we could get there early this morning.  I donít enjoy walking around the flea market once it starts getting crowded and especially when it starts getting too warm.  So we had planned on arriving there around 7:30-8:00 to beat the rush and the heat.  Oh well, thereís always next Saturday.

We goofed off some this morning on the internet, worked a little, etc.  I visited several of the various forums that Iíve become a member of and some of the topics were very emotional for me. Not bad emotions, just emotions were stirred.  So, I went down to the beach by myself to draw new strength and energy from the ocean. This feeling and being alive again is hard work!  I felt much better after my time spent on the beach.

When I returned home Mac and I decided to go down to the water here and snorkel.  There isnít too much of a breeze, the water looks nice and smooth, it is warm today, it should be fun.  So after we got out our snorkel equipment and wiped it down with alcohol to sanitize it and ensured that we had everything that we would need we headed down to the beach.  We slowly walked into the water.  Boy does if feel cold!  It feels warmer than last year but itís still very cold to us.  We finally made it all the way into the water.  I finally got my head under the water and it was so incredible!  It is amazing to be able to see what is under the water, to see the fish, the corals, to watch the sea grass gently waving back and forth with the current.  If you ever get a chance to go snorkeling, GO!  It is awesome!  We got used to the temperature quickly and I think we spent at least an hour in the water.  Our toes and fingers were shriveled up when we got out.  It was such an incredibly enjoyable experience.  Iím still not very good at clearing my mask, or anything else except the floating part I can do pretty good.  I can just float and watch the undersea world for hours!

We came back home and I went over to the shower facilities and had a good long shower.  I had to really load up on the conditioner to get my hair to feel soft again.  I think Iíll try the conditioner on the hair before I go snorkeling next time to see if that helps any to protect the hair. 

I had been concerned before we got in the water that the cold of the water would make my leg ache too much.  Actually the opposite was true, it felt great.  I should have realized that the cold water would work like an ice pack and make the leg feel less swollen and work as a numbing agent on the pain.  It felt great to be in the water again.

It was also very tiring swimming in the water for so long.  After we ate lunch and I took some pain meds I stretched out on the bed and slept like a log for about 2 hours.  After I got up Mac was already expressing interest in dinner.  We decided that hamburgers grilled outside would be great for dinner.  So Mac jumped in the car and went to the commissary and picked up all the ďfixingsĒ for hamburgers.  He also picked up a few other needed items.  When he returned he grilled burgers on our grill and we ate outside.  It was great, except for the flies.  I had forgotten about the flies down here.  We wrote about the flies last year in the blog; but we had forgotten about them already. 

After dinner and talking with some neighbors we decided to walk down to the beach.  We took a couple of chairs with us and sat on the shore and watched the birds, the boats, the waves, etc.  It was so peaceful and beautiful.  We talked about sailing.  I donít know if Iíd like to sail but I think next year when we come I will take some lessons.  Iíd like to know if Iíd like it.  It looks like so much fun when we see a sailboat pass by.  Sailing is so different from a motorized boat.  There is a lot to learn to be able to sail.  So we shall see next year when I take some of the free lessons offered here in Key West. 

About sunset we moseyed on back to the RV.  It has been a wonderful day!  We are really enjoying our stay here in Key West.  So far, it hasnít been too warm; there seems to always be a nice breeze.  Someday, Iíd like to stay here until late in the season.  Iíd love to snorkel in 80 degree water instead of 70 degree.  Maybe someday but not this year!

Sunday, March 12 Ė Tuesday, March 14:

We havenít done much exciting to write about for these past few days.  Weíre trying to establish a schedule of getting up early and working until around 10.  Then Mac drags me over to the fitness center and we work out for a little while.  Iím so out of shape!  Thankfully they have one recumbent bike and I use it.  I try for about 30 minutes and it is very hard to do now, but Iíll work back up to it.  Having that week or so of no exercise while in Sarasota has really set me behind again. 

We then come back to the RV and eat some lunch.  We may work again for an hour or more while allowing our food to digest.  Some time in the afternoon we go down to the beach and get in and go snorkeling.  Each day we have seen so many pretty fish.  Sunday for the first time ever we saw 2 Sea Slugs or Sea Hares.  We didnít know what it was but it did look like a giant slug.  Mac looked it up on the internet and found out that they are Sea Slugs.  Weíve seen at least one each day since then.  Weíve also seen some fish that weíve havenít identified yet, even if we never do we are enjoying it so much just to see them.  We snorkel about an hour a day or whenever Macís fingers start shriveling, which is usually about an hour.  I want to stay in longer but it is wiser to go ahead and get out.

Coming back to shore and getting out is the hardest thing to do.  When Iím in the water I feel so light and can swim and kick and float around like everything.  When I start walking out it is so hard to lift the legs.  I really enjoy swimming in salt water, fresh water too but salt water gives you so much buoyancy.   

We drive back toward the RV, and I drop Mac off for a shower and I empty the car out and hang our stuff out to dry, shoes, mask, etc.  After Mac gets back I go and take a shower.  Ugh, I hate the salt water in my hair, it feels like straw, and it is hard to wash out.  I wash and then condition heavily.  Hopefully my hair wonít get too dried out from all this salt water exposure.  The skin needs a lot of moisturizing too, Iíve noticed.

We get everything put away from snorkeling to dry out and the towels hung to dry on our clothesline that Mac built for us last year while here in Key West.  Weíve carried that around with us for a whole year and this is the only place that we use it.  We also donít use our camp stove any where else but here.  Weíre discussing making a box of items just for Key West to put in storage.  Itís silly to carry it around if weíre not going to use it.  Plus the weight and extra gas used to carry items that arenít used is just wasteful.

We may work or goof off and rest awhile after we get done snorkeling.  Mac has enjoyed cooking our dinner outside.  Heís got the grill and camp stove set up on the table that we bought here last year too.  Heís cooked some wonderful meals for us outside.  Heís even made our coffee outside on the cook stove.  Heís really enjoying himself here this year.

After dinner we may walk back down to the beach and watch the evening arrive.  Usually itís just me because Mac is busy making business phone calls.  I love watching the birds go from their day camp to their evening camp.  A lot of pelicans, cormorants, etc. fly across the shoreline heading towards their evening perch.  Itís so cool to sit and watch the day fade away and evening arrive.  I really love it here, especially this year.  Iím not having any trouble walking around admiring the beauty. 

After dark we usually work a little more.  We havenít watched hardly any TV here at all.  Thereís just too much to do.  We have been going to bed pretty early too.  We start heading for the bed around 9-10 or so.  I guess itís all this fresh air and sunshine that is making us so tired and ready for bed.  So thatís the routine that we have established for right now here at Key West. 

We just enjoy being here in Key West.  The weather is wonderful, the view is great, and we love the water and the whole ďlaid-backĒ attitude.  We donít feel the need to run around and visit all the tourist sites there are to see while we are here.  But we are determined that we are going to see at least one or two of the obligatory sites while here this time.

Wednesday, March 15:

Yesterday we drove around looking at the different sites that were open.  Weíve decided to put our name in the ďdrawingĒ for certain sites that weíve picked out.  A lot of RVís have left here since February and there are many nice sites open closer to the water.  We decided to put off dumping the tanks and filling with fresh water until today when we find out what our new site is.

Mac had cranked up the generator to put some more charge on the batteries, one of the daily chores we have to do here in paradise.  While the generator was running I vacuumed the floors, then I cleaned the bathroom toilet knowing that we were dumping today.  I try not to deep clean the toilet unless we are dumping the same day.  For every other day that it may need cleaning Iíll wipe it down good with a sanitizing wipe.  When I cleaned the toilet it got me started cleaning the whole bathroom really good, even mopping the floor. 

Mac had decided that since we are going to dump the tanks heíd clean the drains before hand.  Well, we ran out of water to flush out the drains.  So now we have to go and dump and fill instead of waiting until after we find out if we got a new site.

Boy we canít wait to dump the tanks, phew do they stink!  They are full to capacity!  It is past time to dump.  So we get everything stowed that needs stowing and drive over to the dump station.  We also ran a hose into the RV and ran a lot of water through the black and then the gray tanks.  After we dumped we drove over and filled with fresh water, then drove back to our ďold siteĒ.  We still have over an hour until the drawing so we had a very light snack/lunch before Mac left to go to the drawing. 

Yea! We got one of the sites with a view of the water!  So we packed up everything and drove over to our new site.  We finally get it all set up on our new site.  Boy this has wound up being an all day chore it seems.  After we get all set up we sit down to catch our breath and enjoy the view.  Boy is this nice!  We can sit outside and work and whenever we look up we can see something out on the water.  Itís very nice here.  We even have a picnic table on this site.  Now we have our outdoor kitchen, our dining area, our relaxing area, our work area all set up with a view of the water.  Can it get any better than this?

Chris enjoying the view from our new campsite

Weíve met our new neighbors and they all seem nice.  Weíve even met a gentleman who was in the drawing for this spot we have.  Heís only 3 spots over so heís happy too.  It was hard sweaty work getting everything done today so I decide to go take a shower.  Itís not too far to walk either to the shower house.  I thought it might be a little too far to walk for a shower but itís not really.

After I was nice and clean weíve got out the computers and weíre sitting outside working.  Iím updating the blog and Mac is working hard on the business.  We do pause often to look up and enjoy the view.  Iím glad that we moved to this site, even if itís only for 2 more weeks.  We really like it here.

We were so busy today that we didnít go to the fitness center.  Mac didnít want to go snorkeling either today; he wants to let his sunburn rest a little.  Can sunburn rest?  Us southerners have such funny expressions donít we. 

I received an email today, (I love getting emails, itís like a Christmas present, you donít know whatís inside until you open it, or is that a box of chocolates?).  Anyway, this woman emailed me and she too has her own business.  I checked out her website at  and Iím adding it into the blog because I think it is good to be prepared for any and every emergency.  So check out her website and see if you are interested.  When I worked at the hospital I wrote an article once regarding disaster preparedness; everyoneís family should have a plan, a place to meet, etc. in the case of a disaster.   The Red Cross has some great information regarding disaster preparedness, each state and locality may also have information relevant to your location:,1082,0_500_,00.html

Thursday, March 16:

Hereís a story that I forgot to add when writing the blog on Wednesday.  At our ďoldĒ campsite right across from us was a rental Class C camper with a group of young guys down here to have a good time.  Early about 3:30 on Wednesday morning these young people woke me up when their camper returned.  They were a tad loud and I was grumbling about it.  Mac said ďOh Chris cut them some slack, theyíre young and if thatís the worst thing they ever do, then I (Mac) can sleepĒ.  I thought that was just so wonderful of him to say that. 

We worked on the business side again this morning until around 10.  We then went to the fitness center here on Sigsbee and worked out.  I biked for about 30 minutes and then did some leg press and leg lifts.  I think I overdid it once again.  I was very sore afterwards; sore all the way up into the hip area.  Funny thing about knee replacement recovery, you get pains in the weirdest places, I mean my hip, why is it hurting?

We came back to the RV and ate lunch.  The weather isnít so great today for snorkeling so we arenít going today.  Itís a little windy and the water is choppy, there are plenty of clouds so the water wonít be clear to see underwater.  I guess itís a good thing because Iím pretty sore after my workout. 

I goofed off and moaned and groaned about pain for a few hours this afternoon.  I finally took 2 of my tramadol and soon the pain was under better control.  Mac then talked me into going out and we went to Home Depot and picked up a few needed items to finish a project.  Mac is installing shelves in the small closet on his side of the bed; there is one on each side of the bed.  If itís successful then heíll install some on my side too. 

We then went to Boaterís World and looked around for some stuff.  I found my favorite Teva ďmushĒ flip flops there and we got a pair.  Mac found a plug-in chart light that we can use for a reading light over the bed so we got that too.  The light plugs into a cigarette lighter and only uses 5 watts; itís a really powerfully focused light.  We are very pleased with it.

We picked up Chinese take out at the Hong Kong Restaurant and brought it back home to eat.  It was very good.  I love Pork Lo Mein and I remembered this restaurant having pretty good noodles so I ordered that and Mac had Kung Pao Chicken, it was pretty good stuff too.

After eating we sat around outside enjoying the view.  When it got to dark we went inside and goofed off the rest of the evening.  Of course, we went to bed pretty early too.  All this fresh air, sunshine, and exercising is wearing us out, we get tired and sleepy early.

Friday, March 17:

Again we worked on the business side until around 10.  We went to the fitness center and worked out.  I rode the bike for 30 minutes and did leg presses.  I didnít do any leg lifts, I donít think I like them.  Every time I do them I seem to get very sore.  Iím probably doing them incorrectly.

We came back to the RV and ate leftover Chinese food.  We ďrestedĒ for about an hour and then we got to go snorkeling!  The weather is perfect today, sunny, not to hot, 79-80, wind about 3-4 MPH, but the UV Index is 10, very high.  So we slathered on a lot of sunscreen.  The water seems to be getting warmer too.  It was very nice walking into the water.  We snorkeled for about an hour and we got out.  We came back to the RV and rested for about 15-30 minutes and then we went snorkeling again.  We had such a great time.  We saw some pretty fish, 2 sea slugs, and a barracuda!  I really like snorkeling on sunny days, you can see so much.  Itís pretty too to see the light reflecting down in the water.  We snorkeled about an hour again and then too bad we finally had to get out.

We came back to the RV and picked up our shower supplies and walked over to the shower house.  It was great to get all that salt water off.  I was one tired camper after all of that working out today.  After we hung out our wet towels, etc. it was time to go pick up our mail.  After picking up the mail we went to Publix and bought some groceries.  It was obvious that we were hungry too.  We stopped in for a few items and we bought a lot of stuff.  But it wonít be wasted around here.

Mac grilled out hamburgers tonight, we had them with some potato salad.  They were very good juicy burgers too.  I agree with Mac, when it comes to hamburger meat the commissary just does not seem to have good hamburger meat.  These were great hamburgers!  Of course, Macís seasoning could have something to do with it.

After dinner we have goofed off with our computers, stopping occasionally to tell each other how wonderful life is.  It was another early night for us; too much of living in paradise has worn us out.

Saturday, March 18:

We remembered to set the alarm clock this morning so we got up early enough to go to the flea market.  I actually woke up before the alarm clock and had coffee ready via IV for Mac when the alarm woke him up.  I was so excited that I could go to a flea market.  I know it may be very tiring on my knee but Iím really looking forward to going.

The flea market is located on Big Pine Key at about MM 30.5.  We went last year and I enjoyed it very much; it was equally enjoyable this year.  We got there about 7:30 and the flea market opens at 8:00.  We got a great parking spot right under some shade.  Several vendors were already open for business so we had lots to see.  We soon split up and would join up again occasionally to ensure that the other wasnít too tired.  I had a great time.  I could look at as much jewelry as I wanted, I bought a pretty 4 piece set of beaded jewelry that the vendor makes herself.  I liked her choices of beads and thought a lot of her stuff was very pretty.  I didnít think though to ask her if she had a card or a website, I would probably have bought more from her now that Iíve looked closer at the jewelry that she made.  She does great work. 

There is one vendor there that has some great tiles.  Some artist in South or North Carolina makes them for her and she sells them.  They are very creative, there were several with a cat theme.  Of course, there were other ones including one that was inspired from a famous painting of women harvesting in a field.  It was very good recreation, especially using a large tile as the canvas.  I know that the painting of the tile is hard because the colors you paint with donít look the same as it does once itís fired.  So the artist is very good.  They are very reasonably priced too.  A ďregularĒ sized tile was about $13.00.  The larger one that I mentioned of women harvesting was I believe, only $50.00.  I stood there for at least 10 minutes trying to figure out where I could put a tile in the RV.  Next year, I think Iíll redo the kitchen in the RV and get one large tile with maybe several plain ones to surround it and use that as the backsplash behind the stove.  Iím really getting tired of the ugly wallpaper in the RV right now.  Iíll have to do some research and see if others have had success with tiles not falling off the walls from all the traveling, driving over bumpy roads, etc.  Weíll see, weíve talked a lot about redecorating but havenít done any yet.

I also found a pillow that goes well with our throw on the couch.  Itís small and has a muted theme of the beach and has ďItís A Shore ThingĒ on it.  I like it; it will go good on our couch.  I also found a vendor of window etchings that Iíve mentioned previously on the blog.  We bought 3 small ones; they were 3 for $10.  Our car has a window on each side of the back seat and there is a section on each window that doesnít move.  So I had wanted to get two for the car, but since the price was for 3, well now I have an extra one to put somewhere.  My daughter will probably steal it from me when she sees it.

I also found some new scrunchies for putting my hair up.  They were hand made by the vendor and I liked that they were a little bigger than the scrunchies you buy in the store.  I also found some other hair items at one vendor location that were 5 for $1.00 but I only found 4 items that I wanted.  I really have found some good stuff today.

While walking around the flea market I saw a man with this interesting color of bird so I just had to take a picture of the bird.  Itís a Moluccan Cockatoo, Iíd never seen one before.  You meet such colorful people and animals at a flea market.

We were at the flea market until about 10.00; we had seen every aisle and visited every vendor that we were interested in.  So we left and drove up to the Salvation Army just up the road about one mile.  This was one of my favorite thrift stores when we were here last year.  They were having a sale on some baby clothes, so I bought several outfits for grandson Austin.  I also picked up a few other items there.

We left there and headed back to Key West.  We decided to drive on down into Key West and go to the dive shop and get a mask for Mac.  He wears glasses and canít see anything with a regular dive mask.  So he finally decided to break down and buy the mask and get the lenses.  He thought it was going to cost a lot more than it did.  Mac picked out one new mask with 2 lens of proper strength so he that can now see, and the total cost was about $80.00.  Mac had thought it was going to cost more like $150.00 so he was very pleased.

We finally went to the RV for lunch; we had hamburgers and potato salad again.  Mac made a few business phone calls while we were waiting to go into the water.  I know heís so excited to try out his new mask, how can he be such an adult and wait the full hour!!!!  But we finally got to go into the water and it was wonderful.  Mac made me wear the swim vest thingy that we have.  Yesterday I was struggling a little in the deeper water and he was concerned that today I might get too tired after walking so much at the flea market.  It was a good thing to wear today.  The current seemed stronger today and I was tired trying to swim so much.  I didnít like it though; it was in my way a lot.  I probably need a different size than the one we currently own.  Mac loved his new mask!  He could see so much today.  He kept pointing out stuff to me and it really made me realize how much he couldnít see before.  I thought he was very brave to even go snorkeling when he couldnít see that much.  But now he can and we are having a good time seeing all the fish, the corals, sea anemones and other sea life.  We stayed in today for about an hour and a half.  We were both shriveled and really tired when we got out, but it was so much fun.

We then went and took a shower.  We came back to the RV and have rested for a while recuperating from our swimming.  Iím sitting here writing the blog and glancing up at our view of the water.  There is a sailboat anchored within view of our site.  I see a pelican floating along the water and a cormorant diving under that water looking for his dinner.  Have you ever seen a cormorant?  They are very interesting birds.  They donít have oil in their wings like other sea birds so they have to spread their wings to dry them.  It is so weird seeing these birds perched all over with their wings spread to dry.  Hereís a link to some id tips and pictures.  And hereís a site with a good picture of the bird drying its wings.

Mac grilled out some chicken that he marinated tonight for dinner.  He included some vegetables and pasta and it was a great meal.  Heís really a great cook to me.  I now have to wash dishes but not tonight.  I have a good excuse, our neighbor is having a party and I would disturb the party by making too much noise.  Actually, Iím pretty tired and sore for all the walking and swimming today; so the dishes can wait until the morning.

Hi Readers!  Just wanted to tell you about a new area of our site.  It's called "Miscellaneous Ramblings" and you'll find it in the navigation section, top left sidebar.  In this area I'll post articles and stories we write that don't seem to fit anywhere else.  The first one is there now, and it's about snorkeling.  Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, March 19:

Yesterday we had made plans to go to church this morning but my hip and knee is really sore this morning so I donít want to go.  Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses.  So we goofed off some this morning.  I finally decided to attack the dishes that needed washing.  I called one of my daughters and put on the headset and put the cell phone in my pocket.  Hey this is great, I can do all kinds of stuff and Iím totally hands free!  So my daughter and I talked on the phone for over 2 hours.  While we talked I washed, dried and put away all the dishes.  I then chopped celery and onions and made chicken salad.  Then I chopped up apples and some grapes and made a Waldorf salad.  Wow!  This talking and working stuff is great!  I can get a lot done and still be able to talk with someone. 

Mac came in and asked about lunch so we had the chicken salad that Iíd just made.  He thought it tasted great but I think Iíll keep experimenting and try some different seasonings with it.  We had bought some pita bread at Publix but this brand isnít ďrealĒ pita bread, you canít cut it open.  Mac keeps trying to get his to work like pita bread and I just spread mine on top of it like a cracker.  Mmm, I wonder if wild rice would be good in this chicken salad.  Iíll have to try that someday.

So after lunch we talked and got our stuff ready to go snorkeling.  We wound up going snorkeling twice today.  We had a great time but agreed that there were too many boats out today and the water was very stirred up from it.  It wasnít as pleasant as during the week.  Mac said maybe we wonít snorkel on the weekends and I just looked at him like heís crazy.  NOT SNORKEL????? Whoís he think heís talking to?  We had a great time snorkeling today and saw several fish and sea life. 

After going to the shower house and showering off the salt water we goofed off much of the rest of the day.  Mac cooked dinner outside on our camp stove of Italian sausage with marinara sauce and penne pasta.  It was really good.  I see though that I now have another big stack of dishes to do with his cooking and my creating of salads today.  Darn, these tanks are going to fill fast with all this dishwashing.

After dinner I did some work on the business side and then I hit the bed early.  Itís been a wonderful day and very tiring.  I was asleep before 9:00, I know that because I had to ask Mac if he watched the Sopranos and he did and he watched it in the bedroom while I slept.  Talk about sleeping like a log, I never heard a thing.  But I really love it now.  I am much more active than I used to be, I donít take a nap very often anymore.  I think I took naps because the pain was sapping my strength.  I havenít read any books in the longest time, Iím just too busy.  I am so very happy that I got this knee replaced!  I have a new lease on life now, not just as a spectator but as a participant.

Monday, March 20:

Sometimes we can cram so much into one day that when you look back you canít believe that you did all of that in only one day.  Well, today was one of those days.  We got up very early this morning and worked on the business side for a few hours.  After some computer work I had gone outside and decided to take my chair and sit at the shoreline for awhile.  Mac brought his chair and joined me.  We were sitting there soaking in the view when we saw what we thought was a fish close to shore.  It stayed in the same location for quite some time with a tail or body part breaking the surface occasionally.  So Mac had to walk into the water to see what it was, it turns out it was a nurse shark!  One of the tent campers also came out to see what it was and of course Mac had to pull the shark up out of the water.  The camper had a camera in his tent and wanted to take a picture of Mac and the shark.  Heíd never seen anyone pick a shark up by its tail, neither had I.  Fortunately this camperís camera was a digital and our wiring fit so we could get a copy of the picture right away.  Itís not a big shark but still itís a shark.

I was amazed how many dishes we dirtied yesterday so I had to wash dishes again; this is starting to feel like an everyday chore!  Weíre supposed to be conserving fresh water and our gray tank but thereís a big stack to be done.  Mac had started the generator and I mentioned that when I was done with the dishes I was going to vacuum.  Mac very kindly decided to do that chore for me.  After he was done vacuuming and Iíd finished the dishes I quickly mopped the few floors that we have that need mopping.  Yea! Weíre nice and clean again.   

Around 9:00 we went to the gym and worked out just a little bit.  I rode the bike for about only 20 minutes today, my hip was hurting again so I didnít want to make it hurt worse.  I did some leg presses and when Mac was finished working out we left.  I say my hip was hurting again because Iíve had these pains in my hip infrequently for over a year going on two.  I donít know if itís the increased activity level since I had my knee replaced but my hip has been bothering me a lot lately.  Iím getting concerned that I may need to have a hip replacement in the next year or two.  Oh, wonderful!  I think Iíll have my OS look at it again in December when I see him and get an x-ray of it too.  If it continues to bother me very much Iíll make an appointment to see him before we leave Florida.  Heís the greatest and Iíd only want him to do any surgery if required.

We went to the BX and picked up some needed items.  While there Mac bought an underwater camera and film.  Weíve been seeing such interesting things under the water and want to try and capture some of it on film.  We also picked up 2 more snorkel mask sets to have for the granddaughters when we meet them at spring break. 

Mac has a conference call today at 11 so thatís why we went early to the gym today.  We came back home and had a small snack and Mac checked his email and discovered that the call has been rescheduled to 1:30 this afternoon.  What to do, what to do?   Why go snorkeling of course!  So thatís what we did.

It was really great out today.  There werenít very many boats at all today so we could see much better than yesterday.  Mac had a great time trying out his new camera.  We saw some pretty fish and 3 or 4 lobster!  Mmm is that dinner hiding under that rock?  It was really cool to see all that we saw but we had to come back in, duty calls.

So Mac talked on his conference call and we ate another snack.  Then we went snorkeling again!  We had a wonderful time.  I think Iím finally getting the hang of this.  I can keep the water out of my mask and keep it from fogging up about 90% of the time.  I stayed under almost the whole time or at least over 50% of it.  I actually swam over the deep part of the water looking for the fish and it wasnít too scary.  I guess I should clarify what Iím talking about.  The water isnít that deep here where weíre at.  It slowly gets deeper to about 6 feet and then about 40 yards from shore, thereís a deep channel that is marked by buoys.  Along this deep channel itís like a cliff face and you can swim out to this and look over the edge into the deep water.  Itís been scary to me, and now Iíve gotten braver and braver.  Iíve discovered that I really do float in salt water.  I can just lay there and not move and I donít sink.  So Iíve gotten up the courage to go over the deeper section of the water and then turn around and look back at the cliff face.  There are many interesting fish and sea life there.  So we snorkeled today for over 2 1/2 hours total for both times; it was so much fun and very tiring too.

After we got back to the RV we got our shower bags and went to the shower house for a good long shower.  When we got back to the RV Mac wanted to go drop the film off and get it developed.  Heís excited about the pictures and wants to see if any came out good.  So we went and dropped the film off at Walgreenís, went to the post office and posted some mail.  We then decided to drive on into town and go to the Ace Hardware there.  We looked around there some but didnít see anything that we wanted to buy. 

We decided to go over to the World Watersports Dive Shop and pick up a few things.  I picked out a pair of better shoes for snorkeling than what Iíve been wearing.  The ones Iíve been wearing are the cheap kind that we picked up last year at Walgreenís.  We didnít want to invest much money trying snorkeling but now that weíve decided that we really do enjoy it and plan on doing it more we are going to invest in better quality gear.  My shoes were too big and they were starting to come apart.  So I tried on several different pairs of snorkel shoes and finally decided to get a pair of scuba shoes.  They really fit well; they come up over the ankle and are very secure.  I can hardly wait to test them out.  Mac picked up a new and better snorkel than his old one, so heís all set now with a matching mask and snorkel tube.  Heíll get new shoes next year he says.   

On our way back towards Walgreenís to pick up the pictures we decided to have seafood for dinner.  We stopped at Captain Bobís Grill Restaurant.  They have daily early bird specials so we were just in time for that.  I had coconut shrimp with french fries, real ones like home made.  Mac ordered fried grouper and fries.  We split our meals and we enjoyed the fish and shrimp.  Captain Bobís is an inexpensive place to eat in Key West.  Weíve eaten there 3 times now and I enjoyed each time.  I just read several internet reviews of this restaurant and an article written in the Key West paper.  The only one that had anything good to say about the restaurant was the newspaper article.  I havenít had a bad meal there but it seems others have.   

After dinner we finally picked up the pictures at Walgreenís.  Mac is so excited that he has to look at them right there in the store.  He was disappointed with his pictures, but he learned a lot from the clerk and from another customer about taking pictures underwater.  So it looks like tomorrow will be another underwater adventure so he can continue experimenting taking pictures.

This evening weíre goofing off on the internet, looking stuff up, answering emails, Iím writing most of the blog this evening.  Itís been another wonderful day.  Oh yeah, one ďbadĒ thing is weíve been in and out of the RV so often today in our wet bathing suits, etc. so now the carpet doesnít look vacuumed or the floor mopped this evening.  I canít believe that it was done just this morning.

Tuesday, March 21:

 Not too much different and exciting has happened around here; just another day in paradise.  We get up and enjoy the day by goofing off outside, admire the water; goof off on the internet, etc.  While we were snorkeling we saw some big lobsters and crabs in addition to the pretty fish that we see.  Mac thinks he saw what might have been a moray eel in one of the small cave like structures along the deep edge.  I didnít get to see it, bummer.  While we were out the Fish & Game boat stopped by us to see what we were up to and to discuss our dive flag with us.  They said itís not legal so we had the small debate with them about it.  They were nice about it too; they are there to ensure that everyone is safe.  So when we got back to the RV Mac cut up a clothes hanger and ran it through our flag so that itís stiff upright.  Sometimes laws are good and other times they are ridiculous.  The fish & game guys agreed that actually our rig was easier to see than some of the others but yet we werenít quite legal, so no big deal.

After snorkeling twice today and then taking a shower I decided to wash the clothes.  It turned out to be a major clothes washing expedition.  How can 2 people wear so many clothes and use so many towels?  I washed about 7 loads today!  I only washed clothes last week it seems.  I think weíve been wearing more because we sweat more and change out of the sweaty clothes after washing up.  So it was a major deal for me to get it done, there are only 5 washers so I had to wait for washers, then wait for dryers and it wound up taking over a couple of hours to get it all done.  I keep telling myself Iím not going to let that happen or that Iím going to go off base and get it done in about an hour but I wind up staying here and doing it. 

While washing the clothes I did meet a very nice couple who are brand new owners of a RV, so we had a good talk.  They had bought their RV in Tampa at Lazy Days and have only had it about a week.  After dinner Mac and I walked down to take out the garbage and we stopped by their RV and visited for a while.  We brought them back with us to see our RV (what a mess it was too) and then walked back to their rig with them and visited some more.  I hope they enjoy their new RV and have many great adventures.

After coming back home we goofed off just a tiny bit by sitting outside and just enjoying being together.  Weíre tired too from the day so it was time to go to bed.  The breeze seems to have died this evening and itís very warm.  Inside the RV itís pretty warm with no breeze coming through so Mac rigged up one of our fans to sit in the window and blow across us while we sleep.  Ahhhhh, finally a good breeze to sleep by! 

Wednesday, March 22: 

I never got around to putting the clean clothes away yesterday so theyíre sitting around in the baskets and I want to put them away this morning.  Before I put them away I want Mac to install my new shelves first so I nagged him enough and he got them done.  I wanted all my shelves put up, but we didnít have enough shelf clips to finish so Mac took a set from his shelves and weíll pick up more at Home Depot later today.  I really like my new shelves too.  I put everything away from the laundry and after I put my stuff away on my new wonderful shelves I donít like where I put everything so Iíll have to rearrange the items again until I get the maximum use out of the shelves. 

Itís a very warm and humid day today.  Mac wants to go shopping before we go snorkeling today so we head out around 10 or so.  We dropped off some film at Walgreenís to have developed while we finish up shopping around close by.  We went to Home Depot and picked up more shelf clips and looked at flooring again.  Weíve pretty much decided on the kind of flooring that we are going to get, but we like to look and see if there are any new items that we might like.  We then went to Boaters World and picked up another pair of Tevaís for me and Mac decided to buy a folding chair there.  Boating equipment is of better quality than most of the RV equipment so we get a lot of ideas and we purchase a lot from boater equipment stores.  

After shopping there we went to eat Chinese food at the Hong Kong Restaurant.  They have great luncheon specials and you get quite a bit of food.  We never can eat it all and we bring the leftovers home for dinner tonight.  So finally we get to go and pick up the film.  Mac is disappointed again.  Only about 4 or 5 pictures that he took underwater are good enough that you can see the fish that he took a picture of.  I think weíll just take some pictures of the girls underwater this year and give up on the idea of being able to take any pictures of fish or other sea life.  Thatís too bad too because we wanted to share what weíve seen underwater with everyone.  Now itís only in our memory.

We came back to the RV and now we FINALLY can go snorkeling!  We had another great day of snorkeling.  We saw a couple of huge lobsters and crabs and some pretty cool fish too.  We snorkeled for over an hour and came back home.  We went to take our showers and hung out our wet stuff.  I like to put my wet hair up in a bun.  It helps to make me feel so nice and cool with it that way.  Itís either that my wet hair is providing some nice air conditioning or the day has finally gotten cooler but I feel cooler now.  Mac says heís hot, poor baby, maybe he should grow his hair too so he can wear a nice wet bun. LOL 

This evening we ate leftover Chinese food and then I got on the internet and started researching interesting places to visit when we take the girls back to Illinois after Easter.  I found Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga and it looks like a great place to visit with the girls, so Iím excited about it.  Last year we had to rush to get to their home because we had the U-Haul truck; but this year we can actually stop and visit a few places of interest while taking them home.  It will be so much fun! 

Finally we are tired and itís time for bed.  Itís cooler tonight than last night so itís better sleeping weather.  Itís still too warm though so we run the fan again.  Thank goodness Mac rigged up the fan for us.  Weíre talking about how and what to put up in the bedroom for us to have a nice breeze when the weather is so warm.  Weíll let you know what we come up with.

Interim Update (written Saturday, March 25) 

Hi all.  In case you haven't been following us long I should tell you about our eclectic posting style.  We put the most current entry on the main blog page, and we maintain all the posts in the monthly archives.  The monthly pages are chronological from top to bottom (reverse of most blogs where the last entry is at the top).   Now that Chris is back to her "old self" she does fairly detailed blogging every few days.  I'll sometimes add a comment or two when she posts, and I also add the photos.  On occasions when I post before her, I usually call it an "interim update" because I expect she'll come along and write more in a day or two.  So this is one of those occasions.

Mac's New Job

The last few days have been very busy for us because I'm coming out of semi-retirement.  No, we're not selling the RV and buying a stick house -- whatever would make you think that!   The adventure continues!  I'll just be working longer and more consistent weekday hours than before, and our moving days will shift to mostly the weekends.

Here's what happened.  As you might already know, I've been an independent recruiter since 2002.  Over the years I've become focused on recruiting therapists; PT, OT, and Speech.  I've worked closely with another larger company for the last 2+ years.  They've hinted before that they'd like me to join them, and last week they made me an offer that I couldn't pass up.  So now I'm managing a new division for them.  I'm keeping my company open, but limiting activity to current clients, at least for now. 

Enough about work, it's Saturday!  Whoopee!

Changing the subject, I've added another section to the web site.  It's our "Full-Timer Tutorial". Currently two articles there, one on choosing an RV to fulltime in, and another on getting mail.  Also a link to our "how to" section on dry camping.  More to come.

Thursday, March 23:


Mac started ďworkingĒ today at his new job, which he has mentioned in the blog. Heís on the phone a lot today so I have to be quiet (thatís a hard thing to do). We do get to go snorkeling this afternoon though so that was nice. We saw 2 crabs that weíd not seen before. After researching it on the internet we think that they were stone crabs that had been declawed. We saw a couple of pretty cowfish too. Hereís a website that has a picture of one  And hereís another  We very much enjoyed the time snorkeling.

It was a good thing that we went snorkeling when we did today. Iíd read the weather report on Yahoo and itís supposed to start getting windy and cooler this evening. It did get very breezy this evening; thankfully the awning supports are very secure in the ground.

Friday, March 24 Ė Sunday March 26:

Not too much to write about for these 3 days. It has been very windy and cool around here. Weíve been in the RV keeping out of the wind. Weíve read a little, goofed off on the internet and did some work too. It kind of feels like weíre hibernating in here, Iíll be glad when this chilly wind stops. The weather forecast says winds through Thursday. Bummer, weíre leaving Friday so I donít think it looks like weíll be doing any snorkeling this week. 

Monday, March 27 Ė Friday, March 31:

Sorry I havenít updated the blog until today. There just hasnít been anything much happening around here to write about. Mac is busy working during the day and of course Iíve been helping him a lot. I do the research, entering data, etc., and he does the calling and emailing. So, weíve both been pretty busy doing that.


The weather wasnít that great over the weekend and early in the week. It was windy, slightly chilly, so we couldnít go snorkeling. The weather has warmed up but itís still been very windy. What a bummer thatís been. I really wanted to go snorkeling at least one more time before we left here. Hopefully, weíll get to go when we get to Fort De Soto next weekend.


I realized this week that weíre leaving and I havenít been to any of the thrift stores around here yet this trip. So I had to go visit the thrift stores this week. I went to the thrift store here in Key West Wednesday morning and then headed out to visit the stores up the keys in the afternoon. But I had forgotten that they close early, like 4:00 early; so I had to return home empty-handed from the afternoon trip. Thursday I went again, leaving early enough to visit the store on Summerland Key and Big Pine Key with enough time for slow browsing. I found several great bargains and was very pleased with the shopping trip.


The trip back was extremely slow! Weíd heard that if thereís an accident on Hwy. 1 anywhere in the keys the traffic can back up for hours, but weíd never experienced it until yesterday. I got stuck in my first Keys traffic jam. There was a bad accident at around 2:00 at mile marker 17. I heard about the accident over the radio while I was shopping at around MM 33. When I headed home from shopping I got stuck in the traffic at about MM 20 for over an hour. Traffic wound up being backed up way over 3 miles in both directions. I heard that some SUV was speeding and left the road, hit the guard rail at the edge of a bridge and went airborne. Driver flew out of SUV, wasnít wearing a seatbelt, I guess. The SUV turned over, went into the water and then wound up under the bridge. The driver was taken to the hospital and he's ok I think I heard. But it took well over 3 hours to clear it all up. When it finally cleared up and started moving I was headed south and the traffic heading north was backed up past MM 10, so there were a lot of people waiting and waiting to get going.


Thursday evening we went to my favorite used bookstore The Bargain Books & Newsstand, in Key West. I had a box of books to trade in. They are very nice people there and there are a couple of cats that live there all the time. They get so much tourist visitors buying books that when you trade your books in they give you 1 for 2 with no money involved. That is actually a very good trade. There arenít many used bookstores left that donít want some money in addition to a trade.  What they do is credit you 25% of the cover price on books you bring in, then charge you 50% of the cover price for books you "buy".


When we left there we just had to stop at the Blonde Giraffe so that Mac could get a piece of key lime pie. They have the best pie around he says. Plus he can buy it by the slice instead of buying a whole pie. Since I canít eat any of it he doesnít need a whole pie, one slice will do him.


On Friday we spent most of the day working on the business and getting everything ready to leave on Saturday. This evening Iím writing the blog and everything is ready to leave in the morning. Weíve even got the car hooked to the RV and ready to go. Iíve been having mixed feelings about leaving here. We really love it here a lot; but weíre ready to get on the road and see new places and meet new people. Weíre eager to see our family again. But yet, we are sad to be leaving here. Weíve said good-bye to friends and neighbors, and weíll see them next season; God willing.


It's time to start up the monthly camping expense report for 2006.  I'll start posting our camping costs at the end of each month.  We're behind last year's rate (spending more) because we were hooked up in Tampa the first 2 months of the year, but we expect to finish 2006 under $9/night and maybe as low as $8/night with all the free camping we do out West.


Year Avg $ per Nite # Dry # Elect # FHU # Free %Dry % Free
2006 to date $12.86 30 0 58 5 34% 6%
2005 Full Year $9.57 184 17 164 113 50% 31%

Click Here for April 2006

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