Navigating Bumpy Roads

We all travel different roads and the path isn’t always clear or easy.

2020 found us hunkering down in Florida while we waited for travel restrictions to end and for RV parks to re-open. We were (and are still) lucky to be able to park Waldo at Daddy’s house. We had friends who were on the road and unable to find places to stay. The uncertainty of the future weighed on everyone.

I spent my time finding projects around the house. I remove the 1970’s wallpaper from a bathroom at Daddy’s…

I refinished a cast iron patio set our neighbor gave us…

We were in Florida long enough for me to watch the life cycle of the Echo Moth…

While I busied myself with these things, I just couldn’t find the motivation to keep writing blog posts. I marveled at how some bloggers were able to stay relevant, how they dug into the past, dreamed about the future or adapted to a changing world. In August last year, we began traveling again. I was able to motivate myself to write a couple posts, but I was still having trouble between wanting to spent more of my time enjoying our travels and not spending the time and effort it takes to write a good post. I didn’t stop taking pictures, but I did stop doing any editing. All pictures, the good, the bad, and the ugly went into a properly labeled folder with the intention to review them later. Most still sit in those folders today.

We rounded out 2020 with another fabulous season selling Christmas trees followed by New Year’s fireworks. Things were looking up. After a pretty sedate 2020 (with no campground jobs), our bank account was finally looking like it would survive. THEN along came 2021.

Steve has been doing some work for a company in South Bend, IN. Most of it is consulting, but in late March we began a month long journey to South Bend. Our plan was for Steve to spend 10 days working in South Bend then to head west to visit a friend in Utah before heading back to Florida for 4th of July firework sales. One of our first stops was in Alabama. We spent a relaxing week at a COE park, everything was lovely until…

So….that wasn’t fun! But, hey, bad weather can strike anywhere. By mid April, we were in a state park in Indiana. Our last stop before heading to South Bend. I had never given any thought to when it stops snowing in Indiana but…

What makes this unbearable for me is this is when Waldo’s furnace decided to quit!

The outside temperature is on top, but the more disturbing number is the inside temp on the bottom. No thanks!! Steve was able to diagnose the problem and we had the part shipped to South Bend. In the meantime, he bought a space heater so I wouldn’t freeze to death. As soon as we were settled into our spot in South Bend, Steve repaired the furnace and we spent the next 10 days in relative comfort. That is until the refrigerator went the way of the furnace. Yeah, I know, Waldo is 21 years old, these things are bound to happen. Well crap!! Since we have a portable fridge/freezer in Waldo’s basement, we decided to hold off on rushing to do any repairs. He did spend a lot of time narrowing down the possible causes. They ranged from minor, relatively inexpensive to major and downright costly!

We left South Bend on May 1st, I was so glad to be heading towards someplace fun! I had our entire trip to Utah planned out and reservations made. If it sounds like this is when I started truly having fun, you’d be wrong…

Yep, that’s Waldo broken down on the side of the road. I won’t go into all the details but to make a long story short, Waldo needed a new motor. Out with the old…

In with the new…

It took 15 days for the Cat dealer to replace the motor. The final bill was more than $10,000 OVER what they told us to begin with. I was sick. We had a “rainy day fund” but this wasn’t rain, this was a deluge. Thankfully, my dad was able to loan us enough money to cover the bill. There’s way more to the story and some day, if you want to hear it, I’ll write about it.

Two weeks behind schedule we began our journey west, finally! We had a great time taking in the natural beauty of Utah and spent a rejuvenating week with a friend we hadn’t seen in nearly 3 years.

We made it back to Florida the first week of June, just in time to get ready for 4th of July fireworks again. Oh yeah, what about that fridge?

We had our choice of buying a new one or replacing the cooling unit. After the repair bill at the Cat dealer, we chose to replace the cooling unit!! I’m happy to report it is working great!

This post isn’t what I normally write about, but it is exactly what real life is like. There are a lot of bumpy roads, but thankfully there are more smooth ones! I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to telling you about our adventures. I’ve always tried to stay fairly current in reference to our location but I think it’s time I get back to editing my pictures and show you more of our wonderful smooth roads! If you want to know where we currently are, follow TheWanderingRVer on Facebook or Instagram.

Thank you for allowing me to vent. I hope all of your roads are smooth.

A Cave, A Quarry and A New Friend

While we enjoyed our week at Shady Valley, cell service was non-existent and wi-fi was iffy at best. We used one of our days there to scout out a new park. We decided on Carter Caves State Resort Park. There wasn’t any availability until the following Sunday so we booked a Sunday to Friday stay and finished out our week at Shady Valley.

In the mean time, we had a bit of maintenance to do on Waldo. One day we stopped at a local parts store. I waited in the Jeep while Steve did his shopping. A guy pulls up next to me in a home made street legal dune buggy, gets out looks at our license plate and asks if we “drove that thing all the way from Florida?” I laughed and said “No, we tow it behind our motorhome, we live in it full-time.” We were still chatting when Steve came out. The guy stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Eddie, my wife calls me Gabby.” Steve and I nodded our understanding and hung out in the parking lot for another half hour BS-ing. It was a completely comfortable conversation by some like minded adventurers. We told him we were going to be moving to Carter Caves at the end of the week. He informed us that is his “stomping grounds”, he drives through nearly every night (since he doesn’t live far away). We left him with an invitation to stop by if he sees the Jeep.

Sunday rolled around and we made our move, wondering if we would see him again. Sure enough, on Monday, Eddie stopped by. He was driving a different buggy this time…

IMG_9409-Edit

He turned down my offer of a beer, proclaiming it was against the beer rules. You ALWAYS bring your own beer. Only if you run out, is it ok to drink someone else’s. We sat around, each drinking our own beer and talking until late in the evening. He was a fountain of information about the area and gave us lots of ideas on places to visit. 

One of the days we were there, we toured Cascade Cave. It was a really cool series of caves, with lots of bats getting settled in for their winter hibernation. Unfortunately, none of my cute bat pictures came out, so you’ll have to settle for cave pictures…

IMG_9366
.

IMG_9373
.

IMG_9398

IMG_9379

The last part of the cave we visited was a 30′ waterfall..

There were also several hiking trails to explore. We took the 3 Bridges Trail as far as the first bridge which was impressive in size…

The person gives a bit of perspective on the size
Looking back towards the entrance

One evening, Eddie stopped by and asked if we had found the quarry he had told us about. We admitted we had looked, but not found it. He offered to lead the way. He needed gas, so we followed him to the station where we both filled up. He said, “Hey, we aren’t far from my house, wanna stop in there first.” “Sure”, we said. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but his home is beautiful! Complete with a huge fishing pond his wife is working on. Eddie grabbed a bowl of dog food and tossed into the pond, the result was dozens of huge catfish vying for their share. About this time, his wife came from working on the other side of the pond and introductions were made. Her and I chatted while Eddie showed Steve the garage and his “buggy in progress”. Eddie checked the time and said we should get going if we want to see sunset at the quarry.

15 minutes later, we came to this…

IMG_9410

Eddie offered to take our picture, he laughed when he handed me back my phone. He had taken several pictures, including…

img_9414
.

img_9417

He explained he always takes a bunch of pictures, especially before people are ready. Turns out the best picture of us WAS before we were ready…

IMG_9420

Later, he proved again the best picture is probably the one before you are ready…

IMG_9426

My expression leaves something to be desired, but it is clear we were laughing and having fun. I took a couple pictures of our rides by the pond…

IMG_9429

And further up the trail…

IMG_9438

Just before sunset, I got a picture of Eddie drinking “The Best Damn Beer I Ever Drank”

IMG_9436

Steve and I called it a night while Eddie settled in for his evening at the quarry.

Thursday, I texted Eddie and invited him over for a campfire on our final night at the park. He said he was working on a souvenir and would be over later. When he arrived, I had a roaring fire going and we sat around talking about how much fun the last week had been. Eddie walked over to his buggy and came back with a surprise for us. Walking sticks he had made from locust tree limbs with our names and Kentucky 2020…

img_9836
.

img_9840

img_9842

We were shocked. It was such a “from the heart” souvenir. We have crossed paths with so many people over the last 3 1/2 years, very few have made us feel so special.

Up next – A Kayak Trip to Grotto Falls

Adventures in the Bluegrass State

We headed straight to Kentucky – The Bluegrass State when we left New Hampshire. Time with family and friends was great, but I was ready for some adventures. Our original plan was to boondock in the Daniel Boone National Forest, just outside of Morehead. There were two main reasons we nixed that idea, first being the was absolutely no cell service but the main reason was when we got to Paragon Road, the sites were muddy and soft. I could have lived with no service, but if we had gotten Waldo into the site, it would have taken a tow truck to get him out.

We spent the first week at Shady Valley Campground in Grayson. I rarely book a campground that has a Facebook page as it’s website, particularly if it isn’t updated regularly. But, I made an exception and it turned out well. Our site was fairly level and spacious…

IMG_9262

We did have a freaky visitor make his home on our picnic table…

IMG_9255

Several Google searches later, I learned it was a female Arrowshaped Micrathena spider. I know lots of people don’t want anything to do with spiders, but I thought she was cool.

We spent most of the week just driving around the area and seeing what there was to do. We explored backroads and small towns, we discovered the fact that Kentucky still has lots of dry counties – in 2020 – who’d have thought that!?!?!?

Anyhow, one of our daytrips included a stop at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park . We were quite surprised when we learned there are no day use fees for any of the Kentucky State Parks. As we toured the park, we saw how much there is to do, they even have miniature golf (for a very small fee). As we were leaving the park, we came across this…

IMG_9269

IMG_9271

It’s hard to imagine all of the work that went into building it. I’m sure it produced a heck of a lot of Kentucky iron in its day. On the way back to the campground, we took a detour to see this…

IMG_9276

I have always loved covered bridges and photographing them. There were picnic tables inside, but the gates were chained shut, presumably because of Covid.

Back at the campground, I searched for somewhere to explore the next day. What I found piqued my curiosity! An abandoned town with an abandon mine. Who could resist?

We came to the abandon town of Lawton first. We explored everywhere it was safe to go…

Lawton-3790

Lawton-3794

Lawton-3793

Lawton-3800

IMG_9294

IMG_9289

IMG_9287

When we came to the final building, I didn’t think much would still be inside…

Lawton-3808

As we walked around, we found an intact door that had a lock on it. I’ll go through any open door, but I draw the line at breaking in. There were several boards missing along the foundation so I was able to peek inside, imagine my surprise…

IMG_9319
.
IMG_9312
.
IMG_9310
.

IMG_9308

I have no idea how long those vehicles have been in there, but I can’t imagine it’ll be easy to get them out. The roof is failing, the walls are leaning precariously and who knows if the floor is safe.

We drove on a few miles and found the entrance to what is now called Mushroom Mine. Originally, it was the Tygart Limestone company which shut down after WW II. Some time in the mid-60’s a group of Kentucky farmers decided to turn it into a mushroom farm. That lasted until the mid-80’s. In 2004, 2 bodies were found inside about a 1/4 mile from one of the entrances. The couple had been missing several months and their son was ultimately charged in their murder. In 2006, the mine was the center of a scam involving the building of a data storage site. Read more history here.

I was surprised how accessible the mine was…

IMG_9354
.

Mushroom Mine-3810

Armed with flashlights, we entered the mine. It was obvious lots of people drive in, but we left the Jeep outside and walked. Near the entrances, there is plenty of light…

IMG_9324
.

IMG_9329

But the further in you go, the darker it gets. We found plenty of evidence of the mushroom farm…

IMG_9343

Rooms and rooms of growing trays. The farther in we went, the more water we encountered until we were forced to turn back. A selfie in the nearly pitch black surroundings…

IMG_9348

Back outside, we explored what was supposed to be the data farm buildings. Half built structures with tons of graffiti. I don’t care for the subject matter, but some of the “artists” had talent…

Mushroom Mine-3814
Nature taking over
IMG_9362
Graffiti

IMG_9361

IMG_9360

The mine was definitely creepy, but so much fun to explore.

Have you ever explored an abandon place?

Up next – the move to Carter Caves State Resort Park.

Getting High in the Granite State

I’ll start by saying there are lots of ways the title of this post can be taken and I want to clarify, I’m not talking about any illicit substances. Steve and I recently spent a month in New Hampshire mooch-docking at his brothers house. Mooch-docking is parking in someone’s driveway and plugging into their house power and water. This is our second time staying at Steve’s brother’s house and this year, he installed a 30 amp outlet for us.

Our first high was getting Waldo leveled. Generally we can do it using just the jacks, but, sometimes you need several 4×6’s and a step stool! Note the blocks of wood under Waldo’s front wheels and how high the step is.

We had several reasons for going to NH, but family and friends topped the list. Steve’s nephew was getting married. It was a small ceremony, in an open field, surrounded by loved ones. All the love and happy feelings floating around qualified as another kind of high!

Plus, it gave Steve and I a reason to dress up a bit…

Many afternoons were spent quietly sitting on the porch, watching all of the hummingbirds enjoying the summer…

Then there was the day I was sitting in Waldo, just goofing off when a bear walked through the yard…

Not a great picture, but I was shooting out the window!

We spent a wonderful day with the family in York Beach, Maine. It was amazing to me that 4 car loads of people all managed to arrive at the meeting place within half an hour of each other! Quite the feat since we were all coming from different towns in NH.

Steve spent 3 1/2 weeks of the time we were in NH working for the towing company his brother works for. Near the end of his time there, he went of a road call involving an overturned cement truck…

Steve gets high on cement

One benefit of Steve working full-time is I had time to go kayaking with one of my best friends. She took me to an out of the way pond and we spent a glorious afternoon on the water!

A hidden pond

The family got together on several occasions, laughter and fun prevailed…

On the morning we were leaving, we discovered Waldo had a flat tire. Luckily, his nephew was able to find the leaky valve stem and pump up the tire.

Since we had been mooch-docking for 36 nights, our black and grey tanks needed to be emptied, Phil was kind enough to dig up his septic tank to we wouldn’t have to slosh our way to the next campground!

And, I’ll end this post with my favorite sunset picture from our time in NH…

Up next – Kentucky Bound!

Georgia’s Waterfall Heaven

If there’s one item in nature I really enjoy photographing, it’s waterfalls. Big ones, little ones, roaring ones – I don’t care. During our visit to the Georgia coast, Steve picked up a tourist magazine with an ad for the Georgia mountains featuring, you guessed it, waterfalls.

As we made our travel plans for heading north, we decided to stay a week at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia. A quick search on Google maps showed there were well over a dozen waterfalls we could visit. One of the determining factors for me was how strenuous was the hike? Anything over easy/moderate and I’m out. One review I read on a hiking forum stated “trail is difficult to follow, not well marked and dangerous”. Needless to say, we skipped that one!

On Monday, we headed out to Anna Ruby Falls, only to discover it is currently closed on Mondays. So we stopped at Fred’s Famous Peanuts to check out their store and waterwheel…

Fred's Famous Peanuts-3589

I may put that sign on Waldo!

Freds Famous Peanuts-8725

Care for some TOE or FROG Jam?

Freds Famous Peanuts-8724

We did skip the boiled peanut samples, they just aren’t my thing, but the store was a neat stop on the way to the next falls.

The trail to Dukes Creek Falls starts off with an easy boardwalk and switch backs several times, making it more like a 2 mile walk in the woods (round trip) than a hike…

Dukes Creek Falls-8727

Once we reached the viewing decks, we did come across a few other people, but it was still fairly peaceful. I’m a huge fan of long exposure shots of water…

Dukes Creek Waterfall-3600

Dukes Creek Waterfall-3610

Dukes Creek Waterfall-3609

But, sometimes, it can add a bit of weird…

Dukes Creek Waterfall-3593

Over the 2 1/2 seconds it took to take this image, the swirling bubbles in the water created a face. I didn’t see it until I downloaded the picture onto the computer. A lady there was kind enough to take a picture with my phone for us…

Dukes Creek Falls-8739

Since it was still early when we got back to the Jeep, we decided to try and get 2 waterfalls in one day. We headed to Horsetrough Falls, only to find the Forest Service road blocked off. On the way back to Waldo, we stopped off in the town of Helen. It seemed like a strange place to have an alpine Bavarian style town…

Helen-8830

Helen-3615

But it was fun to walk around. We found an outdoor bar/grill and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon just relaxing. River tubing is a big draw in Helen and shuttle buses run constantly…

Helen-3614

Tuesday we headed back to Anna Ruby Falls. They are only allowing 65 cars in the parking lot at a time to help people keep socially distant, so I can’t imagine how crowed the trail would have been otherwise! The trail is paved the entire way, but, holy hell, it is steep! Thankfully, there are lots of benches along the way and interesting signs to read while you give your legs a rest. Anna Ruby is a double falls and it was difficult to get a good picture of them both with the sun shining on one and not the other…

Anna Ruby Falls-3651

So, I contented myself with individual shots of the falls…

Anna Ruby Falls-3641

Anna Ruby Falls-3636

Anna Ruby Falls-8846

The trail follows the river and I took quite a few pictures of the rushing water. These are some of my favorites…

Anna Ruby Falls-3677

Anna Ruby Falls-3671

Anna Ruby Falls-3660

My favorite hike was to Helton Creek Falls. 3 miles down a narrow dirt road you find the parking area. There are upper and lower falls and it is a pretty easy walk to them. People generally stop quickly at the lower falls, snap a few selfies then head up to the upper falls with its swimming area.

Helton Creek-3684

Helton Creek-8861

Since we didn’t plan on swimming, I liked the lower falls better.

Helton Creek-3692

Helton Creek-3697

We were running out of days, but definitely not waterfalls. We opted to spend our last day just driving around. The Russell–Brasstown Scenic Byway was twisty, turn-y and steep but definitely worth the drive. There is a scenic overlook at the top and you are treated to a stunning view of Hogpen Gap…

Helton Creek-3712

The list of places I’d like to return to some day keeps growing. I call it “Bucket List 2.0”

Have you ever visited northern Georgia? What was your favorite place?

Up next – New Hampshire bound

 

The Luxury of Choices

I’m sorry. Sorry it has taken me this long to write about where we are and what’s going on.

Where to start?

We’ve been very fortunate to have had a place to “hunker down” for the last several months. We were supposed to spend the summer workamping in New Hampshire. Like nearly everyone else, we had plans. Plans that were interrupted by the pandemic. We had the luxury of choices. So, what did we do instead? Well, as I wrote in one of my last posts (months ago, I know) we remodeled Waldo. We were truly looking forward to living in our new digs. When we made the decision not to travel to New Hampshire in early April, I thought a lot about what full-time RVers were having to contend with, campground closures, “safer at home” orders and the uncertainty of where the next roll of tp was going to come from. We had none of those issues, Waldo was safely parked in my dad’s yard, patiently waiting for the next adventure. We stayed IN my dad’s house. That is a big distinction and has made me question my saying we are full-timers. I’ve come to the conclusion that since we use his house as a homebase, eat, drink and sleep in it, we are more like 3/4 timers. And that’s ok.

While we waited to see how it would pan out, I knew I needed projects. I get bored easily and with no idea when we’d be back on the road it wouldn’t take long to be bored out of my mind. I started by updating the bathroom, the 1970’s wallpaper HAD to go…

img_8431

Once the wallpaper was gone and the walls were painted bright white, I knew it needed some color to tie in with the green ceramic tiles and this is what I came up with…

60209067238__1791d70d-db25-4b5b-99df-f73ea0fa5671

Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. Now what?

I spent 2 1/2 weeks turning this…img_8534

into this…

img_8547

I added a bit of selfless promotion to Waldo (for when we got back on the road)…

img_8516

When the Florida state parks opened back up, Steve and I took a day trip to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. It was SO good to be out for the day…

img_8556img_8555

We hiked over 5 miles and truly enjoyed the park.

With spring turning to summer, I spent a lot of time out in the yard (in the shade!). One day while walking back to the house, something caught my eye…

img_8587

Turns out these were Echo moth eggs. Soon the coontie plants were overrun with caterpillars…

img_8590

Which eventually turned into moths…

img_8685

With our NH summer job a no-go, we had to decide how we were going to make up that money. Since the fireworks sales at New Years went so well, we decided to do it again for 4th of July. Our site was a Walmart parking lot in Clermont, FL…

img_866061473961039__dec95531-8157-4572-b5f3-127770bac0a2

With municipalities cancelling fireworks, our sales for consumer fireworks were crazy. We had a total of 3 stocking orders and were completely sold out by 2pm on the 4th. I’m confident, we could have sold MUCH more if re-stocking hadn’t been an issue. After 12 days parked on the asphalt in 98° weather, we needed a break! We were desperate for some R&R.

Crooked River State Park in Georgia was just what we needed. We booked a weeks stay and headed north…

img_8692

It felt SO good to be “Sleeping Around” again. We visited Fort Frederica National Monument…

img_8701

Neptune Park…

img_8702

Howard Gilman Park…

img_8693

Had a baby bird take refuge on our canopy…

img_8700

Visited the ruins of a tabby sugar works plantation built around 1825…

img_8718

Tabby is a type of concrete made from oyster shells.

And we hung out at Waldo, playing Yahtzee and drinking margaritas when it rained…

img_8721

And last, but not least, had a close encounter with a rooster…

img_8710

By the end of the week, we knew we had to get back on the road. Back to living in Waldo. We have to live our lifestyle despite pandemic and riot fears. We can’t and won’t “hide out” at Daddy’s forever. That is also the luxury of choices.

We hope you are all well and coping with this new normal. And I PROMISE to keep posting!

Up next – searching for waterfalls in the mountains of north Georgia

 

 

Happy Manatee Faces

One of my all time favorite things to do when I am in Crystal River is swim with the manatees.

These adorable creatures flock to warmer waters when the temperature in the Gulf of Mexico gets below 68°F. Despite the fact they can weigh in at over 1200 pounds, their stomach and intestines make up most of their mass. They actually have very little body fat for their size. Most of the time, they can be observed eating (10% of the body weight a day) or resting on the bottom. While resting, they only surface to breathe once every 15 minutes or so.

The first time I swam with the manatees was on a charter in King’s Bay. Setting out in the early morning hours, we were treated to a lovely sunrise…

2011Aug Manatee Swim-1988

Before dipping into the waters, we were given reminders of manatee etiquette. No chasing, no feeding, you may only touch a manatee if it comes close to you and then, only with one hand. As we floated, it didn’t take long for a juvenile manatee to come investigate…

 

2011Aug Manatee Swim-2002

I was amazed at it’s curiosity. It circled us and nudged in closer…

2011Aug Manatee Swim-2000

I happily watched as it fed on the grasses…

Before swimming off into the darkness. Back on the boat, we were treated to a glimpse of the mother and calf…

2011Aug Manatee Swim-2029

The next time I swam with them was in Three Sisters Springs. They didn’t seem quite as curious here and spent nearly all the time resting on the bottom…

Manatees 3 Sisters Spring--3

Manatees have no natural enemies, except man. Every year, hundreds of manatees are injured or killed when their slow moving paths cross boats. You can see the propeller scars on this manatee…

Manatees 3 Sisters Spring--29

While the manatees here weren’t as curious, some of the fish were…

2012March9-120309-015

Now, I’ve swam with them, kayaked with them and watched them from above. I never get tired of happy manatee faces!

HMMH!

Have you every swam with the manatees? What is the most unique creature you have encountered while swimming?

Waldo Gets Some New Threads

Waldo is over 20 years old and although he is in pretty good condition, but his interior age was really starting to show. One of our goals last year was to make enough money between trees and fireworks to do some remodeling. So it was time to update things a bit.

Out with the old…

img_8370
Out thread bare sleeper sofa

img_8378
Old blue carpet, more stained than blue!

While I’ve done lots of construction projects, laying carpet is something I’ve always avoided. Removing the old carpet was pretty straight forward. I just sliced an area big enough to get my hand into and started ripping it out. It was actually quite satisfying. First the slide…

img_8375

Then, the main living space…

img_8416

The biggest challenge was getting the carpet out from under the slide. There is a 4″ x 13′ steel plate on the leading edge of the slide plywood, once Steve removed it, we could get to the steel plates the slide rollers roll on. By loosening the screws, we were able to remove the rest of the carpet…

img_8385

I had read lots of articles on replacing flooring in an RV and nearly all of them had one thing in common, be prepared to remove 1000’s of staples. I’m pretty sure the installers get paid by the staple. In a sticks and brick, carpet is held down by tack strips. Not so in an RV, it is stapled along every edge.

In almost every remodel, there is an “Oh crap” moment. Before we removed the old carpet, we had no idea of the water damage on the drivers side…

img_8382

Ugh!! I was worried we were getting in over our heads. Once OSB gets wet (and stays wet) it begins to deteriorate…

d16cd932-0534-46ae-bd03-a4889210081c

We cut out all of the waterlogged OSB …

img_8415

We replaced it with marine grade plywood. While we were down to bare plywood, it seemed like a good time to do a thorough cleaning of the walls, woodwork and ceiling. That was when I decided our old, non-working kitchen fan should be taken out. We found a replacement on Amazon…

img_8397

img_8446

Then it was time to lay the carpet padding…

img_8419

So far so good. Now to the part I knew nothing about! Carpet stretching. I’ve seen lots of carpet installed by worker crawling around on their knees, using a knee kick stretcher and while that works great when you are using a tack strip, not so much when you are stapling. The local Taylor Rental had a power stretcher (which I completely forgot to take pictures of) and it was just the tool for the job. I was shocked how much “stretch” there is in carpet! And the word “power” in the name power stretcher is a bit misleading, it doesn’t plug in or use any kind of electricity. Power comes from the mechanical advantage it uses. Once we started actually laying the carpet, it went fairly quick. Luckily, my dad’s neighbor had a crown stapler we could borrow. Stretch, staple, repeat. The biggest challenges were where the carpet meets the kitchen tile…

img_8428

Where the carpet goes around the pedals and steering column…

img_8427

And where is meets the stairs…

img_8425

With the main carpet done, we started on the slide. My biggest concern was what to do with the raw edge. The place we bought the carpet did not offer binding, then I read about Instabind…

img_8456

Nearly every review I read, suggested running an iron over the adhesive to improve the hold…

img_8459

Once the binding is in place, you use a hot glue gun to prevent any fraying…

img_8470

The finished job looks like this…

img_8426

Then it was time to go shopping!! We wanted a loveseat recliner. I had a very strict set of criteria. It had to be cloth, wall hugging, non-electric, have a center console, be less than 80″ long and the back had to be removable. After visiting every furniture store in the area, we ended up traveling to Ocala, where we went to another dozen stores before finding one we liked. What sucked was, it had to be ordered. Fortunately, we had some finishing touched to do while we waited for it. Like find a desk for Steve…

img_8448

This area has dozens of thrift stores and we found this desk at one of them. For only $45!!!! What a deal!!! It’s a little darker than I would have liked, but hey, the price was right! Our loveseat ended up coming in a week early and we drove to Lakeland to pick it up (because I refused to pay a $70 delivery fee). We manhandled it through the drivers door and got it set up…

img_8442

Wow, what a difference.

Originally,  our plan was just the carpet in the main part of Waldo, but, on a whim, I went back to the carpet store to see how much it would be for a piece to do the bedroom. We had enough padding left over, so it would only be the price of the carpet. They had just enough left on the roll to do the bedroom and sold it to us as a remnant. $100 cash and carry – done deal!

There are corner tables next to the bed and I decided to modify them. They were total wastes of space because the inside was hollow, but closed off by paneling. I cut the front paneling and added a shelf…

img_8453

Voila – more storage!

So, now Waldo is completely done and we love it.

Have you ever remodeled your house? What was your biggest challenge?

 

Something Old – Something New

For the first time since we started workamping, we returned to a job/location we had been at previously. We love selling Christmas trees and to be frank, the money can’t be beat. That was the something old. The something new was we would be heading almost directly to a new job of selling new years fireworks for TNT. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We left Crystal River and headed to Parkland for Christmas tree sales on the 13th of Nov. Our first load of trees arrived on Nov. 18th…

img_8140

Once unloaded, we trim them and stand them up inside our tent. Trimming the trees does two things, it makes them look nicer and provides us with trimmings to make wreaths.  I continued being “crafty“, I made a south Florida flamingo wreath and I flocked several wreaths…

img_8180img_8163

I called our selection of snowmen and reindeer our “adoption center.” I mean, who doesn’t want to adopt one of these cuties?

img_8245

I made a walk through our tent video to share with you. It gives you an idea of how we spent our 37 days…

Thanksgiving was a blur. Our boss’ family makes an incredible dinner and they share huge plates with us. The selling season begins in earnest the day after Thanksgiving. It is a non-stop customer barrage which leaves us tired, but excited. This year, I had the pleasure of helping a new tent manager learn the ropes. You don’t always realize how much you’ve learned about something until you start sharing that knowledge with someone new. The bonus of helping was making new friends! Like us, they are already marking the calendar for next season.

Unlike last year, we didn’t take a week to unwind when the season finished on Dec. 23rd. We made a quick trip back to Crystal River, had a lovely, quiet Christmas day with Daddy, then set off on our next job. It was literally 2 towns over, in Inverness. Why the rush you ask? Well, our new gig started Dec. 26th.

Once our delivery was received, Steve and I muddled our way through setting up the tent. TNT gives you lots of information, diagrams and pictures, but in the end, you pretty much do it your way…

IMG_8307

Our tree boss calls it FITFO – Figure It The F*@# Out. A motto we have adopted as our own! And we FITFO’d fireworks!!!

IMG_8315IMG_8309IMG_8314IMG_8313

Waldo tolerated it’s stay in the Walmart parking lot quite well. It was nice to always be able to see it…

IMG_8308

I wasn’t too sure how it was going to work out for us financially. Sales were pretty sporadic Sat-Mon. Since we work on commission, I was concerned.

I donned my party hat and hoped for the best…

IMG_8352

But, let me tell you, starting new years eve morning, it was chaos. There were times I had customers 10 deep waiting to check out! By mid-afternoon, tables were getting bare and by dark, we were almost completely sold out…

59954302059__EA22BDD5-43E7-4768-88A8-BA108C5C456459954301039__C1BA4BE2-09F2-454A-85DA-FC857C15BA97

Exhausted, we closed and tallied up. Despite a few wrinkles, it was a success. All that was left on New Years day was repacking the small amount of inventory we had and returning it to the warehouse…

IMG_8367

Gee – that’s exactly how it looked when we arrived on the 26th.

After talking it over, we have decided to give up working in RV parks. The major drawback for me is the length of commitment. I don’t want to be somewhere for 4-5 months. I want to travel. We HAVE to work. We will sell trees at Christmas and fireworks for New Years and July 4th. We have already committed to an RV park for this summer, but it will be the last one. We are pretty excited about the impending changes. While we will always go back to Parkland for trees, TNT sells fireworks all over the US. I’m hoping to be able to spend copious amounts of time getting reacquainted with my camera and kayak! We will finally be able to “Sleep Around” more!

IMG_7990

Wishing you all the very best in 2020.

Up Next – Waldo gets a renovation!

Getting Crafty

I’ve always enjoyed making things. Sometimes it’s functional …

img_7399
A cover for the cockpit of my kayak to keep it dry and clean

img_7273
A built in liquor cabinet in Waldo (I added straps to keep everything on the shelf)

Sometimes it’s because someone gave me a creative idea to run with. I have spent a good part of this year with Christmas on my mind. The owner of the tree lot we manage suggested we should make/sell “South Florida-esque” Christmas cards. We did some brainstorming and came up with a few ideas. I took it upon myself to design and paint them. Jeremy wanted to get a feel for public reaction so he did a Facebook poll with pictures of my paintings. The response was just what he hoped for – people loved them! These are the pictures he posted…

Once we figured out which ones were the most popular, he gave me the go ahead to order the cards and packaging. I’m pretty excited to see how sales go! BTW, the most popular were: Waiting For Christmas, Jingle Bell Croc, Santa Claws, Flocking Around the Tree and Christmas, Florida Style.

But most of the time I just make things for fun. Recently, I made myself a t-shirt. My “Sleep Around” t-shirt. Lots of people have asked me where I got it and I began to think maybe this would be a good small business. When I made my shirt, I printed the iron-on and handcut it with an X-Acto knife – very tedious! I knew there was a much better way and I finally decided (with a lot of coaxing from Steve) to buy a Cricut. Now instead of an hour or more, I can print/cut the iron-on in less than 15 minutes! I can take a picture someone sends me…

IMG_7997

And turn it into a one of a kind shirt (or in this case 2 of a kind)…

IMG_8056

Here’s more happy customers…

IMG_8030

img_8072

I decided t-shirts weren’t all I should try, so I made my first koozie…

IMG_7990-2

Then, I thought what else can I make? Hmmm? How about lettering for Waldo?

IMG_8048

But wait~There’s more! As I was looking through the pre-made projects, I came across a cute pop-up card…

img_8071

I thought, “Gee that’s cute”, but, what if? And I designed these…

My thoughts are to try and sell them to RV dealers as Thank You cards (and in my online store).

As all of my RVing/crafting friends know, the biggest challenge of having a craft addiction is where to store all the supplies. Luckily, right now we are at my dad’s house in Florida waiting to head to Parkland to sell Christmas trees so I have a bit of time to figure out where to store everything.

I’d love to know what you think!