Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Little RVs 2014 Year End Wrap-up Part 1

Wow! Today is the last day of 2014. 
We spent the first 6 months of the year in our home town in Washington State. 
Our 2013 winter lot in Washington

The same lot with snow!
Even though we had planned to be on the road things just kept holding us there. Most of the delays were related to Rob's medical concerns and were simply unavoidable. We had planned to head for Alaska last May but the trip would have been delayed into June and we felt June was just too late start a trip that long. 

During the first half of the year we continued to have problems with the Little RV including water leaks, damage caused by water leaks, broken light fixtures. Those darn pendent lights over the sink are still coming loose. The biggest problem by far was the holding tank valves and the epic repair failure that necessitated our return to the shop on the same day.

Finally in early June we were able to hit the road. Before we left we tried to wash off the thick layer of pollen and fir needles that had accumulated on the Little RV but it was just too big a job for us. When we arrived in Troutdale, Oregon, our first stop, we were able to have the Little RV professionally cleaned
Spa day!

We slowly made our way to Montana and stopped in Missoula for some emergency dental work. We were there for nearly a month but if you have to be stuck somewhere Missoula is a great place.  
A farm near Missoula, MT

We continued to make our way East where we had our first true dry camping experience, along with a lesson on break-away cables.

We were determined to learn to be more frugal campers. In mid July we stayed at our first Army Corps of Engineers (COE) campground. That was a real eye opener. We had been paying $25 to $40 a night for sites in crowded campgrounds where you can hear your neighbor through the walls and there is not always room for your awning to be extended. 
Upstream Campground - Riverdale, ND

The COE campground had HUGE sites and were so well kept but for a fraction of the price. With Rob's access pass we were paying just $9 a night for an electric only site. If you've never stayed at a COE park give it a try.  

We traveled through states we had not been to with the RV. Each new state prompted a new sticker on the visited states map. This year we added North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Our visited state map
2014 Part II wrap-up next!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas From the Little RV

Wishing all of you the merriest of Christmases! 
                                Rob and Me

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's a Pretty Special Day in the Little RV

Today is this guy's birthday and it's a big one!  

Rob, today is your 60th birthday and I'm feeling a bit sentimental so I want to thank you for all of the gifts you have given me over the years. These are just a few examples. 

The gift of a bouquet of roses several days in a row back when we first met and you were in Japan. The teddy bear you sent my daughter was what hooked me. 

The gift of learning that it is OK to spend a lot of money on shoes that will last and don't hurt your feet.  

The gift of being passionate about things that are really important to you.

The gift of travel. I've been places and seen things I never would have were it not for you. From London and Paris, France, to Paris, Texas and Rome, New York and everywhere in between. 

The gift of learning to be brave. We have faced some struggles along the way and I have had to put my big girl panties on many times but it has given me the ability to know that I can do whatever is necessary and make it through just fine.

The gift of patience.  Oh how you try my patience some times!

There are thousands of things to thank you for and these are just a small handful. Mostly I thank you for the gift of you and your love for me and my family.  

Happy Birthday Rob!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Beach Birthday with the Little RV

Lake Worth Beach
How often does a girl with a December birthday get to go to the beach on her birthday? My birthday was Thursday and I had the pleasure of doing whatever I wanted. I'm kinda spoiled that way.  

We had a lazy morning then went to the beach. There are miles and miles of beaches here but the area is so heavily populated they have them kind of locked down. Each city runs their own beach and they charge for parking (if you can find it). We found a great spot and went for a walk on the beach. It was in the high 70s. Perfect for walking on the beach.

Shelling was awesome and I found lots of small but whole shells to add to my
collection. Here are my treasures.

The black and white one is my favorite.
You have to pay to walk the pier but not to photograph it.

After the beach we tried Cuban food for the first time. It was delicious!  

What birthday is complete without cake? We found a great cupcake shop called Sweet Surrender. We picked up a dozen mini cupcakes. These are two bites and gone! It's a great way to sample more than one flavor.  
Sweet Surrender Cupcakes
It was a great birthday spent with my wonderful hubby with lots of calls from family and friends. What more could a girl ask for?

A beautiful sunset...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Little RV Visits Flamingo Gardens

We recently took a drive down to Ft. Lauderdale to visit Flamingo Gardens

I do love a flamingo! 


Flamingo Gardens is a wildlife sanctuary, aviary and botanical gardens. We practically had the whole place to ourselves. We took the narrative tram ride and walked a bit to see the critters and the gardens. I wish I had paid more attention to the names of the plants and trees. Enjoy the photos.
Ginger in bloom and a Gumbo Limbo tree

Cypress Knees


Flamingos Snoozing on one leg.

Grooming Flamingo


Wood Stork

Muscovy Duck - Poor thing looks like a turkey

More cypress knees

Peacock and Ibis

Unknown Flower



This giant plant looks like a Christmas Cactus

Florida Panther

Unknown plant

Bird of Paradise

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Travel Decisions Made in the Little RV

We have been waiting for two weeks to find out if we can get our RV body repairs done here. Yesterday we finally got an answer. The body shop says it will take 4-8 weeks just to get the parts. We can't get another RV site here in South Florida until March so we are going to wait and get the repairs done elsewhere. That means we are leaving Lake Worth on New Year's Day as we had originally planned.  

We didn't manage to get to the Everglades last time we were down here so that is where we are heading on the 1st. We got a site for six nights near the area we want to visit. BONUS - it's a federal campground and with Rob's Access Pass we pay just $15 a night for a paved site with electric.  

Now that all of our tasks are finished we are ready to start the touristy activities. We have just two more weeks here which include both of our birthdays and Christmas so it's time for some fun!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Perfect Weather in South Florida

The weather here is perfect... for us. If you listen to the weather forecast they use descriptive words like cold and frigid. They suggest you bundle up or don't forget your jacket. To us, the weather is perfect. It gets up to about 70 during the day but down in the 50s at night. Since we have so much to do outside we are loving the temperatures.  
The locals dress like this...

Here is our weather forecast for the weekend...

Most of the people here in the park are Canadian. Yesterday I was outside most of the day cleaning the basement, organizing and purging its contents. The only people speaking English were Rob and me. Everyone else was speaking French. 

We have accomplished a lot since we arrived here 12 days ago. The Little RV is was detailed, the rood cleaned and sealed, the truck has been washed and waxed, the basement cleaned and organized, Christmas decorations are up, Christmas gifts purchased, wrapped and shipped (mostly). Rob even changed out the anode in the hot water heater yesterday. It's a good thing he did because the old one was almost completely eroded away.  
New anode on top, old anode on bottom.
I really need to sort through the inside of the RV to get rid of things we don't need and lighten the load. Hopefully I'll have time to do that before we leave. I'm also looking forward to going to the beach and the Everglades while we are here. 

We have not heard from the insurance company about our repairs. There is a chance that we may be able to get another site here in the park for January and get the repairs done.  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's All About the Details

Sorry we dropped off the face of the earth for a while. We have moved to the West Palm Beach area of Florida and have been so busy I haven't had time to post. Christmas is coming fast and we have been visiting with Rob's family. We are getting it all pulled together slowly but surely.  

The day after we arrived we started making arrangements to have the Little RV detailed and to have the repairs done from our "coning" incident. It looks like we may be here for another month if we can get a site (fingers crossed). Some parts will be needed for the repairs and they have to be shipped from DRV the manufacturer of our RV. At this point we have no idea how long the repairs might take. 
John Prince Park, boat launch
The campground we are in is very nice. It is a county park with mostly large sites and full hook-ups. The park is in the middle of the city but the surrounding day use park is so large it feels like you are far away from town. We haven't had time to take any photos of the park except a couple of quick shots with my phone but when we have some good ones we'll post them. 

I mentioned earlier we were making arrangements to get the Little RV detailed. I called around and got prices, asked about licensing and insurance, etc. I think I did all the right things. However, the experience turned into a fiasco.  

I was looking for a wash, including the roof and roof sealant as well as a good wax job and oxidation removal. The price I was quoted was $440. I asked what type of payment they accepted and was told cash, check or charge. The detailers showed up on Wednesday right on time. I talked with them at length about what was to be done and let them get started. Within 30 minutes the pressure washer died and they had to leave to get it repaired. 

Eventually they called and let us know they would not be able to come back until Thursday. I expected them at 9 am but they didn't actually arrive until 2:30 pm.
They did call to keep me posted during day about why they were running late.  

After they worked for a couple of hours Rob and I went outside to see their progress. At that point they had washed the roof and sealed it. They had also washed the body and were in the process of waxing. That was when we found out they had forgotten their ladder. How on earth do you wash a 13' 4" tall RV without a ladder?

The front end cap still had quite a bit of oxidation near the top and the sides of the slides had not been washed. When we asked him about what we were seeing he told us the paint on the front end was faded and he couldn't fix that and the slide sides aren't meant to be washed because when you are driving down the road they don't show. Seriously? That had to be the dumbest excuse I have ever heard in my entire life. He also told me I was nit-picking. 

They were running out of daylight and knew they couldn't finish so they were doing a really lousy job and trying to get done. We have a very tense conversation about the quality of their work and agreed to come back Saturday morning to make it right. I called the office and had a conversation with the woman who schedules the appointments and owns the franchise. She asked me to let them come back Saturday and let them finish the job and if we weren't satisfied we should call her before paying them. 

They arrived Saturday morning, offered what was supposed to be an apology, and started back at it. After working all day they finished at 4 pm. They did an outstanding job and we told them as much. That was when things fell apart again. 

I wrote a check but he wanted cash. He begged then demanded that I go to the bank and get cash. He wanted to follow me to a cash machine. I told him I had already asked the office and a check was fine. He even told me he was 50% owner in the business. I said no, we had company and this was prearranged and he could take the check. He was definitely trying to intimidate me. 

After he left I called the office again to let them know what had happened. She apologized profusely and told me he is not part owner and she would talk to him.  

Look at that shine!
However, the Little RV looks great and is protected from the harsh sun and that's a good thing. Now we can set up our yard and chill under the Florida palm trees.

Friday, November 28, 2014

St. Augustine for Thanksgiving? Yes Please!

Last week we were looking for a good place to stop for a few days and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We decided on St. Augustine, Florida, just 250 miles north of our destination for the Month of December. This area sounded perfect for its beaches, history and weather.  

The first two days we were here it poured but on the day before Thanksgiving the weather changed and it has been gorgeous. It is a bit cold for beach weather but it is sunny and beautiful. 

Rhett's Piano Bar
Thanksgiving morning we decided to poke around Old St. Augustine which was founded in 1565 and is the oldest city in the nation. 

We parked in a lot and strolled around the old part of the city.  

There were many beautiful courtyards filled with tropical plants and running fountains. I love the touches of red in this courtyard. 
Restaurant Courtyard and Fountain
The oldest wooden school in the nation is located in this area as well.  

There was one lush, tropical courtyard after another. This fountain caught my eye because the sun was shining down on it.  

There were some beautiful churches in the area as well.  
Grace Methodist Church

Cathedral Basilica 

Plasa de la Constitutucion, the park across from the Basilica is home to an outdoor market said to be where slaves were bought and sold prior to the Civil War. 
There are also many war monuments in the park including this one for the Civil War.

This place caught our eye but sadly it was closed.  

We did spend a few moments at Crucial Coffee. 
We finished off the day with a visit to the Anastasia Island Lighthouse. 
Tomorrow- the beach!