It’s now the end of February, and I will try to catch up on recent events in our lives… one of the best things to happen in January was a visit by our dear friends Karen and Mitch Crawford, who live near Akron, Ohio. Karen is an ER physician and Mitch is a real estate agent and actor. While we are on the road in our bus, Suzanne will often ask Karen for her thoughts on medical issues; on a Zoom call, Karen even diagnosed a problem I was having that I was not even aware of, and which our local medical people had never heard of! Karen, You Rock!!! Mitch is also a very cool guy who does TV commercials – he even looks like an actor…
We took Karen and Mitch to nearby Windmill Harbour Marina to look at boats and the sunset. It was still chilly, but being from Ohio, they were more used to the low temps than were we. I think it was in the teens there during their visit – too cold for this Southern boy!
We took several walks during Karen and Mitch’s visit, including one to Fording Island here in Moss Creek, but the tide was low (5-6 feet below the boardwalk) when we walked there; oyster beds were above water then. A few days later, Suzanne and I arrived at a very high tide, with the water only a few inches below the boardwalk. Our tides are semidiurnal, meaning we get 2 highs and 2 lows each day. This was a plus 8.5 foot tide, about as high as it gets here.
One of the interesting issues of driving our bus is the vulnerability of two large windshields to rocks thrown up by passing semis or other vehicles. Over our 11 years of RVing, we have replaced 4 windshields. This was our 5th – it had three chips and a six inch long crack. Fortunately, Archer’s Auto Glass in Beaufort, SC, has a windshield replacement Wizard, Mike, who took our old windshield out and replaced it with a brand new one in a relatively short 4 hours.
Our 2008 bus has over 114,000 miles on her now (we are the third owners), and had suffered many chipped paint dings on the front and both sides. We had them repaired at Gander/Camping World in Ridgeland, SC, only 45 minutes drive from the house. Here is our bus in the paint shop – the guys did a superb job!
In February, we took our bus (with its new windshield and a small fortune in paint chip repairs) down to West Palm Beach for a Prevost Rally. On the way, Suzanne gave her Let Your Spirit S.O.A.R. workshop at Unity of Vero Beach. She had a full house, and lots of enthusiastic students. It was the first large group that has met in the church since the start of the pandemic. Members remarked that at the Sunday service the next day, the lingering energy from the workshop was felt by all, and that everyone felt it had breathed new life back into the church.
Every now and then I will post a photo of an exceptionally bad parking job… this one from Vero Beach… really???? The driver is either spatially challenged or the car ran out of gas before getting into the parking spot. There was barely enough room behind for a car to get by.
Our little Dachshund Rusty can be a clown – he experienced his first fountain at Unity of Vero Beach – and loved it! He kept sticking his head into the fountain until he was soaking wet! The predominantly female audience was enthralled by Rusty (Suzanne says he is a “Chick Magnet”).
Rusty loves to lie on the couch with us; here he is peeping out from between my legs – and he knows that he is CUTE!
While at the campground south of Vero Beach, we went for a walk at Fort Pierce inlet. There had been a surfing contest the day before when I hiked by myself while Suzanne was teaching, but this day we only saw sea birds, in this case Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger). Skimmers use their lower mandibles to furrow the water, closing the upper mandible when they contact fish. The skimmers’ eggs were harvested commercially during the late 19th Century.
On the way back north, we stopped in The Villages for Suzanne to give a Sanaya session at the Unity Spiritual Center in Lady Lake, FL. It was great to see many old friends after a couple of years away. (I regret to say that I forgot to take pictures there….) As always with these special channeling sessions, 100% of the proceeds went to charity. Thanks to the donations of all participants, we were able to present a check that evening for $4118.00 to Seeds of Hope, the local food bank and soup kitchen.
Once or twice a year, I will go on a backpacking trip for 4-5 days out in the woods or mountains. An opportunity came up in February, and our neighbor Ron decided that he would like to accompany me on the hike, since he had never backpacked or slept in a tent. After buying his own boots, tent, inflatable air mattress, and sleeping bag, and borrowing one of my backpacks, he now says that he had too much wine that night and made an error in judgement… Here we are in Paisley, FL, and the start of the Ocala National Forest section of the Florida Trail, which runs from Pensacola to the Everglades, about 1,500 miles.
This photo of my one man tent is a reminder to do more research before selecting a campsite. We had hiked 14 miles that day with 35 pound packs (and did so again the next day), and were pretty tired when we found a nice level site. (Suzanne says 28 miles in two days with a full pack is not bad for an old guy …) There were no roads nearby, and it was a serene location. What we didn’t know until about 10 PM was that a dog kennel had been built about 200 yards away after our trail handbook had been published. From 10 PM until 4 AM, 20-30 dogs were barking almost continuously. Finally, at 4 AM, a respite in the noise… until about 4:15, when a couple of roosters started their crowing… oh, noooooooo!!!!!!!!! It was an almost sleepless night.
After a short first day, and those 28 miles the next two days, we stopped to set up camp and I found this on my left foot – the worst blister I have ever had… even with two year old, well broken in boots. The crazy part is that I had no idea that a minor hot spot that I had tended to at noon would reach this state by 4:00 PM.
People often ask what we eat while backpacking. For breakfast, I prefer granola and powdered milk. Lunch is mostly trail mix bars and GORP (good old raisins and peanuts, mixed with M&Ms). This is My Lovely Bride’s favorite dinner – freeze dried Chili Mac. It was good, but pretty spicy, and the beans made for a rough night’s sleep. (Phew!) I will stick with chicken and dumplings and beef stew next time. By the way, the green box behind me is a “Bear Box” – for storing food in campgrounds.
I also carried a three pound (when empty) Bear Vault while we were in the woods – it will hold about three days supply of food for one person, and is guaranteed to keep your food safe from marauding black and grizzly bears. (They may eat you, but they won’t get to your food…. that’s very comforting). We each carried cans of bear repellent spray, which is supposed to deter a charging 1,500 lb grizzly. (Or, it will make him/her extremely angry…) In any case, we only saw bear scat (poop), no bears themselves. On a previous trip, I had to use bear spray when a black bear was walking towards me – at 15 feet, I gave him a 1 second shot of spray, and it worked… he turned and ran away.
At one point this past month, My Lovely Bride committed an egregious offense. We had taken the dogs out for their morning constitutional. Suzanne became distracted while standing with Nellie and stepped away to clear some debris from around a bush. When I went to pick up Nellie’s deposit, I stepped right in it. (Can you say, “Oh ****”?!) I admit that I got a bit grumpy… then for a few minutes after we got back inside, I didn’t hear from her, so I went looking, and found her “in the doghouse”….. they say that the sense of humor is the last thing to go… I guess we’re okay for now.
Finally, last night we went to a black tie/gown affair, the first such event since we both retired from the Navy so many years ago. Then, we would wear “mess dress”, which is the Navy’s formal uniform, complete with cumberbund. Both of our mess dress uniforms got lost over the years, so Suzanne got a gown and I bought my first tuxedo. A smart aleck friend (named Lynette Setzkorn) thought I needed a better pair of shoes than shown here… the ones she recommended are shown below in the window of the store where I actually bought my tux. Thank you, Lynette!
The gala affair was a blast, and even had a rock and roll band playing 60s and 70s music after dinner – the average age of the band members was 73, but they were great! We danced every dance, and I am still exhausted a day later…