Friday, August 26, 2011

Three Days Away

I escaped from the garage again this week, and got to go to St.Petersburg with Gary. He had some work to do at his house there, and I'm his "motel on wheels". Going there is nothing new, but at least I get to camp, even if it's only on a driveway. As you know by now, I'm all for camping, anytime, anywhere. It was an uneventful trip on the way over. We went straight there. I love when Gary decides to take side roads that we've never been on before, but there was no time to explore. We spent three nights, and Gary completed the majority of the things at the house that he needed to do. We came back home the same way we went, but Gary was more relaxed and made a couple of stops. I think he did that more for me than for him. He knows how much I like to see new places. We stopped at a nice little park called Wrigley Fields, and we hung out there for awhile. Gary made lunch and took a couple of photos of me. Another stop was made at a little park in Palatka, which is only about 30 miles from home. It was right by the water, and a nice setting for some more pics. It's a good thing I don't mind having my picture taken, because Gary takes a LOT of them. We made our way home, and back into the Green Acres Garage I went. It's about two months away before my girlfriend Serena comes to visit me from Ohio. I'm not sure if we're going anywhere before then, but I hope we do. It's always fun to go somewhere.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some New Decor

Gary removed the red framed Serro Scotty logo that I had over my bunk beds the other day. I knew he wasn't totally thrilled with the way that it looked, so I figured he was reworking it. Today he surprised me with something I wasn't expecting at all....a photo montage of people and trailers that we have camped with. How cool it is to have photos of all our camping friends in one place. It is MUCH better than that boring old logo. And who's picture is right in the middle of the montage? My girlfriend, SERENA!! I know that Gary arranged the other photos around her just for me. Now she's not only in my heart, but on my wall as well. The montage will be a fun thing to show off when we're camping with old and new friends alike. It is AWESOME! I haven't had any presents in awhile, but this is a really special one. Thanks, Gary. You're the BEST!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Visitors From The West

I heard voices outside the garage today, and when Gary opened the roll-up door, there was Bill and Sandy from St.Petersburg. Boy, was I surprised! They have been good friends of Gary's for over 30 years. They were on their way home from a wedding in North Carolina, and stopped by to visit with us for awhile. It was nice to have company. I don't get to see many people other than Gary, and I don't even get to see him everyday. It gets lonely with nobody to talk to. I sure do wish we could go camping somewhere. I love my garage, but I REALLY love camping. I heard Gary say to Bill and Sandy that he needed to go to St.Petersburg for some repairs on his house, and that he (meaning us) would be going soon. I hope he doesn't make me wait much longer!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Driveway Camping

Gary rented out his St.Petersburg house in late June to an old friend. There is lots of work to be finished on the place yet, but it's livable. Gary now needs a place to sleep when he's over there working, and that's where I come in. So, I got to go along and do some driveway camping when we were there on July 8th and 9th. This was GREAT news for me. This meant that I wouldn't have to spend the entire summer locked up in the garage. Miracles DO happen. Gary had bought a brand new air conditioner for me last year, but never had a chance to use it. He had built a wooden frame for it that is screwed permanently to the air conditioner. The wooden frame fits easily inside my fire escape window. Believe me, when you're in Florida in July, air conditioning is a must, at least for humans. Gary had also built a portable shower stall to take along, and had bought a brand new porta-potty for emergencies. He had everything he would need. Other than some heavy rainstorms on our first day, all went well. We returned home on the 10th. Not sure when we're going back, but anytime is fine with me. As long as I can escape from the garage from time to time, I'm a happy camper.

Spring Break

After the Winter Camp-In at Wal-Mart, I was a lonely boy for about six weeks. Gary was busy working on projects here in St.Augustine, and also at his house in St.Petersburg. I didn't see him very much at all. Finally on March 26th, he began to get me ready for another trip. Gary's neice Jennifer, and her boys Jarod and Jude, were heading to Pat and Dan's farm in Georgia for spring break. You may remember Jen, Jarod, and Jude from our trip to Ohio in October. Anyway, we were going up to spend the week with them at the farm. Camping baby, YEAH!!! We headed out on March 27th, and spent seven nights on the farm. Everybody worked hard and had fun. The biggest surprises of the trip came on March 31st. A new baby goat was born (that's Gary and him in the first picture), AND, Diane the donkey had a baby also. That's Diane and baby Jaclyn in the second picture. TOO cute! Needless to say, it was an exciting day. Remember the baby goats that were born during our January trip? That's them in the third picture. Two months old now and getting bigger all the time. The farm is a really cool place to hang out. We came home on April 3rd. Even though the days in Florida were getting warmer, the nights were still mild. Gary decided to spend one more night in me here at home in the yard. I forgot to mention that my new antenna was working great everywhere we went. I rolled back into the garage on April 4th feeling a bit sad. I knew I most likely wouldn't go anywhere else until cooler weather next fall. That was a LONG time away. It was going to be a miserable and boring summer for sure.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Second Annual Winter Camp-In

Gary and I participated in this event last year. Instead of staying home like we did then, we decided to go somewhere different, but close by. Where have most campers "camped" before? WAL-MART! The local store is about seven miles away from home. We found a spot in the parking lot away from the busiest areas, and set up for our stay. A couple of people came by and looked me over, and liked what Gary had done with my renovation. We both appreciated the nice compliments. As the sun went down, it was time for dinner. Gary walked down the street to McDonald's, while I held down the "fort". We had no electric of course, but didn't really need any. Temperatures got down around freezing during the night, but Gary had brought enough warm clothes and blankets to be comfortable. I never care if it's cold or hot, I'll camp anytime, anywhere. Other RV's parked near us during the night, so we weren't totally alone. We stayed all night, and headed home around sunrise. It wasn't the first time I had stayed in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but it was definitely the most fun. I can't wait to see where we'll be going to next year for this event. I'm sure Gary will come up with something interesting, right Gary? No pressure, buddy!

Silver River State Park

Several months earlier, Gary had booked us into a campout at Silver River State Park near Ocala, FL. I really don't think he was keeping it a secret from me, but was just too busy and forgot to mention it. Anyway, we weren't even home a week from Pat and Dan's farm, and we were heading out once again. A few days before we left, Gary installed a TV antenna on my left rear side. You can see it sticking up over my roof in the second picture. Now we can watch some network shows instead of just watching DVD's. This trip would be a good test to see how well it would work. This campout was different than any we had been to previously. It was a joint campout between members of the National Serro Scotty Organization and members of the Southeast Tearjerkers, a teardrop trailer club. The event took place from Thursday, February 3rd, thru Sunday, February 6th. Gary and I stayed for one additional night. We met so many new friends, and had an absolute BLAST! There was a meet and greet on Friday night, and a potluck dinner on Saturday night. Gary said there was more food than everyone could eat. Nancy and Mabel from the NSSO drove all the way from Michigan for the event. They hadn't seen me in person since before Gary stripped off all my paint. They wouldn't have recognized me if Gary hadn't been around. There were lots of people stopping by to visit with us, and everyone was SO friendly. The campsites were the biggest I have ever seen. This may become a yearly event, and if it does, we'll be back for sure.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. It was quiet around here. Gary worked on all of his projects, and didn't spend much time with me. That's alright. I know he is VERY busy. He always says "Hi" to me when he comes out to the garage, so that makes me feel good. He began the year taking the skin off my brother "Scotty". Poor old guy has some serious rot issues, and Gary wanted to see how bad it really was. It's BAD! "Scotty" will need a total frame-up rebuild. I may have been abused, but at least I wasn't in THAT bad of shape. "Scotty" will be a future project, but now Gary knows exactly what he will be getting into when the time comes. By mid-January, Gary was talking about going back to Georgia to the farm. No complaints from me. We left on January 18th, and came back home on the 28th. Ten nights of camping....WOO-HOO!!! Dan and Gary put up lots of fencing on this trip, both wood and wire fence. Gary also repaired the rotted right front corner of the pump house shed one day while Pat and Dan attended a wedding. But the coolest thing that happened was the births of two baby goats, one on the 19th, and one on the 24th. Boy, are they ever cute when they're that tiny. Lots of fun was had and lots got accomplished. It's always good to combine a good time and productivity into a trip. We hated to leave, but I knew we would be back soon. Even Jack the donkey was sad to see us go. Bye-bye Jack!

Back To The Farm

We left St.Augustine mid-morning on December 6th, and headed to the farm in Georgia for our second visit. Gary usually takes different roads to get to our destinations, so there's always something new to see. We saw a few old trailers along the way, but no Serro Scottys. Just as we did on our previous trip to the farm, we met up with Pat and Dan in Thomaston for lunch, then followed them home. The goats all watched as we pulled in, and the donkeys came over to greet us. They're so sweet. We parked in our usual spot next to the pump house shed where Gary could easily hook me up to the power supply. Gary worked quite a bit around the farm with Pat and Dan during the days, but we had our nights together. We would watch DVD's until we fell asleep. Fun stuff. Pat, Dan, and Gary had a good time going to an auction, a junk store, and cruising around through local towns when they weren't working. I stayed behind and kept an eye on the animals, or should I say, they kept an eye on ME. We stayed for six nights this time, and as usual, the time went much too quickly. This would be the end of our camping trips for 2010. It was an exciting year and a very active one. Gary's "to-do" list at home was growing longer all the time, so I knew we wouldn't be travelling for awhile. But winter in Florida is the best time for camping, and Gary was NOT going to let it go by without planning SOMETHING. More adventures just ahead. Read on!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turkey Run 2010

Marty and Michael arrived from North Carolina on Tuesday, November 23rd. This year, Michael made the trip, but Kyle (who had made the trip in 2009), couldn't. Gary and his buddies spent the day having some fun around St.Augustine. Meanwhile, I was getting more and more excited at the thought of 4 more nights of camping at Tomoka State Park. We left for Daytona the following morning. Gary always books the same campsite every year, so I knew exactly where we would be staying. After last year, I knew I'd be by myself except at night. That was fine with me. I don't mind being alone, especially when I'm camping. Somebody usually comes by to look at me, even though I have no clue who they are. This year, a nice young couple came by and REALLY liked how I looked. They came by again after the boys came home for the evening, and asked to see my renovated interior. They had lots of nice things to say, and said they were looking for a vintage camper of their own. They camp at Tomoka every Thanksgiving, so I think we'll be seeing them again. The four days and nights flew by as they always do, and we headed home on Sunday morning. Marty and Michael spent one more night in the house with Gary, and left on Monday morning. Gary told me we would be heading back for our second visit to Pat and Dan's farm in Georgia in a week. I had another exciting journey to look forward to, and I wouldn't have to wait long for it to begin.

Alabama At Last

It was November 16th, and time to leave the farm and head for home. The Turkey Run car show in Daytona was only a week away, so we had to get back. We always have so much fun whenever we go somewhere, that it's hard to leave. Pat took the first picture you see here of us heading down the driveway on our way out. Just down the street, Gary found a nice spot to stop and take a picture of me among the fall colors of the surrounding trees. As I expected, we headed west, and that meant we were heading to Alabama. We would finally be visiting the tenth state of our "Ten State Tour". We entered the state near Phenix City, and stopped (of course) for our usual state line photo. Gary got my Alabama souveneir license plate at Wal-Mart, then we headed back into and across southern Georgia. We eventually made our way to US1, and headed south into Florida. It was late night before we got home. Only a few days, and we would be off to Daytona for the car show and camping. But first, I needed a bath...BADLY!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I'm Sleeping With Animals!

Pat and Dan had LOTS of animals on the farm. There were several varieties of chickens, some goats, a couple of sheep, and my favorites, Jack and Diane the donkeys. All of them were really cute, and the donkeys were especially friendly. The chickens woke me up one morning when they were looking at their reflections and pecking at my shiny hubcaps. Too funny! Gary helped with work around the farm while I just took it easy and relaxed. Camping life is the best, especially from my perspective. I always have so much fun. I had a nice place to stay, and a good view of everything around me. The roosters would crow around 4AM, but I got used to it quickly. It didn't bother Gary either. It's all part of life on the farm. Our time here was going by very quickly. I'm pretty sure we'll be clipping the edge of Alabama on the way home, unless we're going someplace else that I don't know about yet. Gary has been known to surprise me. Wherever we're going, I'll be ready!

Factory To Farm

I just KNEW that Gary was planning a trip for us, but he kept quiet about the details. I had sat in the garage for a couple of weeks with only my memories of Serena and our nine state trip to occupy my time. November 10th arrived, and suddenly there was a flurry of activity going on. I was cleaned and packed for another adventure, but to where? Gary hitched me up the next morning, and off we went. Just like during the Ohio trip, we made our way to I-75 and headed north into Georgia. At exit 82, Gary left the interstate and took me down a small road to an abandoned building. I didn't realize it at first, but we were in Ashburn, Georgia, and this old building was the former Serro Scotty factory where I was born. No wonder he didn't tell me where we were going. He wanted to surprise me, and what a surprise it was. There had been a pool company in the building most recently, but they had moved on. The place looked sad, highly unlike it did in 1972 when I was there last. There was a tall fence around the place, but Gary got me as close as he could on the interstate side, and took my picture. I sure wish we could have gone inside for a look around. So much history was made inside those walls. I'll have to admit that I shed a few tears. It was a rush of emotions to see the old place. Thank you Gary for taking me there. You're the greatest! We returned to the interstate and headed north to exit 109, then headed west until we came to US19. We headed north on US19 to Thomaston. Gary had called ahead, and his sister Pat and her husband Dan were waiting for us there at the local Wal-Mart. They had bought a farm in nearby Woodbury earlier in the year. Pat, Dan, and Gary had lunch at Zaxby's, and then we all headed to the farm. We would be staying for 5 nights. I had never been on a farm before, so I didn't know what to expect. But everyday is a new adventure, and you know how much I love adventures!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Red Floor And More

Gary wasted no time in getting back to work on me after our trip. Within a couple of days, he was ripping out my black carpet. That stuff was yucky! It was nearly impossible to clean. It held onto dirt like it was made of Velcro. My old bare floor had too many imperfections to lay my new red Armstrong floor tiles directly to it. A smooth underlayment had to be cut, fitted, and attached first. Gary used some thin luan for the job. It was glued and screwed, so it's not going anywhere. He attached the underlayment one day, and installed the floor tiles the next. All of this went quickly and smoothly. The upper trim for my drop-down floor had to be modified to fit, and a couple of new pieces had to be cut. I didn't have any trim on the lower part of my drop-down floor with the carpet, but Gary fitted me with some this time. The red tiles look good with all the black and white that's in my interior, if I do say so myself. Looks much brighter too. A definite improvement. During our earlier campouts, Gary would watch a small portable DVD player for entertainment. It worked okay if he was the only person camping in me, but the small 8" screen was difficult for everyone to see when Gary had guests. So, he bought me this cool little 15" flat screen TV and an adjustable wall mount bracket. It's large enough for everyone to see from all four of my beds. He also mounted a DVD player inside the cabinet above the TV, and wired the two together. SWEET! For added privacy, he assembled three additional curtain panels for my larger windows. There had been a few gaps that needed to be filled. That was it for the latest round of improvements. The Daytona Turkey Run car show would be coming up again in about a month, but Gary was planning something before then, but wouldn't tell me what. What was he up to?

Heading Home

We left Monroe mid-morning on Saturday, October 23rd. We made our first stop at the South Carolina state line sign, then rolled on into Georgia and our home state of Florida. No worries with the van, and Gary could finally see some of the countryside instead of constantly watching the temperature gauge. It's a shame the whole trip wasn't this way. I got to see everything, but poor Gary missed so much. We made stops all along the way, but this time for fun stuff and not mechanical problems. The "Ten State Tour" actually became "The Nine State Tour". Our planned side trip to Alabama (the 10th state on the tour) didn't happen, but it would before long. Check out my souveneir license plates from all the places I went. Pretty nice collection for my first big trip, huh? I rolled back into the Green Acres Garage feeling a little road weary, but very, very happy. We were gone for 12 days and travelled 2,622 miles. I went places I had never been, saw things I had never seen, and met the girl of my dreams in Ohio. Who could ask for more? Life is good!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hello Monroe

Gary had called ahead to tell his buddy Marty that we were having problems with the van. Marty is a "Car-Guy", and could help Gary figure out whatever the overheating problem was. It took us nearly all day to get there, but we arrived at Marty's house late in the afternoon. I was parked in back of the house next to the garage, and un-hitched from the van. Marty had arranged to take time off work for the remainder of the week to help Gary with the van. Marty's wife Linda made a great dinner that night (and every night), and I saw Gary smile for the first time since leaving Ohio. We slept like rocks that night knowing we were safe and sound and help was at hand. As would be the normal routine for the rest of the week, Marty worked half days, then came home to help Gary. They replaced the thermostat. It was something that Gary had not replaced before the trip, but it made no difference. They tested the flow of the new water pump that Gary had installed, and it was fine. They checked the fan clutch, and it was fine. There was nothing else left in the cooling system that hadn't been replaced or tested but the radiator. It was removed and taken to a local radiator shop, but was so bad that it couldn't even be rebuilt. It would have taken the shop two or three days to get a new one, but Gary didn't have time to wait. He found a brand new one in stock at NAPA. Gary and Marty installed it, and test drove the van, and all was well. Too bad that dumb old radiator spoiled some of our fun, especially for Gary. I really enjoyed camping out in Marty's yard, and Gary had a blast hanging out with his friends. It was good to hear him laugh again. We stayed until Saturday morning. The original plan was to stay in Monroe for two nights at the most, but we ended up staying for five. We were supposed to go to eastern Tennessee to visit another friend of Gary's, then to his sister's farm in Georgia, and a side trip into Alabama. But we had been gone for so long already, that we needed to head home and go to the missed stops at another time. Marty, Linda, and Michael (their oldest son), wished us well and told us goodbye. We had a great time during our Monroe campout, and I'm sure we'll be back someday. Thanks SO much for the hospitality, y'all.

Roadside Rest Stops

There are easier and faster ways to get from Ohio to North Carolina, but Gary insisted on taking me through as many different states as possible on this trip. That's why we had headed east out of Ohio. Gary wanted to clip the corner of Pennsylvania along the way. We limped into Washington, Pennsylvania, and caught I-79 south there. I can't even remember how many times we stopped, but the shoulders of the interstate were beginning to feel like home. Big-rigs blew by us at high speeds, and I was more than a little scared at how close they got to us during our roadside stops. At one point, a deer ran out in front of us, and Gary narrowly missed hitting him. Gary was stressing out. This part of our fun vacation wasn't fun at all. He thought it would be best if we got off the interstate and onto smaller roads. We did that for awhile, but eventually we made our way to I-77. Gary had grown tired of all the stops and starts on the small roads, so I-77 would give us a chance to make up some time. We had spent HOURS along the sides of the road. We would still need to make frequent stops on I-77, but at least there were more convenient rest stops. By now, it was deep into the night. We were tired and frazzled, but we kept going. The goal of reaching North Carolina was still possible. It would happen early on Monday instead of on Sunday night like Gary had planned. We finally reached the rest stop at the North Carolina border around 5:30AM. We needed some sleep, and that was as far as we were going to go for several hours. We had missed getting my souveneir license plate and state line picture in Virginia since we were there in the middle of the night and couldn't easily find a Wal-Mart. So, we went back and got both after we woke up from our much-needed sleep. The North Carolina state line sign was right there at the rest stop, so Gary took my photo before we headed back to Virginia. Monday would be another stressful day, but at least we didn't have to go through 5 states to reach our destination. Help was waiting for us in Monroe.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Higher Hills To Climb

If leaving our friends behind in Ohio wasn't bad enough, things were going to get worse in a hurry. We headed east on I-70 towards Pennsylvania. Gary never had figured out why the van was overheating. We could go 50 to 60 miles on fairly level ground without an extreme rise in the temperature gauge, but only 15 to 20 miles (or less) on hilly terrain without the water in the radiator getting so hot it would boil. We took a break at a rest stop before leaving Ohio to let the van cool down a little. We had missed getting my photo taken at the Ohio state line when we entered the state. Gary made a u-turn when we entered West Virginia, and headed back towards Ohio to get the photo. Then he u-turned again, and took the West Virginia state line photo. Shortly afterwards, our troubles REALLY began. We weren't far into the hills of West Virginia and we had to stop to let the boiling radiator cool down. I kept the van company while Gary killed some time in Wal-Mart. He bought my souveneir bicycle license plate and some snacks, drinks, and ice for the trip. After about 45 minutes, we were ready to roll again. It was early Sunday afternoon, and the original plan was to get to Monroe, North Carolina by the end of the day. Do you think we made it? You'll find out soon.