Friday, October 31, 2014

Back On The Ground, And Ready To Roll

Sorry for the delay in the update. I've been REALLY busy this week. I'm not much help to Gary in getting ready for our camping trip, but I'm one heck of a good motivator and cheerleader. He has been frantically getting me and everything else ready to go, and it's almost the start of our favorite time of year, CAMPING SEASON. We are SO tired of the heat and humidity that Florida summers are famous for. The fall and winters are made for us, and we plan to enjoy every minute. Before we hit the highway in the morning, let me tell you about a few of the mechanical things that have happened since my last post. My brake drums went to the machine shop, and came back perfectly round, the way they are SUPPOSED to be. There's always a bit of cleaning to do after they are machined, and Gary got right to work on that. Next, my re-packed wheel bearings were installed, and topped off with brand new grease seals. Am I impressing you with my knowledge of all of this? A few years ago, I wouldn't have known a wheel bearing from an axle, but Gary has "schooled" me very well. I've seen enough work being done around here that I think I could almost do some of this stuff myself. If only I had hands and legs instead of a tongue and tires. I could be dangerous! Anyway, back to the story. The next thing to be done was to install my brake drums and adjust my brakes. Except for Gary somehow smashing his left pinky finger, all of that went well. My tires were inspected before being reinstalled. Considering they are five years old and have a ton of miles on them, they still look like new. Then came Gary's least favorite part of the job, and that is putting those big tires inside those tiny wheel well openings. I had to be jacked up even further than I already was to make that happen. With my lug nuts tightened and my hubcaps installed, I was ready for a test ride. We went around the block first, and Gary tweaked the settings on the van's electronic trailer brake controller. Then we went out on I-95, and headed a few miles south to the first exit. We made a U-turn and headed back. Before we got home, it rained lightly. I was hoping to not get wet, but there was no escaping it. Back inside the garage, Gary checked my wheel hubs and brakes for excessive heat, but everything was perfectly normal. My brakes worked better than they ever have. Machining those previously egg-shaped brake drums made all the difference. "Dodge" the van got his rear brakes adjusted this week as well, so in addition to being ready to go, we are ready to stop when we need to. Well, I guess I need to get off of this computer and get back to my motivating and cheerleading duties. There is a LOT to do yet before we go, and I need to keep "cracking the whip" on my beloved owner, so we can leave on time. I'll check in from Falling Waters State Park in the Florida panhandle, our first stop on the schedule. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

That's The Brakes!

It's been over two years since I got my new torsion axle and brakes. Since then, Gary and Dodge and I have traveled thousands of miles. Since we are going to be traveling for the next few months to come, and for safety reasons and peace of mind, Gary decided to take my wheels off and my brakes apart for a visual inspection. My brakes look fine, but they are WAY out of adjustment. My brake drums have always been more egg shaped than round, and that's not good. They were attached to my new axle when it arrived via Fed Ex, and it was obvious that they had been banged around a lot between the factory in Texas and our house in Florida. They will be machined into perfect roundness at the machine shop. They are sitting in the back of Dodge as we speak, ready to be taken for machining on Monday morning. My wheel bearings looked good too, but there was no way that they would simply be reused as-is. They were cleaned, repacked with Gary's favorite wheel bearing grease (it's red, of course), and put in plastic baggies to keep them clean until my brake drums return from the machine shop. All related parts were cleaned and put in baggies as well. My spindles have been degreased, and my brake shoes lightly sanded. Basically, I'm ready to be put back together. I am currently suspended off the ground with six jack stands, a floor jack, and my tongue jack. Gary is always overly cautious when it comes to working on something that isn't supported by it's own wheels. Better safe than sorry! With only five days left before we hit the road, it doesn't look like I'll be getting the cleaning and polishing I was promised, but that's okay. It's better that I'm roadworthy rather than shiny. More updates soon, I promise!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Permanent DVD Player

After years of having my DVD player floating around loosely in the cabinet above my TV, it is now mounted permanently in place. Hooray for that! I'm actually surprised that Gary didn't do something about this long before now, and I'm equally surprised that the poor old DVD player still works. It has taken a beating inside that cabinet. No worries now! It is anchored to the plywood mount with five screws, and the plywood mount is anchored to the inside of the cabinet with two screws. That baby isn't going anywhere! The audio and video cables are secured to the plywood mount with cable ties. That should make it nearly impossible for the wires to come loose from the DVD player as we're bouncing down the road. Gary will be REALLY happy to not have to stop what he's doing, and reattach the cables before we can watch a movie. So, there's one little accomplishment before we head out on our next camping trip, and there's several more to go. We'll see what happens next!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Back Home For A Little Break

We made it safely back to St. Augustine yesterday, arriving at home around 5PM. It was a leisurely ride home, with a couple of stops along the way. We pulled out of the Yankee Traveler RV Park in Largo just before 10AM. The plan was to leave late to avoid the rush hour traffic going through Tampa. The plan worked well. It was smooth sailing all the way. Our first stop was at exit 314 northbound on I-75. Since Gary hadn't eaten anything all morning, a stop at Wendy's around lunch time sounded good to him. We parked in the lot of the adjoining Wal-Mart, where there was plenty of room for Dodge and I. After Gary filled his "tank", Dodge got his tank filled at the nearby Shell station. Back on the interstate, we headed north. Gary decided at the last minute to stop at the enormous Wildwood Antique Mall on SR-200 in Ocala. We got there around 1PM, and stayed for a couple of hours. I was in one of the few shady spots in the parking lot, so no complaints from me. Dodge and I needed the rest. Gary only bought one little thing in the antique mall. I don't know what it was, but he seemed pretty happy with it. We headed east from there on SR-200, and quickly found US-301. Heading north on US-301, our next stop was at a little park called Wrigley Fields, just north of the town of Citra. We stop there often as we're passing by. It's a quiet place to take a break. From there, it's roughly 75 miles to home on various roads. The closer we got to home, the more excited I was to get back into my comfy garage for awhile. While we were away, Casper the cargo van got to stay inside. I don't think he was too thrilled to be banished back to the driveway, but the garage belongs to me and Dodge, so he had to go. Gary quickly reinstalled my air conditioner, hooked up my power, and attached the garage's TV antenna to my TV. In no time, I was watching "People's Court", one of my FAVORITE TV shows. I wonder if Judge Marilyn Milian missed me as much as I missed her? Gary went to breakfast at his favorite little restaurant this morning, the Gallery Café. He is currently washing the mountain of clothes that he wore during the trip, and unpacking all the tools and stuff from Dodge. I am currently watching "The Rockford Files" (another one of my favorite shows) as I catch up on my blog. There is lots to do in the next 10 days or so before we head out on our first official camping trip of the 2014/2015 season. I am still hitched up to Dodge, so I think I'll be getting a bath and hopefully some polishing before we camp again. And I know for sure that my brakes and wheel bearings will get checked out before we go. I'll keep you posted on the latest happenings at the Green Acres Garage. Enjoy your day!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Yankee Traveler RV Park, Largo, FL.

Just when I thought that we would camp ONLY at state parks and the occasional KOA, Gary surprised me once again. When we left Hillsborough River State Park, I thought we were heading back towards St.Petersburg to camp on the driveway of our friends Bill & Sandy. Instead, we pulled off the interstate at the Ulmerton Road exit, and a few minutes later, we arrived at Yankee Traveler RV Park in Largo, FL. This is a 55+ park. Even though I am only 42, Gary is pushing 60, so I got in because of him. Actually, I don't think they would care how old I am, but I just can't resist the chance to bug Gary about how old he is. This is a REALLY nice place. It's basically a mobile home park with full-time or seasonal residents, but there are a handful of RV sites for travelers like me and Gary. We are tucked in-between a pair of the seasonal resident's trailers who apparently aren't here at the moment. It's extremely quiet here. Only a little bit of road noise from busy Ulmerton Road is all that is noticeable. We are on the east side of the office in campsite 302. On the west side of the office, there's the pool, a hot tub, shuffleboard courts, and the most immaculately clean restrooms of anywhere we have stayed at, besides Bill & Sandy's house, of course. Gary did nothing but whine about how bad the restrooms were when we camped at Hillsborough River, so it's good to not have to listen to that non-stop. The restrooms scored a 10 out of 10 rating on the Good Sam website, and Gary says that the rating is VERY accurate. Each restroom is a single self-contained room, just like your home restroom, so there's total privacy. As for me, I'm not in a lot of shade, but I'm partially in the shadow of one of the mobile homes next to me, at least for part of the day. I'm sitting on a gravel pad, and my buddy "Dodge" the van is sitting on concrete. There's a separate concrete pad on my door side with a picnic table. Even though there's no fire ring (which we wouldn't be using anyway), and not a lot of trees or squirrels to enjoy, I feel pretty comfy here. This is most definitely a place that we would come back to if we were looking for a place to stay at in the St.Petersburg/Largo/Clearwater area. If we could be sure that private parks were all this nice, we might be willing to stay at more of them. Gary is working on his house again today. It's about 10 miles from here. I'm just hanging out and enjoying the peace and quiet of this immaculately kept park. I'm going to catch some rays and take it easy. After all, that's two of the things that I do best. We will be here through this weekend, and we head home to St.Augustine on Monday. I'll talk with you again soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Nicer Side of Hillsborough River State Park

As promised, here's a few pictures of the nicer side of Hillsborough River State Park. It's actually a decent park except for the campground. As far as that goes, it most definitely needs some major renovations. It rained here this week, and most of the campsites are REALLY muddy. A couple are actually under water. Gary had enough sense to move us to one of the five paved campsites this past Monday, so we've had no worries. Others here are not so fortunate, and those that have reservations for this weekend are going to be VERY disappointed. Well, enough of my complaining. Lets move on to something more pleasant. As I said, there are some nice things here to see and do. As you enter the park, there are fields of purple flowers. I have no idea what kind of flowers they are, but they're nice to look at. The roadway loops through the park. It's nice and smooth, and I really enjoyed that. Gary has seen a few deer crossing the road on his trips in and out of the park. There's a café and gift shop with a big pool behind it. You can rent golf carts, bicycles, surreys, canoes, and kayaks. There are several trails of various lengths, and an overlook of the Hillsborough River rapids. There's a suspension bridge which was closed for repairs, and a stationary bridge as well. There's a fort here somewhere, but Gary hasn't had any time to check that out. He only had a couple of hours on our first day here to look around and take these pictures. Other than that, he has worked long hours on his house across the bay in St.Petersburg every single day, so it hasn't been a leisurely trip for him as it's been for me. That's about it from here. Gary isn't finished working on his house yet, so he decided to add three more days onto our stay in this area. We're heading to a new place tomorrow, but I don't know any of the details yet. As long as it isn't muddy or under water, I'll be fine with it. I'll let you know where we'll be in the next couple of days. Have a GREAT weekend!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happier Campers

We're still at Hillsborough River State Park, but we've moved to a MUCH better campsite. After three nights in campsite number 94, and not being thrilled with the campsite or the crummy restroom in that loop, Gary checked with the ranger station this morning and asked if we could move to another spot. They were fine with it, so we moved to campsite number 73 in the River's Edge camping loop. This is a paved campsite, and it is just steps away from a much more modern restroom. Look closely at the third picture, and you can see the restroom right across the street. I am VERY happy with the campsite, and Gary is VERY happy with the better restroom. We will be much happier campers for the remainder of our stay. According to the Weather Channel, there is a very strong chance of rain for the next two days, and I definitely did not want to stay in the mucky campsite we were in. I'll stay nice and clean over here. Gary is still going to St.Petersburg every day to work on his house. With only three days left in our planned stay, he doubts that he will get everything done that he set out to do. He's thinking about staying in this area for a couple of more days. We would stay here if we could, but our current campsite is reserved by someone else for the upcoming weekend. So are all of the adjoining campsites that are similar to this one. So, I'm not sure where we will stay, if by chance we do hang out in the Tampa Bay area for a little longer. Time will tell. In my last post, I promised I'd show you some pictures of the park. I haven't forgotten about doing that, but I was so excited about our new campsite, that I wanted to tell you about that first. I'll post the pictures of the park soon. That's the latest news from here. Have a good one!