Saturday, April 11, 2020

December 2019: Jack and Tornado Troubles

Posted:  April 10, 2020                                                 Recent Posts:
About:  December 2019                 November 2019: Blue Springs and Thanksgiving
                                                             November 2019: Fort Clinch and Gamble Rogers


Thankfully, on Monday when I left Blue Springs, the slides both went in and all the jacks came up.  But, when I started setting up at Gamble Rogers the front jacks went down but the back jacks only went part way down and quit.  I spent the afternoon checking with RV Class A and Winnebago Brave Facebook groups and then called a couple of RV Techs.  The only one I could get to come out within the next day or two was a smart ass braggart over the phone and if I’d had any other choice would never have made an appointment.  But there was no other choice.  The park said he knew his stuff.   If David had been here  this is something he would have been able to trouble shoot and fix I have no doubt.  At least the view of the Ocean from my front window was calming.

Tim from Atlantic RV came out on Tuesday and says I need a new hydraulic motor.  I can buy what he claims is a piece of junk from overseas sold by HWH for $400 and wait a week to 10 days for it to come in.  Or I can buy a much better solid metal no plastic rebuilt one from him that he can bring out tomorrow.  $800 for the motor and the labor.  Even at $125 an hour for labor that’s  nearly 4 hours of labor.  I talked to Frank from HWH who has helped us with our HWH problems for 9 years.  He gave me the price and time frame which was 10 days to 2 weeks.  He said the $800 sounded awfully high to him and I know it is but I don’t now have a full two weeks in this site.  I know Tim is taking advantage of a woman alone-shame on him- but I need it fixed now.  I can’t level the coach or put the slides out until it is which means I can’t get to anything in the back bedroom.

IMG_20191204_152846128I agree to the robbery, Tim comes out on Wednesday, sits around and directs  his young nephew who does all the work at his direction.  I don’t think it took them even an hour to do.  They were fast and efficient and Tim definitely knows his stuff but that was wayyyy too expensive for a rebuilt motor and 90 minutes of their time. 

He shows me the old motor which is definitely a mess.  I suspect it’s original from 2003 when the coach was made to be sold as a 2004.

At least I know it was a necessary replacement even if the charge was outrageous.   Tim checks the work before they collect my check.  He does have years of experience and appears to know exactly what he’s doing. . .but still.

As of today in April, everything is still working.


                                                                        Dawn at Gamble Rogers

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating.  The sunrises at Gamble Rogers are fantastic but the salt damage to the rig is perhaps not worth the cost unless I can find someone to take care of it for me.  Any ideas, PLEASE let me know.  

Here’s dawn and sunrise over the Atlantic.

                                             Sunrise over the Atlantic Gamble RogersIMG_1002

For the next few days  I tried to keep busy doing some holiday shopping for my trip to visit Carrie, Matthew and the grandchildren, working on my puzzle, walking on the beach and sprinkling some of David’s ashes at the beach and in his favorite campsite here.  I hope to revisit all his favorite places if I can and do this. 

It is not nearly as warm as I was hoping.   40’s at night.  Much colder than previous years.  I spend the winter in Florida to be warm.  Not so much this year.

My birthday, December 7,  is the first one in over 40 years I have not spent with David.   The dawn is faint.


Getting out for the dawn and sunrise is about all I do these days.  It’s been ten months since David died, and I seem to be worse than in the beginning when I suppose I was taken up with all that had to be done. 


It looks like the sun is rising over Manhattan but it’s just the clouds at the horizon.


Taking the sunrise always darkens the picture as the sun is so bright.   How I wish the man walking down the shore were David.

Sunrise brings the birds and that does make me smile. 

I’ve finished  my last puzzle and started on this one of a book shop.  I’ve never really been a puzzle doer but when your life totally changes, who knows what you might do.  Thank you to Michaels for having so many puzzles and coupons as well.

IMG_20191207_121229681I don’t do much of anything on my birthday. There isn’t much to celebrate.   It feels sad being all alone but luckily for me my friend Pam called me twice and sent me the gift of a wonderful bird puzzle, Carrie set up a Skype session with the kids, called me back for a chat later after they went to bed and sent me a gift of Ken Burns DVD set Country Music.  Both my gifts are great things for me to do in my endless hours.  I got several emails, an ecard, calls from both my brother and my brother-in-law.  It was so nice to be remembered and made a day that would have been nothing but sad as good as it could possibly have been.  No loneliness today.  Thank you all so much!!

I’ll have to finish this one before I can begin on my birds.


IMG_20191208_101646487Because of the uncertainty of the various sources of water in campgrounds, Winnona has two water filters and we use a PUR pitcher.  I mention this because the larger of the filters is cracked and I have to replace it.  I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking on line for the same housing and just can’t find it so I drive to  Walmart, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, Home Depot and finally find one at least the same size so it will take the same filters.

Next problem is finding the tools to install it.  David has 3 bins full of various kinds of tools and tool boxes.  I won’t bother with the details of how long it took me to find what I needed or to do the actual installation but it was hours.  I doubt this would have taken David more than 20 minutes since he knows what he needs, where it is and how to do it.   But I managed my first solo “repair”. 

IMG_1071As a birthday present to myself, I signed up for a Friends of Gamble Rogers Kayak paddle.  We launched into the basin on the river side of the campground.  Went across  the Halifax river into the small area of mangroves on the other side.  It was nice to be on the water with a few other people.   All my kayaking for a long time has been solo.


IMG_20191210_083207559I worked on the puzzle Pam sent me and wished I’d gotten outside in time for what appeared to have been a great sunset.  I could see if from Winnona but didn’t have time to hurry back over to the river side to catch it before it would be gone.  Being able to walk to views of the sunrise and sunset is one of the things that keeps me returning to Gamble Rogers in spite of Winnona’s increasing rust.


Looking back at my journal for December, I find it was cool and windy most of the time.  I didn’t do much and the only pictures I took were of sunrise and sunset which I was up and out for every morning and evening if it wasn’t raining.  I did meet at least a blog friend for lunch, walked to the library, had dinner at Snack Jack’s but took no pictures of any of that.  

In looking at my mid December sunrise pictures, they look a lot like my early December pictures with dark clouds at the horizon.  But I enjoy them and they were the highlights of my stay so here are some more.

Sunrise over the Atlantic



Kind of looks like a castle there on the horizon.



Finally, here comes the sun.


Plenty of pelicans out in the morning.

Sunset from the Riverside.

Sunset (2)

Over the years our family collected a number of holiday movies that we watched every year.  Originally we had A Christmas Carol, the best one with Alastair Sim, Miracle on 34th Street, with Natalie Wood, Holiday Inn, White Christmas and many more.  We eventually had enough including some of the Hallmark Holiday movies, which come 4 to a CD, to watch one every night from the day after my birthday through New Year’s Eve.  Pooh and I keep up the tradition eating far too many bowels of air popped Orville Redenbacher white popcorn.


As I’ve said, it is a cold, windy and rainy December, feels more like Virginia than Florida.   The peak was three days in a row when the wind off the ocean was in excess of 28 mph and up to 45mph while raining off and on. I brought the slides in for the duration as the coach rocked from side to side.  At 4:20am on Friday the 13th, of course, my phone alarm went off with a tornado warning very quickly followed by the loudest crack of thunder I’ve ever heard and lashing rain began and continued on for two hours.  Perhaps I should have left as I learned in the morning others did in their cars.   Though it turns out they drove toward the danger.

IMG_20191214_115043699In the morning we found a tornado did hit the park but it came across the river, through 3 or 4 sites of the riverside campground, across the highway and out to the ocean.   It flipped over a Tiffin Allegro the size of Winnona, threw picnic tables around and into one car windshield.  It toppled two trees and destroyed 3 occupied tent sites on the back side of the campground.  Amazingly no one was hurt in either the tents or the RV where everyone was in bed.

The occupants of the RV crawled out the broken front window.



The car belonged to the RV parked to the right of the Tiffin.



Two days after the tornado, my time at Gamble Rogers was over and I moved 35 miles north to Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine.   More on that next post.

I’m writing this of course during my coronavirus lock down and one would think I could get caught up quickly with so  much time on my hands but I find the longer I am quarantined, the less energy and motivation I seem to have.   I’ll try to be back sooner to finish out December with our first Christmas without David and move on to 2020.   I hope you all are well and safe.  Thank you for staying with me.  Sheltering in place is even more difficult and lonely when one is alone.


  1. I’m sure this will come as a shock to you but yes, it’s me, responding to your blog.

    It has to be very frustrating to be at the mercy of mobile RV services. It’s these times when it’s probably best to consider having a towable that does not have all the maintenance issues of a big rig. Of course not having a dependable handy copilot compounds the problem.

    Hopefully everyone will be back out on the road and enjoying the camaraderie of the parks soon.

    Be well.

  2. I love Gamble Rogers and haven't even been there. Those ocean views and sunrises--which I wouldn't see many of--and sunsets are divine. I have RV repairs as I'm so dumb about fixing things always feels like I'm getting ripped off. I've never had anything to level my various RVs other than boards and leveling blocks so couldn't understand why David spent so much time with them in the past. Glad you got out with people on the water. I've spent so many birthdays and holidays alone they seem to just pass like any other day now. Under the current circumstances I am almost afraid of other people. Happy you discovered puzzles.

  3. That tornado scare must have been frightening. I always hated riding out a storm in the RV. Love your beach photos and hope the rest of December was better for you. Stay healthy!

  4. While we've never experienced a tornado we've spent time in bathhouses while we wait out the warning. Good for you for tackling the water filter issue and getting it taken care. Shame on the RV tech for being taking advantage of the situation. We use a product called Salt Away on our rig when we're down on the Gulf Coast. I've gotten into puzzles online but we're thinking of getting some real ones again for these long days of self distancing. Stay Safe!!

  5. I was always nervous when we were gate guards in Oklahoma and tornado warnings were up. Some campgrounds had no shelter. Scary! This virus thing is getting tiring for sure. At least our weather is conducive to taking walks. Puzzles are hard to come by, on Amazon they're not delivering overnight. Glad you had lots to watch over Christmas.

  6. Sounds pretty sad and lonely. But life goes on, and the sun rises and sunset pictures are beautiful. We are also getting tired of the isolation. It's weird when your options are stay apart or die. At least the spring is still happening and everything is starting to get green and lovely. Hope to see you when we're able to get together again. I'm sure Skyping with Celia and Colin keeps you going. Happy Easter!

  7. Sherrie, if I could reach through this screen to give you a hug I would. That has to be so hard to pick up the pieces and go on. David was such a good guy. So handy. Hopefully today you are having more good days than bad. Or at least improving a little.

  8. We are preparing for the big storm coming to South Carolina tomorrow. I don't think you can really prepare for being blown away.
    You sunrises are perfect and I am glad you paddled with a few other people.

  9. I have never had a RV tech that I fully trusted and they charge a lot just because they can:(

  10. Beautiful pictures. I'm so sorry Tim had the audacity to overcharge. Grrr. The puzzles are so pretty and impressive, I might add. Well done on your first solo fix! So glad you were spared the tornado. How scary for those neighbors who tipped over while in bed! My oh my! I remember you telling me about that. I love you today and every day.

  11. I like the "castle" sunrise best. The colors of all of them are beautiful. Looking at the RV turned on its' side is bizarre- as if it were a toy. I can only imagine how scary that was for the people in it. How helpless they must have felt. Love the pelicans- xxxooo

  12. I hate being taken because I am a woman but sometimes we just have to go along. At least you managed the water filter on your own. KUDOS!
    Your pictures always take my breath away.

  13. I too had to replace my water filter housing assembly. I'm almost embarrassed to say it took me two hours. One hour to replace the assembly and another to remove it and reinstall it when all the fittings leaked. Some projects just don't want to go right. Good for you on doing it yourself, you can do many things when you put your mind to it.

    Only had to use a mobile RV tech once and after paying the service call fee, he couldn't fix the problem anyway. It was an issue with my awning. I was fortunate to at least be able to roll it up and later take it to a dealer for repair.

    I hate to hear you got ripped off by that tech, but that motor sure looked bad. Sometimes knowing the problem is fixed takes a little sting out of the high charge. Thankfully you should get many more years out of the new motor.

    Wish I was on a beach somewhere now to enjoy sunrises and sunsets. This sheltering in place gets old.

  14. Those brushes were sure worn out on that pump motor. I am sure it has been cleaned up and has new brushes and installed on another RV by now. His price may have seemed high but he got you repaired in place, ASAP.
    Sure glad no one killed by that tornado. Great Sunrise pictures. Happy Easter from lock down Alaska.

  15. How scary, to have a tornado hit so close to you! You have been so courageous, continuing on with your journey. So many things for you to handle on your own, from major repairs to all of the necessities of daily life. I know you miss David terribly, his talent for fixing everything, his cooking, his easy-going nature and his company. I'm glad you had plenty of love coming your way on your birthday. Take good care of yourself during these crazy times in our world. Your photos of the sunrises and sunsets make me feel peaceful. Hugs!

  16. Hi, Sherry! I sure hope you are having a nice Easter holiday and think about the blessings you have in Carrie and the grandchildren. They are beautiful!

  17. I don't think you told me that tornado story! That's terrible and what a miracle no one was hurt. That aside, these sunrise pictures make me want to go there. Some day .... Take care! -- Pam

  18. Like you said Shame on him. But I suspect he can get that same amount from other than just solo women when no one else is available and the parts take so long from other sources :-( Glad you were able to get it taken care of, especially before the tornado! That must have been a hellava storm to ride out. I always picture you and David in this campsite at GR, next to the boardwalk out to the sand with access to beautiful sunrises and sets. It's definitely a special place. Love the birds across the amazing colors. Bummed you're alone, grateful you're safe.

  19. I remember when that storm hit GR and knew you were there. You were very, very fortunate to get away without damage!! I believe really bad weather is the most difficult part of being a full-timer. Hard to find a safe place:-(( Hope you and all the family are staying safe and healthy. Strange times, but we will see better days eventually. Stay Safe, Be Well and Take Care!!!!

  20. That's a big wind that would tip over a rig the same size as yours. Glad you were spared. Replacing the slide motor is enough!! I know you miss sweet David....on so many levels. He was....and always will of the good guys here on earth. Love the sunrise photos...such a peaceful time of day....a time to remind us of new beginnings...even those we never wanted. Glad you can still see the beauty of a new day.....the dawning of hope. Love, Carol

  21. Your pictures are always beautiful, but I have to say I want to be as far away from beaches and water as I can. I always liked mountain and forests much better, but that's what makes the world go round - our differences in likes and dislikes. Hang in there; I really think you are making great progress although I know how tough it is for a woman alone in an RV.


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