Thursday, January 28, 2021

Beginning 2021 with Murphy Hanging Around

January 1 2021 – January 15, 2021                            Most Recent Posts
Oscar Scherer State Park,                                Alafia and Continuing Slide Troubles
Osprey, Florida                                                  Decorations and Postal Problems

For those of you hoping my slide problem has been fixed by now after over a month, as of today January 28, 2021, in short, NO.  I still have no slides, no jacks. Luckily my site is fairly level and I can use a couple of blocks. But that wasn’t my only problem in the first half of January.  Murphy clearly has it in for me.

IMG_1916I was moving to Oscar Scherer and at this point thought I needed a full shop rather than just a mobile tech.  The closest one was a shop in Port Charlotte.  I stopped before going to the campground. 
There I found myself in the hands of the unscrupulous Mr Mobile RV, who is now not mobile, so be sure never to use them. 

IMG_1917Bill, the owner and head honcho, took my motor off of the RV and took it apart.  Then he told me a new hydraulic motor would be between $700 and $900 from his supplier and that HWH (the hydraulics manufacturer) only sold to suppliers and never to shops or individuals.  That was the only clue I needed since David and I have bought parts directly from HWH for years.  I told him this and he got angry and told me to go get the part then and come back.  I took the chance to get out of there with no charge but he has my motor in pieces which turned out to be a real problem in ordering a new one.  But ultimately with the help of the RV tech who worked on this at Alafia, I was able to get the part number and order it.

I got to Oscar and backed into my site feeling pretty discouraged.  If David were here, this would be fixed by now.

IMG_20210104_190214489_BURST000_COVERI don’t watch much TV but  thought I’d better check it out and make sure everything worked for the Inauguration and so I could watch the nightly news to make sure nothing outrageous happened in the days left of the trump mess.  And of course,  something did. 

When I tried to put the antenna up, the handle came off in my hand.  One cannot drive a motor home with the antenna up but it’s a number of days before I leave so I have time to figure this out.  I was able to use a pair of pliers to get it all the way up.  Next day  I asked my on line Brave buddies and they said order a new handle.  Piece of cake to put in. Hmmmm 

But I did, the handle came, I asked the GREAT GOOGLE what to do now.   With a wonderful YouTube video from a WOMAN RVtech, I found that the handle was easily replaceable just like I’d been told.  I installed it, got up on the roof and lubricated the antenna and it works better than it ever has.  YEA ME!   If only I could fix the slides.


I got the handle fixed just in time to see the attack on the Capitol Building.  Needless to say, like I hope everyone else, I was horrified.  Who wasn’t paying attention to the 2017 Charlottesville Domestic Terrorist attack and Trump’s response then?  If that man is not impeached this time to make absolutely sure he can never run for office anywhere again, I may just give up on my country and especially on any thing remotely resembling Republican patriotism.  This isn’t about a man or a party, it’s about our country and democracy, about truth for a change and justice. We cannot just let him walk away from this or those who perpetrated it either.   Ok, that’s it back to days following.

Next fun thing was that a fraud charge showed up on my credit card which I had to cancel and have them send me a new one.  Thank goodness I was here long enough to get it.  But then, being full time, I have most of my bills for the farm to autopay on that card as well as my internet and phone and ……   So I had to change all of those which took most of a whole afternoon.    Is Murphy ever going to leave me alone?

In the good news department, the gifts I sent to Carrie and her family arrived 24 days after I sent them so we had a gift opening Skype session over the week-end. 

IMG_2157Other good news is that I found a reputable RV Mobile Tech Brian of Suncoast Mobile RV who came out and with his guys, put the motor and its solenoid in but before they could do that Brian discovered I’d have to order this  little thing no bigger than the end of my finger.  I forget what it’s called but Brian discovered Bill took it off and kept it.  $58 for part and shipping.  That’s bad news.


They came back but even with all 3 pieces,  still no slides.  HWH says they will send another motor but that can’t be it since Brian tested this motor before putting it in and it worked fine.  So I wait some more and pay for yet another service call to have the second motor put in. That happens but nothing is different.  Another call to HWH.  Now they think there isn’t enough power coming from the battery to the motor so I’ll need a new power cable since the battery tests fine.  Obviously like  Brian said, the first motor wasn’t bad.  Does anyone know what’s going on here?  I know the bills are mounting.

The next day, I’m going to out for a hike and when I walk around Ruby I see that her rear passenger tire is totally flat.  SO  I called around to service nearby and only Firestone was open.  SO I got out my compressor, inflated the tire and prayed it would make it the 10 miles to them.  They were swamped but found a hole that appeared to be from a nail but no nail.  The whole ordeal took 4.5 hours from discovered to being back at Winnona.


Can there be any more bad news?  Oh, I order a supplement I take, Glucosamine Sulfate, and Amazon sent a glass bottle in a lightly padded bag.  When it got here, this is what it looked like.  The tablets were in the bottom of the bag mingled in with the broken glass.

Is it just me or does it seem to you that I’m leading the opposite of a charmed life?

In between all these horrors, I hiked.  The hikes would relax me, help me feel more optimistic and then immediately something else would go wrong.  It was like a cycle.  But I’ll end on the up beat note.  Here is what I saw on my hikes.

I hike every day.  Oscar Scherer has a series of trails that range from half a mile to 5 miles and most of them can be strung together to give about 20 miles of hiking if you want to do that. I enjoy the trail that runs along South Creek from the campground to the boat dock and picnic area and then to the ranger station and beyond.

It’s a lovely easy trail that is partially handicapped accessible and runs right along the water.


There are several water overlooks along the trail.  Look who I met up with at one of them.  Are they fantastic or what??




The park rents kayaks and canoes.  I suppose the lucky one that is right on the dock belongs to the park.  Usually I bring my kayak down here and lock it up so I can go out as often as I want but this time I was too busy waiting for help with the slides to be able to go out on the water unfortunately.  Hope there will be a next time.


Other days I hike over to Hidden Lake under puffy cotton clouds.



The trail to Hidden Lake goes right under a rail road tressel.  The abandoned rail bed has been turned into the Legacy Bike Trail which runs from the park to Venice and the beaches.  It also runs North though I haven’t been that way.  Ultimately it will go between Sarasota and Venice.  I don’t like to kayak or bike on week-ends.  Too many people for me so I was not able to do any biking here either because on work days I was waiting for calls or visits from RV techs.  My various troubles have taken over  my life.


At the lake there were a few birds and one gator nearly every time I went.


Not a very good picture of the candy corn bill of the Moorhen.


Better of the Little Blue Heron with his green legs.


Tri colored heron.


On the way back I saw this beautiful hawk.


Another day, another trail and this red bellied woodpecker.


Oscar Scherer is known for its groups of the endangered Florida Scrub Jay.  Luckily there are 3 groups  in the park which really is maintained with prescribed burns to maximize their habitat.  The only time I was able to see them was at dusk when the lighting was terrible so I’ve had to lighten these pictures in order show their beautiful color.


While I wasn’t able to kayak or bike for fear of getting to far from Mobile Techs, I did do a lot of hiking and multiple times went to see the newly hatched eagle chicks.

That little ball of white fluff in front of mom just at the top edge of the nest is the new chick.

Mom left, I guess he wonders why.


This is what much of the Scrub Jay habitat looks like.  On this day there were no Jays since the hawk was hanging around.




A couple of days later, the eagle chick has grown.

The third bird of prey I saw up in the sky – the Osprey.

Late one afternoon, I did go over to Siesta Key Beach for the drumming down the sun.  But it wasn’t on the beach, they had it up by the bath house so I didn’t hang around up there. 


Birds were numerous – mostly gulls and terns.



I thought the heavy clouds would push the sun down.




While I haven’t biked or kayaked here, I have done a lot of reading and would recommend these books in this order  Caste a very important book I believe everyone should read in order to understand what is going on in this country today by Elizabeth Wilkerson,  The Midnight Library a fantastic time travel about reliving sections of your life book by Matt Haig, The Vanishing Half  compelling story about the lives of twin sisters, one of whom passes for white by Brit Bennett.

On those happy notes I’ll leave you with this piece of yard art from, one of my neighbors.  Pooh looking very fine as he turns his head back and forth.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Alafia and Continuing Slide Troubles

December 22, 2020 -  January 1, 2021                       Most Recent Posts
Oscar Scherer State Park                                    Decorations & Postal Problems
Osprey Florida                                                       Holidays Begin 2020

The dawn on my last day at Gamble Rogers State Park does not disappoint.


As sunrise nears and the colors bleed back, pelicans skim along the water.


And then here comes the sun!!   I actually do sing Morning Is Broken at each sunrise substituting pelican or sandpiper for blackbird has spoken.  I love sunrise.  I’m at my best in the mornings.


But today is moving day and my joy is short lived when I find that my slides will not go in.  How in the world do I move my rig with two slides out.  I’m not going to go into all that I did and all the people I asked for help who knew less than I did.  Finally, I had the ranger go inside and while I banged on the hydraulic motor with the hammer, he pushed the retract button and the motor worked long enough to get the big slide in.  We did it again and the back slide came in so I was able to leave on time for my 90 mile drive to Alafia River State Park.  The stress was nearly overwhelming.

IMG_1879I have a pull through site at Alafia and don’t dare open the slides until I can get someone to replace this motor that is only a year old.  That’s a serious tale of buyer beware from last December, but too depressing to detail.

The view through my front window here is quite different than at Gamble Rogers.


The view out my side window is of an open field next to the lake.  Very nice.

Alafia River State Park is a former phosphate mine.  Mining altered the landscape and created huge holes and steep grades.  Time and Mother Nature have also altered that landscape.

IMG_1892Alafia is known for its mountain biking.  The 17 miles of bike trails were originally created and maintained by the SouthWest Association of Mountain Bike Pedalers, but are now maintained by the Friends of Alafia club.  The mine was abandoned before remediation laws took effect, and the area where mountain biking exists is an erratic mixture of pond depressions and abrupt hills jutting from the surface.  For those in the know, the trails are rated Epic by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. The trailhead parking lot consists of bathrooms, bicycle rinsing stations, shaded pavilions, a volleyball net and a playground.   Every day I saw it, it  was always nearly full. 

IMG_1893There are a lot of bikers here.  The trails are rated easiest/easy/ intermediate/advanced and expert.  I have a wide tire bike but am not a mountain biker and did not try even the easiest trail.  Too many bikers for me.  I’m more of a hiker.   The “connector” trail from the campground to the bike trailhead at the parking lot is shared by hikers and bikers.  I hiked it nearly every day of my 10 day stay here.

IMG_1890Connector Trail from Campground to Bike Trailhead.

IMG_1885In addition to the biking trails, there are 20 miles of equestrian trails which weave around lakes, over hills and through wooded trails.  Most of the trails are wide enough to accommodate buggies and carriages.  There is also a 12 stall horse barn for campers to use.  While I saw many many many many bikers while I was at the park, I saw only two carriages with burros, for whom I have a very soft spot in my heart, pulling them and two riders in my entire 10 days.  I cannot even begin to imagine our Fred or Ginger pulling a cart.  Can you Carrie??

20201225_152029Many equestrian trails are open to hikers as well although they were often too muddy or the streams too deep for me.   There is only one hiker’s only trail and that is the Old Agrico Trail named for the abandoned mine on which the park was created.   I walked this trail every day as well.  I could leave the campground on the connector trail and follow it to the bike parking area.  As I approached the parking area, I cut off at the trailhead for the Agrico Trail which goes by waterfilled pits surrounded by steep ridges of cast spoils overburden.  The spoils have reforested naturally and the pits stocked with game fish though they are pretty green as my pictures will show.

The park opened in February of 1998 with 6000 acres and approximately 12 miles of river bank along the South Prong of the Alafia River.  Strangely, there is no kayak put in to the river without leaving the park, driving around its perimeter and putting in on the other side.  VERY INCONVENIENT.

The main reason for my choice of Alafia was not hiking, biking or kayaking  but rather that it was close enough to the Tampa Airport for me to fly out to spend Christmas with Carrie and her family.  Of course because of Covid, this year I could not do it.  And even though I mailed their gifts on the 12th of December, they did not arrive in time for Christmas morning.  I did get to do some face time and have some pictures of them opening their other gifts  But I sure wish I could have been there or at least my gifts could have been there.  Thanks to Carrie for the pictures.

Colin and Celia Posing by the tree

Celia & Colin by the tree

I know I’m biased but they are pretty darned cute.

CCI on Christmas mornColin on Christmas

No new babies for Carrie and Matthew.  This is the latest of I think 10 Iwanowski grandchildren.  Matthew’s brother Mark’s daughter Lennon.  I really like the picture of Carrie and Matt.

M & C with Lennon

Before facetime, I had an oatmeal pancake Christmas breakfast with my buddy Pooh.  Maine blueberries and Maine Maple Syrup for toppings and hot chocolate to drink from my Nana cup.


After facetime, it was off for an afternoon hike.

First down the connector Trail where I couldn’t get my camera set fast enough to get this armadillo before he gave me his rear and scurried off into the brush.  Sadly, I never saw him again.  But I like knowing he’s here.



As you can see, it was a gray and cloudy day.


I reach what I call the hub which is a sandy area where trails go off in every direction as you can see from the sign post.  They include Old Agrico which is what I’m looking for.  The others are bike trails.  If you are a mountain biker, this is the place for you.


There are a couple of bike jumps located near enough to this hub that a walker can slip down the bike trail and watch the bikers jump.  My favorite is right at the head of the Agrico hiking trail.  The mountain bike group that created this did a great job and the bikers love it.


Those who are not quite ready to jump can always stay to the right of the jump and continue on the dirt/sand trail.


There he goes.


Closer shot.  No thanks says I.  Not even were I younger.


The only trail in the park marked No horses, No bikes.


It winds all around, up and down  reforested slag piles from the mine.  Mother Nature is amazing in the ways she cleans up after us.


The trail goes by numerous abandoned mining holes which have filled with water.
These are two different pools though ferns seem to like to grow along the edges of them all.




I assume this beautiful oak was not cut down in the mining or perhaps it has grown this majestic in the years since.


After the Old Agrico Trail brings me full circle back to the Connector Trail, I head back toward the campground and as I get closer, take my favorite trail in the park.  It is a short little trail called the Creekside Trail and has a tiny waterfall.  Really tiny!  For those who would like to hear the beautiful sounds of the water, click the words Creekside Trail above.  And for those who listen, I did call Laurel right back but I did not do another video on another day.



A big salad and a bowl of Nancy’s homemade potato soup were my dinner on this solitary holiday.


IMG_1913Because of all the holidays and 3 day work weeks, I am having an incredible amount of trouble getting my slide problem looked at.

The next step in the saga of the slides is the arrival of Darrell Leece of Mobile RV Repair.  He comes out on Christmas Eve and somehow gets the slides out again which I didn’t really want for fear of not being able to get them back in.  He tells me not to worry.  He is thinking he will just get the part number of the motor, order it, put it on and I’ll be set to go.  But, not so easy. 

Neither Winnebago nor HWH knows what part number the motor put on here was even with the VIN and serial numbers of the rig to help them.  In trying to determine the part number from the old motor Darrell tries to take off the solinoid but it breaks and he has to replace it.  He orders that part with no problem, comes out a second time to put it on and then a third time on New Year’s day with a couple of men to push my slides back in since the hammer trick has ceased to work and the correct part number has yet to be determined.  10 days and I have no idea how I’ll get this fixed.

Last look at Winnona with her slides out for quite a while.  Happy New Year to me, SIGH! 


Site 5 Alafia River SP

My reservation at Alafia ends on January 2nd and I move on, thankfully with the slides in but not in “quite” all the way.  I worry about them the entire 90 mile drive to Oscar Scherer where I will have to find yet another RV Technician to take on this problem.  As you can imagine, the costs mount.

Luckily I can access everything in Winnona except half of the closet and 6 of the 9 drawers in the bedroom.  But this time, I took out things I thought I might need in the mean time.  Wish me luck with this amazingly difficult problem.  I hope the start to your New Year was better than mine.  As we all know at this point, January 6th was a day beyond all belief.  But that and further Technician travails will have to wait until my next post as this one is already too long.