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.


  1. Ugh, slide problems. I have not had problems where my slides wouldn't go in and out but boy do mine leak. Can't get the gaskets replaced until this Covid thing lets up and I can go back to the factory. I think our next MH down the road will not only be small but won't have slides. Or jacks. Two less things to have problems with. But I have to commend you on your use of a hammer to get the motor to work. I fixed lots of things with a hammer. :cD

    If nothing else, you certainly know how to pick lovely places to stay, Florida does have amazing campgrounds, if you can get reservations. You certainly have the system figured out.

    Sad you couldn't get to Carrie's for Christmas, same thing with us. Like you we were able to face time with our grands, a great technology. Your grands are absolutely adorable, you aren't biased at all. I hope you can get up to see them soon.

    1. Thanks Paul for the comment and your good wishes. I don't have the system figured out at all. I've been lucky some times and not so others. You definitely have to be quick draw Mcgraw on that website especially with the explosion in RVers. Not sure I'll be able in the future, like next winter.

  2. Dang! I wanted to see the armadillo! I've never seen one in the wild. Love the sunrise and the sound of the little creek and no thank you to that bike jump thing. The picture of Celia smiling by the Christmas tree is precious. Let's hope that your slide motor problem is soon fixed! Luckily you have nice hikes and beautiful scenery to make up for the problems that you have had with Winnona. xxxooo

    1. I'm so sorry I couldn't get my camera out and up before he heard me. Thanks so much for your cheery comment and your love. Me too, to you.

  3. We had only one slide in our 40-foot Mountain Aire and never had a problem with it in 8.5 years, but am very glad that the Lazy Daze and the Pleasure-Way have no slides at all.

    I certainly applaud your abilities and perseverance to continue your travels. Good on you!

    1. Thanks for commenting and your compliment Judilyn. I know how very busy you are and sincerely hope things are looking up.

  4. I sure wish you could get a newer, smaller RV for yourself. Seems like the problems will just go on and on. I know it's not easy. You are a trooper for sure.

    1. I appreciate your comment Laurie. I'd have to haver big money to get another RV and I do love Winnona. I was just ripped off last year when the motor was replaced and now it has become impossible to find the part apparently. I'm trying to keep the faith.

    2. Oh gosh. That is a really tough situation. I hope it gets resolved. Your grandchildren are adorable and that is a lovely Florida park.

    3. Thanks Jeannie it's good to hear from you. Glad to see you are happy back on the road.

  5. Hi Sherry! Always great to read your updates. After a month, my tire problem has been fixed - or has it? He used the wrong size of nuts so there is no room to put on the hub cap or nut caps. Asked him to find appropriate parts, but since it took him a month to get this far, doubt he'll be back. As long as the tire stays on and doesn't wobble, I won't complain too loudly. Hope you get the hydraulics fixed. Must be time to chat again?

    1. Hey Brenda. I wonder if you and I could get an act together called the Blues Sisters over our various RV difficulties. Thanks for the comment. I love seeing you here and am definitely up for a chat.

  6. the grands are beautiful!!
    So sorry for all the difficulties with Winona. I always feel like it is such a betrayal when vehicles don't work as they should, because i take care of them, they are to take care of me!!! HA!!
    Relax, think Happy, go for walks. thinking of you and wish you well in the new year!!!
    Yes, often wonder if our political situation is beyond redemption, surely things will be better... I surely would not want to inherit all these horrid problems to fix.. Pray things correct rapidly....

    1. Great advice Loree. Thanks for putting it in the comments. This isn't really Winona's fault. As I'll talk about in my next post this is the fault of the guy last year who didn't fix it right in the first place. Winnona is now 17 years old and as we all know stuff happens as we age.

  7. The grands are so adorable and like all of them are growing up fast! I know how hard it was to be without them for Christmas, thank goodness for videos and instant pics. Glad you had a trail to enjoy during your stay although it's not your usual variety. Every time I push the slide button to go out or come in I cross my fingers! They make such a difference in living space but what a pain when they don't work!! The older the rig the harder to find what is needed to keep them working. I'm confident you'll get it fixed and be able to continue your travels, just hope the process isn't too rough $$.

    1. Really appreciate your words of confidence and encouragement Jodee especially knowing you have been here with the slide problems. But like you, I wouldn't be without them. They make such a difference in comfort.

  8. Love the pictures Celia & Colin...they are precious. Sorry you couldn't be there in person, but like did the smart things and stayed healthy!!! The armadillo made me SMILE 😁 I remember times at Hillsborough SP where we saw so many...any more we hardly ever seen any. Sorry about the slide motor...sometimes life just isn't easy...but hope you get it resolved correctly this time.

    1. So glad to see you here Nancy. Great memories of us all at Hillsboro. Life just isn't easy is an understatement.

  9. Love your pictures, Sherry, especially of the kids. I am so sorry you couldn't be together. Next Christmas! I hope by now the slides are repaired. I don't know how you do it. I can't stand dealing with repairs. Take care of you! - Pam

    1. Thanks for your comment Pam. I'm with you on hating repairs. no fix on the slides yet but I'm crossing my fingers for next week.

  10. If you watch the video you’ll get the name of the salvage yard it may be possible that there may be the part you’re looking for there or they could help you identify it.

    1. Thanks Mr Ed for the link. The motor that has gone out was rebuilt just a year ago so I don't think I'm wanting to do it again but I really appreciate your coming in to comment with this suggestion. Hope to see you here again with more good advice. I need all I can get.

  11. The grandchildren are adorable and have really grown. Holidays were very quiet here also did get to see some of my great grandchildren on Face to Face opening the gifts from me and some of their other gifts as well.
    Sorry about the trouble with your slides hope it gets fixed

    1. Joe, I can't even imagine having great-grandchildren. I don't think I'll make it that far given how young my grandchildren are. But you are right they grow so fast.

  12. Hi Sherry. I would think Tampa would have a car starter overhaul shop. A good shop should be able to make that brush & commutator motor like new again. They can test and rewire and make brushes that fit correctly. Do some research. Good luck.

    1. Hey Tom. I'm sure you're right about Tampa but as I told Mr Ed this one has been done once so I think it may be time for a new motor.

    2. Done once by guy under a shade tree I'm sure. A real Auto Electric shop can rewind the field and armature and refinish the commutator and use new bearings and brushes with springs. So it is just like a new motor. Perhaps you want to bite the bullet and but a complete new pump assembly, that should end this problem yet costs a lot. Check with Winnebago, they may have one. Best of luck with the repair. Side note; the hammer trick reseats the brushes contact with the commutator.

  13. OMG! Slidout saga sucks! I wouldn't travel with them and don't. The big 5er is the only RV with slides I've owned and it hasn't really been a traveler. I was terrified that would happen to me, alone, and possibly in the middle of nowhere. But oh, that space when they're open is so divine. Hope the next service is the last for a while. Maybe a bigger hammer? ;)
    Alfia is an unusual park yet I am happy to see the earth reclaim our destruction. No way I'd do any of that on a bike, or by foot either possibly. Yet you've shown this to be a beautiful natural place and super WOW seeing an armadillo. (I find that as unique as a rhino.)
    A drag you couldn't be with family these holidays but they look healthy and happy. We're fortunate to have the technology to almost be in their living room. (Yours is too small.)
    Hang in there, the good outweighs the bad. You amaze me.

  14. Thank you Gaelyn. What a wonderful comment. You perk me up. Happily armadillo's are not as endangered as rhinos. I worry for the latter.

  15. Oh those beautiful grandkids....they really are! I have great expectations that the vaccine will be available those who want it...and that travel can return to somewhat normal. Hoping by the time you are reading this that you have come up with a not too costly solution to that slide problem. We rented a pull-behind recently...and must agree that the space the slides allow seems enormous. Love your little Christmas tree in the window of Winnona. Christmas here was quiet. We just had snow here in San Marcos and I am not a happy camper. I love snow...but in climates where it is to be expected. Abby had spinal fusion of L4,L5 and has come through it remarkably well. Enie is soon to undergo a fusion too...not sure of the specific discs. Stay well. Hope you find lots of sunshine and warm temps there.

    1. Thanks for your good wishes Carol. I can always use them. And the comment. I appreciate hearing from you. No slides yet. Next fix attempt is Wednesday. Goodness, Abby is young for spinal fusion. Glad to hear things went well. Snow in Texas???? I guess I'm glad I'm wintering in Florida. 73 here today.

  16. I'm so sorry you've had problems with your beloved Winnona, on top of everything else in this crazy year! I sure hope you can get your slides fixed soon. We've never stayed at Alafia SP but I've been curious about it. Although I'm not a mountain biker (I'd rather hike, just like you!) you make the trails look interesting.

    Your grandchildren are so adorable. I'm glad you got to 'see' them even though you weren't with them this holiday season. Here's hoping we'll all be getting back to some semblance of normal in the next few months...we can hope, right? OX

  17. The pictures of the grandchildren are adorable! So sad that you couldn't be with them. We are in full lockdown again. It was temporarily lifted for Christmas day, so I was able to spend it with one of my brothers, but our regular Boxing Day extended family get together had to be cancelled so I haven't been able to see my other brother for nearly a year. Still, vaccinations are going ahead at a great pace and I hope to have mine by Easter. I do hope your slide troubles are sorted soon. Finding reliable tradespeople is so difficult and worse when you are on your own. You'll get there eventually!

  18. Sorry for all the troubles, but you still win my admiration for sheer grit and determination and a love of nature. Missed you at the annual after-holiday gathering. This year I didn't invite people in for chili and cornbread but still served it at the door for a few hearty and friendly souls ... and have about 20 blankets collected under my Cmas tree so far. Travel safely, my friend, and come home to the hood.

  19. We had a MH with a slide that quit working when new. It was low on fluid filled it with ATF and never had any more trouble

  20. Sorry you're dealing with slide issues, hoping they can be remedied soon. Cute pictures of the grandkids, bummer you couldn't be with them. Looks like great biking trails, my youngest son would love them. Fingers crossed we'll all soon have the vaccine and a life can get back to a new normal.

  21. Great pictures!! I can completely imagine you singing morning is broken daily. I so wish you could have some for Christmas and the presents had gotten here on time! Hoping this year brings improvement and less RV issues for you!


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