Sunday, April 30, 2006

RV: the new Robin Williams movie

Ever since we heard about a group of RVers going to see a special showing of RV at the Pomona FMCA show, we've been anxious to see it ourselves. It was released this past Friday, and we saw it Friday night. We went to our local drive-in theatre ... oh boy! my favorite! If you have the option to see it at a Drive-in, I highly recommend it. The quality of the movie is significantly improved by adding a bottle of wine! And, your dog can join you. Odie loves Drive-In movies. The first time he saw a monster face outside our windshield, he barked ferociously. But, now he just curls up in the back seat. I'll start with the conclusion: we can't recommend it, even tho we enjoyed it. I don't understand how such a mega-comic-talent as Robin Williams can do stuff that is so stupid. It *could* have been so good, but it wasn't. For example, in the 1954 Lucy & Desi movie, The Long Long Trailer (a really good comedy about RV life), Desi is in a position where he has to back the trailer into a driveway. He is being very careful. You can feel his worry and his sweat having to make this difficult maneuver. Lucy is trying, sweetly but ineptly, to guide him. Even doing his very best, he knocks over the mailbox, takes down a some rose bushes, and, I think he breaks part of the front door. It's *funny* because he's trying so hard, and he messes up so bad. If you've ever had to drive an RV, you relate, and you laugh. By contrast, when Robin Williams first drives this huge bus of an RV, he acts like it's a Corvette. He punches the gas, makes a 3-point turn totally oblivious to the trees and concrete posts that he is hitting and knocking down on the way. It's not funny, it's just stupid. In Long, Long Trailer there's a scene where they are driving in the mountains. The drop off is very scary and you can see their white knuckles and fearful expressions. They have extreme trouble getting up the grade and the camera focuses on Lucy's guilt-ridden face because she knows how many rocks she has collected along the way and stored in the trailer even tho Desi told her not to. For all of us who have struggled with our RV's Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings, we relate, and it's a riot. In RV, Robin Williams also finds himself driving on a rough mountain road. The RV ends up balanced on a rock and he runs from the back of the bus to the front in an attempt to tip the balance into moving forward. He finally climbs out to the front bumper and holds on to the windshield wipers. At that point, the bus does start going forward, charging downhill to what should be certain death for Williams. But no, he is thrown to the ground, the RV rolls over him and comes to a rest right in the parking space he left earlier that morning. He gets up, brushes himself off, and pretends that nothing ever happened. If you see him as Wile E Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon - you may enjoy that sequence - but not as anything approaching a real RV experience. So, why did we enjoy it? Because of Jeff Daniels' character and his family, the Gornickes. They are full-time RVers. They even home-school their kids on the road. They live in a beautiful custom bus conversion. They are originally portrayed as hillbilly-like simpletons who are overly friendly. Robin Williams' family spends most of the movie trying to get away from them. But, the Gornickes develop thru the movie. You learn that they are educated and intelligent, they just seem simple because they enjoy themselves so much! They make a living selling musical horns. Their horn plays the theme song to Star Trek! ... I want one! ... What is portrayed as 'overly-friendly' is actually overly-helpful. The Gornickes are everything that is wonderful about the RV lifestyle and it's fun to watch them. I read an article in a recent RV magazine, all about Jeff Daniels. He is an RVer. In fact, he drove his RV to the location for filming this movie. He describes driving the RV as meditation ... 'vehicular meditation' ... isn't that great? By the end of the movie, even Williams' teenagers, who *hated* the idea of an RV vacation, warm up to the family experience. With all the stupid problems they encounter, the RV trip does bring the family closer together in spite of them. It ends, not with arriving back home, but with the kids asking, "Can we keep going? Can we visit Yellowstone?"

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The best exercise

I like kayaking in the ocean when it's glassy smooth. Yesterday, it wasn't. But, we went anyway. People who kayak dive in California would be laughing their a** off to hear us call this surf! When you're used to it being like a lake tho, this is a challenge. Here's Dick taking off. And, here's uncle John. The real problem for me was the strong north running current with the wind also going that way. We paddled about 3/4 mile out, straight out. Then, while we were under, we drifted about a mile north - maybe more. The paddle back was going up stream AND against the wind. My arms and shoulders were screaming. I had visions of Jim having to call the Coast Guard to come and get me! It is THE best way to get exercise. If I had been lifting weights or some other gym-exercise I would have quit after 5 minutes! But, when you're paddling in the ocean, you don't have much choice. You *have* to get back! So, I took deep breaths and put one end of the paddle in after the other. I sure felt like I had accomplished something by the time I got back! And, we got to surf the last few yards. Wheee. To give you some perspective, here's Dick and Uncle John on their way back in. We had paddled about halfway to that aircraft carrier out there. Dick surfed his kayak too. It really is great exercise - if I could do that every day for a couple months, I'd get in shape! As it is, I just get sore. Oh, but it hurts so good.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

RV Show and Ocean Fest

This past weekend may have been named JimandChris events weekend! There was the Fort Lauderdale RV Show, Ocean Fest, and the Fort Lauderdale Computer Show. RVs, Scuba Diving, and Computers. What else is there in life? That's just about covers it for Jim and me. First stop was the RV show. It brought back memories of 3 years ago. We went to this same show just to look. :-) We were still looking at camper vans, class B's, primarily the RoadTrek. We just wanted a way to travel on weekends and maybe a week here and there. Then, at this RV show, we stepped into a 24 ft. Class C that had a small bedroom in the back. Jim made the comment, "gee, we could take out this bed and put a small office back here. Then we could live in something like this." Well, I'm surprised the folks around us weren't blinded by the lightbulbs flashing over our heads. From that day on, we only looked at rigs big enough to live in, and it only took a few months before we were! Next stop was Ocean Fest. Our kayak scuba club, Kayuba, had volunteered to work the gate, being the ticket-takers and information-givers. Here's Mom and Uncle John working their shift before Jim and I came to relieve them. It was a beautiful day on South Beach: We saw lots of old friends. Some with new additions! Jim spent some time in the Kayuba booth with Andy. When our shifts were done, we went across the street to Bahia Cabana for dinner. It's a great spot to eat and pretend that one of those yachts is yours.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Kayak Scuba Diving: Oh Boy! My Favorite

We couldn't wait any longer. The wind died down, Dick and a few others said they were going diving, so we were THERE! A beautiful day! My regulator hose had sprung a leak, but good ole handy Jim had a spare and fixed it for me. The Commander (Dick) was there. And, even my uncle John. Really, he's my uncle. Mom's brother. He's been diving in Fort Lauderdale since the 50s! I need to visit our storage closet and rummage thru some old albums, see if I can find some old photos and newspaper clippings. A good time was had by all. This is Andy and Diane silhoutted against a perfect calm ocean! If this is the first time you've seen my kayak diving pictures, you might want to check out some old posts: I even have some short videos at:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April 16 = 2 years

We got back to South Florida and our home park, Paradise Island, on Sunday, April 16. That's 2 years, to the day, since we first took to the road! Oh no! We're not done yet. It may say 'Start: " on April 16, 2004, but it does not say 'Finish: ' on April 16, 2006. It's just that when we noticed that our plans put us in S Florida in April, we couldn't seem to help ourselves ... our computer-logic sensibilities required that we arrive exactly on the 16th. Maybe it's the same logic that made us get married on the 4th of July - easy to remember. We chose April 16 for our original departure date because Jim had several CPA offices as computer network clients and he wanted to be sure they made it thru the crunch with no computer problems. So, April 16 is easy to remember, and now we know that in 2 years' time we covered:

States: 36 Miles: 28,252 National Parks: 30 (see complete list here) Gas Cost: $8,214 (just for RV, not toad) Site Rent: $6,032 RV Maintenance: $6,538 (includes body work from tire blowouts, tires, oil changes, optional suspension improvements) Average length of stay: 4.5 nights Average travel time between sites: 4 hours Highest price paid for gas: $3.59 (Essex, CA on 3/5/2006) Lowest paid for gas: $1.63 (Van Horn, TX on 12/10/2004) Highest price paid for site rent: $45 (Harper's Ferry KOA, 6/14/2005) Lowest price paid (not free) for site rent: $8/night (Lolo National Forest CG, Montana. 7/9/2004)

As long as I found myself in a statistics-gathering, data-crunching mood, I just spent some time to finish another little project. For every month (well, almost) of our travels so far, I have figured the miles traveled, gas cost and site rent cost. The numbers would not pass an audit, but they're a lot more accurate than ballpark! I'm a data geek, I can't help myself. I know there are some others of us out there too - thought you might enjoy the numbers.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

South Florida

I know, I know ... I'm behind on the Blog. We are in South Florida now .. Fort Lauderdale to be exact. And several people have been surprised to see us because they say, "I checked the Blog and you're still in Dunnellon!" Yes, we left Dunnellon and headed south. We took the route thru Avon Park and Sebring. Pretty bleak country compared to the central and northern Florida with the beautiful rivers. In traveling the USA we have a LOT of favorite areas - but we've only identified one 'least favorite', and that's south Texas. One of the next 2 photos is from South Texas and one is from South Central Florida ... can you tell which is which? Interesting - the RV parks in this area were closed! I mean there were still some rigs parked there, but the offices were closed. Season is October thru March ... by April, they don't care anymore! We had to stop at 3 parks before we found one open. Water always adds a sparkle to any landscape, and early in the morning anyway, the lakes in the Sebring area were no exception. This will be our last fill-up for a while. Maybe the gas price will go down some in the next couple months?! We will be parked in Fort Lauderdale until late June or maybe July. Yes, the blog will probably be a little boring for a while. That is, unless I find an Internet connection and get to post from Fiji! Continuing south by Lake Okeechobee, we're right at home. There is nothing BUT RV parks around here. The population must swell by several hundred percent in the winter time here. But, even though you're right next to the lake, you can't see it because there's a levee all the way around. Here's one spot where the road goes over a bridge and you get to see the lake. Now we're really in South Florida ... West Palm Beach to be exact. Our first stop was for Easter dinner at Jim's sister's house in WPB. Then on to Fort Lauderdale where this will be 'home' for the next couple months. Hurricane Wilma, last October, really did a number on Fort Lauderdale. The next photo was taken last year, just a few sites down from the one above. Notice the wonderful big shade tree in the background. It's not there anymore - and that's the norm throughout Fort Lauderdale. There's a lot more sun and a lot less shade. That's a very bad thing in a hot place. So, we got here Sunday - had Easter dinner, visited Jim's folks, visited my Mom .. then Monday we had a doctor appointment, did grocery shopping, went to a dive club meeting. Today I attended the Women's Executive Club monthly luncheon. I was thrilled to be here for that. I've been a member of this group since 1983 and am currently their webmaster. Tomorrow morning we'll be going kayak diving. The calendar is filling up fast!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tom and Candy's River Resort

I didn't realize how tired we were! We've traveled 3000 miles in the last 2 weeks, staying only one or two nights in any spot with the exception of 3 nights in Big Bend and 4 in Austin. We love to travel, but we're tired. When we got to my Dad's, we crashed. We were very happy just to hang out at their place. They even have added 30 amp electrical service to their RV site! The weather has been so perfect, and they have such a great view from their porch, Jim was quite content to sit at Dad's laptop computer on the porch and watch the day go by. We let my Dad cook for us. And we watched Candy water her flowers. Today we felt lively enough for a boat ride. They have a Boston Whaler, and it was a gorgeous day. The house is right on Lake Rousseau, which is fed by the Withlacoochee river. The first sight was of an Osprey nest. Seeing the houses from the water side is so much more interesting than from the road. They ain't kidding! Alligators, and Anhingas... and Egrets and Turtles Here's Dad driving the boat I loved it. So did Odie The beauty is so much more than just the scenery. The fresh air, warm sunshine and cool breeze. The sound of the bird songs and the splash of the water. The smell of campfires and forest. There's just not much that can beat Florida rivers for beauty.