Friday Oct. 8 Back to Ft. Desoto

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We decided we needed a beach fix, so we went back to Ft. Desoto Park for a few days.  Lynda also wanted to check out that she still could work from the trailer if her clients needed her to do something. And of course they had more for her to do and all very rush. So I guess she was lucky that we took the 24″ monitor and our Verizon Hot Spot so she could be online. Lynda’s not so much retired yet as she is self employed again. We left the Tigger home, between his try-out at Simmons and shots, etc., at the Vet he was pretty stressed out so we left him home to relax a bit.

It was windy when we drove the trailer over the Skyway and we did get bounced around a bit, but it wasn’t a bad trip. The weather for our stay was beautiful, cool nights and only in the high 80’s during the day and dry. So nice after the 90% plus humidity of August. The beach was lovely as usual but I was surprised at how many Europeans there were running around already. Guess the Dollar vs the Euro makes the US a cheap trip.

DSC_0191 DSC_0212The sunsets were beautiful, missed the spectacular reverse sunset the first night as I didn’t bring my camera, but the others were good as well.

I also tried to get a decent night shot of us and the trailer. The one I got is OK but I guess I’ll keep trying. We love that Xmas shot of the Airstream Bambi by some lake, all lit up with Xmas lights. You can click on the images to make them larger.

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Speaking of Airstreams we met two “Streamers” who were very friendly and happily showed us their trailers. It always amazes us how friendly and happy  RVers are. Mike and Diane had a 31 ft.  Airstream with a bump out. And they pointed out a few RVer tricks like we could stow the poop hose in the bumper and their Thule kayak rack that lifts the kayaks up on the roof for you. Very cool, we will have to get those.

The trip home was the best so far, no sway, no difficulty, it was actually a pleasant drive. When we got home our pool was clear. It had turned green when we went to Simmons and I had to replace the sand (350lbs.) in the filter. It’s crystal clear now, I guess I did it right.

We’re going to try a longer trip next time, maybe 300 – 400 miles and a week. Well see.

Tigger’s Test

Friday

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SimmonsViewOct. 4 – We finally took the Tigger to E.G. Simmons Park here in Ruskin. It’s only about ten minutes away that way we figured we could take him home if he threw a huge fit. Here’s Simmons Park. It’s a nice facility right on Tampa Bay. Bathrooms are relatively new and very clean compared to other parks we’ve been too. We basically had it to ourselves, only about ten RVs in there and it is a big facility.  We set up camp and put the Tigger inside.

Tig in Bunk

He promptly went and hid out in  the back of the lower bunk bed.

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He eventually found a storage space on one side of our bed . It’s about two feet square and he could hunker downin it and feel safe. He didn’t make a sound all day. But when we went to bed we could hear him roaming around, jumping up on tables and looking out the windows. The next day he was starting to settle down, roaming around wanting to be petted, etc. That night though he was jumping all over us. No noise just a big pain. We think he’s going to work out fine as a camper.

We did get some good evening shots of the trailer with the lights and the sunset was really excellent. The bugs though were horrible. The place was full of no-see-ums. When the wind quit they were all over you and they bit like mad. Lynda would only sit still for the trailer shot for a minute and then she ran back inside. Off didn’t bother them a bit. The place is basically in the mangrove swamp and they are there in force when the weather is warm and wet like it has been. We enjoyed the place but we won’t go there again except maybe in the dead of winter here.

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Hot August!!! Now September

August was very hot and muggy, not a big deal in Tampa, but it really doesn’t make for good camping even with AC. Why go some place and hang out in the trailer all day to avoid the heat? May as well stay home where there is more to do inside. Anyway we had a lot of distractions to deal with concerning Lynda’s “retirement”. Setting up health Ins., getting her last few paychecks, trying to move her 401k, talking to some freelance clients, fixing up Lynda’s studio, getting her home office back into shape, etc. We’re hoping to get back on the road now in September. Still just planning day trips in Florida. Maybe George’s Island SP or Talbot Island again. Not sure yet.

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We still have to test the Tigger. If we’re going to go away for weeks at a time, he’s going to have to learn to live in a small trailer (he will travel in the car). We’re not sure how he’s going to react to not having a huge pool area to play in. Our plan is to take the trailer over to Simmons Park for a few days and take him with us. It’s only about 10 min. away from home so if he throws a major fit we can always bring him back.

Ft. DeSoto Minnie’s Second Trip July 23

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Ft. Desoto’s Beach

We managed to get a campsite at Fort DeSoto which has a great beach for a few days. Not easy to do in the summer as Pinellas County residents get first dibs. Any way we got a pull thru and Lynda had a few days off (she’d quit her job which was turning very difficult) so we took off for the beaches. It would be our first trip over a big hill (Sunshine Skyway Bridge) and we’d get to see how the truck would perform. Everything went great, the truck had no problems especially when we used the special tow/haul button on the transmission.

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Minnie at Fort Desoto Note the Minnie decal we put on the front window

It was too hot for any serious hiking, the beach was nice though. We also discovered that you need a good sized outdoor carpet for under the awning, otherwise you’re tracking dirt into the trailer all the time. We did our best to fill up the tanks, just to see how long they would last before needing dumping, using way too much water we needed to dump in 3 days. So we know what not to do, at Hillsborough we were being very conservative and we had hardly anything to dump after 3 days. We checked out all of the campsites so we know which ones to reserve next time. Great trip – more photos on my website http://www.fishbourne.shutterfly.com

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Lynda at her new job as unpaid life guard at Fort DeSoto

July 12 Minnie’s First Real Trip

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Minnie at Hillsborough River State Park

We wanted to take Minnie on a short shake down cruise to check out all of the systems. So we took her to Hillsborough River State Park about 45 min. from our house, 25 min at 65 mph highway speeds and 20 min. at 45-50 back roads. No problems she ran along fine. Friends of ours had spent a few months at HR as worker bees and they highly recommended it. It’s a very nice park, even has a pool, but we were surprised by the number of tent campers there, it was hot and sticky. I don’t think we’d have been there if we didn’t have AC. The river is very beautiful and the trails go every where, but there were armies of mosquitoes who were unafraid of Deep Woods Off. I think it actually attracted them. So we gave up on hiking and went on the old fort tour instead. It was very interesting and we got a lot of good photos you can see them at http://www.fishbourne.shutterfly.com

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Lynda drinks special coffee at Hillsborough River State park. Hmm tastes like Chardonney!

All of the systems worked fine, except for the DVD player, movies didn’t show up on the TV even though they showed up on the little screen on the DVD. I spent a couple of hours with the book and the remote control but no matter what I did I couldn’t get it to work. Finally I gave up and went to bed. The next day I had a thought and pulled on the cables that went from the TV to the DVD. They pulled right out! They weren’t attached to the DVD! So I removed the player and plugged them into the DVD and it worked fine!

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Broken Board

The other thing that happened was the bed broke. These are just platform beds with storage underneath. The top is supported by a 1 x 3 piece of lumber and one side split and broke. I fixed it temporarily and replaced the board and added a couple of braces when we got home. It was on Lynda’s side so it wasn’t due to blubber just poor design.

We also discovered that the interior lights were all way to strong and they got hot. So we removed one of the bulbs from each fixture and they were better. I bought some lower wattage bulbs to try out on our next trip.

All in all a good trip. We emptied the grey and black tanks at the dump on our way out. This was a new experience for us. We also filled the fresh water tank just to see how the trailer reacted to that on the road. No problem, in fact with all of that extra weight over the wheels the big trucks didn’t push us around so much when they went by.

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Hillsborough River

Into July

Sway Problems: When we drove Minnie home from Camping World in Bartow we noticed she had a fair amount of sway at 50+. CW had only installed one sway bar, but in researching sway I found that on this size trailer you need two. So I ordered another and installed it on the other side. It only makes sense that you would need one on each side. I also found the tires to be under inflated, 35 lbs instead of 50 – another reason for sway. We also placed a fair amount of weight in the front to add to the hitch load and help with the sway.

Back Up Camera

Back Up Camera

Big Mirrors: I thought the Expedition’s mirrors were huge, but not huge enough. I couldn’t see around this thing and what was going on behind was anybody’s guess.  So I added stick on mirrors with big arms and a back up camera on the rear of the trailer that runs all the time. Hey!  you can really see that Corvette that’s about to pass you on the right, just as you’re about to get back into the right lane.

Wider Mirror

Wider Mirror

Bug Screens: It’s amazing that the vents on all of these expensive items, heater, water heater, furnace, refrigerator all have vents with no screens on them to keep the mud wasps etc. outside. So I bought all of these custom screens $10-12 each for these.

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Bug Screens

We also bought an insulated pillow you stuff up into the skylight over the bed (so you can sleep in the morning) and a small solar charger for the battery, as well as hundreds of dollars of odds and ends; fresh water hose, water filter, water filler nozzle, poop hoses, a grill, etc. etc.

Saturday June 29

Measured all of Minnie’s storage spaces, went to Walmart and purchased plastic containers to fit and some other junk. A lot like setting up a summer house or a cruising boat. Need the usual; silverware, knives, sponges, bucket, scotch brite, cleaners, etc, etc. on and on. We also bought locking lugnuts for the fancy rims, water filter, big mirrors, back up camera, refrigerator bars to keep things from bouncing around during travel (per June) and on and on. Put cups, paper plates, bedding, etc. etc. on board and repaired a few fit and finish spots not worth returning to the dealer for. It was a cool night so we tried to use the DVD to watch a movie in the trailer but the TV needs 110 volt power and we only have 12 volt from the battery (the cord is about 2 ft short to plug it into the house and we were too tired to move it). So we went back in the house.

Minnie's galley with bathroom at the end and bunks behind wall on right

Minnie’s galley with bathroom at the end and bunks behind wall on right

Thursday June 27

Here they are safely in our drivewaay

Here they are safely in our drivewaay

Drove down to the dealer in Bartow, FL about 45 min. from our house around 9AM. Danny didn’t know a thing about putting on no trailer hitch of course, but they did have the parts. Chuck, the delivery manager who walks you thru the new trailer and shows you how to work everything, lit a fire under service and they ran right out to put the hitch on the car. We spent about two hours or so with Chuck going over the trailer, appliances and the hitch, brake controller, etc. He did a great job. Then we got to spend about an hour with the financial person signing our life away. Now Minnie was really ours (and Bank of Americas). We bought the recommended essentials in the store (poop hose, water pressure regulator, single ply poop paper, poop chemicals, etc.) Then we rolled Minnie out of there and hit the road for home. She was definitely bigger than we remembered (but then everything looks small at the shows surrounded by those giant trailers, buses and RVs). The Ford though handled the load perfectly and then we backed her into our driveway for the weekend. I’ve backed other trailer items before, boats, etc., but nothing like this. We had a great time of it as I couldn’t cut off the rear warning sensor, so it was busy buzzing the whole time and I couldn’t hear any of Lynda’s direction. Eventually we were successful and Minnie was safe at our house.

Inside Minnie, sitting at settee

Inside Minnie, sitting at settee

Sunday June 23

We went back to the show with our check book. We were going to look at it again and see what we liked or didn’t like. If we still loved it, and they would give us a good deal, we’d put a down payment on it and buy it. Bright yellow with a big “Minnie” on it, how could we not like it again. They gave us a good deal and we wrote a check. Lots of paper forms to sign, lots of added charges (just like buying a car).  She would be ours and we left the show shaking from the stress of the purchase.

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Saturday June 22

We went to the summer RV show in Tampa. Our main goal was to talk to the Airstream people about how one would finance one of these things, seeing as they are three times the price of a “white box”.  We were also concerned that they might be a little delicate for newbies, any dent or crease can’t just be filled and painted over. Its shiny aluminum, a dent stretches it and you’re SOL. Anything big and the Ins. Co. totals it. We’ve seen them with a crease caused by a branch falling against it: totaled, hail damage: totaled, a bump on the front side: totaled, etc., etc..

So after talking to the Airstreamers, we went out and looked at the rest of the show and we found a brand new Winnebago Minnie Trailer, bright yellow, model 2451, 29 ft. long counting the hitch. It had a big queen bed separated from the inside by a wall, a good kitchen, bunk beds in the back (we’ll use these for storage) tons of appliances and a bath. Oh and unlike the Airstream, it has tons of storage, we don’t know how we would use it all. We went home to talk about it.

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